This is the first Japanese feature length cartoon ever made, a WWII propaganda film written and directed by Misuyo Seo that has to be seen to be believed. Apart from Momotaro himself, the Japanese navy is almost exclusively staffed by cutesy cartoon animals, and the allies are hilarious, bumbling, stuttering Caucasian caricatures, an amusing counterpoint to the way caricatures of Germans and Japanese people were featured in scores of US WWII propaganda cartoons. There’s also a really well done “shadow play” in the middle of the film directed by Kenzo Masaoka, the director of the “Tora-chan” shorts.
For many years this film was thought to be lost forever, destroyed by American occupation forces. When a negative turned up in one of Shochiku’s warehouses in the early 1980s, the film got a VHS release in Japan. But it’s never been released on any other home video format, not even laserdisc.
A few years ago I subtitled this film, but then ended up pulling it when I discovered that there were a number of mistakes in my translation, due to how crackly the audio track was in certain spots. Some other translator friends managed to fix some of these, but after Anonymoose OCRd my scripts without asking (am I really that difficult to get hold of?) and released his own version, with the TSHS subtitling credits removed, I kinda lost interest in the project.
Anyway, Shochiku has finally given the film a proper restoration, and it premiered at Cannes this year. US and Canadian rights (both theatrical and home video) have been bought by Funimation (who also helped fund the restoration) and UK rights by AllTheAnime. Shout out to Sakoera Tyan for letting me know the great news!
Massive thanks to Baragon63 for loaning me his rare pre-recorded VHS tape of the movie, and to Ametuchi and Busaikko for their help with the re-translation that will now never see the light of day. I am really looking forward to buying and watching the official version when it is released, and I suggest that any of you who enjoyed my version do the same.
EDIT: more news, courtesy of Sakoera Tyan and Luurah. Apparently Discotek has licensed Star Fleet, the English dubbed version of Go Nagai’s puppet series X Bomber, for an R1 DVD release. There’s some small possibility of this release also will include the original Japanese version with English subtitles (I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they actually manage to do this). Other announced Diskotek releases include Bluray versions of the Golgo 13 movie and that 1997 Jungle Emperor Leo film (the same one Kodocha Anime fansubbed back in the analog days.)