25 February 2017

Japanese Animated Film Classics / 日本アニメーション映画クラシックス

Japanese Animated Film Classics / 日本アニメーション映画クラシックス

The National Film Center in Tokyo is celebrating the centenary of Japanese animation this year.  While the exact date that the first animation was made in Japan is uncertain as many people were experimenting privately with cinematic technology in the early years, 1917 is the year that the first commercially produced Japanese animated films were publicly screened.  This included short works by Ōten SHIMOKAWA (下川凹天, 1892-1973), Seitarō KITAYAMA (北山清太郎, 1888-1945), and Jun’ichi KŌUCHI (幸内純一, 1886-1970).

Thanks to funding from Japan’s Agency for Cultural Affairs as part of the National Project for the Sustainability of Born-Digital Cinema, the NFC has selected 64 works released between 1917 and 1941 and made them available for screening online complete with fresh subtitles by Dean Shimauchi (Rosemary Dean and Tetsuro Shimauchi).  Other subtitling was done by Masa Yoshikawa (Burglars of Baghdad Castle, Nonsense Story) and Ayako Kawakita and Tim Olive (The Nation of Fish, A Wolf is a Wolf, Rascal Raccoon).   and Many of these works have never before been available on DVD with English subtitles, let alone in a digital online format. Several films, particularly the abstract works of Shigeji Ogino, have no titles.

The most exciting of these are the two earliest extant anime The Dull Sword (Namakura Gatana, 1917) and Urashima Tarō (1918) – films which were considered lost until copies were miraculously discovered in an antique shop in Osaka in 2008.  As the vast majority of pre-war films have been lost due to natural disaster, war, and general neglect, each of these 64 films is an important glimpse into early anime history and early 20th century Japanese culture.  They represent a wide variety of genres including slapstick comedy, record talkies, documentary, propaganda, and experimental. 

As these films were made for the domestic market, they do not have official international titles.  Several titles have been translated in various ways over the years.  I have left the English titles as posted by the NFC.  On the Japanese Animation Filmography Project, I list alternate titles.  Some of the animations are of completely unknown origin as the films do not have credits.  Very little is known about the animator Hakusan Kimura apart from his films. 

The website information is currently mainly in Japanese only, but the NFC assures us that they are working on an English version that they hope will be available sometime in the next two months.  In the meantime, to help you negotiate the website, I have created links to the profiles of animators and a chronological list of the 64 films.  This is by no means all of the extant pre-war Japanese animation works, but it is a tremendous start and I hope that the NFC will be able to extend this project in the coming years. 

The website features profiles of the following early anime pioneers:

Ikuo OISHI (大石郁雄, 1902-1944), 1 film available
Shegeji OGINO (荻野茂二, 1899-1991), 7 films available
Hakusan KIMURA (木村白山, ????-19??), 2 films available
Mitsuyo SEO (瀬尾光世, 1911-2010), 4 films available
Yasuji MURATA (村田安司, 1898-1966), 23 films available
Noburō ŌFUJI (大藤信郎, 1900-1961), 11 films available
Seitarō KITAYAMA (北山清太郎, 1888-1945), 1 film available
Jun’ichi KŌUCHI (幸内純一, 1886-1970), 2 films available
Kenzō MASAOKA (政岡憲三, 1898-1988), 2 films available
Sanae YAMAMOTO (山本早苗, 1898-1981), 9 films available

In addition, the website features an extensive virtual exhibition of the career of Ōfuji, who was one of the first Japanese animators to achieve international recognition.

The available films in order of release are:
1917 The Dull Sword / なまくら刀 / Jun’ichi KOUCHI
1918 Urashima Taro / 浦島太郎 / Seitarō KITAYAMA
1924 The Hare and the Tortoise / 教育お伽漫画 兎と亀 / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1925 Ubasuteyama / 教育線画 姨捨山 / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1925 The Pot / 線畫 つぼ / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1926 A Story of Tobacco / 煙り草物語 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1926 Burglars of “Baghdad” Castle / 馬具田城の盗賊 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1926 The Story of the Monkey King / 切紙細工 西遊記 孫悟空物語 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1926 Film Address "Ethicization of Politics" by Shinpei Goto, 1926 / 映画演説 政治の倫理化 後藤新平 1926 / Jun’ichi KOUCHI
1926 Diseases Spread / 病毒の伝播 / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1927 A Ship of Oranges / みかん舩 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1927 Monkey and the Crabs / 猿蟹合戰 / Yasuji MURATA
1928 The Nation of Fish / 漫畫 魚の國 / Hakusan KIMURA
1928 The Blossom Man / 漫画 花咲爺 / Yasuji MURATA
1928 The Animal Olympics / 動物オリムピック大會 / Yasuji MURATA
1928 Momotaro, Japan's No.1 / お伽噺 日本一 桃太郎 / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1929 The Golden Flower / こがねの花 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1929 Taro’s Train / 太郎さんの汽車 / Yasuji MURATA (review)
1929 Two Worlds / 漫画 二つの世界 / Yasuji MURATA
1929 The Lump / 漫画 瘤取り / Yasuji MURATA
1930 At the Border Checkpoint / お関所 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1930 Nonsense Story, Vol.1: Monkey Island / 難船ス物語 第壱篇 猿ヶ嶋 / Kenzō MASAOKA
1930 My Ski Trip / 漫画 おい等のスキー / Yasuji MURATA
1930 The Donkey / 漫画 驢馬 / Yasuji MURATA
1931 National Anthem, Kimigayo / 國歌 君か代 / Noburō ŌFUJI (review)
1931 Spring Song / 春の唄 / Noburō ŌFUJI (review)
1931 Will Power / 心の力 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1931 Electrical Telegraphy, Electric Bells and Telephones / 電信 電鈴 電話 / Yasuji MURATA
1931 Animated Revue "Spring" / 漫画レビュー 春 / Yasuji MURATA
1931 A Wolf is a Wolf / 漫画 狼は狼だ / Yasuji MURATA
1931 Momotaro in the Sky / 漫画 空の桃太郎 / Yasuji MURATA
1931 At the Circus / 漫画 見世物見物 / Yasuji MURATA
1931 Old Man Goichi / 五一ぢいさん / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1931 The Candy Man’s Raccoon Dog Dance / 漫画 あめやたぬき / unknown
1932 Detective Felix in Trouble / FELIXノ迷探偵 / Shigeji OGINO
1932 ?/Rhythmic Triangles/Fighting Cards / ? 三角のリズム トランプの爭 / Shigeji OGINO
1932 Momotaro Under the Sea / 海の桃太郎/ Yasuji MURATA
1932 Tonpei and Sarukichi / 漫画 豚平と猿吉 / Yasuji MURATA
1932 Sports Day / 体育デー / Yasuji MURATA
1932 The Ugly Duckling / あひるの子/ Yasuji MURATA
1932 The Development of the Train / 汽車の發達 / Yasuji MURATA
1932 The Cat Purr Dance / ニヤゴダンス/ Yasuji MURATA                                          
1932 The Bear Brothers / 兄弟こぐま / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1932 Armies of the World / 漫画の列国陸軍 / unknown
1933 The Three Fearless Frogs / 蛙三勇士 / Noburō ŌFUJI
1933 A Day after a Hundred Years / 百年後の或る日 / Shigeji OGINO
1933 Yoshichiro Salutes / まんが劇 與七郎の敬禮 / Hakusan KIMURA
1933 Rascal Racoon / 漫画 紙芝居 いたづら狸の卷 / Yasuji MURATA
1933 Private Norakuro in Boot Camp / Private Norakuro in Training / のらくろ二等兵 教練の卷 / のらくろ二等兵 演習の卷 / Yasuji MURATA
1933 Preventing Tuberculosis / 結核豫防 / unknown
1934 Spring Comes to Ponsuke / ポン助の春 / Ikuo OISHI
1934 Sankichi and Osayo: A Genroku Romance / 元禄恋模様 三吉とおさよ / Mitsuyo SEO
1934 Corporal Norakuro / のらくろ伍長 / Yasuji MURATA
1934 Kamishibai Kintaro / 漫画 紙芝居 金太郎の卷 / Yasuji MURATA
1935 An Expression / AN EXPRESSION(表現) / Shigeji OGINO
1935 Rhythm / RHYTHM(リズム) / Shigeji OGINO
1935 Propagate / PROPAGATE(開花) / Shigeji OGINO
1935 The Hare in Inaba / いなばの国の兎さん / Mitsuyo SEO
1936 My Big Emergency / おいらの非常時 / Sanae YAMAMOTO
1937 The Making of a Color Animation / 色彩漫画の出來る迄 / Shigegi OGINO + Noburō ŌFUJI
1939 Monkey and Crabs / マングワ 新猿蟹合戰 / Kenzō MASAOKA
1940 The Quack Infantry Troop / あひる陸戰隊 / Mitsuyo SEO
1941 Ari-chan the Ant / アリチャン / Mitsuyo SEO
1941 The Lazy Fox / なまけぎつね / Sanae YAMAMOTO

Cathy Munroe Hotes 2017