Two Nine-Decade-Old Anime Films Discovered (Updated)
posted on by Egan Loo
Yoshiro Irie, a researcher at Tokyo's National Film Center, has announced that two of the oldest Japanese animated films were discovered in an antique shop in Osaka in central Japan. In 1917, anime pioneer Junichi Kouchi released the two-minute "Namakura Gatana" silent short about a samurai's foolish purchase of a dull-edged sword. Fellow animator Seitaro Kitayama released "Urashima Tarō," an adaptation of a folk tale about a fisherman traveling to an underwater world on a turtle, in 1918. These films came soon after Oten Shimokawa's 1917 "Imokawa Mukozo the Doorman," which is considered the oldest commercially released anime film. Irie noted that these films relied heavily on gags and the novelty of moving pictures.
The one film that predates them all is a 50-frame shot of a sailor boy's salute that was discovered in 2005. An unknown artist hand-drew each frame directly onto the film stock.
Update: Spelling of "Namakura Gatana" corrected. Thanks, tenkado-shujin.