Database for Animation Studies


Research on the Achievements of Japan's First Three Animators

Oten Shimokawa (1892-1973, born in Okinawa), Jun-ichi Kouuchi (1886-1970, born in Okayama), and Seitaro Kitayama (1888-1945, born in Wakayama) are regarded as the three originators of animated film in Japan, each releasing works al around the same time in 1917. Shimokawa and Kouuchi were both originally cartoonists, but were then commissioned by film companies to produce animations. Shimokawa animated his own cartoon "Imokawa Mukuzo", but only produced about 5 works. Kouuchi produced around 15 works in all, including the Japanese period drama animation "Hanawa Hekonai, Meito no Maki (Hanawa Hekonai, Famous Swords, 1917)" and government propaganda films. Kitayama, on the other hand, was originally a painter and magazine editor. He developed an interest in the French and American animations he saw at the cinema, and independently sold his works to film companies. Unlike Shimokawa and Kouuchi, his works covered a broad spectrum of fields, including films based on old Japanese tales such as "Saru Kani Gassen (The Crab Gets Its Revenge on the Monkey,1917)" "Momotaro (The Peach Boy, 1918)" , publicity films for the government's insurance and postal operations such as "Chokin no Susume (Recommendation of Postal Savings, 1917)", scientific films to aid the spread of dental hygiene such as "Kouku Eisei (Dental Hygiene,1922)", and films for education in science and mathematics such as "En (Circle, 1937)" . In all, he produced more than 30 animations. Kitayama also had numerous followers, including Zenjiro "Sanae" Yamamoto and Kiichiro Kanai. He even established Japan's first studio "Kitayama Studio" devoted entirely to producing animated film s. These factors make the achievements of Seitaro Kitayama arguably the greatest of the three originators of animated film in Japan. Their methods of animation, it must be added, were primitive: many of their works were cutout, drawing on paper animations, and they hardly ever used cel.

  • Title (Japanese)
  • Publish Date
  • Authors
  • Publication
  • Publication Volume
3 (2A)
  • Publication Page Number
  • Publication’s Website
  • Keywords

Related Lists