Disc 4 - Comments
Tadao Sato (Film critic)
The Animal Village in Trouble is an animated masterpiece drawn by Sanae Yamamoto. Its date of production is unknown, however I would guess it is the same film as A March of Children (1942), renamed at a later stage. During that period of time, many animated films were created for educational purposes for the Japanese government. I suppose that ministries such as The Ministry of Health and Welfare sponsored the creation of these animations because of their "increase and multiply" policy during the war, which the Japanese government aggressively pushed to promote the growth of the population. This animation highlights this in that it is about monkeys living in the mountains that believe that it is best to have many babies.

The movie portrays a family of monkeys with a large number of babies that moves around in unison in many of the movie's scenes, making the animation interesting. However, as you can imagine, it takes lots of hard work to draw these animated scenes. I highly admire the creators who made this elaborately drawn animation in 1942 when Japan was in the middle of the Pacific War. Animation studios in this era likely suffered from a shortage of human resources as animators could have been conscripted to the war one after another.

Sanae Yamamoto had been working in the animation industry since 1918 as an assistant to Japanese animation pioneer Seitaro Kitayama. In 1925, Yamamoto established Yamamoto Movie Studio, which mainly produced folk tales and films for government offices. Disc 1 includes his folk tale animation Momotaro the Undefeated. He spent all of his energy on these works during the war years, and, after the war, he united animators who had scattered to small and medium sized production companies to establish Nichido Eiga Co., himself becoming the CEO of the company. He also had an important role when the first full-scale Japanese animation studio, Toei Animation Studio, was established in 1956.

Ikuo Oishi, artist for Swim, Monkey, Swim! (1939) on Disc 4, and producer of Home Alone Mice (1931) and Belly Drum Dance at Shojoji Temple (unknown) on Disc 2, was responsible for the animated feature films of Photo Chemical Laboratory (PCL) and the early Toho Company Limited (Toho). Upon request of the Japanese Army, Toho produced many animated pictures to teach bomber crews how to bomb during the war. While directing these works, Oishi was killed in battle after going to the southern Pacific for research.