More Than Miyazaki - Japanese Anime Season

Momotaro, Sacred Sailors PG (S)

Momotaro, Sacred Sailors

An incredibly rare chance to see nothing less than the birth of anime itself: Japan's very first feature-length animation, a landmark in anime history and a masterpiece of propaganda, believed lost for several decades and now finally available to view.

This 1945 propaganda film (made to encourage Japanese youths to consider a career in the Navy) stars Japanese fairy tale hero Momotaro as he leads a squad of heroic animal soldiers against evil British demons. There are songs, there is kawaii hyper-violence, and there are unauthorised cameos by the likes of Popeye... it's fair to say the whole thing is pretty surprising.

One of its most striking elements is its use of ethnic stereotypes (the flip side of American propaganda cartoons who were brutal in their racial stereotyping of the Japanese) and the quality of the animation given the conditions it was made in (in wartime, with little resource and skilled workers). A true moment in history restored from the sole surviving negative.

With a screening of the short film The Spider and the Tulip (Dir. Kenzô Masaoka, Japan, 1943, 16 mins)