Here we move into the 1940s, WWII and the dodgy, overly-positive world of propaganda. Propaganda is almost by definition absurd and deceptive; if it wasn’t so cognitively dissonant and detached from observed reality then we’d just call it informative or documentarian. But there’s still something particularly disturbing about the hijacking of a medium intended mainly for children. The slides shown here are from How to Build a Home Air Raid Shelter and from Kintaro the Paratrooper. The latter isa militaristic rewrite of the traditional story about Momotoro the Peach Boy, who joined up with animal friends to defend Japan from invading demons. You can see what they did there, obviously.
Kintaro the Paratrooper. Here come the British soldiers. Their tank seems a bit wee, but perhaps that’s intentional. I’m British but I still can’t really object to this racist caricature of us with our stupid shorts and our sunburned ears and noses. Stereotypes all have an original.
Kintaro throws a grenade at the British tank. Kawaiiiiiiiiiiiiiii.
Kintaro’s Tanuki friend deploys a flame thrower, adorably.
Cute Japanese boar soldiers merrily bayonetting British troops. What larks.
From ‘How to Build a Home Air Raid Shelter’: women and children in military uniform take shelter. The radio is announcing that an air raid has finished. Look how happy they are! And it’s not just because the air raid is over. It’s also fun to spend some quality time together in a bunker as fiery death rains down from Allied bombers to destroy your homes and work places!
To get the bad taste of Kintaro and the air raid shelter out of our mouths, how about this genuinely charming story for children? 1942’s ‘Banana Train’ by Taneomi Utagawa does what it says on the tin and tells the story of a group of monkeys who organise a train full of bananas.
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