Doraemon (ドラえもん Doraemon?) (also known in some overseas markets as Doraemon: Gadget Cat from the Future) is a Japanese manga series created by Fujiko F. Fujio which later became an anime series and an Asian franchise. The series is about an earless robotic cat named Doraemon, who travels back in time from the 22nd century to aid a schoolboy, Nobita Nobi (野比 のび太 Nobi Nobita?).
The series first appeared in December 1969, when it was published simultaneously in six different magazines. In total, 1,344 stories were created in the original series, which are published by Shogakukan under the Tentōmushi (てんとう虫?) manga brand, extending to forty-five volumes. The volumes are collected in the Takaoka Central Library in Toyama, Japan, where Fujiko Fujio were born. Viz Media bought the license to the Doraemon manga in the 1990s for an English-language release, but canceled it without explanation before any volumes were released. However, Doraemon: Nobita's Dinosaur 2006 (The 26th film in the franchise) got a private screening in Washington, D.C. in November 2008.
A majority of Doraemon episodes are comedies with lessons regarding values such as integrity, perseverance, courage, family and respect for elders. Several noteworthy environmental issues are often visited, including homeless animals, global warming, endangered species, deforestation, and pollution. Miscellaneous educational topics such as dinosaurs, the flat Earth theory, wormhole traveling, Gulliver's Travels, and the history of Japan are often covered.
Doraemon was awarded the Japan Cartoonists Association Award for excellence in 1973. Doraemon was awarded the first Shogakukan Manga Award for children's manga in 1982, and the first Osamu Tezuka Culture Award in 1997. In March 2008, Japan's Foreign Ministry appointed Doraemon as the nation's first "anime ambassador." Ministry spokesman explained the novel decision as an attempt to help people in other countries to understand Japanese anime better and to deepen their interest in Japanese culture." The Foreign Ministry action confirms that Doraemon has come to be considered a Japanese cultural icon. In 2002, the anime character was acclaimed as an Asian Hero in a special feature survey conducted by Time Asia magazine.