From Peach to Battleship

Momotarō is a symbol of Japanese patriotism and courage. He represents the will to fight and is the face of Japanese victory and honor. The shot below from the movie Momotarō’s Sea Eagle, being visually simple though analytically complex, displays all these characteristics in the young hero.

Momotarō standing before his army on the verge of speaking about their victory

This scene comes at the very end of the movie, which concludes the Japanese victory over “Demon Island.” His army consisting of rabbits, monkeys, dogs, and pheasants swarm around him, the sole authority aboard the naval ship. The members of his army obediently find their places before him, waiting on bated breath for his confident words about the success of the attack. He continues on to say not only how the defeat of the enemy was completed perfectly, but also that the only missing Japanese soldiers are on their way home.

The first important part of this shot is the expression on the young boy’s face. It is stern but still shows the characteristics of triumph. It represents the patriotic spirit of Japan while still being the unwavering leader that the common soldier needs. Accompanying his facial expression is the angle from which the shot is taken and how the boy’s stance takes over the entire frame. Being “shot” from below signifies the power Momotarō holds over the army as well as the audience. He commands the shot in a way that says he is one to be looked up to and that he deserves respect. Another concept to notice comes from the unseen; what is going on behind the camera. His loyal army stands resolute waiting to jump on his every word and to seize any opportunity of his praise. This particular idea, along with the rest of the scene, exemplifies the folk tale perfectly. Momotarō seamlessly goes from young Japanese protagonist to a vibrant war hero and leader.

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