Momotaro: Personification of Japan’s Nationalism

With Momotaro being a household name in Japan, the film Momotaro’s Sea Eagle portrays a diluted representation of World War II that appeals to children, sparking a sense in nationalism in their untainted minds. Director Mitsuyo Seo weeds out the atrocities that comes along with war, and incorporates a sense of nationalism by demonstrating the power and achievements of the Japanese over the demons across the sea. The folklore of Momotaro effectively dramatizes a system of national ideology for younger viewers through a modernization of the classic folklore as a propaganda anime and places it in a war setting which glorifies Japanese victory.

The different animals coming together under the guidance of Momotaro

Being a propaganda film, Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is aimed at filling children with a sense of national ideology by flaunting the victory the Japanese had after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. The film is geared towards gaining support for the act by showing children that cute animals are participating in the battle and the victory is something that should be celebrated by everyone. Although the real disasters have been purposefully left out of the film, the whole idea of a surprise attack and victory still remains. This notion attempts to entertain and inform at the same time through the simplicity of the character designs and animation, but the message is a clear representation of the classic tale while being revamped in a way to relate to WWII.

Despite our differences, we still fight along each other.

A sense of nationalism is achieved through the inclusion of different species of animals converging under the guidance of a human general. The character designs blatantly show the connection towards children. Since Momotaro is portrayed as a young boy serving as a general, this makes a connection with kids showing their potential if they support the war. The different species of animals is analogous to the different regions of Japan uniting as one. This gives children an idea that no matter what region they come from, they still share at least something in common with Japan as a whole.

 

The character of Momotaro himself not only represents the ideal that the children seek to be, but he also personifies the ideals of Japan as a unified nation. He is the reason that the animals converge and fight for the greater good. The animals all follow his orders without hesitation because they have complete trust in his judgment. The conclusion of the movie shows his concern for the Torpedo Bomber No. 3 as he and the crew anxiously awaits its safe return. This shows children that Japan will never turn its back on its members no matter how dire the situation may seem.

Everyone celebrates the communal victory.

Despite being an anime whose target audience is children, Momotaro’s Sea Eagle is a propaganda film geared towards raising a sense of national ideology among that children being targeted. This sense of national ideology becomes evident through the simple character designs and the representation of Momotaro himself. The crew present on Momotaro’s vessel represents the idea of a collective and unified Japan comprising of different people congregating under a single unifying idea of victory and celebration. This shows children that a unified Japan is worth celebrating.

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