A time for celebration: All work and no play make Momotaro a sad commander

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One of the monkey’s celebrating with an onigiri, a simple reference to the original Momotaro story

Momotaro’s Sea Eagles is a short animation that takes the Momotaro folktale and contorts it into a propaganda regarding Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Officially endorsed by the Japanese navy, Momotaro’s Sea Eagles conjures up a sense of pride and patriotism, a love for one’s country by actively supporting its military. The shot provided below is a prime example of how the animation is used as propaganda. Although the shot only shows the monkey celebrating and eating a traditional onigiri, the two scenes before that shows a pheasant and a spotted dog also celebrating in joy after a successful mission on Oni island. These three separate scenes in conjunction with each other help create the idea that participating in the military is not only something worth celebrating but one that brings about a sense of camaraderie and wholeness. The animals look joyous, with no worries or anxieties and are surrounded by their comrades. Giving each animal their own spotlight likewise allows for a sense of personal accomplishment, that one has the ability to stand out from the rest and thus create their own reputation. What makes the monkey’s scene so special though is the fact that he is eating an onigiri, a throw back to the original story of Momotaro using onigiri to recruit his animal companions. The onigiri acts as a specific calling card one that will naturally remind readers of the folktale, and in a sense has had its role reversed from the original story where Momotaro gave onigiri to the animals before they help him where here the onigiri are given after. As one of the final scenes it provides a nice simple tie to the original folktale while still providing a sense that there is honor and celebration in acting for Japan’s military.

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