Disc 2 - Comments
Tadao Sato (Film critic)
In the 1930s, the biggest name in comics among Japanese boys was Norakuro, drawn by Suiho Tagawa, which ran in comic magazine Shonen Club from 1931 to 1941. The story is about an orphan dog named Kuro who joins a "fierce dogs brigade" and becomes a second-class private. The playful comic, titled Private 2nd Class Norakuro, humors audiences with Kuro fumbling through the brigade's training and exercises. Kuro was promoted one rank each year during the long run of the popular series, becoming a captain on the ninth year.

Tagawa was initially an anarchic avant-garde artist. He wrote this comic with the intention of it being an enjoyable adventure about a poor orphan. However, it was drawn during the rise of militarism in Japan, and, Tagawa himself stirred by the militaristic interest of children during that time, created some episodes incorporating a make-believe war between the fierce dogs brigade and a regiment of monkeys. Consequently, this comic was criticized in post war Japan as inciting children towards militarism. However, to use one episode of this series in defense of Tagawa, when the regiment commander, Bull, walked into a trap set by the monkeys and was taken prisoner, brave Norakuro rescued him. If the fierce dogs brigade is supposed to be modeled after the Japanese Imperial Army, this would an audacious idea because the real militarists of Imperial Japan would never have approved such a thing. I indeed believe that if the Japanese Imperial Army were as humane (?) as the fierce dogs brigade in Norakuro, the tragic events of the war might not have been quite as tragic.

Anyhow, because Norakuro had overwhelming popularity during that period, it of course attracted the attention of animation creators. The Japanese Anime Classic Collection includes Private 2nd Class Norakuro (1933) on Disk 2, Corporal Norakuro (1934) on Disk 3, and 2nd Lieutenant Norakuro Sunday Magic on Disk 4. You will find that these are very laid-back stories aimed at providing nonsensical humor, despite that they are known as children's comics from the period of militarism in Japan.

Olympic Games on Dankichi Island (1932) on Disk 2 and Dankichi on a Tropical Island (Unknown) on Disk 4 are based on The Adventurous Dankichi, a comic by Keizou Shimada, which was a popular Shonen Club series along with Norakuro. Although it was also criticized as fueling boys' excitement about Japans advance into the Pacific region, it is a laid-back story that simply appeals to boys' sense of adventure.