Demonization in Momotaro

In Momotaro’s Sea Eagles, Mitsuyo Seo utilized the old Japanese children’s folk tale of Momotaro, the Peach Boy, to deliver World War II propaganda to Japanese youth. The near feature-length animated film presented the folk hero and his animal friends as the Japanese navy, and follows them as they perform a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor (known as Demon Island in the film) in the most adorable manner.



The demon (read: American) Captain as he falls to the deck, dropping bottles of alcohol from his person.


This screen shot occurs immediately after the initial attack, and exhibits the Captain of one of the American’s Battle Cruisers. This scene of the film utilizes fast cuts to increase the tension, and to give the action far more energy than the dropping of a single torpedo can generate. This specific  demonstrates early animation techniques utilized to save time and money, specifically the creation of static backgrounds (the elements in the background that are smoother and more detailed) and the superpositioning of the dynamic drawings(the elements that are far sharper, for example the bottles in the air) over said background.

One must keep in mind the purpose of this film when analyzing this scene, as when the Captain falls bottles of alcohol bounce out of him. Clearly, Mitsuyo is attempting to legitimize the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor by not only clearly demonizing them, but also comparing them to largely overweight angry alcoholics, blubbering about due to the sheer power of the Japanese war machine. With this in mind, Momotaro’s Sea Eagles is not a far cry from other propaganda films from that generation, the notable difference being that instead of reinforcing the idea that their soldiers are honorable strong men, Mitsuyo symbolizes his soldiers as cute harmless animals.


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