Saturday, June 28, 2008

Black Cat Banzai (1934)

Unlike Matt, this is just an oddity: pre-WW2 Japanese propaganda in the form of a cartoon where Japanese heroes defeat...wait for it...the evil Mickey Mouse and his squadron of Yankee bats.There's a nice short summary of anime that puts this film and other 1930's anime in perspective here. I found this while fishing around YouTube after finding Matt; from the ridiculous to the, erm, more ridiculous. But the happy dance at the end is...oh, hell, watch it and see what you think.


Lisa said...

I love it, but I'm scared of the talking cherry blossoms...

FDChief said...

"I'm scared of the talking cherry blossoms..."

Yeah, buddy. As Momotaro would say: "OK!"

basilbeast said...

My wife watched this and tells me ( she was a music major at UK ) the cartoon uses Beethoven's 5th and Mendelssohn's Midsummers Night's Dream, IYWTK.

Happy to hear Matt's dancing lifted your spirit a bit; you can shoot a whole day on youtube.

Soooo, here's another, to fit your WW2 theme on this thread. There's a couple more like it, including a wasp's version of Chuck Yeager's crash of a NF-104 from the movie "The Right Stuff".


FDChief said...

Basil: Mendelssohn? OK. I did catch the Beethoven #5. What a strange little film this is. I wonder if the Japanese audiences at the time laughed as much at the crudity of the imagery as the goofy action sequences? Or was this deadly serious, a warning about the Big Evil Enemies threatening the Homeland?

mike said...

Gotta love the reverse anthropomorphism by representing Americans as snakes, crocodilians, bats and other vermin. And turning poor old Steamboat Willy into a giant vicious rat wielding a baseball bat studded with spikes was great propaganda too. I note that all the fauna fighting on the side of Japan were cooler critters than than ours. Although, the black cat seems to look an awful lot like our cartoon Felix.

You ask: "Or was this deadly serious, a warning about the Big Evil Enemies threatening the Homeland?"
I suspect this was deadly serious propagandizing. But I doubt it was about the homeland. To me it appears to be more about the Japanese South Sea Mandate given to them by the League of Nations after WW-1. Many of those islands natives were outnumbered by Japanese troops and Okinawan and Japanese-Korean immigrants. Wasn't there some sort of demand by the US State Department about that time that the Japanese stop fortifying those islands in violation of the League of Nations Mandate?

Their rejection of that demand is perhaps symbolized by Felix-san burning the document air-dropped by Mickey.

Or: This was released in 34 which was the same year that the Japanese government gave formal notice that it intended to terminate the Washington Naval Treaty which restricted their Navy to 60% of the tonnage of American or Brit ships. So perhaps the burned paper represents their pull-out from that treaty?

Or possibly the cartoon island represents the Philippines or Brtish, Dutch, or French colonies in the South Pacific???

Someone whose Japanese language skills are better than my two words of "Obeeru Kudasai" will have to answer that.

Lisa said...


I agree with your interpretation of Felix-san, and impressed with the rest, which was beyond my knowledge.

FDChief said...

According to a comment on the original site, the demand Mickey drops reads "Surrender the Island", so you may well be right that this is meant to suggest a threat to the mandate territories...