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Doraemon spans generations as a cultural totem, a beloved character that is as much a part of Japanese childhood as birthday parties and bug hunting in summer. The blue robot cat from the future is always around, and has been since he was created 50 years ago by Fujiko Fujio, the pen name of manga duo Hiroshi Fujimoto (1933-96) and Motoo Abiko.

Although “Doraemon” is now something of a brand, it’s possible to relate the character to the historical traditions of the country, particularly yōkai (spirits/demons) of Japanese folklore. There’s also Shinto kami (spirits/gods), complex characters that are not always benevolent. They exist as humans exist: prone to mistakes, intentionally bad, occasionally virtuous. In fact, kami traditionally have two sides: ara-mitama (angry) and nigi-mitama (gentle).

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