The electronic edition of popular Japanese manga “Doraemon” will be available in English in North America for the first time starting Nov. 23, but with some significant changes.
Shogakukan Inc., publisher of the series about a robotic cat from the future who can pull anything from his pocket, will start deliveries to readers in the United States and Canada through the Amazon.com’s electronic bookstore. Each monthly delivery, priced at $2.99 (301 yen), will contain three episodes.
Doraemon’s name will remain intact in the English edition. But to help English-speaking readers grow more familiar with the manga, the character “Nobita” is renamed “Noby” and “Gian” (from Giant) is “Big G.”
In addition, Doraemon’s favorite “dorayaki” sweet pancake is translated into “fudgy pudgy pie,” and the cat’s "secret gadgets from the future" have different names, such as “Hopter" for “Takekopter.”
The “Doraemon” series first appeared in a magazine in 1969, but pirated versions spread rapidly around Asia in the 1970s. About 10 million pirated versions are believed to have been sold in Vietnam alone.
Still, 140 million copies of official editions of the series have been published in 17 countries, including France, Italy and Spain. But the manga has not arrived in the huge U.S. market.
“It has been pointed out that Nobita’s passive attitude--he always relies on Doraemon--would not appeal to the U.S. readers,” said Ryutaro Mihara, former industry ministry official who has studied Japan’s pop culture in the United States.
But senior Fujiko Pro Co. official Yoshihiko Shinoda said the time had come to change its cautious stance on advancing into the United States.
“With the manga’s popularity having been established in Spanish-speaking countries, we thought it was time to move to the United States, where the Hispanic population is increasing.”
Mitsuru Saito, who heads the Doraemon Room at Shogakukan, is upbeat on the move.
“Any child can understand Nobita,” Saito said. “I want U.S. readers to know the manga series.”
(This article was written by Yoshihisa Uehara and Atsushi Ohara)
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