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First Full Length Anime Film Premier

posted on by Isaac Alexander
This December 7th, at the ATA Gallery in San Francisco, Kit Fox from "Animerica" and Carl Horn from "Pulp" will present and discuss excerpts from Momotaro: The Holy Soldier of the Sea. This is film created by the Japanese Imperial Navy has been very rarely seen since it's debut in 1945.

Excerpt of Press Release


This Saturday, Dec. 7th, as part of the program "Other Cinema" at San Francisco's ATA, 992 Valencia St., Kit Fox from ANIMERICA and Carl Horn from PULP will present and discuss excerpts from MOMOTARO: THE HOLYSOLDIER OF THE SEA. This little-seen 1945 film, financed by (and starring) the Japanese Imperial Navy, directed by Mitsuyo Seo, was the first feature-length anime film ever made--and the last one for the next thirteen years, until the postwar industry recovered.

Designed to encourage Japanese youth to support the building of an empire in Asia, MOMOTARO changed history in an entirely unexpected way: according to ANIMAGE's "The Art Of Japanese Animation: 70 Years Of Theatrical Film," a 15 year-old Osamu Tezuka saw the movie admidst the firebombed ruins of his hometown, Osaka, and swore that someday he would become an animator. It is startling to realize that the intended audience for MOMOTARO was the children of GRAVE OF THE FIREFLIES.

MOMOTARO was ordered destroyed by the U.S. occupation forces; thought to be lost until 1984, the legendary film has almost two pages devoted to it in John Dower's classic study of propaganda WAR WITHOUT MERCY: RACE AND POWER IN THE PACIFIC WAR. The five clips from MOMOTARO being shown this Saturday in San Francisco represent over half the total film.

Seo's work, of considerable artistry, could be called "Richard Scarry's Busy, Busy Empire"--MOMOTARO begins when cute animal cadets from the Naval Air force return to their home village to tell their younger brothers about the war effort. The story moves to one of their newly acquired Pacific island territories, where the native elephants and cheetahs are learning their new language, Japanese, and happily building an airbase for a strike on Singapore! Momotaro, the classic Japanese boy folk hero, shows up to command the invasion against this "Isle of Devils," and give a PATTON-like speech to the troops showing the history of Western imperialism in Asia. The climactic paratroop drop leaves for its target--and when the battle is over, MOMOTARO makes clear the next military objective will be the United States of America...

Don't miss the chance to see excerpts from MOMOTARO: THE HOLY SOLDIER OF THE SEA, part of the evening's "Japanese Disasters" bill that will also include the propaganda film OUR JOB IN JAPAN that explained to U.S. troops the challenge of educating Japanese youth away from war, and BAD LUCK, a new film about the cultural psychological trauma of a Japan always expecting the next catastrophe. MOMOTARO sceens this Saturday, 12/7;starts 8:30 PM, admission $5. For more information, please see

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