Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei

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Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei
Directed by Mitsuyo Seo
Written by Mitsuyo Seo
Music by Yuji Koseki
Cinematography Mitsuyo Seo[1]
Release dates
  • April 12, 1945 (1945-04-12)
Running time 74 min
Country Japan
Language Japanese

Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei (桃太郎 海の神兵?, lit. Momotarou: God Warriors of the Sea or Momotaro, Sacred Sailors[2]) is the first Japanese feature-length animated film.[3] It was directed by Mitsuyo Seo, who was ordered to make a propaganda film for World War II by the Japanese Naval Ministry. Shochiku Moving Picture Laboratory shot the 74-minute film in 1944 and screened it on April 12, 1945. It is a sequel to Momotarō no Umiwashi, a 37-minute film released in 1943 by the same director. It is black and white.[4]

In English, the film is known as Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors.

Plot[edit]

Screenshot from the film, where Monkey and Puppy are saying goodbye.

After completing naval training, a bear cub, a monkey, a pheasant, and a puppy say goodbye to their families.[5] While they are preoccupied, the monkey's younger brother falls into a river while chasing the monkey's cap and is carried towards a waterfall. The dog and the monkey work together to save the child just before he is swept downstream. A time skip occurs and Japanese forces are seen clearing a forest and constructing an air base in a Pacific island with the help of the jungle animals. A plane lands in the airstrip and from inside emerges Momotaro, depicted as a General, together with the bear, monkey, dog and pheasant, who by this point have became high-ranking officials. The subsequent scenes show the jungle animals being taught the alphabet via singing, washing clothes, given military training, and loading weapons in warplanes. The animal residents of the island are shown as simple primitives who are star struck by the glamorous and advanced Japanese animals.

A narration of the story of how the island of Celebes was acquired by the Dutch East Indian Company follows and it is revealed that the Japanese are attempting to invade it. The monkey, dog and bear cub become parachute jumpers while the pheasant becomes a pilot.[6] The paratroopers ambush a halftrack and hastily invade a British fort, causing the unprepared British soldiers to panic and flee. Momotaro, the monkey and the puppy are then shown negotiating with three British officials and after a brief argument, the British agree to surrender Celebes and the surrounding islands to Japanese rule in exchange for freedom. A brief epilogue shows children playing at parachuting onto continental America outlined on the ground. Plainly the United States is to be the target of their generation.

There are some musical scenes. Of note is The Song of AIUEO (アイウエオの歌 AIUEO no Uta?), a scene where Japanese soldiers teach local animals how to speak.

Background[edit]

The Naval Ministry previously showed Seo Fantasia, a 1940 Disney film. Inspired by this, Seo tried to give dreams to children, as well as to instill the hope for peace, just as he did in the prequel movie, Momotaro's Sea Eagles.

For a long time, the film was presumed to have been confiscated and burnt by the American occupation. However, a negative copy of the film was found in Shochiku's Ofuna warehouse in 1983 and was re-released in 1984.[7] A reproduced movie was later screened and the VHS package is now available in Japan.

Credits[edit]

  • Production: Shochiku Moving Picture Laboratory
  • Auspices: Naval Ministry of Japan
  • Movie organization: Kiichiro Kumaki
  • Script, Choreography, and Direction: Mitsuyo Seo
  • Shadow play: Kenzo Masaoka
  • Musical direction: Yuji Koseki
  • Lyrics: Hachiro Sato
  • Film Editor: Pauvre Pierrot
  • Distributed by Scalera Film Coporation Inc.
  • Western Electric: Mirrophonic Recording
  • RCA: Sound System
  • Screen: Cartoonists
  • MPPDA: Code 1354
  • Made at: D&P STUDIOS
  • Sound Effect: Sonovox
  • Gowns: Michael Haigney
  • This Picture Hass Benn Jurastic of IATSE * Affiliated with American Producer of Loews
  • Genre: Animation, Adventure, Family, Musical, War, Mystery, Drama, Sci-fi, Mystery, Romance, Film-Noir.
  • Runtime: 74 min
  • Sound Mix: Mono
  • Color: Black and White
  • Original:
  • Country: Japanese
  • Language: Japanese, English.
  • English:
  • Country: Asia Pasific United Kingdom India Australia Middle East United States, (Cameo) Canada Malaysia New Zealand Singapore Japanese
  • Language: English, Italian.
  • Year: 1945

Legacy[edit]

The Song of AIUEO (アイウエオの歌 AIUEO no Uta?) is famous for being given a homage in the series Kimba the White Lion (ジャングル大帝 Janguru Taitei?) by Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka had seen the film in April 1945. He later said that he was moved to tears by the movie's hints of dreams and hopes, hidden under the appearance of war propaganda.

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142666/fullcredits
  2. ^ "Momotaro, Sacred Sailors". Shochiku. Retrieved 2009-10-03. 
  3. ^ Jonathan Clements, Helen McCarthy. The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917. Revised and Expanded Edition.—Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press, 2006.—P. 12.—ISBN 978-1933330105
  4. ^ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0142666/
  5. ^ Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia. California: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-933330-10-4. 
  6. ^ Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia. California: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-933330-10-4. 
  7. ^ Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2006). The Anime Encyclopedia. California: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-933330-10-4. 
  • Patten, Fred (2004) [First published in Animation World Magazine 1, no. 7, October 1996]. "Momotaro's Gods-Blessed Sea Warriors: Japan's Unknown Wartime Feature". Watching Anime, Reading Manga: 25 Years of Essays and Reviews. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press. pp. 325–328. ISBN 1-880656-92-2. 
  • Clements, Jonathan and Helen McCarthy (2001). The Anime Encyclopedia : A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917. Berkeley, CA: Stone Bridge Press. ISBN 1-880656-64-7. 

External links[edit]