Kikansha Yaemon Gets Japan's 1st Full 3D Film Release (Updated)

posted on by Egan Loo
Toei revives annual Anime Matsuri series with this 1/2-hour short, Digimon, Kitarō

The Japanese production company Toei has announced on Thursday that it is re-animating Hiroyuki Agawa and Fumihiko Okabe's Kikansha Yaemon (Locomotive Yaemon) picture book classic — but this time, in 3D computer graphics. Toei and director Takeshi Tamiya (Tiger Mask) already animated this story with traditional techniques with their Kikansha Yaemon D51 no Daiboken movie in 1974. However, like some recent Hollywood films, the new 30-minute film will employ special glasses so viewers can experience the film in simulated three-dimensional vision.

According to the Asahi Shimbun paper, this film will be Japan's first 3D anime film to get a "regular" theatrical release. Previous anime films with 3D vision only received a limited theatrical release (such as Pokémon 3d Adventure) or were only shown in theme parks (such as Digimon Grand Prix and Gegege no Kitarō -Yokai Japan Rally 3D-). The new Kikansha Yaemon film is only slated to open in about 50 theaters, but there is the possibility of an expanded release.

Agawa wrote the story in the original picture book, and Okabe drew the illustrations. Iwanami Shoten published the book back in 1959; the book celebrates its 50th anniversary this year with 1.31 million copies sold. The new film will open in Japan on October 3 as part of Anime Matsuri, an annual anthology of children's films that Toei is reviving this year after seven years of dormancy.

Update: According to, the other three film shorts in October's Tobidasu! 3D Toei Anime Matsuri billing will be "Digimon Adventure 3D: Digimon Grand Prix" (about 7 minutes long, 2000), "Digimon Savers 3D Digital World Kiki Ippatsu!" (about 7 minutes, 2006), and "Gegege no Kitarō: Kitarō no Yūrei Densha" (about 14 minutes, 1999).

Images © 2009 Tobidasu! 3D Toei Anime Matsuri Production Committee

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