Japan, Aging, Robotics, Caregiving, Doraemon, Mother, Anime
Structural analysis of the phenomenally popular and enduring Japanese anime Doraemon helps us think about what we might hope to see in the not too distant future from Japan’s promised surge in development of socially assistive robots (SARs) designed for the care of the elderly. Doraemon, the earless blue robot cat from the 22nd century, is assigned the conjoined tasks of caring for the 10-year-old boy Nobi Nobita as his constant companion, which he does by reproducing the ideal caregiving characteristic of Japanese expectations for mothers, endlessly affectionate indulgence; and of improving Nobita’s character, at which he is unsuccessful because he perpetually indulges Nobita’s immature demands for technology from the future to solve his problems with no effort of his own. One might suspect a moral lies hidden here for us all. Oddly and surprisingly enough, however, notwithstanding Doraemon’s failure as a robot to reform the child Nobita’s character because he can’t say ‘No’, exactly because the elderly require not reformation, but rather preservation, of the characters they have spent a lifetime honing, the unceasing affectionate indulgence Doraemon extends to Nobita (even if to Nobita’s lasting detriment) could augment the diminishing physical and emotional care resources available to the elderly from their real caregivers, fundamentally middle-aged women who must see first to the needs of their children and husbands as their essential duty to the futures of their families.
Anthropology & Aging
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. This journal is published by the University Library System of the University of Pittsburgh as part of its D-Scribe Digital Publishing Program, and is cosponsored by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Marshall, Robert C., "“What Doraemon, the Earless Blue Robot Cat from the 22nd Century, Can Teach Us About How Japan’s Elderly and Their Human Caregivers Might Live with Emotional Care Robots.”" (2016). Anthropology Faculty and Staff Publications. 32.
Subjects - Topical (LCSH)
Depression in old age; Geriatrics--Technological innovations; Robotics in medicine; Medical innovations; Anime; Japanese animation
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.