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Anime / Momotaro's Sea Eagles

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There goes the Arizona.

Momotaro's Sea Eagles (桃太郎の海鷲, Momotarō no Umiwashi) is a 37-minute Japanese anime film from 1943, written and directed by Mitsuyo Seo. It is probably the oldest Japanese anime film to survive.

It is loosely inspired by the famous Japanese myth of Momotarō, the "peach boy" who became a great hero by defeating the demons of Demon Island. Here, Momotaro is a commander in the Imperial Japanese Navy sending his pilots off to attack "Demon Island", which looks one heck of a lot like Oahu and Pearl Harbor. The film focuses on one particular cuddly puppy and cute little monkey, who together crew a torpedo plane that's part of the wave of Japanese aircraft sent to wreck the fleet at Demon Island.

And there's an American sailor who looks just like Bluto.

It is as odd as it sounds. It spawned a sequel, Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors, a feature in which Momotaro trains cuddly animals to be paratroopers.

Along with its sequel, this anime is one of very few 40's-era Japanese animated films to have survived undamaged (in comparison to a veritable arsenal of WWII-era American war cartoons); many were lost or severely damaged during firebombing raids in the latter years of the war.


  • Artistic License – History: Maybe averted as the cartoon has the Japanese attacking "Demon Island", not Pearl Harbor. But the cartoon has the attack force suffering zero casualties, while in Real Life the Japanese lost 29 of their 414 planes. And no Japanese soldiers set foot on Oahu.
  • Captain Ersatz: While most of the American "devils" are undifferentiated, there is one American sailor who is drawn to stand out. He is drawn to look just like Bluto from Popeye. This was no doubt meant to appeal to Japanese children who would have been familiar with Popeye cartoons from before the war.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: On the way to Oahu—uh, sorry, "Demon Island"—the monkey saves a duckling that got stuck on the plane's wing, returning it to its mother. At the end, right after the puppy and monkey have to ditch their damaged plane in the ocean, the mama duck swoops down and rescues them from drowning.
  • Dirty Coward: Bluto. He grabs an American flag and shakes the star (just one star) and stripes off of it to make a white flag.
  • Expressive Ears: A variant. A rabbit signalman on the aircraft carrier doesn't need semaphore flags, because he can signal with his ears!
  • Fighter-Launching Sequence: The monkey falls out of his torpedo plane while it's taking off and has to run to catch up and jump in.
  • Human Ladder: The monkeys form a chain dangling from a bomber, which allows them to reach the ground. They then set fire to a field of parked American aircraft. Then they form another Human (Monkey?) Ladder to reach the bomber again, and they fly away.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Bluto responds to the first Japanese torpedo slamming into his ship by pulling out a beer and hurriedly drinking it.
  • Killer Rabbit: Look at the cute little puppies and monkeys! Watch them blast the hell out of an American fleet!
  • Mood Whiplash: Absolutely reeks of this. This cartoon is aimed at children, and small children at that, with its cast full of cute, adorable monkeys and rabbits and puppies. The puppy washes himself with his tongue. The monkey saves a little duckling that gets stuck on the plane's wing. The Bluto character indulges in cowardly slapstick. All of this in a cartoon where Japanese bombers and torpedo planes wipe out an enemy fleet, complete with ships blowing up and sinking. In one scene a bomb hits a battleship, and an American sailor runs away with his pants literally on fire.
  • Off-into-the-Distance Ending: Ends with the aircraft carrier sailing off into the distance. (To get sunk at Midway six months later, probably.)
  • Riding the Bomb: The monkey's torpedo goes astray, so the monkey jumps from his torpedo bomber, turns the torpedo around, and rides it across the water straight into an American battleship. Since this is a kid's cartoon, the monkey is blown straight up into the air by the explosion, and back into the cockpit of his plane.
  • Roman à Clef: If one didn't get that "Demon Island" is supposed to be Pearl Harbor, the harbor there is drawn to look exactly like Pearl. If that weren't enough, the battleships are tied up in two rows just like they were at Pearl. And if that weren't enough, "Aloha Oe" plays on the soundtrack as the Japanese planes make their final approach to the American fleet.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Plenty, like in the scene where a bright, cheery children's song accompanies the monkeys setting fire to a field of American aircraft.
  • Space Jews: The "demons" of Demon Island are white people with horns.
  • Speaking Simlish: Bluto speaks in gibberish grunts, although whoever was recording his voice did a pitch-perfect imitation of the voice and tone of Bluto from the Popeye cartoons.
  • Wartime Cartoon: Released in 1943, after the war had turned bad for the Japanese but a little bit before American bombers started laying waste to their country.