New DVD Company to Release 8 of the Earliest Anime

posted on by Mikhail Koulikov
Eight pre-1945 films on Zakka Films' The Roots of Japanese Anime DVD

Zakka Films, a new company launched with the goal of bringing out early and lesser known Japanese films on English-subtitled DVD, has announced its first release: The Roots of Japanese Anime: Until the End of WWII, a compilation of eight cartoons created by various Japanese animators between 1930 and 1942. Probably the most well-known of the eight is 1942's Momotaro's Sea Eagle; film scholars consider it to be the first feature anime ever. Never available in English in its entirety before, the plot of this 37-minute wartime propaganda piece features Momotaro, a character from Japanese folklore, leading an aerial attack on an American naval base. The other seven anime included on the DVD are all much shorter, and include both those using traditional cels and others based on paper cutouts.

In addition to English subtitles for all of the shorts, the DVD includes commentary tracks by prominent scholars of Japanese film, a gallery of promotional placards for Momotaro's Sea Eagle, and a pair of songs that were meant to be played on record players as the two pre-sound-era animated shorts were being shown. A 12-page booklet on the history of early, pre-Tezuka anime will also be included. For now, the DVD will be available only through, where it is priced at US$34.95.

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