This year's annual Doraemon movie entitled "Nobita's New Great Adventure into the Underworld" (AKA "The Seven Mages" or "Shin Makai Daibouken"), is another remake just like last year's one. Premièred in cinemas back in March, this time it's a remake of the 1984 movie which had a similar name.
Just like the first movie, the original was another one of the best Doraemon movies made IMO so I was very keen to see how this remake turned out. The Japanese DVD was just released earlier this month so I managed to find a copy of it to watch.
If there ever was a scary Doraemon movie, this was it... And I emphasise on the "was". Read onto find out why the original was much better complete with big spoilers for both versions of the movie.
Nobita is having another one of those bad days. He's kept after school for his recent bad test marks again and to make matters worst, he drags down Jaian's baseball team during a match. Returning home, his mother scolds him for not cleaning his messy room. Nobita is fed up of having to go through all these things.
Crying, Nobita runs off to Doraemon for help but he's pre-occupied watching the news on TV. Falling over Doraemon, he accidentally changes the channel to "Magical Girl Mami".
As Nobita watches the girl resolve all her daily tasks easily with magic, he suddenly wishes he had that kind of power too. However, being in an age where science has resolved all the mysteries behind "magic" and superstitions, there was simply no way they could bring about such a power. Disappointed, Nobita wishes it was magical superstitions that developed ahead instead of science.
Later that night, Nobita still can't leave the idea of magic alone. Eventually, he figures out they could use Doraemon's "What if Phone Booth" to create a world where magic existed and science was just superstition.
In the new "what if" magical world, things don't turn out quite as well as Nobita was expecting because, he still couldn't use magic because of his poor performance at school. However, they soon find out there was much more important matters they had to worry about for where there was magic, there was also demons...
Some Major Changes
After watching this remake, I was pretty surprised at how much they've changed it! The basic plot is the same but in terms of events, they've removed quite a lot that was in the original 1984 movie. Much much more than last year's other movie remake. Most of the missing material is what made the original movie scary when I watched it back when I was around 10 years old or so.
Movie starts off with Nobita sweeping the grounds outside his house and is daydreaming about rescuing Shizuka with his magical powers. This was what made Nobita wish "magic" existed.
After some trouble, he watches a magical girl show with Doraemon falling head over heals as he gazes at the TV character...
The remake's opening is probably better here... without the magical girl show. Once again, it shows how all the classics including "Gegege no Kitaro" have been modernised to attract today's Anime fans who mostly prefer "moe" content.
Doraemon's statue mysteriously falls on top of Nobita at the deserted garbage dump. Nobita's statue drops out of nowhere while he's all depressed by a tree during sunset.
Doraemon's statue falls through the roof into Nobita's room which he just cleaned up. It's funny watching Nobita and Doraemon panicking as Nobita's mum walks up the stairs to see what happened. Thanks to this scene, we see one of Doraemon's new gadgets... Little beads that stick onto objects and can return them to places. Handy for cleaning rooms.
The sound effects and setting in the original had a better impact with its mysterious atmosphere. I do like those beads Doraemon used in the remake, though!
After daydreaming about magic during a baseball match and losing, Nobita goes to visit Dekisugi, the top class student to explain why magic and superstition was replaced by science. We see quite a few non-Anime black and white illustrations as Dekisugi explains how people believed that everything is controlled by a supernatural force long ago. These include people studying the stars and alchemists trying to turn metal into gold.
However, as time passed and religion spread and people started to believe these kind of activities meant siding with evil. Illustrations of supposed witches being burned alive and a skull is shown in flames. Dekisugi concludes that it was partly thanks to these superstitious experiments that allowed science to advance to the stage it is at today and tells Nobita, magic doesn't exist.
Doraemon explains it very simply as they are tidying up the room with his gadgets.
Again, the original has a better impact and can probably even be thought provoking for a young audience. Those black and white illustrations were actually pretty creepy because they were life-like sketches and not the familiar Anime style.
When the petrified Doraemon and Nobita makes their way back into the house to stop themselves, the present day Nobita hears a ghostly voice. Doraemon goes out to find the backdoor unlocked so he goes downstairs to close it. Just as he's about to lock it, he hears Nobita cries out upstairs. He rushes back up and both of them cry out as there is a flash of lightning, revealing the statues. Nobita's parents walks out sleepily to see what's wrong. Nobita swears they put the statues in the garden but now they've moved and changed pose. He feels something's odd.
It's night and we see the pair coming downstairs because Nobita claims he heard a strange noise. Doraemon finds the backdoor open so he closes it. Both breathes a sigh of relief but then Nobita spots the statues at the back of the hall. They cry out as their is a flash of lightning, illuminating the eyes and mouths of the statues. The parents rush out with Nobita's mum swinging a broomstick about blindly and the dad ducks. Without her glasses on, she starts talking to Nobita's statue.
This was probably the scariest moment of the original movie. The remake just wasn't good enough and made it even worst with the funny scenes once Nobita's parents appear.
Nobita tries to practice the basic spells together with Doraemon in their garden alone. They're trying to levitate some stones. Shizuka drops by his house and he accidentally lifts her skirt once. He and Doraemon apologises. There is a sudden earthquake and Shizuka wonders if the story about the demon planet is true.
Nobita invites Shizuka over so that she can help him practice his spells by giving advice. He accidentally lifts Shizuka's skirt instead of a girl doll. He likes what he saw and so does Doraemon so he does it a few more times until Shizuka shouts "Cut it out!" They then see a dark comet flying across the sky towards Professor Mangetsu's home so they follow it.
Another example of fan service in the remake. I thought this part was actually pretty cute and funny... Yeah, terrible!
Professor Mangetsu's home is a mansion with a talking tree outside that greets people and a pretty threatening looking stone statue guarding it. He later finds the ancient scroll that tells of the demon planet but he can't read the script inside. After being attacked, Miyako manages to safe keep it.
The Professor's home looks like a church, the talking tree is gone and the stone statue looks very weak. The ancient scroll is split into two parts. Doraemon helps Professor Mangetsu translate it with his Translation Sponge. Later the Professor is captured but manages to seal them away just in time so that the demons can't get to them.
The original version has a better mysterious impact and since the Professor doesn't manage to decipher it before the attack, the excitement is greater here. Better sound effects too.
After recovering from the cold on the demon planet, the party sets out on their journey towards the king's castle. It wasn't going to be easy though because first they must cross a sea where there are mermaids who can mesmerise people so that they are eaten by a monster fish, the confusing plains where even a compass doesn't work and a labyrinth forest full of more ferocious monsters. There's some ugly looking plants and discouraging skeletons lying scattered about too.
After recovering from the cold, Doraemon uses a tracking device to find out where the castle is and manages to go directly there.
Needless to say, the remake didn't make it exciting at all because there was no journey.
After defeating the king, the party returns to Earth and Miyako and Nobita spends some time alone together, talking about what the world Nobita belongs to is like. They are happy that they met. Nobita returns home to use the "What if Phone Booth" to return to his original world.
After defeating the king, the credits roll. The shattered moon is restored and the party returns to earth. There they help rebuild Professor Mangetsu's home that was destroyed. Miyako and Nobita spends some time alone walking together but we don't hear what they say. Doraemon, Nobita and Doremi uses the phone booth to return to the original world where that dark matter has disappeared in space.
Once the credits end, we're back to the parallel magical world where we see Shizuka making a flower ring. Miyako approaches her to say she wants to try and keep her hair longer. Shizuka smiles, puts the ring on her head and tells her that it'll look good. Returning to the real world, Nobita manages to cast the levitation spell on Shizuka's skirt again before joining his friends.
Did they decide to cut out the little conversation between Miyako and Nobita so that they can give the message, "You should be faithful to only one true love" to the younger audience? Either ending's fine for me really.
The New Content and Scenes
At the beginning of the movie, Professor Mangetsu and Miyako is shown at a space centre looking over some space footage. It seems a giant mysterious dark matter with a great gravity pull is approaching earth and could end up destroying it. Quite a nice touch this since we get to see what they're like in the normal world.
The remake later mentions Miyako's mother which the original didn't show anything about. We see that Miyako had an incurable illness when she was a little girl and no known magic could help her. Her mother then used the forbidden magic where she agreed to sacrifice her life to a demon in exchange to save Miyako. It's not a bad idea but doesn't make up for the missing content from the original movie, though.
Also, originally Miyako gets turned into a cat. Here, she gets turned into a mouse initially which should give the audience a laugh. After all, Doraemon fears them and with Miyako trying to go to them for help, there was plenty of comedy scenes. Poor Miyako! Eventually they find out it's her when they recognise the pendant she was wearing. Nobita's friends uses their spells to try and change her into something else that wouldn't scare away Doraemon.
Further into the movie, we also see the staff has chosen to change the moon into a giant diamond sort of object... The demons are afraid of the moonlight so they eventually find its weak spot and destroy it. Weird one this.
I definitely prefer the original movie over this remake. Unlike last year's movie remake there were simply too many major changes in this one. I wonder if they took out or changed all those scenes listed above because the original was too frightening for young kids... Either way, I really don't like all the fan service. Then again, those scenes were probably edited from my HK copies like most Anime shown on TV. Bad influence you see...
So anyway, if you've watched this ドラえもん のび太の新魔界大冒険～7人の魔法使い～ and haven't seen the original yet, I recommend you do! The original still has a bit of that creepy feeling too it even when I watch it now.
Next year's 2008 movie won't be another remake because we'll be getting "Nobita and the Legend of the Green Giant". The movies from the past few years haven't been very interesting so I hope this is better.