Disc 3 - Comments
Tadao Sato (Film critic)
Mitsuyo Seo, director and artist for Sankichi the Monkey: The Storm Troopers (1934) and Tiny Chibisuke's Big Adventure (1935), both contained on Disc 3, was originally involved in the Prokino movement that was active in the early 1930s. Prokino was a cinematographic movement initiated by a group of semi-amateur young film makers to promote proletarian awareness. The movement attracted attention as they filmed and presented home movies on a nonprofit basis. They made mainly documentaries, yet there were efforts to create animated feature films as well. However, these efforts were eliminated in a short period of time after being suppressed by Japanese police. Seo learned animation techniques during the Prokino movement, and entered the animation business. In the war years, he made Japan's first feature-length animated films Momotaro's Sea Eagle (1943), and Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (1945). Both of them were typical wartime propaganda films, but they showed that animated films can make for just as dramatic stories as movies. As a result, director Seo became one of the grand players in the animation industry.

This collection includes Keizo Masaoka's animations Ta-chan's Underwater Adventure (1935) and The Sparrows' Lodge (1936) on Disc 3. Masaoka dedicated his whole life to creating heartwarming animations for children, and was the writer for The Spider and The Tulip (1943), which established a reputation as one of the masterpiece animations in prewar Japan. He had an excellent ability for expressing gentle humor. In 1946, shortly after Japan's defeat in the war, Masaoka completed a simply beautiful cinepoem-like short animated film entitled Cherry Blossom: Spring's Fantasy. However, as it was probably too artistic to be accepted, it was canceled by the distribution company. It is really a shame that it was not released to the public.

It is very interesting to see Shichima Sakai's name as one of the artists for Ninja Fireball in Edo on this Disc. Shortly after the Japan's defeat in war, the master comic artist Osamu Tezuka pushed the field of children's comics to become a large scale cultural industry in Japan. His memorable debut as an artist in New Treasure Island was actually a collaboration with Shichima Sakai. This fact has been forgotten as Sakai's role in this collaboration was unknown, however, Sakai's works drawn at Nikkatsu Kyoto Studio Comic Division are very powerful and interesting. He should draw more attention and been studied.

In recent years, the value of both comics and animated films has rapidly started to become more accepted. However, because they have been distinguished as second-rate art for a long time, many lack records or are surrounded by unclear facts. This is especially true for the older classics. I hope that this Japan Anime Classic Collection will serve to promote new research in this field.