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Norakuro

Norakuro (のらくろ) is a Japanese manga series created by Suihō Tagawa and published by Kodansha in Shōnen Kurabu. The titular protagonist, Norakuro, or Norakuro-kun, is an anthropomorphic black and white dog inspired in Felix the Cat. The name Norakuro is an abbreviation of norainu (野良犬, stray dog) and Kurokichi (黒吉, the name of the dog, literally meaning “black lucky”). Norakuro strongly influenced Machiko Hasegawa, the author of Sazae-san, who apprenticed with its author Suihō Tagawa, as well as Fullmetal Alchemist author Hiromu Arakawa. There is an excerpt that appears in the sixth Kramer’s Ergot comics anthology which is the only example of Tagawa’s work published in English.

Plot

In the original story, the central character Norakuro was a soldier serving in an army of dogs called the "fierce dogs regiment" (猛犬連隊 mōkenrentai). The strip's publication began in Kodansha's Shōnen Kurabu in 1931, and was based on the Imperial Japanese Army of the time; the manga artist, Suihō Tagawa, had served in the Imperial Army from 1919 to 1922. Norakuro was gradually promoted from private to captain in the stories, which began as humorous episodes, but eventually developed into propaganda tales of military exploits against the "pigs army" on the "continent" - a thinly-veiled reference to the Second Sino-Japanese War.

Serialization of Norakuro stopped in 1941 for wartime austerity reason. After the war, due to the popularity of the strip, the character returned in various guises, including a sumo wrestler and a botanist.

Pre-war animated films based on the military Norakuro, and two post-war animated series of Norakuro, in 1970 and 1987, have also been produced. In the 1970 series, the voice of Norakuro was played by Nobuyo Ōyama, also known as the voice of Doraemon. During the 1980s and early 1990s Norakuro was the mascot of the Physical Training School (Tai-Iku Gakko) of the Japan Self-Defense Forces.

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