Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei

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Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei (桃太郎 海の神兵, Momotaro: Sacred Sailors) is a 1945 Japanese propaganda film directed by Mitsuyo Seo.

Plot

After completing naval training, a bear cub, a monkey, a pheasant, and a puppy say goodbye to their families. While they are preoccupied, the monkey's younger brother falls into a river while chasing the monkey's cap and is carried towards a waterfall. The dog and the monkey work together to save the child just before he is swept downstream. A time skip occurs and Japanese forces are seen clearing a forest and constructing an air base in a Pacific island with the help of the jungle animals. A plane lands in the airstrip and from inside emerges Momotaro, depicted as a General, together with the bear, monkey, dog and pheasant, who by this point have become high-ranking officials. The subsequent scenes show the jungle animals being taught the alphabet via singing, washing clothes, given military training, and loading weapons in warplanes. The animal residents of the island are shown as simple primitives who are star struck by the glamorous and advanced Japanese animals.

A narration of the story of how the island of Celebes was acquired by the Dutch East India Company follows and it is revealed that the Japanese are attempting to invade it. The monkey, dog and bear cub become parachute jumpers while the pheasant becomes a pilot. The paratroopers ambush a halftrack and hastily invade a British fort, causing the unprepared British soldiers to panic and flee. Momotaro, the monkey and the puppy are then shown negotiating with three clearly terrified, stammering British officials and after a brief argument, the British agree to surrender Celebes and the surrounding islands to Japanese rule. A brief epilogue shows children playing at parachuting onto continental America outlined on the ground. Plainly the United States is to be the target of their generation.

Why It Sucks

  1. Just like Momotarō no Umiwashi, it demonizes the Allies and GLORIFIES the Imperial Japanese Navy.
  2. It promotes child soldiers!, who the fuck does this in a kids movie!
  3. The bear cub, monkey, pheasant, and the puppy are cringeworthy characters.
  4. It treats the Imperial Japanese Navy as gods! They're just people serving their country and the Emperor!

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The designs of the monkey and puppy are well-made and somewhat cute.
  2. The scene where local Japanese people teach animals how to speak and sing is heartwarming.

Trivia

  1. The movie based itself from Fantasia.