Momotaro: Attack on “Demon” Island

Momotaro’s Sea Eagles is an animated Japanese short film that is used as wartime propaganda for children.  This scene from the beginning of the film gives viewers their first glimpse of folklore hero, Momotaro.  It depicts Momotaro as a stoic leader who is preparing his army of animals for war.  It is an important scene because it serves its purpose as propaganda and sets the stage for the rest of the film.

Demon Island: Population includes zero demons.

The scene occurs after showing an assortment of playful, cute animals.  The use of animals links this film to the folk tale.  The animals’ willingness to flock to Momotaro with smiles on their faces differs from the original tale where Momotaro must convince animal helpers who are unsure if they want to fight alongside him.  The animals willingness to join in this battle shows children the importance of the fighting for one’s country.  Even as they receive orders to attack, the monkeys have smiles across their faces.  This shows they want to be there and is effective propaganda for children.

Momotaro is very serious.  His diction in this scene is of utmost importance because he refers to the Island as “Demon” Island.  The use of the word demon is significant because it serves as a parallel to the original story and helps children make the connection to Momotaro battling demons with the help of animals.  The word demon also carries a strong negative connotation and gives the impression that these animals, and Japan, are doing no wrong in attacking an unsuspecting island.

Lastly, this scene is vital because it captures the entire movie in one shot.  With one image the viewers know Momotaro is the commander, the animals are his army, and they are going to attack Demon Island.


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