28 February 2017

Gakken Stop Motion Animation (1958-1960)



Gakken Publishers are celebrating their 70th anniversary this year.  Since the company’s establishment in 1947, Gakken has become well known for its educational books and other educational materials.  In the run-up to their anniversary last year, Gakken began uploading their back catalogue of educational stop motion animation biweekly onto their YouTube Channel.  This is an overview of the first ten films, which were released between 1958 and 1960.

The first film is an adaptation of a well-known story by popular late Taishō / early Shōwa  writer Kenji Miyazawa.   “The Restaurant of Many Orders” has a particularly important place in Japanese animation history because the story served as the inspiration for animation pioneer Tadanari Okamoto’s final film, which was completed posthumously by his friend, Kihachirō Kawamoto. 

The other short films are adaptations of folk and fairy tales from Japan and Europe.  Some are adapted in a traditional fashion, while others are modern interpretations.  In addition to puppets, cutouts and some experimental techniques are used.

The two most prominent stop motion animators to establish themselves in Gakken’s animation department were Jinbo Matsue (神保まつえ, b. 1928) and Kazuhiko Watanabe (渡辺和彦, 19??-1997).  Matsue joined Gakken in 1953 after graduating from college in Yokohama with a degree in education.  After initially working on picture books for children, she moved into filmmaking.   Watanabe became interested in puppet animation after meeting the legendary Czech animator Jiří Trnka while a student of Western painting at Tokyo University of the Arts. 

Gakken’s films were distributed to schools and libraries in Japan and in the United States (via Coronet Films) initially on 16mm, moving to video in the 1980s.  This is the first time the films have been distributed in digital format.  Links to the films and to reviews of the films are below.  They are currently only available in Japanese, but I hope the summaries that I have been writing with the reviews will aid non-Japanese speakers in following the storylines.



1958
The Restaurant of Many Orders
注文の多い料理店à
Chūmon no Ōi Ryōriten
dir. Gō ONO / 小野豪
pr. Namisaburō TŌHEI / 藤平浪三郎
original story: Kenji MIYAZAWA / 宮沢賢治watch film
read review




1959
The Dove and the Ant
ありとはと
Ari to Hato
dir. Shinichi KAMIHAYASHI / 神林伸一
pr. Kazuhiko WATANABE / 渡辺和彦
original story: Aesop Fable / イソップ寓話
watch film
read review







1959

Inemuri Būchan
いねむりぶうちゃん
dir. Shinichi KAMIHAYASHI / 神林伸一
pr. Matsue JINBO / 神保まつえ
original story: foreign (non-Japanese) tale /外国むかし話
watch film
read review







1959
Kozaru no Buranko
こざるのぶらんこ
dir. Shinichi KAMIHAYASHI / 神林伸一
pr. Matsue JINBO / 神保まつえ
original story: Hirosuke HAMADA / 浜田広watch film
read review








1959
Polon Guitar
ポロンギター
dir. Gō ONO / 小野豪
pr. Shinichi KAMIHAYASHI / 神林伸一 
original story: fairy tale / 創作童話
watch film
read review




1960
The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
いなかねずみとまちねずみ
Inaka Nezumi to Machi Nezumi
dir. Kazuhiko WATANABE / 渡辺和彦
pr. Shinichi KAMIHAYASHI / 神林伸一 
original story: Aesop Fable / イソップ寓話
watch film
read review




1960
Kasa Jizō
かさじぞう
dir. Yūhei WATANABE / 渡辺隆平
pr. Haruo ITOH / 伊藤治雄
original story: Japanese folk tale / 日本むかし話
watch film
read review




1960
The North Wind and the Sun
きたかぜとたいよう
Kita-kaze to Taiyō
dir. Kazuhiko WATANABE / 渡辺和彦
pr. Haruo ITOH / 伊藤治雄
original story: Aesop Fable / イソップ寓話
watch film
read review




1960
The Elves and the Shoemaker
くつやとこびと
Kutsuya to Habito
dir. Matsue JINBO / 神保まつえ
pr. Haruo ITOH/ 伊藤治雄
original story: Grimm fairy tale /グリム童話
watch film
read review





1960
Town Musicians of Mori
もりのおんがくたい
Mori no Ongakutai
dir. Matsue JINBO / 神保まつえ
pr. Haruo ITOH / 伊藤治雄
original story: Grimm fairy tale / グリム童話
watch film
read review





Cathy Munroe Hotes 2017

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...