Digitally Restored “Momotaro, Umi-no-Shinpei” (Released 1945, First feature length Japanese animation) directed by Mitsuyo Seo Ends its World Premiere at the 69th Festival De Cannes Classics: Restored Prints with Great Success

A World Premiere of digitally restored “Momotaro, Umi-no-Shinpei,” (Eng. title “MOMOTARO, SACRED SAILORS” / Released in 1945), directed by Mitsuyo Seo, took place at the 69th Festival De Cannes in Salle Bunuel as part of the Cannes Classics: Restored Prints on May 13th (local time) and IMAGICA Corp. (CEO: Yukihiro Fujikawa, Located in Shinagawa, Tokyo) took part in technically supporting the restoration.


Kensuke Nakamura(Second from the left)


Packed Venue

After its premiere, IMAGICA’s Kensuke Nakamura (Restoration Supervisor) along with Toshihiro Takahashi (Managing Director) of the Shochiku Co. Ltd. greeted the packed venue as the team responsible for this restoration.
Managing Director Takahashi addressed the crowd first and commented “IMAGICA is Japan’s leading film laboratory and supported this restoration.” Nakamura, after being introduced, thanked for the opportunity to be involved in this project and continued to discuss about the work involved:

“We, IMAGICA has started commercial film laboratory since 1935 and it has longest history in Japan. We also handled many of restoration projects such as Japanese FIRST animation ”The Dull Sword” , FIRST movie ”Momijigari” and four titles(*), as Mr. Takahashi mentioned. We worked only for the image restoration but it was our challenge to complete the restoration this Japanese first feature animation title.”

“We started to scan 35mm Inter Positive film in 4K, own by Shochiku and digital restoration in 2K. The Inter Positive film itself was good condition but the image into Inter Positive film was very poor quality due to status of Original Negative film in optical process. The Original Negative film had smany scratch, dirt, flicker, tear and lacking of frame.”
“It was difficulty work for restoration because it mixed dirt and distortion cell animation. Additionally, this animation uses method to draw character independently which show each character moves largely like live action. It was also challenging to restore for us.”
“To improve image quality, we selected manual based restoration because the automated image process shows artifacts on original image. It took three hours for one second duration to restore severe tearing area.”
“We tried to reproduce image show at theater in 70 years ago with considering production environment and director’s intent at the time. Please enjoy the movie with memory of Japan, back to 1945.”
“Thank you for your attention.”

IMAGICA has been involved with many film and image works as the oldest commercial processing laboratory in Japan since 1935. We are currently focusing on imaging archives starting with digital restoration. We hope to contribute more in passing on these precious images from within and outside of Japan by undertaking these restoration projects.

* “The Ballad of Narayama” (Directed by Keisuke Kinoshita), “An Autumn Afternoon” (Directed by Yasujiro Ozu), “Cruel Story of Youth” (Directed by Nagisa Oshima), “The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums” (Directed by Kenji Mizoguchi)

“Momotaro, Umi-no-Shinpei” Released 1945 / Eglish Title: “MOMOTARO, SACRED SAILORS”
A monkey, a dog, a pheasant and a bear travels southward after resting in their villages at the foot of Mt. Fuji. A squadron flies to Onigashima under the command of Momotaro. Parachutes blossoms in the sky. Momotaro and company will take over the island after a swift and successful mission. The village children pretend parachuting with glee as they run towards Mt. Fuji.

Support: Ministry of Navy, Production: Shochiku Co. Ltd., Construction: Kiichiro Kumaki, Script and Directing: Mitsuyo Seo, Shadowgraph: Kenzo Masaoka, Music: Yuji Koseki, Lyrics: Hachiro Sato

■Mitsuyo Seo(1911-2010)
Born in Kobe prefecture in 1911. Studied under Kenzo Masaoka(*), an animator in Kyoto, after joining the Japana Prolet−Kino Union. Created the “Sankichi the Monkey” series in 1933. Following the hit of “Momotaro-no-Umi Washi” in 1943, “Momotaro, Umi-no-Shinpei” was released in 1945. He was known to be an illustrated book author after the War.

* “Father of Japanese animation”; He cooperated in “Momotaro, Umi-no-Shinpei” as a shadowgraph artist and was the director of “Kumo-to-Tulip” (1943) ; digitally restored in 2012.

IMAGICA has provided technical support in digitally restoring “Kumo-to-Tulip,” directed by Kenzo Masaoka, included in the Blu-ray / DVD “Momotaro, Umi-no-Shinpei / Kumo-to-Tulip” scheduled for release (Manufactured and Distributed by Shochiku) on August 3, 2016.

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