Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Evil Mickey Attacks Japan (1934) - You Cannot Escape the Evil Mouse!

Evil Mickey Attacks Japan animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Evil Mickey Attacks Japan


This is one you won't see being sold at Disney World.

Imagine yourself living in an alternate reality, where up is down, right is wrong, and Mickey Mouse is an evil giant hell-bent on your merciless destruction. That is "Evil Mickey Attacks Japan" (1934).

This is a wild video from the early days of anime. Japan was doing stellar animation well before World War II, and this is one of the most bizarre pieces of animation you ever will see. It's quite good... and quite bad.

What we have is a fleet of evil fanged Mickey Mouses flying bats, and accompanied by snakes and crocodiles, attacking the innocent children living in peace on Gilligan's Island. The children sing and dance all day long and just want to be left alone. Felix the Cat is there, along with a host of other poorly-rendered cartoon characters of the era, most now long forgotten. But here comes Evil Mickey jumping out of a picture book!

Yes, Evil Mickey - actually an airfleet of Evil Mickeys, supported by armies of crocodiles and snakes - has arrived to pave over paradise and put up a parking lot.

The children cry and flee! But, before long, somebody comes to the rescue - Japanese historical figures. Apparently, Samurai from the 1600s knew how to fly better than those evil Mickey Mouses! They take on the big Mickey Mice with their hordes of smaller heroes and  - well, watch and find out. Everything ends peacefully, the cherry trees bloom in happiness, and the natives go back to their singing. I'm not up on my Japanese legends, and can't read the Japanese writing throughout which no doubt says how foolish the dumb Mickster was for revealing his arrogance and wickedness and attacking poor, innocent people - but you don't have to be to enjoy this voyage deep into the inner recesses of the Japanese mindset of the time.

Quite a swordsman, that Mickey Mouse! But not good enough! Take that! And that!

Evil Mickey Attacks Japan animatedfilmreviews.filminspector.com
Evil Mickey attacks!

This is from Komatsuzawa Hajime’s “Toybox Series #3: Picture Book 1936” ("Momotaro vs Mickey Mouse"). The cartoon character is Momotaro, aka “Peach boy,” a Japanese propaganda hero.

The video makes a big point of stating more than once that it is set in Japan in 1936 even though it was created in 1934. Why they chose that particular year, I have no idea (it would have been eerie if they had pulled 1941 out of a hat somehow and set up way too many conspiracy theories). There is speculation that it has something to do with expiration of a Naval Treaty in 1936, which some Japanese convinced themselves would lead to an immediate American attack on them. It's a crazy rationale, built on paranoia, but perfectly representative of certain people in the 1930s (and not just in Japan). Probably, the animators wanted the audience to fully get the point that this was not about historical figures at all, but rather about enemies of the present and the very near future hint hint hint.

Naturally, this is propaganda at its finest - or lowest - depending on how you want to think about it. During its militaristic period in the 1930s, Japan argued that it was freeing the continent from the grip of Western colonialism. Naturally, to kick out the Westerners from places like China and Korea and the Phillipines and Indonesia and, well, a lot of places, Japan first had to invade all of those other countries. In documented cases, they went about massacring the native people, raping their women and looting everything that wasn't nailed down in a manner one assumes Evil Mickey was intent on doing.

That's all historical fact, so don't get on me about that por favor.

This short is not subtle, and takes the usual route of propagandists of imputing to others what you yourself are doing (invading China and Korea, for instance, which was, in fact, happening around the time this short was set).

I'm not sure if it is more disturbing seeing Mickey Mouse stung to death by bees, or seeing a children's cartoon that positively glories in machine gun attacks and cannon fire. A solid branch of Japanese culture of the time had a particular antipathy towards American icons: it is said that Japanese soldiers making banzai charges during World War II would literally yell "Go to Hell Babe Ruth!" as they lunged toward the incredulous Americans. That's just how it was. Real baseball nuts, those Imperialist Japanese.

It's somewhat ironic that Japan now (and probably then) is extremely into Mickey Mouse and practically venerates Disney. That no doubt irked the hardliners back then big time and led in roundabout fashion to this short and the Evilness of the Mickster.

I don't think this short got a wide distribution in the United States.

Oh, politically correct disclaimer: this is propaganda of a sort that was common to many countries of the time and does not in any way reflect upon current Japanese attitudes. The Japanese People are very nice and our allies and surely find this as weird now as anyone else.



2 comments:

  1. You should probably read http://boingboing.net/2008/03/17/1936-japanese-cartoo.html for the actual explanation

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    1. Thanks for the link. I've updated a few of the facts as a result. I had no idea this was something that anybody else even noticed or cared about, much less wrote anything about. Appreciate the heads up!

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