1917 in anime

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Events of 1917 in anime.

Historical perspective[edit]

1917 is the year of definitive firsts in the history of Japanese animation. The three key figures are Ōten Shimokawa, Seitarou Kitayama, and Junichi Kouchi. There is much debate over which gets the honor of the first animated film, and even the exact date of that film's premiere. Shimokawa's film Imokawa Mukozo the Doorman is conventionally and largely claimed to be the first work, but contemporary sources portray it as the "third" film. Speculation about the error is debated, but the lost films and their contents have been reported by various sources allowing for a clearer picture of the early history. Katsudō Shashin, widely reported as possibly dating to 1907, is of unconfirmed origin and is not known to have premiered or been produced for commercial interest.

Events[edit]

According to contemporary sources of the time, an unknown titled film of Tennenshoku Katsudō Shashin premiered in January. Evidence of this comes from Kinema Record, with the July edition making specific claim to the first release occurring in January, but does not specify the title of the work.[1] In May, Kinema Record cited the April release of Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki (芋川椋三玄関番の巻 Imokawa Mukozo the Doorman?); which has been widely reported as being the first film.[1]

The first confirmed film release occurred in the first ten days of February, with Shimokawa's Dekobō shingachō – Meian no shippai (凸坊新画帳・名案の失敗 Bumpy new picture book – Failure of a great plan?).[2] The film was produced with chalk on a blackboard, with redrawing for each frame. Shimokawa would switch to paper for later, but the exact date and work to depict the switch is unknown.[1]

Shimokawa's Chamebō shingachō – Nomi fūfu shikaeshi no maki (茶目坊新画帳・蚤夫婦仕返しの巻 Chamebō's new picture book – The revenge of Mr. and Mrs. Flea?) which premiered on April 17.[1] The work itself may or may not be another title for Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki (芋川椋三玄関番の巻 Imokawa Mukozo the Doorman?), which premiered sometime during April.[1]

In the "middle ten days of May", Shimokawa's premiered Imokawa Mukuzō - Chūgaeri no maki (芋川椋三宙返りの巻 Imokawa Mukuzō – Somersault?).[3]

Kitayama's first release was Sarukani gassen (猿蟹合戦?), which aired 20 May. His second film Yume no jidōsha (夢の自動車 The dream car?) aired during the last ten days of May.[1]

Kouchi's first film was Hanawa Hekonai Meitō no Maki (塙凹内名刀之巻 Hanawa Hekonai – The famous sword?) also known as Namakura Gatana (なまくら刀 Dull Katana?) and Tameshigiri (試し斬 The sword test?).[1] The film premiered June 30 and film is currently the earliest surviving work. It was only rediscovered in March 2008.[4] The film uses cut out paper animation.

On 4 July, Kitayama released Neko to nezumi (猫と鼠 Cat and Mice?). Kitayama would release another film, titled Itazura posuto (いたずらポスト Naughty mailbox?) on 28 July.[1]

Kouchi's first release was Chamebō Kūkijū no maki (茶目坊空気銃の巻 Chamebō ‒ Air gun?) or Chame no kūkijū (茶目の空気銃 Chame's air gun?) on 11 August.[1]

On 26 August, Kitayama released Hanasaka-jiji (花咲爺 The old man who made flowers bloom?) based on the Japanese folklore tale of Hanasaka Jiisan. A surviving frame of the film is all that remains of this work.[1]

Shimokawa's released another short known as Imokawa Mukuzō Tsuri no maki (芋川椋三釣の巻 Imokawa Mukuzō goes fishing?), but also called Chamebōzu Uozuri no maki (茶目坊主魚釣の巻 Chamebōzu goes fishing?) In September. The Kinema Record notes a mid-September release while 9 September is specified as the exact date.[1]

Kitayama would release four animated shorts in October. On 7 October, the first Japanese instructional animation was released, titled Chokin no susume (貯金の勧 What to do with your postal savings?). On 10 October, Otogibanashi-Bunbuku chagama (お伽噺・文福茶釜 Fairy-tale: Bunbuku kettle?) was released, it was a faithful adaptation of the folktale of Bunbuku Chagama. On 18 October, 舌切雀 (Shitakire suzume Sparrow with no tongue?) was released. And on 20 October, Kachikachiyama (カチカチ山 Kachikachi Mountain?) was released. All four films are lost and no image remains of them, only accounts in contemporary sources of the time.[1]

Kitayama would release another animated short titled Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru (塵も積もれば山となる Great oaks from little acorns grow?) at the end of 1917.[1]

One of Kouchi's films, titled Hanawa Hekonai Kappa matsuri (塙凹内かっぱまつり Hanawa Hekonai – The Kappa Festival?) was released in 1917, but an exact date is unknown.[1]

Two films are noted by Shibata Katsu, a Tennenshoku Katsudō Shashin cameraman, their titles are noted as Bunten no maki (文展の巻 The Ministry of Culture's art exhibition?) and Onabe to kuroneko no maki (お鍋と黒猫の巻 The Pot and the Black Cat?).[1]

Releases[edit]

English Name Japanese Name Romaji Format Original Release Date Note
Bumpy new picture book – Failure of a great plan 凸坊新画帳・名案の失敗 Dekobō shingachō – Meian no shippai Short Film First ten days of February 1917
Chamebō's new picture book – The Revenge of Mr. and Mrs. Flea 茶目坊新画帳・蚤夫婦仕返しの巻 Chamebō shingachō – Nomi fūfu shikaeshi no maki Short Film 17 April 1917
Imokawa Mukozo the Doorman 芋川椋三玄関番の巻 Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki Short Film April 1917
Imokawa Mukuzō – Somersault 芋川椋三宙返りの巻 Imokawa Mukuzō - Chūgaeri no maki Short Film Middle ten days of May 1917
Battle of a Monkey and a Crab 猿蟹合戦 Sarukani gassen Short Film 20 May 1917
The Dream Car 夢の自動車 Yume no jidōsha Short Film Last ten days of May 1917
Hanawa Hekonai – The Famous Sword
Dull Katana
The Sword Test
塙凹内名刀之巻
なまくら刀
試し斬
Hanawa Hekonai Meitō no Maki
Namakura Gatana
Tameshigiri
Short Film 30 June 1917 Extant
Cat and Mice 猫と鼠 Neko to nezumi Short Film 4 July 1917
Naughty Mailbox いたずらポスト Itazura posuto Short Film 28 July 1917
Chamebō ‒ Air gun
Chame’s air gun
茶目坊空気銃の巻
茶目の空気銃
Chamebō Kūkijū no maki
Chame no kūkijū
Short Film 11 August 1917
The Old Man Who Made Flowers Bloom 花咲爺 Hanasaka-jiji Short Film 26 August 1917
Imokawa Mukuzō goes fishing
Chamebōzu goes fishing
芋川椋三釣の巻
茶目坊主魚釣の巻
Imokawa Mukuzō Tsuri no maki
Chamebōzu Uozuri no maki
Short Film 9 September 1917
What to do with your Postal Savings 貯金の勧 Chokin no susume Short Film 7 October 1917
Bunbuku kettle
Fairy-tale: Bunbuku kettle
文福茶釜
お伽噺・文福茶釜
Bunbuku chagama
Otogibanashi-Bunbuku chagama
Short Film 10 October 1917
Sparrow with no Tongue 舌切雀 Shitakire suzume Short Film 18 October 1917
Kachikachi Mountain カチカチ山 Kachikachiyama Short Film 20 October 1917
Great Oaks from Little Acorns Grow 塵も積もれば山となる Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru Short Film End of 1917
Hanawa Hekonai – The Kappa Festival 塙凹内かっぱまつり Hanawa Hekonai Kappa matsuri Short Film Unknown date in 1917
The Pot and the Black Cat お鍋と黒猫の巻 Onabe to kuroneko no maki Short Film Unconfirmed to exist.
The Ministry of Culture's Art Exhibition 文展の巻 Bunten no maki Short Film Unconfirmed to exist.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Some remarks on the first Japanese animation films in 1917". Litten, Frederick S. Retrieved 11 July 2013. 
  2. ^ The Kinema Record, vol. V, no. 45, 10 March 1917 as referenced in Litten's Some remarks on the first Japanese animation films in 1917
  3. ^ The Kinema Record, vol. V, no. 48, 15 June 1917, p. 302 as referenced in Litten's Some remarks on the first Japanese animation films in 1917
  4. ^ "Two Nine-Decade-Old Anime Films Discovered (Updated)". Anime News Network.