I studied Japanese when I was in primary school, then went on to do French in high school and promptly forgot it all. The only exceptions are what I’ve retained thanks to anime and Kamen Rider, as well as the sentence “watashi wa hanbāgā o tabetai” (my most commonly used Japanese phrase when I was nine). My school’s Japanese teacher Addison-sama sometimes used to wheel one those awesome TV-and-VCR-tied-to-a-trolley things into the classroom and we’d get to watch Doraemon episodes from the 70s. He also used to photocopy pages from the manga and blank out the word balloons, so we could fill them in ourselves (I think some of mine hold up alright in English.) A lot of people I know have a deep nostalgic love for characters like Mickey Mouse or Cookie Monster, and for me, it’s Doraemon (or as I used to refer to him, “Drymon”).
Doraemon is an odd sort of choice for Robot Damashii, considering they usually make super-detailed figures of Gundams and other complicated robots. Being a robot cat from the future, I guess Doraemon technically counts, but it still puzzles me. Not that I’m complaining – they’ve done a fantastic job. He’s crazily well articulated, and they manage to hide all of the joints flawlessly. His arms in particular are genius in about ten different ways, and his simple design is every bit as expressive as it was in the cartoon.
He has a bunch of different expressions, which just spoils me for choice. His three faceplaces all stay on sturdily, as do his many interchangeable eyes, yet somehow manage to pop off with extreme ease when you want them to. It makes it a lot of fun to quickly swap expressions. I showed the figure to my mum the other day, and she described this process as “a blue cat version of Mr. Potato Head.”
Doraemon also comes with a bunch of accessories, including a mouse for him to be afraid of and his ears for it to devour. The ears attach to his head by way of hidden magnets, a feature which more figures should employ because it works wonderfully. It’s also how he can hold his torch and hamburger, and how his helicopter hat stays on his head. He’s also got the Dimension Door in the middle of taking it out of his pouch. I’ve gotta build a freestanding one for other figures to go through.
It’s almost strange, in a way, that for all our science-fiction posturing about it (which I have had an active hand in contributing to), time travel already exists, and we don’t need the Dimension Door to do it. We use our senses, and we can go back in a very real way to our childhoods as painted with a broad brush. The smell of a summer’s day, the colour palette of a classroom pinboard, the pointy edges of an ice-cream wrapper in your hand. Tangible experiences, that need only exist for a moment, and suddenly we are in another time and space no matter the distance or years between there and now… I glance over at Doraemon on my desk, and I am sent stepping into the world of a chubby ten-year-old drawing into the photographs on a grainy photocopy of a worksheet about Japanese orange-growers. A flood of memories is too violent a phrasing; it is more like stepping calmly into the ocean. I pick up Doraemon, and I am a little boy, and I am happy.
In the movie Starshine Wilderness, I opted to go for bluescreened in post-impressionist night skies instead of the inky blackness of space. Rather than paint a whole bunch of new paintings, I just photographed the ones I painted for the film for use in the comic.
I still argue that this is technically scientific accuracy rather than laziness; both are set on the Moon, so it makes sense that the night sky would appear the same.
I was still using Illustrator when I drew this, and I’m already so used to Photoshop that it feels odd for me to look back at that art style.
One of the scenes in Starshine Wilderness involved the main characters eating a dinner of delicious moon crabs, which the protagonist Mission Commander Mike Mason is credited with discovering some twenty years earlier. We thought it would be fun to do a comic book exploring the moon crabs in a bit more depth, and our elevator pitch became “imagine Deadliest Catch, but in space!”
That space station is from the film, so I have a miniature of it that normally sits in my hallway: