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Oldest TV Anime's Color Screenshots Posted

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"Mole's Adventure" to air again after 55 years on July 21

The Asahi Shimbun paper and Kyodo News service (through Kumamoto Nichinichi Shimbun) posted color screenshots from Mogura no Aventure (Mole's Adventure), the oldest surviving Japanese television animation, on Monday. NTV discovered a long-lost film for the 55-year-old work in a warehouse in the broadcaster's Ikuta Studio in Kawasaki City this past February.

Even though the work first aired on NTV on October 15, 1958, the condition of the film is good. The anime was produced with paper cut-outs with a runtime of eight minutes, 53 seconds. It told a humorous story of a mole named Kuro-chan who embarks on a space voyage in his dreams. Actress Sonomi Nakajima voiced the dialogue and sang the song in the anime.

Japan began full-fledged color television broadcasts in 1960, but experimental color works were produced on a trial basis beforehand. Since color televisions were not in widespread use, most viewers saw this anime in black-and-white.

Historians consider the oldest commercially released anime film to be Oten Shimokawa's 1917 "Imokawa Mukozo the Doorman," although no copy has survived. Two shorts from that era were discovered in 2008: Junichi Kouchi's two-minute "Namakura Gatana" silent short (1917) and Seitaro Kitayama's "Urashima Tarō" (1918). The one film that could predate 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.

The anime channel BS Animax will air Mogura no Aventure on July 21 at 7:00 p.m. as part of the TV Anime 50-nen no Kinjitō special. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the black-and-white Tetsuwan Atom (Mighty Atom/Astro Boy), Japan's first 30-minute television series.

Images © NTV

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