Cuteness alert as Doraemon Exhibition lands in Singapore

Cuteness alert as Doraemon Exhibition lands in Singapore

SINGAPORE – Kawaii cuteness has arrived. For the first time outside of Japan, Doraemon-inspired artworks by top Japanese artists, original drawings of the robot cat and even themed confectionery will be available at the Doraemon Exhibition Singapore 2022.

Hosted by the National Museum of Singapore (NMS), the exhibition was first staged in Japan in 2002, then restaged in 2017. It has since toured nine cities in Japan, receiving some 600,000 visitors.

Fans will want to see the early iterations of Doraemon and the cast of characters in the early manga series. Doraemon has been translated into 17 languages ​​and appears in 20 countries and regions across platforms including comics, television and movies.

Hugely popular in Japan, the Doraemon phenomenon can also be felt in the world of art, influencing the likes of renowned artists like Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara.

Both artists will be featured in the exhibition together with 26 other Japanese artists and artist groups, as well as two Singapore artists – Leslie Kee and Jahan Loh. The Singaporeans were specially commissioned to create original artworks.

Speaking to The Straits Times via Zoom, Murakami says: “Everybody in Japan knows Doraemon. He is on television almost every day. It’s like breathing air.”

On the impact the character has had on his art practice, the artist says: “Like air, I cannot tell you how Doraemon has influenced me. Air is air – (Doraemon) is like breathing.”

There is a serious side to all this kawaii cuteness.

Explaining the popularity of Doraemon, manga and anime in Japan, Murakami says it began almost 80 years ago after World War II. “We had to find entertainment on a very low budget. Manga culture is very cheap. I think this was the post-World War II reality. It was part of the Japanese people’s mindset,” he adds.

The exhibition, spanning over 1,300 sq m of gallery floor area, is copyrighted by Fujiko-Pro and presented by multi-label retail brand Leyouki, with support from NMS.

In 2020, NMS had presented a Doraemon showcase called Doraemon’s Time-Travelling Adventures in Singapore. While there were Doraemon figurines, that earlier showcase did not feature artworks.

Interestingly, Ms Chung May Khuen, director of NMS, reveals that 30 per cent of the visitors who attended then had never been to NMS before. “Following the success of that showcase, many of our visitors shared that they were interested in learning more about this iconic character,” she says.

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