Momotaro: Transformation from Tradition to Militarism

Momotaro and Sea Eagles is an early propaganda cartoon which use the influence of Japanese traditional story, Momotaro, to propagate militarism of Imperial Japan and inculcate the ideology into younger generations. This scene with monkey soldiers forming the line while waiting for their leader, Momotaro, significantly reveals the war-time Japanese recruitment and loyalty to the country.


Momotaro briefing the mission to monkey soldiers 

First of all, these monkey soldiers not only represent one of the important characters in original Momotaro, but also served as common image that monkey is the symbol of energy and spirit. Thus, the propaganda wants to imply their soldiers are equivalent to these vivacious monkeys; and in order to kill two birds with one stone, this scene lured children to accept militarism due to these adorable appearances of monkeys. Secondly, each monkey has bandana with the symbol of Imperial Japan on it, which emphasize the roles of Japanese soldiers during World War II, is to protect and show loyalty to the country. Moreover, based on the popularity of Momotaro story, the leader Momotaro, which is the only human presented in the cartoon, can also be regarded as Emperor of Japan because the emperor has absolute command power over all other individuals during war-time Japan. As a matter of fact, this scene publicized the proud attitude of being Japanese soldiers and a loyal heart which bears the mission of saving the country. Furthermore, as children were watching this, they will be attracted by their cuteness, moved by their actions, and encouraged by the ideologies concealed in the cartoon.


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