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Anime Industry Celebrates 100th Anniversary by Streaming Oldest Works With Subtitles

posted on by Karen Ressler
64 works, including oldest surviving film from 1917, available streaming

The National Film Center at the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo opened a "Japanese Animated Film Classics" website on Wednesday with a collection of classic animated works from Japan available streaming with English subtitles. The website will be open until the end of 2017.

To view the videos, visit this page, select a title, and then click the red button that reads "作品を見る" on the right side of the page. Once the player is open, toggle the English subtitles on by selecting the "With English subtitles" link under the video player before pressing play.

The website celebrates the 100th anniversary of the oldest known Japanese animated short films, and is streaming the oldest surviving Japanese animated short film, Junichi Kouchi's "The Dull Sword" (Namakura Gatana, pictured below left). The film about a samurai's foolish purchase of a dull-edged sword debuted in June 1917. The version on the website is "the longest, digitally restored version," which is four minutes long.

The film was discovered in an Osaka antique shop in 2008, along with Seitarou Kitayama's 1918 film "Urashima Tarō." Several anime films directed by Oten Shimokawa and Kitayama predated "Namakura Gatana," but these films are now lost. Shimokawa's "Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki" has long been considered the oldest commercially released anime film, having premiered in January 1917, but it may have premiered later that year, predated by two other films by Shimokawa. The films were all predated by a 50-frame shot of a sailor boy's salute that was discovered in 2005.

The website is streaming 64 works that debuted from 1917 to 1941. Directors featured on the site include Ikuo Oishi, Shigeji Ogino, Hakuzan Kimura, Mitsuyo Seo, Yasuji Murata, Noburou Oofuji, Kenzo Masaoka, and Sanae Yamamoto.

[Via Yoshihiro Watanabe]

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