July 24, 2006 6:28 PM   Subscribe

Japanese animation from 1933. A bizarre Max Fleischer-inspired 11-minute cartoon about some critters from traditional Japanese folklore, complete with a soundtrack of traditional Japanese music. [youtubefilter]
posted by a louis wain cat (12 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting article about very early Japanese animation here.
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:30 PM on July 24, 2006

A tanuki? I guess. they're shape-shifting raccoons with giant balls.
posted by jimmy at 6:34 PM on July 24, 2006

Raccoon balls
posted by jimmy at 6:37 PM on July 24, 2006

that was pretty good. when did anime assume the hideous style that we associate it with these days?
posted by jimmy at 6:39 PM on July 24, 2006

"Tanuki" is the Japanese name for the racoon dog, one of the most primitive members of the canid (dog) family.
posted by lekvar at 6:42 PM on July 24, 2006

I know the tradition of tanuki having giant testicles, which is why I wasn't sure that's what they were at first, but the article I linked mentioned this particular cartoon and said they were tanuki. Dunno. Maybe they couldn't get away with depicting them that way back in 1933...
posted by a louis wain cat at 6:44 PM on July 24, 2006

tanooki suits were the coolest in mario 3...

well maybe second coolest behind the big boot you could only wear for one level.
posted by teishu at 7:02 PM on July 24, 2006

GREAT POST! Thanks! I LOVE this stuff! It is very Fleischer-esque indeed: the look of the characters and their fluid/rubbery movements, the bizarre shape-shifting and transformations, inanimate objects like telephones that sudenly grow arms, reach out and smack you... FABULOUS!

I had no idea that anyone in Japan had produced anything like this back in the 30's.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:27 PM on July 24, 2006

The tanuki looks like Felix the Cat, who first appeared onscreen in Feline Follies (1919).
posted by cenoxo at 8:23 PM on July 24, 2006

"when did anime assume the hideous style that we associate it with these days?"

Astroboy. But it's not hideous, it's just stylized.

I watched this (and about eight others) at the Japanese Film Fest that the University of Michigan had last summer and was greatly amused (though they do get a little boring watched all back to back without speaking the language or having any subtitles).
posted by klangklangston at 9:37 PM on July 24, 2006

a louis wain cat, What a cool find! I love Japanese film of the 30's and 40's, including this marvelous old cartoon. It's charming.

Did a little research, here is an interesting timeline, showing in year 1933 where this cartoon fit in the scheme of the world at that time.

Another Japanese cartoon classic, a musical one, from YouTube. "KUMO-TO-CHURIPPU(1943)
(Spider and Tulip)
Director:Kenzo Masaoka

The evil spider tries to capture the ladybird girl. However, she is given shelter to in the tulip, and the spider is blown off by a sudden storm.

It is famous as the masterpiece of classics of cartoon short movie in Japan."

History of Japanese animation, part one, up to 1945.

Japanese folk tale of the Tanuki Kami, topic of the FPP animation:

Tanuki Was Just Goin' Along

The Tanuki Kami, as opposed to the zoologically identified tanuki, is usually presented as an itinerant Buddhist monk or priest wearing a kimono and a traditional straw hat, carrying a sheaf of papers in one hand, a saké jug in the other. His other identifying feature is one that graphically illustrates some differences in Japanese and American sensibilities: The kimono is often left open to reveal a scrotum so big it scrapes on the ground.

The sheaf of papers is a handful of Buddhist prayers, for sale like Christian "relics" were sold by European con men in the Middle Ages, to gullible passersby. A popular Japanese folk tale, "The Magic Kettle," tells of the Buddhist monk who got stuck with a tanuki and ended up teaching it how to write.

Tanuki folklore follows patterns familiar to anyone who knows the adventures of Coyote, the trickster figure from many American Indian cultures. Tanuki gets in a bragging contest with his drinking partner, Fox, and one of them suffers some Rabelaisean indignity at the other's hands. Tanuki takes it into his head to do some stupid thing that seemed like a good idea at the time, and causes hysterically catastrophic chaos and destruction. Tanuki gets ticked off at a land developer and pulls a con game that puts the guy out of business. A famous tanuki story, "Click-Clack Mountain" is retold lavishly in The Daily Yomiuri, a Japanese, English-language newspaper, as "Rabbit's Revenge." It is a nightmare of violence as unnerving as a Grimms' fairy tale or a children's cartoon.

More about the tanuki.
posted by nickyskye at 11:51 PM on July 24, 2006

I wouldn't call anime today as "hideous," especially since character design and general appearance varies greatly between shows and movies. Sure, there are some shows that I cringe at, but other works I find beautiful. Anyone who makes such a statement does so without a good grounding in contemporary works.

Early Japanese animation has always been influenced by its American counterpart (justly, now American animation is being influenced by anime) and I'd be more than willing to bet if you watched some cartoons from the same time period in the U.S. they'd actually appear quite similiar. As you can note, the use of large expressive eyes were used in this short, which were adopted from American and Western animation.
posted by Atreides at 4:36 AM on July 25, 2006

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