The True Japanese Citizen: Momotaro

 

From the working class to the military to royalty, Japan has created a system of a unified country and there is nothing more important than the support of your own country while going to battle in one of the biggest wars in history. World War II impacted everyone’s lives one way or another. Not only did Japan participate in the war, they also initiated one of the most historical moments from the Second World War: bombing Pearl Harbor. Because this was such a big turning point for everyone, Japan needed the support from its own citizens. In order to keep their country’s support back at home they needed a way to state their case. Propaganda had become the most successful way of justifying Japan’s actions. Mitsuyo Seo’s Momotaro’s Sea Eagles used a folk tale hero as a tool to justify the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Being passed down from generations, Momotaro was a household name in Japan.  He was the perfect spokesman at the time of the war. When the film was first shown in 1942 the role model for children had become a tool used to promote national pride. Looking at the very first layer of the film, aspects of the folk tale are very present in the film. The animals with in the story are the same characters in the film, the goal is for Momotaro to save Japan from the monsters of demon islands, and with the help of his furry friends they save the day.

Now looking on a deeper level, it is clear the movie was based off of the events that happened in the war. Once the animals reach Demon Island the scene introducing Demon Island and the screen shots following show that Demon Island is actually Hawaii and the monsters are American soldiers. Not only does the red, white, and blue cartoon flag gives it away but also the music in the background and the characteristics of the Americans as well.

By incorporating national pride within the childhood role model Japan was successful in promoting war overseas. Not only did the film promote war, it also gave its young viewers a sense of national pride. The difference between the Japanese and American soldiers made it obvious of who were the protagonists and antagonists of the film. The cute little animals, wearing their national flag on their headbands, were loving and more positive than the ugly, clumsy Americans. The animals were more patriotic and were the ones in the right.  

 

While the film Momotaro puts down the Americans it also gives a positive out look to what Japan does to the Americans. Because they are refers to them as “demons” and seen as clumsy, what the Japanese animals do to Demon Island is more acceptable. The young viewers then associate positive ideas with promoting their country while having a negative aspect on the enemies.

Even thought the age group watching the film are not up to par with the political issues their country is struggling with, they still can be influenced to appreciate and be proud of their country.

 

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