Japanese animation has longstanding links to nationalism. For example, relatively early in its history, Jonathan Clements quotes sources suggesting that animation was used to promote the singing of Japan’s national anthem before film screenings, through a short film called Kokka Kimigayo (The National Anthem: His Majesty’s Reign, 1931) made by Ōfuna Noburo. It is ‘hence liable to have been one of the most widely seen pieces of domestic animation in the 1930s’ (Clements 2013, 47). Animation’s links to nationalism in Japan developed further during the Second World War, which marked a pivotal moment in Japanese animation production. Thomas Lamarre argues that this animation was not simply nationalistic, but that it was also racist and speciesist. Analysing Momotarō: Umi no shinpei (Momotarō’s Divine Army, Seo Mitsuyo 1945) and Tagawa Suihō’s Norakuro manga and anime Lamarre argues that ‘Speciesism is a displacement of race and racism (relations between humans as imagined in racial term) onto relations between humans and animals’ (Lamarre 2008, 76). The semi-covert depictions of differing nations as different animal species within Japan’s World War II animation subtended state discourses about enemies and a planned Co-Prosperity Sphere in Asia.
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