Hashimoto-san was an animated Japanese mouse created by the Japanese-born animator Bob Kuwahara for the Terrytoons animation company. Hashimoto was a judo instructor living in Japan with his wife Hanako, son Saburo, and daughter Yuriko.
The first cartoon in the series, Hashimoto-san, was a seven-minute short released theatrically on September 6, 1959. The final cartoon, Spooky-Yaki, was released on November 13, 1963.
The series did contain some stereotypes. For instance, Hashimoto was an expert in judo and the ninja arts, but never used his skills to harm anyone. Today, this could be seen as a stereotype but back then, it was unexpected. He also frequently told stories about Japan to an American reporter named G.I. Joe aka Joey or Joey-San.
Hashimoto and the other characters in the series were voiced by John Myhers. All of the shorts were directed by Kuwahara. Bob Kuwahara had an intimate knowledge of Hashimoto's culture through his own family ties.
Between 1963 and 1965 the shorts were incorporated into The Hector Heathcote Show as part of NBC's Saturday morning cartoon lineup. During the mid-1960s Hashimoto had his own board game, and also appeared in a handful of comic books published by Gold Key Comics; always with other Terrytoon characters like Deputy Dawg or Hector Heathcote.
Since it was common to portray Japanese and other Asians as houseboys or manservants (or worse) in American cartoons prior to the Hashimoto series, Hashimoto the Mouse is today regarded as having perhaps been the first positive characterization of an Asian character in American animation. Some episodes contained scenes whose artwork reflected Japan's traditional ukiyo-e woodblock prints.
To date the Hashimoto-san series has not been released on DVD, though a bootleg DVD is available containing 12 of the 14 episodes.
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