Momotoro’s Sea Eagle: Kid Friendly Propaganda

Momotoro’s Sea Eagle, directed by Mitsuyo Seo, takes a very Disney approach in presenting the current issues that concerned Japan at the time. The film presents Momotaro as the valiant hero going on a journey with his animal friends to destroy Demon Island. Through this film, Seo is able to discreetly instill the Japanese propaganda and a sense of nationalism into the easily malleable minds of children by presenting them with what seems as a noble hero with a noble cause.

Obedience and loyalty seems to be two critical traits portrayed in the film. In the beginning we see Momotaro addressing the animals about the mission they are about to embark on. Even though the mission is dangerous the animals do not question their leader, they only follow through and complete their objective. These traits may translate to high valued traits for the citizens of Japan at the time in order to raise support for the war against the Ally powers. The citizens would follow their leader obediently because they believe they have their best interests at heart or know what’s best for the country.

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Momotaro addresses his animal friends about the mission at hand.

Teamwork is also seen at the beginning as the fleet of animals prepare the aircraft and the runway for their departure. Throughout the bombing, the group keeps in constant communication ensuring that all targets are hit and that the plan is executed swiftly and efficiently. The Japanese Empire during this war time would highly advocate the use of teamwork to build up the nation of Japan while at the same time creating a sense of national pride within all of Japan’s citizens.

The scene in which the monkey assists the lost baby bird portrays the trait of friendliness. This scene conveys that Japan a friend to everyone, only looking out for their best interests. It portrays Japan, they way they seem themselves during wartime: as the noble warrior fighting for a just cause. Through this propaganda, Japan is able to project the vision of themselves during the war to its youngest citizens.

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The Monkey assists to lost bird in finding it’s mother.

The bombing scenes in the film portray the inhabitants of Demon Island as drunk barbarians as can be seen by the empty beer bottles. By portraying the sailors as drunk and irresponsible, it automatically portrays Momotaro and his animals in a positive light. This translates to the way Japan sees the Ally Powers during the war and gives them even more reason to justify their attacks and reasoning behind the war.

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The fallen captain surrounded by empty beer bottles.

Overall, Mitsuyo Seo created a successful film for both children and the Japanese government. He created a film that is enjoyable for children, however it still manages to instill the values that the Japanese government especially under wartime. Through this kind of propaganda the Japanese government at the time could ensure they had the support of the population for whatever war decision they make such as the bombing of Pearl Harbor. With propaganda a government can ensure that they would have no uprisings against them or their decisions since the propaganda itself would convince their citizens that their government is doing what is right and just.

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