Momotaro!

While on the aircraft carrier, the animal soldiers line up to receive their orders and mission from their commander, Momotaro, in Mitsuyo Seo’s film Momotaro’s Sea Eagle.

This scene is the most important out of them all the scenes in the movie because it represents the contrast between the reality and the positive image being generated about war. The animals represent the idea by standing out from the setting, the reality, behind them. The very realistic shading of the grey sky, aircraft carrier, and surroundings are contrasted between the cheerful, bright, and childlike drawn animals. The event the cartoon is about war against the Americans, or so called “Demons”, is a serious issue being discussed during the time the film was released but because it is a children film the characters are more humorous and adorable but is that the only reason why? Through the cartoon propaganda has been added to the background as if there is an underlying theme presenting an idea that war is a more heroic than dreadful experience.

In this screen shot the characters are there to give a sense of playfulness, which can be seen by the way they appear. For example the clothing the animals wear are there to add a perception of cuteness instead of real practicality and accuracy. If it were for practical purposes the animals would be in full uniform for the military. However, they have on the bare minimum: a cute hat or headband, gloves, boots, and belt. These articles of clothing seem to be adding to the characteristics of the animals in order that the audience can see the animals have qualities that are actually more human than barbaric. While at the same time the cuteness of the animals is a tool used for propaganda to justify war and sacrificing yourself for your country. The animals give the serious idea a more lighthearted twist to the reality of the horrendous aspects of war.

The children watching the show may not pick up on the underlying themes of the cartoon, or the fact that the dogs in the film were an addition to the original animals within the legend of Momotaro, although it is a sneaky way to advocate for pro-war thoughts. The characteristics of the animals of the film keep the audience’s focus on them instead of the dull and dreary background.  As the cute, happy animals are the focus of the film so is the idea of how beneficial and positive war can be.

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