|In the 1920s and 1930s, Yasuji Murata was one of the most popular and productive Japanese animation creators. He used to work at Odeon-za, a movie theater famous for being the first to show imported foreign films in Yokohama. In 1925, Chuzo Aochi, who at that time was making mainly educational documentaries at a company called Yokohama Kinema Shokai, discovered Murata drawing pictures for advertising displays and recruited him to study animation techniques. Since then, a number of films have been produced by the duo, with Aochi writing scripts and Murata doing the drawing.
This collection includes Yokohama Kinema Shokai animation films such as: The Stolen Lump (1929), The Bat (1930), The Monkey Sword Masamune (1930), and Our Baseball Match (1931) on Disk 1, Momotaro's Sky Adventure (1931), Momotaro's Underwater Adventure (1932), Sanko and the Octopus: A Fight Over a Fortune (1933), The Larks' Moving Day (1933), and Private 2nd Class Norakuro (1933) on Disk 2, as well as Corporal Norakuro (1934), and Why is the Sea Water Salty? (1935) on Disk 3. Disk 3 also includes Over a Drink (1936), which was originally written by Junta Ima and directed and drawn by Yasuji Murata.
Cartoonist Soji Ushio wrote what he felt when he saw Murata's animations at his school's movie day.
"Yasuji Murata's animated feature films were the most popular among children on movie day. The most notable aspects of his animations were the illustrations and their movements, and with their interesting storylines, children were absolutely fascinated by the animations created by the Aoji and Murata duo. The protagonists in Murata's animations, including pigs, monkeys, octopuses, and frogs, were not extensively modified visually, but rather naturally personified so that children were able to feel extremely close to them. Aoji and Murata even brought elegance to the image quality. Murata's animations were modern, yet kept a traditional Japanese sense of beauty. That was probably why they were accepted by officials at the Japanese Ministry of Education." (Soji Ushio, "Tezuka Osamu to Boku" (Osamu Tezuka and myself), 2007, Soshisha)
This collection also includes Noburo Ofuji's animation films: The Black Cat (1929), Harvest Festival (1930), and The National Anthem Kimigayo (1931) on Disk 1, Spring Song (1931 or 1932) on Disc 2, and The Bear Dodger (1948) on Disk 4. Ofuji invented an original technique called the "figured paper movie," and diligently worked on homemade animations with his family. Some of Ofuji's works remain close to standard animation style; however, he exhibited his extraordinary talent in aesthetic films, and returned to the spotlight in Japan, after Whale (1952) won an award at Cannes Film Festival and was praised by Picasso.