To Separate the Film from the Reality

“Mmotaro’s sea eagle” is a short propaganda movie released in 1943. The story Momotaro goes to Onigashima to attack demon living there depicts the attack of Pearl Herbor in 1941. By dramatizing the attack as the success story, the movie tries to whip up war sentiment for the children. At the war period, people who were against war were called “hikokumin” or un-Japanese as traitors.  The fact that Momotaro are wearing headband on which the national flag was printed also implicate to audience that Japanese government or the director, Seo Mitsuyo, forces children to fight for Japan if they are Japanese. In addition, the film sets up a number of entertainment scenes to endear young audiences. Also, Momotaro and some animals are quite childlike in both appearance and behavior. Even on fighting scenes have the upbeat childish background sounds. The purpose is to separate the film for the reality of the war by reducing the serious situations that Japan is facing. By depicting the fighting scene as entertainment and the characters as Japanese hero with headband printed national flag, the movie attracts children with peace aspects of the film and tries to force them to have fighting spirit. 


The image above is a screen shot from the film, and unlike the folklore, momotaro is not actually going to fight on the demon island and is seeing other members off with rabbits. On this shot, camera is moving gradually to focus on the face of Momotaro who has serious face with big eyes, wishing his members for their luck from the bottom of his heart. The reason why Momotaro does not go to fight is that he symbolizes as emperor who is a symbol of Japan and the peace and who holds the supreme command. In addition, unlike the folklore, rabbits appear in the movie as the fourth animals, but they do not go to the demon island to fight. Rabbit is often characterized as girls rather than boys in Japan at least. During the war, women are not engaged in the fight, but they worked hard for their countries and stayed home to protect their family instead of their husbands or fathers engaging in the fight. 

At the same time that the director, Seo Mitsuyo, describes the social structure, he implicate the peace in spite of the severe situation during the war by symbolizing Momotaro as the emperor and tries to force children to fight for Japan by describing the attack as entertainment.


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