I'm a bit of a completist when it comes to cat culture, which makes it surprising (to me, at least) that I've never done a blog post about the Japanese cultural icon known as Doraemon.
For the uninitiated, the blue, earless kitty is a robot (apparently his robotic ears were eaten by a mouse, giving him a phobia of the creatures), who travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a schoolboy named Nobita Nobi.
The manga character, whose name roughly translates to "stray" has been around since his comic first appeared in 1969. Doraemon is so universally recognized throughout Asia, that he's been named an anime ambassador for Japan, and was also the subject of a recent campaign by Toyota encouraging young people to get their driver's licenses.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Japan's domestic car market is shrinking, partly in thanks to the lack of new drivers on the road. To help encourage those potential customers, a live action version of Nobita, who is now 30-years-old, illustrates how not having a car is lame, and not to mention totally disastrous for your romantic life. Defeated, Nobita begs his old friend Doraemon (played by French actor Jean Reno) for a new whip, but is turned down because he doesn't have his license.
So, will an animated cat be enough to convince Japan's disillusioned youth to get behind the wheel? With driver's licenses in Japan costing a reported $2,000(!), it might take a little more than a guilt trip mixed with childhood nostalgia to change their minds.
Image credit: Doraemon Wiki