Momotaro’s Monkeys: I Set Fire to the Plane~!

In the original Momotaro story, the monkey helps Momotaro defeat demons on Demon Island. Mitsuyo Seo renovates Momotaro’s battle into a propaganda film about Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Twenty-four minutes into Momotaro’s Sea Eagles, Momotaro’s monkeys begin to scatter towards the demon’s air force, igniting the enemy’s airplanes. I believe this shot is the most important shot in Momotaro because the use of animated characters in realistic settings allows freedom for certain actions to play in front of young audiences for propaganda purposes; in this case, allowing violence such as setting planes on fire.

Momotaro’s cute monkey comrade setting the enemy’s planes on fire.

The unique characteristic of this screenshot is the contrast in art styles between the background and the characters. Momotaro’s Sea Eagles draw their planes and background realistically, with very fine details such as point of view, direction of light, and details of their planes. By drawing very minute details, such as the planes in this scene, it creates the idea of accuracy and truth, almost as though the planes in the film could be the same ones in Pearl Harbor. In comparison, the artists draw the monkeys in simple round shapes, without shading, and solid colors. By wearing clothes and always smiling, their cute monkey image becomes more humanized and less realistic. Its simple 2D image and characteristics create a divergence from reality, persuading audiences to believe the monkey’s actions are fictional, allowing some freedom in its actions. In this freedom, Momotaro’s monkey is able to do inconceivable things such as destroying planes with fire, avoiding controversy by regarding it as fictional entertainment. The upbeat childish background music aids in separating the film from reality, reducing the severity of the monkey’s actions. Viewers aware of the attack on Pearl Harbor understand the truth behind the violence in this scene, while younger viewers unaware of the war interpret the details as entertainment or for aesthetic purposes.

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2 responses to “Momotaro’s Monkeys: I Set Fire to the Plane~!

  1. kyletomita42

    nice title.

  2. I heard Adele in the next room while I was writing this =p

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