Momotarō, technology, and the “other.”

I have chosen the frame in which the monkeys jump from one plane to another as my point of discussion for Momotarō’s Sea Eagles.  Specifically I think this frame is important in contrast to another scene, the one in which the Bluto-esque character is seen sinking on a battleship.  The first point of importance is the relationship to technology.  The western characters are tethered to technology; it defines their power.  When it is destroyed, they are lost.  Whereas the various animals make use of technology in a manner that emphasizes their inherent power over the machines, this is visualized here as monkeys possess the ability to ‘fly’ from plane to plane.

 

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The power of flight in Momotarō’s Sea Eagles

The second point here, and one that is central to war propaganda, is the concept of “othering.”  While Momotarō’s Sea Eagles does not seek to dehumanize the enemy, in fact the ogres seem to encapsulate human weakness in scenes of drunken fear.  Rather we have an inverse of the idea of the Japanese as “human machines” to quote Capra’s Know your Enemy.  As I stated above the ogres are defined by their machines, whereas the members of Momotarō’s brigade comprise various animals whose powers do not subscribe to any specific boundary based on the morphology of the characters.  Therefore joining the Japanese forces is presented as an inclusive experience in a world where the powers of those with you merge with your own – a fantasy of the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere animated for children.  While at the same time, there are “others” who are flawed and weak, thus not deserving of inclusion into the fantasy realm, and representing a threat to the world of Momotarō.

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