Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

09:22:00 pm , 8020 words, 14823 views     Categories: Studio: A Pro, Studio: Group Tac, Studio: Ajia-Do, 1970s

Two forgotten Tac classics: Manga Ijin Monogatari and Manga Kodomo Bunko

Animated Tales of Great PeopleAnimated Classics of Children's Literature

In the wake of the success of Manga Nihon Mukashibanashi (1975-1995), Group Tac produced two other omnibus-format TV series that were not as long-lived and essentially disappeared into the pit of anime history, but were equally creative and appealing. These shows are not mere educational throwaways; they're everything you would expect from the creative minds at Group Tac, capturing them at the height of their powers in the studio's stylistically more flexible early days.

The first TV show produced by Tac after MNMB was an adaptation of Huckleberry Finn (1976) directed by Hiroyoshi Mitsunobu. This series was the product of Fuji TV wanting to expand its lineup of animated adaptations of western literature or 'meisaku' anime, but Nippon Animation being at full capacity already. Fuji TV asked film distributor Herald, and Herald in turn appointed Group Tac to the task on the merit of the Jack and the Beanstalk film they had produced for Herald shortly prior. The series did not have good ratings and was canceled early, and Tac was never asked to do another Fuji TV show.

Mainichi Broadcasting, on the other hand, was happy with the ratings of Manga Nihon Mukashibanashi, which led to them getting Tac to produce two shows in a similar vein that carried on the 'manga' nomenclature: Manga Ijin Monogatari (1977-1978) and Manga Kodomo Bunko (1978-1979).

Other studios caught on and promptly copied the educational 'manga' format with shows such as Manga Sekai Mukashibanashi (Dax, 1976-1979), Manga Nihon Emaki (World Television, 1977-1978), Manga Hajimete Monogatari (Dax, 1978-1984), Manga Isoppu Monogatari (Nippon Animation, 1983) and Manga Nihonshi (Tsuchida Production, 1983-1984). But where Tac's two shows carried on the artistic and creator-centric approach of MNMB, many of these copycats were merely opportunistic children's pap piggybacking on Tac's example, and have little artistic merit.

'Manga' in this context was of course used to signify 'animated' and not comic books. At this period they still referred to TV animation as 'terebi manga' and animated movies as 'manga eiga'. This usage must have died out around this time.

Unfortunately neither of these shows are currently available in Japan, nor I assume anywhere else. It's a shame. Although definitely for children, they're still visually appealing after all these years and their more compact scale makes them more suited to a DVD release than the MNMB, and even the MNMB has gotten a partial DVD release. Manga Ijin Monogatari at least got a partial VHS release at one point, but that is long gone and the show's delicate visuals would benefit immensely from a pristine transfer. In the case of Huck Finn this may be impossible. It seems that the original stock of the TV show may have been lost in the process of editing together a movie version in the early 1990s. Normally nothing of this sort happened with Manga Ijin Monogatari or Manga Kodomo Bunko, so it would be great if these could see the light of day sometime.

Manga Ijin Monogatari or Animated Tales of Great People (1977-1978)

Clockwise from top left: Alfred Nobel, Nicolaus Copernicus, Gregor Mendel and Robert Koch

MIM is self-explanatory: it tells the story of great historical figures, two 10-minute stories per episode, just like MNMB. Despite telling stories all inspired by reality, the style is never anything close to realistic. Whimsical and imaginative animation is the order of the day. The episodes are like picture books come to life, favoring free-wheeling and playful invention over real-world linear narratives. The stories are thus almost never straight-faced and textbook dry, but rather embellish the stories however necessary to make them entertaining. You can clearly see the hand of the artist interpreting the tales. Their interpretation is the whole point. That's why this series is still worth watching almost 40 years later. Otherwise it would just be another one of the scores of unremarkable educational children's animation made in the decades since.

One of the identifying traits of Group Tac is striking use of sound effects and music. The creativity of Group Tac co-founder and audio director Atsumi Tashiro in this role is presumably to thank for this. MIM is a classic example of how Group Tac's musical creativity helped set its shows apart. The show not only looks but also sounds like no other show out there due to the novel idea to use synthesizer music by synth pioneer Shoji Osamu. Although at moments the primitive synth can sound dated, Shoji Osamu has a remarkable range and isn't limited to cheap imitations of conventional arrangements. The score is quite powerful when it uses the unique capabilities of the synth to create eerie and otherworldly sounds.

The director of the series is Masakazu Higuchi, an ex-Mushi Pro figure who worked at Group Tac between 1975 and 1979 on all of Tac's omnibus shows of this period. The producer is MNMB producer Mikio Nakata and the art director is MNMB regular Koji Abe. The episode directors, animators and artists are a mix of MNMB faces and new faces.

Masakazu Higuchi obviously used his connections to bring in people he knew. In my recent MNMB post I noted how Masakazu Higuchi is the one who invited Studio Arrow's Susumu Shiraume onto the show (his first job was animating episode 35 directed by Masakazu Higuchi). For MIM he got Studio Arrow's Isamu Kumada to animate the show's two openings in the shrewd realization that someone with expertise in ad work was a perfect candidate to produce a catchy opening. I haven't seen the second, but the first is quite lovely and unlike any other anime opening out there (watch). His ad man expertise is evident in the op's economy of means, with its Steinberg-esque line figures and striking minimalistic visual schemes. In spirit it feels closer to the experimental films of the Animation Sannin no Kai than to typical anime.

Susumu Shiraume of course is also present as an episode director. I've only seen his Alfred Nobel episode, but it has the same pleasing animation style as can be seen in his early MNMB work. The character drawing style is closer to something like a cross between Yellow Submarine and Peanuts than to anime. Sharply designed shots like the one of the generals pictured above betray his experience in ad work and working on Topcraft foreign co-productions.

The series is also unique for its creative title cards. The title cards for each episode of MNMB were all done by Hideo Takagu, who also handled the main titles for MIM (pictured above). Normally he was to handle the title cards for MIM, but Masakazu Higuchi convinced the studio to let him do the title cards himself because he had creative ideas for each title card that he wanted to use. Higuchi's title cards each adopt a different visual scheme relevant to the story at hand. It's a nice little touch that adds to the overall impression of the show being very much a handmade product, with careful thought put into what visuals would be appropriate for each figure. For example, the Hans Christian Andersen episode has the letters of his name float down like snowflakes to remind of The Little Match Girl, and the Gregor Mendel episode has peas pop out of a pod and spell out his name. You can see an image of each title on Higuchi's own home page here along with their original pencil designs. (The page also has a lot of his design sheets for MNMB and MKB.)

A nice surprise in the recent reboot of Cosmos was the use of animation to tell the stories of several historical scientific figures, which it did by dramatizing the key moments of their lives. MIM also devotes a large proportion of its episode to scientific figures. Also included are writers, composers and painters who are obvious choices. The series' Japanese origin is evident in the large proportion of Japanese figures. Lacking are more contemporary figures, religious leaders, or otherwise divisive figures. Gandhi is a glaring omission. I thought initially they were put off by all the massacres that are unavoidable in describing his life, but then they do an episode about the deadliest mass murderer in history, Genghis Khan. The laudable omission of other commonly glorified military figures such as Napoleon is less impressive in this light.

One odd name in the list is Babe Ruth. If it doesn't seem to fit in, it's because it was the pilot episode produced before chief director Masakazu Higuchi came onboard. The rest of the list is fairly more 'serious' in its choices (only scientific and artistic figures, no athletes or movie stars or the like), although his inclusion does say something about his popularity in the 1970s.

The series' asset is that it isn't primarily concerned with education, but with visual creativity. This is mostly a good thing, but has a downside. Some of the stories focus on entertainment to the point of obscuring the historical figure's importance. The episode about Wilhelm Roentgen, the winner of the first Nobel Prize in physics for discovering X-Rays, for example, uses a cute mouse character to summarize the discovery, but goes overboard and borders on becoming an episode of Tom and Jerry. The episode about Thomas Edison focuses on his childhood and only briefly mentions his later inventions as a closing afterthought.

The more satisfying episodes manage to effectively convey the figure's importance by dint of the good artistry of their directors and animators, of which a few examples are highlighted below.

Episode #42a: Helen Keller directed by Katsui/Higuchi/Abe

Helen Keller's story is well known and a staple of this kind of show. I was prepared to shrug the episode off as emotionally manipulative schmaltz, but instead I found it honestly and truly moving. The episode went beyond the call of duty in visually dramatizing her plight as a child. I found the episode to be great visual storytelling. A succession of poetic and creative visual schemes are used to represent her isolation and loneliness and the gradual discovery of meaning in the world around her.

For example, in one shot, prior to Helen discovering the meaning of words, a small child sits immobile at a desk in the center of the screen. Dwarfed by her surroundings, the seasons come and go. Children run around playing, and couples blithely walk around on Sunday strolls in their finery. Later, when she discovers the meaning of words, Helen is represented as a wind-up doll walking blindly through a dark room full of abstract shapes, eventually bumping into one and falling on her side. It's a striking visual expression of her powerlessness.

The episode was co-directed, unusually, by a trio: animator Chikao Katsui, series director Masakazu Higuchi and art director Koji Abe. The designs and animation were by Toshiyasu Okada, one of the great unknown animators of the 1970s. (I talked about him a bit in my post on Bannertail.) I'm not sure how the collaboration between the three directors worked, but obviously pitting their collective creativity is what produced such a visually dense episode. The other episodes have more of the quality of a personal creation, with commensurately less of the deliberate and honed quality that comes of the collaborative process. Even though the designs are not particularly realistic or appealing, and are somewhat blandly generic, the animation never feels cheap or inadequate. The episode isn't about animation grandstanding or realistic movement. It's a great example of Mushi Pro-school image-based storytelling.

Shoji Osamu's scoring of this episode is also very effective. His music is at its most dissonant and abstract during the early parts of the episode, and gradually shifts in tone towards more harmonic and melodic sounds as Helen's world opens up. The score is a big part of why the episode is so affecting.

The episode also appears to use Helen Keller's actual writing to narrate the events, which helps to make the episode work. Even in translation the quality of her writing comes through. Jun Sogabe often receives credit for "bungei" in this series. I'm not positive what this entails, but I've translated it as dialogue, to contrast with the episodes in which someone is credited with the more conventional term "kyakuhon". A bungei credit would mean that a plot was written and dialogue was adapted from the source material, whereas a kyakuhon credit would mean the scriptwriter came up with everything himself as would be the case in a conventional scenario. For example, MNMB writer Shuji Hirami is credited with script for the Hans Christian Andersen episode I've outlined next.

Episode #27b: Hans Christian Andersen directed by Tsutomu Shibayama

This episode takes a very different tack from the previous. This episode is an original story based in the real world, featuring an elderly Hans Christian Andersen as the protagonist. He has come to a Mediterranean port city somewhere in Italy on vacation. He notices a young boy waiting on the steps below his window each day. He discovers that the boy is waiting for his father, a seaman, to return home, refusing to believe the news that he was killed. Andersen comforts the boy with by relating the story of a boy named Hans who overcame loss as a young boy by holding out hope and using his creativity to translate adversity into stories.

Andersen apparently traveled to Italy often during his lifetime, the last time at age 67, 3 years before death in 1875. Shuji Hirami must have built up the story around this factual nugget. It's easy enough to dramatise Andersen's stories, but to come up with a way of conveying Andersen's achievement that isn't merely didactic is more of a challenge. The 1971 Mushi Pro TV series Andersen Monogatari animated the stories, while the 1968 Toei version of the same name wove the stories together into a single story, turning Andersen into a kind of Mary Poppins character.

Shuji Hirami's approach is a more low-key and tasteful way of depicting Andersen's legacy. Before his death, an elderly Andersen looks back on his life work through the lens of a chance encounter with a younger version of himself. The message is subtle and not overly sentimental: Creating stories can help us overcome and find meaning.

The narrative style of this episode is more conventional than the Helen Keller episode, which was abstract of necessity to depict Helen's world of darkness and silence. Here, instead, characters are grounded in a specific locale. A few deft establishing shots depict the fishing port environs and its inhabitants. The framing of shots and cutting is more cinematic. Short interludes interrupt the narrative illustrating Andersen's stories in a more colorful and stylized way. Ajia-Do's Tsutomu Shibayama does a fantastic job with the material. His drawings are delectable, as they all are at this period in his career, thanks to great layouts and a brilliant sense of stylization.

The style of the characters is basically in line with the other episodes, but Shibayama's visuals are more technically proficient than most of the other episodes. The characters have the usual bulging, rounded forms, with hatch mark accents here and there. For the section relating the story of the little match girl, he switches to a stark black and red color scheme with flattened perspective and stylized forms like silhouette animation. The ugly duckling section features highly stylized bird forms and scribbly but colorful crayon drawings of vegetation for the backgrounds. Shibayama produced probably his best short-form work for Group Tac on their omnibus series of the late 1970s.

Episode #11b: Vincent van Gogh directed by Hisashi Sakaguchi

The turbulent life of Vincent van Gogh is told in one of the show's most dynamic and intense episodes. Gogh's tempestuous character comes through vividly in this adaptation by the late great manga-ka Hisashi Sakaguchi.

This episode makes for another great contrast with the previous two episodes, indicating the breadth of MIM's graphical and storytelling styles. The pace here is fast and the atmosphere intense. The narrative covers Gogh's entire life from childhood to suicide, and of course dramatizing the events that led to him cutting off his own ear. In the short span of a few minutes the episode does a remarkable job of making us understand the state of mind that led him to make that decision.

The episode also clearly shows how his little brother Theo supported him throughout his life. In someone else's hands, the suicide might have been skipped over, but Sakaguchi knows it's the only possible ending to his story. The scene is depicted tastefully, without being lurid. We see Gogh painting amidst fields of gold. Suddenly, a shot rings out, and crows are startled into the sky. Gogh's own painting of crows flying in a golden field pans across the screen, as if he had captured in painting the last beautiful sight of his life. This episode is a case of an already moving and tragic story with inherent dramatic potential, given the kind of dramatization that does it justice.

The drawings are particularly interesting. The lines are extremely loose. I don't think there's a single straight line in the entire episode. This seems to evoke Gogh's style, without mimicking it, as if everything in Gogh's vicinity were expressively deformed by the intensity of his passion. The animation by Izumi Watanabe is not particularly remarkable, and is in fact somewhat crude, but is a perfect match with the loose background drawings, which often are drawn in the style of his paintings. The design of Gogh himself is perfect - recognizable and yet loose and free.

Hisashi Sakaguchi had a poetic and romantic sensibility that is a perfect match with Gogh. He joined Mushi Pro and worked under Tezuka on all of the classic Tezuka shows of the 1960s starting with Atom and began drawing manga on the side in 1969. Around 1980 he began to devote himself exclusively to manga. His work blended the humanistic passion of Tezuka's manga with the more modern graphic sensibility of new wave manga-kas like Katsuhiro Otomo.

Sakaguchi was high school friends with Masakazu Higuchi, and is in fact the one who invited Higuchi to Mushi Pro after Higuchi had quit Tatsunoko in 1966. The two worked together for a few years before Higuchi quit Mushi Pro and the two went their own way. Many years later, for his debut as a series director, Higuchi called on his old friend to help him out directing a few episodes of his show. The episodes he turned in, from what I've sampled, are brilliant without exception. It makes me wish he could have done more instead of focusing exclusively on manga.

Series director Masakazu Higuchi himself had aspirations of becoming a manga-ka since the beginning, and in the late 1980s shifted towards manga. These are but two examples - many of the early Mushi Pro figures in fact drew manga at Mushi Pro, including Hideaki Kitano, Moribi Murano, Masaki Mori and of course Yoshikazu Yasuhiko. Even Osamu Dezaki drew a manga version of Goku's Big Adventure in 1967 for Mushi Pro's famous COM magazine.

Thus this episode captures the dual nature of the ex-Mushi Pro figures, whose creative wiring was a seamless blend of manga and animated expression. The result is some of the most graphically pleasing and dynamic animation of the period.

Incidentally, Hisashi Sakaguchi did his episodes of MIM from his artist collective Garakuta (meaning rubbish), which is credited with the animation in his four other MIM episodes. This is the only time an animator (Izumi Watanabe) was credited by name. The two later married.

As for Hisashi Sakaguchi's other episodes, I've only seen the Gregor Mendel episode, but I can confirm that it is equally brilliant. Hisashi Sakaguchi is one of the few people I've found to have an instinctive understanding of animated expression on par with Osamu Dezaki. He was otherwise not very prolific due to his focus on manga. MIM wound up being one of the few places he had the opportunity to create films from the bottom up. His episodes make me wish he'd had more opportunities in animation. It's high time this tragically short-lived genius got his due.

Manga Kodomo Bunko or Animated Classics of Children's Literature (1978-1979)

Clockwise from top left: The Lily of the Valley, The Friend's Dog, The Fox's Window, The 5 Sen Coin

A new omnibus series from Group Tac started without pause after the end of MIM, this time adapting classics of Japanese children's literature. The director this time was Tsuneo Maeda, who had just handed over the reins of MNMB to Mitsuo Kobayashi. The producer was MNMB's other producer, Ippei Onimaru. The audio director remained, as in all Tac productions, Atsumi Tashiro.

Even moreso than MIM, this series is a beautiful series with tremendous stylistic variety and quality work by talented animators. It has broad appeal and deserves more recognition than it has received. However, it is reported that the original prints of the show may have been lost, which does not bode well for its revival.

Due to the different main staff, and of course the different requirements of the material, the tone and style of Manga Kodomo Bunko is quite different, more realistic than the very cartoony and light-hearted MIM. Many of the stories take place in the early part of the 20th century in rural Japan, and the series has something of a nostalgic, elegiac, bucolic quality. The visuals are earthy, refined, painterly in a way that reminds of MNMB - just without the fantastic elements, and with more sophisticated stories.

The series is steeped in the atmosphere of Taisho-era Japan. It feels like a 1920s children's book come to life, with its simple, rounded characters and pre-modern vision of a simpler Japanese life. Specifically, MKB seems to carry on the spirit of the paintings of artists like Shotaro Honda in the seminal children's magazine Kodomo no Kuni. Even the episodes set in the immediate aftermath of the war still seem pre-war in spirit, as the postwar boom that epitomizes the Showa period had yet to set in.

Visually, the series is a feast of beautiful art thanks to the work of MNMB regulars like Tatsuro Kadoya, Koji Abe and Kadono Mariko. Most of the stories are realistic stories about the everyday life of children in Japan in the early part of the 20th century such as The Lily of the Valley and The 50 Sen Coin (pictured at left above), but there are also a few stories about the war such as the magnificent Song of Hiroshima and The Escaped Monkey, and a few more fantastical stories such as The Adventures of Rainbow Cat and The Fox's Window. This makes for a good variety, and keeps the series from becoming too one-note.

The staff each bring a completely different style to each story. Shinichi Tsuji shines with his more formalistic and highly stylized work in the show. Ajia-Do's Tsutomu Shibayama and Osamu Kobayashi create some of their best work of the period in MKB. I've highlighted an episode of each of the latter three below. Even the less technically noteworthy episodes by directors such as Norio Yazawa, who has less of a striking style, remain eminently enjoyable due to the classy style, and the great stories by well-known authors such as Yuzo Yamamoto, Sakae Tsuboi and Takeo Arishima as well as many that I'd never heard of. Reportedly at least some of these stories were culled from the pages of The Red Bird, so it seems probable that Shin-Ei Doga took the idea for their 1979 Heart of the Red Bird series from Group Tac's Manga Kodomo Bunko.

There are even a few surprise faces in the bunch, such as the Shingo Araki-Himeno Michi duo, whose cute drawings of the rambunctious children of The Pee Inari (#18b) work very well against the beautiful bamboo forest paintings of Kazunori Shimomichi. Tatsuro Kadoya similarly produces gorgeous paintings of the countryside in the Brothers episode (#13b). MIM director Masakazu Higuchi directs a few episodes, bringing a notably more retro and cartoonish style to his characters in The Town without a Clock (#11b). His whimsical and colorful Rainbow Cat episode (#42b) is a delight and a real change from the more realistic episodes.

Atsumi Tashiro is presumably the one responsible for the remarkable musical scores that grace both shows. The previous series had benefited from a novel synth music score, and this time they did something equally daring and creative, but going in a different direction. Usually a TV series will have a single person scoring it. To match the omnibus format with different authors being adapted by different staff groupings, this time they called in ten famous modern classical composers to each produce an individual score for each episode.

Composers called in include: Noda Teruyuki, Katsuhiro Tsubono, Shigeaki Saegusa, Tokuhide Niimi, Roh Ogura, Koichi Sugiyama, Komei Hayama, Akihiro Komori, Michio Kitazume and Seiji Yokoyama. Some of these were involved in anime later such as Shigeaki Saegusa (Gundam ZZ), Koichi Sugiyama (Ideon) and Komori Akihiro (Jacky the Bearcub), but many of these are pure classical composers with a harshly dissonant modern style that is at odds with the usual harmonic world of anime. Many of the pieces were played by the Tokyo Quintet, so you can listen to the Tokyo Quintet performing a piece by Noda Teruyuki and a piece by Katsuhiro Tsubono to get a sense of the thoroughly uncompromisingly modernist music these guys produced for MKB.

The scores they produced are some of the most remarkable I've heard in anime. They're so good that it's a shame they haven't been released separately so they can be appreciated on their own. The notable thing is that the scores aren't used as 'accompaniment' in the typical way; they're actual 10-minute pieces of music that play continuously in the background from start to finish, without moments of silence. This gives the episodes a more sophisticated atmosphere than the episodes might otherwise have had.

Among the best of these scores are the solo scores, as this heightens the impact of the music. Episode #1a The Fox is a great story to begin with, about a group of children who go out one night to a festival and fear that one of the kids may have been possessed by a kitsune, and features an incredible marimba score, although I don't know who scored this one. Episode #1b The Festival Kimono features a great solo flute score by Teruyuki Noda to accompany a story about two beggar children who get adopted by a temple. Seiichiro Uno produced a beautiful solo piano score for episode #2a The Lily of the Valley to match the story about a girl who sneaks into a school to play piano at night.

These early episodes with solo scores are perhaps the pinnacle of Group Tac's early work of this period, in the sense that they are the ultimate expression of the 'solo' approach pioneered by MNMB, in which one person handles each creative task. Add to this the fact that the great Kyoko Kishida performed all of the voices in the first season and you have probably one of the most extreme solo anime of all time.

Indicating how important the musical aspect is to this series, the composer and performer/soloist are credited alongside the director, animator and artist at the beginning of each episode. They were part of the creative team, not merely there to provide accompanying tunes.

It seems the station may not have liked the modern music, though, because from season 3 onwards Seiichiro Uno did the music for every episode in a more conventional style. Although he is a great composer (he did fantastic work on Goku's Big Adventure in 1967), it's a huge change and a step down in the musical quality. The show feels more conventional afterwards. The first season therefore seems to capture the show at its height. (which is not to say there weren't great episodes produced later)

The opening is a beautiful and strange creation directed by Gisaburo Sugii, animated by Tsuneo Maeda, with art by Mihoko Magori. (watch) The series is notable for having 12 different endings, one for each month. Again, each is by a different composer. This is yet another indication of the unusual amount of effort that went into the musical side of things for this show.

Episode #43a: Song of Hiroshima directed by Osamu Kobayashi

One of the most moving stories in the series is given a convincingly cinematic treatment by Osamu Kobayashi.

A man is seen riding a train. He reminisces that he is on his way to meet a girl whom he has met twice before in his life: once when he saved her as an infant from the arms of her dying mother after the atomic bombing on August 6, 1945, and the second time seven years ago when he was summoned by a missing person announcement on the radio. It turns out the woman who summoned him is the one to whom he had handed the child that day in desperation. She had raised the child as her own, naming her Hiroko after the daughter she lost that day. Hiroko grew up ignorant of the events of that day, or what happened to her mother.

The story is based on Sukeyuki Imanishi's experiences as a soldier sent to Hiroshima to provide emergency relief on the day after the bombing. This is possibly one of the first treatments of the atomic bombings in anime, pre-dating the anime version of Barefoot Gen by four years.

This story doesn't focus on the bombing itself but uses it as a backdrop to tell a story about the country's recovery following the war. The innocent little girl represents hope that a new generation untouched by the events of the war will bring life back to the decimated country. The Genbaku Dome is an everpresent reminder in the backdrop throughout the episode's three time periods: on the day after the bombing, seven years later when the narrator tells Hiroko's new mother what happened, and ten years afterwards when he meets the 17 year old Hiroko to tell her about her past. After discovering Hiroko on that day, the narrator's first assignment was rebuilding the train station. 17 years later he meets Hiroko at the pristine new train station that shows no sign of the past.

Osamu Kobayashi displays a mastery of film language here that clearly presages his shift towards directing. His formal, tasteful layouts seem like they could have been framed by a lens, and go a long way towards giving the story its requisite gravitas. The film feels very realistic despite his character drawings being loose and far from photorealistic thanks to his brilliantly timed animation. He had a unique genius for stylizing the body and facial expressions with a minimum of lines and yet making the characters feel real. None of the other directors in the show would have been capable of doing this story justice.

The art by Tetsufumi Oyama has a reduced palette that not only conveys the grayness of the aftermath, but also gives the episode a more cinematic feeling.

Episode #20a Stuck on a Cliff is equally brilliant in terms of showcasing Kobayashi's remarkable talent as a director as well as his unique style of cartoonish yet somehow realistic animation. The montage sequence where the children are playing around has an almost documentary detachment and attention to detail. The drawings of the children swimming around at the beginning are brilliant snapshots that capture their lanky bodies thrashing about with a sketchbook realism. The shot around 6 minutes in where the boy walks towards the cliff and starts climbing is drawn with a spare rate that appears to be 3s or 4s, but the timing of the movement is completely realistic, and the poses all natural and believable. You sense a kind of proto-full limited in his work of this period. Kobayashi will mix up the frame rate dynamically depending on the shot. Walking "follow" shots in Song of Hiroshima, in contrast, are in 2s to convey a more cinematic feeling.

Even the strangely shaped, blobby heads feel somehow caricatural, and not randomly shaped out of laziness or lack of drawing skill. Every character in Osamu Kobayashi's episodes feels like an individual. Tsutomu Shibayama was also a brilliant caricaturist, but his style of caricature was more technical and detailed, more about precise comic exaggeration of feature elements. Osamu Kobayashi manages to capture a person's essence in just a few broad and loose strokes.

Episode #3a The Escaped Monkey is one of the other good wartime stories. It starts out looking like a lighthearted story about monkeys in a zoo but turns into a wrenching observation of the misery of homeless children. The monkey escapes from the zoo, but sees the terrible life the kids are living on the outside, and returns to the zoo realizing he has it better in the zoo. Chikao Katsui directs and Toshiyasu Okada animates.

Episode #18a: The Red Shoes directed by Tsutomu Shibayama

A boy named Hiroshi is playing baseball with his friends one evening when the ball goes flying into the bushes and falls into someone's yard. His friend warns him that the place is haunted, but he goes in anyway and meets a little blond-haired girl named Marie. They become friends, and Hiroshi finds out that her parents passed away just a month ago, and she lets a red balloon go every day with a letter attached for her parents in heaven. One day he goes over to play and finds out that she has been taken by her uncle on a ship to go back with him to the US.

Obviously, this is not based on Andersen's famous story. This is one of the episodes that is actually based on an old children's song rather than a story, in this case a song written in 1922 about a girl with red shoes taken away by a foreigner on a boat. Tsutomu Shibayama expands this fragment into a sad, beautiful little story about friendship between a boy and a girl of different cultures.

What makes the episode truly unforgettable is the stunning visuals. This is one of the most highly stylized of the show's episodes, every shot a striking composition fit for framing - from the eerie house in the woods surrounded by the black outlines of tall trees, to the abstract black shapes of the tankers and cranes against the sunset-red water, to the graveyard through which Hiroshi runs on his way to the port to say farewell to Marie. Shibayama's mastery of layout is on full display here, backed up by the beautiful art of Mariko Kadono.

The episode uses its simple visual scheme to create some clever visual tricks, such as when Hiroshi is looking for his ball in the grass, and we see a shot of the red setting sun beside a black outline of a tree. A little later, we see the same shot again, but the sun suddenly rises quickly, and the little girl steps out from behind the tree. What we thought was the setting sun was in fact her red balloon.

Helping to make the episode work is a lovely score by Akihiro Komori that starts out with a children's choir singing the first verse of the song itself. The music then goes on to use the melody as thematic material throughout the episode, making for a through-conceived episode. This score was clearly written closely tied to the visuals, unlike the early scores which come across as being independent compositions that don't directly comment on the twists and turns of the narrative in the conventional sense.

Tsutomu Shibayama directed/animated at least five other episodes for the show, so he was quite busy with Group Tac shows around this time, presumably returning to MNMB after taking time off to focus on Manga Ijin Monogatari and Manga Kodomo Bunko.

Episode #25a The Fancy Dragonfly is a pure fantasy with pared down visuals and cartoonish insect designs that plays out like an Aesop's fable. Episode #45b The Cow Thief is another brilliantly stylized episode about a bumbling cow thief who winds up leading the cow back to its own home. Episode #50a The Rail Car is an enigmatic story about a boy who sets out on a trip by rail car but finds it takes him far from home. Episode #34b The Musical Clock is a more realistic tale that follows a man and a young boy walking along a dark pre-dawn road. Episode #40b The Snowy Wharf is a dark tale about a group of homeless children living in a shanty on the wharf in the immediate aftermath of the war.

All of these episodes are brilliant episodes to be expected of Shibayama, but The Musical Clock and The Snowy Wharf in particular are two of the show's best episodes for their combination of visual prowess and subtle literary sensibility. Whereas many of the show's stories are understandably childish, with a simplistic thematic treatment that can lack depth for an adult viewer, these two episodes are among the more satisfyingly morally complex and gritty. They go in the opposite direction of the more purely visuals-oriented The Red Shoes and The Fancy Dragonfly, showing that Shibayama wasn't limited to picture-book style abstract visual animation. He could handle realistic material just as well. Both stories deal with challenging subjects in a classy and tasteful way.

The Musical Clock is a realistic but somewhat formal morality play of innocence versus guilt. It all takes place in the span of a walk one morning before dawn. A man and a boy meet on the road and converse along the way. The man seems jittery and evasive. As the episode progresses, we begin to suspect that the man is a thief, but the boy remains oblivious to this in his innocence. The beauty of the episode is in how we can follow the man's train of thought at every step of the way as he gradually comes to regret his actions. It comes across as one of the most psychologically probing episodes as a result. It could be my imagination, but Seiichiro Uno's score for this episode seems to quote the Dies Irae, which if it does is a brilliant touch that underscores the themes of doing the right thing or being judged for ones misdeeds.

The Snowy Wharf tells of a woman who visits a group of orphaned children who huddle together in the cold in a shack by the wharf. The episode features devastatingly beautiful visuals of the deprivation of that period. The episode opens with a image that succinctly conveys the setting and situation in the most effortless way imaginable: a faucet juts out from a pile of rubble, the ocean in the background, dripping water into an overturned army helmet. The setting is a port city in postwar Japan, and the overturned helmet placed there by some desperate soul symbolizes how that era was a struggle to survive amid the chaos of devastated infrastructure and lack of material goods.

Ajia-do actually receives an assistance credit in the ending credits, indicating how valuable Osamu Kobayashi and Tsutomu Shibayama were to the show. Their episodes are easily the best in the whole show.

Episode #8a: The Illusionist directed by Shinichi Tsuji

The Illusionist is based on a story by literary master Ryunosuke Akutagawa about a man who falls prey to a hypnotist's powers without realizing it.

This episode is like a woodblock print come to life. It has one of the most original and confidently executed visual schemes of the series. The backgrounds are full of the telltale hatch marks of a wood carving, and the characters are also drawn with hatch marks as shadows. The animation is spare 5s or 6s most of the time, and character movement is slow and limited to small motions.

Director/animator Shinichi Tsuji draws the characters in a very stiff, clean way with thick, solid lines. It makes them seem like porcelain dolls. His characters are the diametric opposite of Osamu Kobayashi's dynamic and loosely drawn characters. The story is set smack in the middle of Taisho-era Japan in 1920, so everything is a curious mixture of traditional and modern - rickshaws and automobiles, kimonos and bowler hats. The architecture and furnishings all have a somewhat Victorian feeling. On top of that, the protagonist is an Indian national dressed like a Maharajah, so overall the episode feels very exotic in a disorienting way that is a good match with the mystical subject matter.

The story at first seems to simply be about magic, but its on closer inspection it appears to be a metaphorical tale cautioning against Japan's greedy haste to adopt western appurtenances. At the time, Japan was flush with wealth after choosing the winning side in W.W. I, but India wasn't so lucky. It participated in the war on the promise of independence, but the promise wasn't kept. The protagonist of this episode is actually an Indian freedom fighter named Hassan who uses Japan as his base of operation. Magic just happens to be his hobby. He promises to teach his Japanese friend some magic on the condition that he swears to not use it for personal gain. Hassan then hypnotizes his guest and makes him see a dream in which he is tempted to go against his vow. He finally succumbs to the temptation, and realizes that his greed is too strong.

Shinichi Tsuji is another ex-Mushi Pro figure who has been a regular in Gisaburo Sugii's films, being listed at the top of the animation credits in movies as far separated in time as Belladonna (1973) and Stormy Night (2005). He is perhaps best known as the director of the delicate fantasy The Star of Cottonland (1984). He has also been involved with Nippon Animation productions on and off over the years.

Shinichi Tsuji made several other episodes for MKB, and they all benefit from his unique storybook drawing sensibility, with its clean, elegant, refined shapes. Episode #38b The Echoing Shoes in particular is a pleasing fantasy episode that looks very different from everything else in the show with its castles, princess and bright primary colors, almost like a western fairy tale.


Unfortunately the credits below are incomplete because only a handful of the episodes have been uploaded online. Hopefully if the shows ever get a proper release I will be able to complete these credit listings.


まんが偉人物語 Animated Tales of Great People
Group Tac, 1977-1978, 46 episodes (2 stories per episode)

Chief Director:樋口雅一Masakazu Higuchi
Art Director:阿部幸次Koji Abe
Music:東海林修Osamu Shoji
Audio Director:田代敦巳Atsumi Tashiro
Producer:中田実紀雄Mikio Nakata
1a: The Wright Brothers
1b: Babe Ruth
2a: Ludwig van Beethoven
2b: Isaac Newton
Concept & StructureDialogueArtAnimation
殿河内勝
Masaru Tonogochi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
阿部幸次
Koji Abe
槌田幸一
Koichi Tsuchida
3a: Amundsen & Scott
3b: Florence Nightingale
4a: Thomas Alva Edison
Concept & StructureDialogueArtAnimation
やすみ哲夫
Tetsuo Yasumi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
サキ・スタジオ
Saki Studio
細谷秋夫
Akio Hosotani
4b: Ryokan
5a: Alfred Nobel
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
殿河内勝
Masaru Tonogochi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
仔羊館
House of Lambs
白梅進
Susumu Shiraume
5b: Benjamin Franklin
6a: Marco Polo
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
近藤英輔
Eisuke Kondo
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
槌田幸一
Koichi Tsuchida
6b: Hokusai Katsushika
7a: Heinrich Schliemann
7b: Paul Gaugin
8a: Tomitaro Makino
8b: Christopher Columbus
9a: Leonardo da Vinci
9b: Louis Pasteur
10a: Samuel Morse
10b: Matsuo Basho
11a: Johannes Gutenberg
11b: Vincent van Gogh
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
坂口尚
Hisashi Sakaguchi
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
西村邦子
Kazuko Nishimura
渡辺いずみ
Izumi Watanabe
12a: Edward Jenner
12b: Alexander the Great
13a: Alexander Graham Bell
13b: David Livingstone
14a: Robert Koch
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
殿河内勝
Masaru Tonogochi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
秋保富恵
Tomie Akiu
細谷秋夫
Akio Hosotani
14b: Auguste Rodin
Concept, Directing & AnimationDialogueArt
白梅進
Susumu Shiraume
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
仔羊館
House of Lambs
15a: James Watt
15b: Unkei
16a: Genghis Khan
16b: Madame Curie
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
殿河内勝
Masaru Tonogochi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
宮川一男
Kazuo Miyakawa
細谷秋夫
Akio Hosotani
17a: Galilei Galieo
StructureConcept & DialogueArtAnimation
勝井千賀雄
Chikao Katsui
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
サキ・スタジオ
Saki Studio
槌田幸一
Koichi Tsuchida
17b: Charles Darwin
Concept & StructureDialogueArtAnimation
光延博愛
Hiroyoshi Mitsunobu
鈴木良武
Yoshitake Suzuki
阿部幸次
Koji Abe
岡田敏靖
Toshiyasu Okada
18a: Jean-Henri Fabre
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
こはなわためお
Tameo Kohanawa
鈴木良武
Yoshitake Suzuki
仔羊館
House of Lambs
福田皖
Kiyomu Fukuda
18b: Koizumi Yakumo
19a: Ikkyu
19b: Ferdinand Magellan
20a: Stephen Foster
20b: Gregor Mendel
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
坂口尚
Hisashi Sakaguchi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
西村邦子
Kazuko Nishimura
我楽苦他
Garakuta
21a: Sanzo Hoshi
21b: Captain Cook
22a: Sakamoto Ryoma
22b: Wilhelm Roentgen
Concept, Directing & AnimationDialogueArt
渋谷哲夫
Tetsuo Shibuya
鈴木良武
Yoshitake Suzuki
石津節子
Setsuko Ishizu
23a: Kinjiro Ninomiya
23b: Kobayashi Issa
24a: Yukichi Fukuzawa
DirectingScriptArtAnimation
四辻たかお
Takao Yotsuji
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
内海勇夫
Isao Naikai
24b: Jean-Francois Millet
25a: Hideyo Noguchi
Concept, Directing & AnimationDialogueArt
山崎和夫
Kazuo Yamazaki
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
宮本清司
Kiyoshi Miyamoto
25b: Nicolaus Copernicus
Concept, Directing & AnimationDialogueArt
殿河内勝
Masaru Tonogochi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
サキ・スタジオ
Saki Studio
26a: The Brothers Grimm
StructureConcept & DialogueArtAnimation
北武
Takeshi Kita
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
石津節子
Setsuko Ishizu
動画工房
Doga Kobo
26b: George Stephenson
27a: Shibasaburo Kitazato
27b: Hans Christian Andersen
Directing & AnimationScriptArt
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
シンエイ動画
Shin-Ei Doga
28a: Abraham Lincoln
28b: Ganjin
29a: Sugita Genpaku
29b: Fridtjof Nansen
30a: Robert Fulton
30b: Archimedes
31a: Auguste Picard
31b: Utagawa Hiroshige
32a: Sesshu
32b: Miguel de Cervantes
33a: Ernest Thompson Seton
Concept, Directing & AnimationDialogueArt
白梅進
Susumu Shiraume
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
33b: Li Bai and Du Fu
34a: Natsume Soseki
DirectingConept & DialogueArtAnimation
古沢日出夫
Hideo Furusawa
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
石津節子
Setsuko Ishizu
坂井俊一
Shunichi Sakai
34b: Yamanoue Okura
35a: George Washington
35b: Higuchi Ichiyo
36a: Mark Twain
36b: Saigyo
37a: John Manjiro
37b: Franz Schubert
38a: Charles Lindberg
DirectingScriptArtAnimation
樋口雅一
Masakazu Higuchi
平見修二
Shuji Hirami
田中資幸
Motoyuki Tanaka
渋谷哲夫
Tetsuo Shibuya
38b: Jigoro Kano
39a: Amadeus Mozart
39b: Katsu Kaishu and Saigo Takamori
40a: Sven Hedin
40b: Johann Pestalozzi
41a: Michelangelo
41b: Konstantin Tsiolkovskiy
42a: Helen Keller
Concept & DirectingDialogueArtAnimation
勝井・樋口・阿部
Katsui, Higuchi, Abe
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
秋保富恵
Tomie Akiu
岡田敏靖
Toshiyasu Okada
42b: Ino Tadataka
43a: Jean Dunant
43b: Inoue Den
44a: Hiraga Gennai
44b: Shotoku Taishi
45a: Socrates
45b: Aoki Kon'yo
46a: Chikamatsu Monzaemon
46b: Murasaki Shikibu
Directing & AnimationConcept & DialogueArt
樋口雅一
Masakazu Higuchi
曽我部絢
Jun Sogabe
阿部幸次
Koji Abe

まんが子供文庫 Animated Classics of Children's Literature
Group Tac, 1978-1979, 51 episodes (2 stories per episode)

Chief Director:前田庸生Tsuneo Maeda
Planning:藤本四郎Shiro Fujimoto
樋口雅一Masakazu Higuchi
Music:宇野誠一郎Seiichiro Uno (credit appears starting season 3)
Audio Director:田代敦巳Atsumi Tashiro
Producer:鬼丸一平Ippei Onimaru
#TITLEDIRECTORANIMATIONART
1a
The fox
1bまつりご
The festival kimono
藤本四郎
Shiro Fujimoto
高橋信也
Shinya Takahashi
下道一範
Kazunori Shimomichi
2a鈴蘭
The lily of the valley
辻伸一
Shinichi Tsuji
亀崎経史
Keiji Kamezaki
2b梅づけの皿
The plate of pickled plums
矢沢則夫
Norio Yazawa
西村邦子
Kazuko Nishimura
3aどうぶつえんからにげたさる
The escaped monkey
勝井千賀雄
Chikao Katsui
岡田敏靖
Toshiyasu Okada
宮川一男
Kazuo Miyakawa
3bおさくの話
Osaku's story
小林三男
Mitsuo Kobayashi
若林常夫
Tsuneo Wakabayashi
小林光代
Mitsuyo Kobayashi
4a月の輪熊
The moon bear
4b子馬は帰りぬ
The pony returns
5aねずみのかくれんぼ
Mouse hide and seek
5b大造爺さんと雁
Old man Daizo and the goose
6aやなぎの糸
The willow thread
矢沢則夫
Norio Yazawa
西村邦子
Kazuko Nishimura
6b牛のよろこび
The cow's joy
藤本四郎
Shiro Fujimoto
高橋信也
Shinya Takahashi
下道一範
Kazunori Shimomichi
7a仁兵衛学校
Nihei school
高橋信也
Shinya Takahashi
若林常夫
Tsuneo Wakabayashi
宮川一男
Kazuo Miyakawa
7b犬と友達
The friend's dog
森田浩光
Hiromitsu Morita
岡田敏靖
Toshiyasu Okada
門屋達郎
Tatsuro Kadoya
8a魔術
The illusionist
辻伸一
Shinichi Tsuji
阿部幸次
Koji Abe
8b決闘
The duel
9aさつまはやと
Hayato Satsuma
9b百姓の夢
The farmer's dream
10a化猫退治
Defeating the monster cat
10b港の少女
The girl by the port
11a空気入れ
Letting air in
11b時計のない村
Town without a clock
樋口雅一
Masakazu Higuchi
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
12aおもちゃのマーチ
March of the toys
山田みちしろ
Michishiro Yamada
青木稔
Minoru Aoki
12bごんごろ鐘
The bell
森田浩光
Hiromitsu Morita
若林常夫
Tsuneo Wakabayashi
内田好之
Yoshiyuki Uchida
13a少年駅伝夫
The horse-driver boy
辻伸一
Shinichi Tsuji
下道一範
Kazunori Shimomichi
13b兄弟
Brothers
矢沢則夫
Norio Yazawa
門屋達郎
Tatsuro Kadoya
14aどじょっこふなっこ
The loach and the carp
14b梨の実
The pear
15aあめふり
Rain
15b赤いもち白いもち
White and red rice cakes
16aあわて床屋
The hasty barber
16b木馬の夢
Dream of a wooden horse
17a魔法
Magic
17b枝の上のカラス
Crow on a branch
18a赤い靴
The red shoes
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
門野真理子
Mariko Kadono
18bしょんべん稲荷
The "pee" Inari shrine
荒木伸吾
Shingo Araki
姫野美智
Michi Himeno
下道一範
Kazunori Shimomichi
19a三太カッパ退治
Santa defeats a kappa
19b定ちゃんの手紙
Sada's letter
20aぜっぺき
Stuck on a cliff
小林治
Osamu Kobayashi
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
20b酒屋のワン公
The bar dog
21aけんか
The fight
21bふしぎな山のおじいさん
The old man on the mysterious mountain
22a待ちぼうけ
Tired of waiting
22b梟と幸吉
The owl and Kokichi
23aふしぎなぼうし
The mysterious hat
23bよっぱらい星
The drunk star
24a
The fart
24b片耳の大鹿
The large deer with only one ear
25aおしゃれトンボ
The fancy dragonfly
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
門野真理子
Mariko Kadono
25bなくなった人形
The lost doll
26a一房の葡萄
A bunch of grapes
26b陸軍大将
The army commander
27杜子春
Tsu Te-Chun
28おじいさんのランプ
Grampa's lamp
29a三太子ネコ
Santa and the kitten
29b北風のくれたテーブルかけ
The tablecloth given by the north wind
30a善太漂流記=びんのゆくえ=清坊と三吉
Zenta's travels etc.
31a三日月にぶらさがった男の話
The man who hung on a new moon
31b三匹の小牛
The three calves
32aコーカサスのはげたか
The vulture of the Caucuses
高橋信也
Shinya Takahashi
若林常夫
Tsuneo Wakabayashi
青木稔
Minoru Aoki
32b金色の足あと
The golden footsteps
矢沢則夫
Norio Yazawa
門屋達郎
33a三太物語 三太月世界
Santa's adventures: Santa visits the moon
33b池の鯉
The carp in the lake
34aどこかに生きながら
While living somewhere
高橋信也
Shinya Takahashi
宮川一男
Kazuo Miyakawa
34bうた時計
The musical clock
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
門野真理子
Mariko Kadono
35a多衛門の影
Taemon's shadow
35b大河原三郎右衛門
Genzaburoemon Taiga
36a愛犬カヤ
Kaya the dog
36b清造と沼
Seizo and the swamp
37a火事とポチ
Pochi and the fire
森田浩光
Hiromitsu Morita
門屋達郎
Tatsuro Kadoya
37b小川の葦
The reeds by the creek
藤本四郎
Shiro Fujimoto
若林常夫
Tsuneo Wakabayashi
下道一範
Kazunori Shimomichi
38a三太物語 花萩先生と野球
Santa's adventures: Baseball with Ms. Hanahagi
光延博愛
Hiroyoshi Mitsunobu
上口照人
Teruto Kamiguchi
宮川一男
Kazuo Miyakawa
38b木魂の靴
The echoing shoes
辻伸一
Shinichi Tsuji
阿部幸次
Koji Abe
39a鶴の笛
The crane's flute
河内日出夫
Hideo Kawauchi
石川山子
Yamako Ishikawa
39bくまと車掌
The bear and the brake boy
矢沢則夫
Norio Yazawa
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
40a村の子
Town children
藤原万秀
Kazuhide Fujiwara
横瀬直土
Naoto Yokose
40b雪のはとば
The snowy wharf
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
門野真理子
Mariko Kadono
41a善太と汽車
Zenta and the train
41b山の小僧
Mountain boy
42a三太物語 三太の動物実験
Santa's adventures: Santa's animal experiments
42b虹猫のぼうけん
The adventures of rainbow cat
樋口雅一
Masakazu Higuchi
若林常夫
Tsuneo Wakabayashi
田中静恵
Shizue Tanaka
43aヒロシマのうた
Song of Hiroshima
小林治
Osamu Kobayashi
大山哲史
Tetsufumi Oyama
43bキンショキショキ
The rice-washing monkey
藤原万秀
Kazuhide Fujiwara
亀崎経史
Keiji Kamezaki
44a五銭の白銅
The 5 sen coin
矢沢則夫
Norio Yazawa
門屋達郎
Tatsuro Kadoya
44bぽけっとの海
Sea in the pocket
高橋信也
Shinya Takahashi
横瀬直土
Naoto Yokose
45aだれも知らない時間
Time nobody knows
なべしまよしつぐ
Yoshitsugu Nabeshima
秋保富恵
Tomie Akiu
45b牛ぬすっと
The cow thief
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
門野真理子
Mariko Kadono
46虎ちゃんの日記
Tora's diary
光延博愛
Hiroyoshi Mitsunobu
前田実・湯川高光
Minoru Maeda & Takamitsu Yukawa
青木稔
Minoru Aoki
47a三太天幕旅行
Santa's camping trip
47b島の太吉
Taikichi on the island
48茂次の登校
Shigeji goes to school
49aにらめっくらの鬼瓦
The staring contest
49bヒゲの生えたモナ・リザ
Mona Lisa's beard
50aトロッコ
The rail car
柴山努
Tsutomu Shibayama
門野真理子
Mariko Kadono
50b港に着いた黒んぼ
The blind flute player
菊田武勝
Takemasa Kikuta
小関俊之
Toshiyuki Ozeki
51a三太物語 三太とチョビ助の病気
Santa's adventures: Santa's dog Chobi gets sick
藤本四郎
Shiro Fujimoto
八幡正
Tadashi Yahata
門屋達郎
Tatsuro Kadoya
51bきつねの窓
The fox's window
殿河内勝
Masaru Tonogochi
馬郡美保子
Mihoko Magori
Permalink

3 comments

Aaron Long
Aaron Long [Visitor]  

They both seems like pretty neat shows, and of course it’s always great to see another in-depth series analysis article from you! We all really appreciate the amount of viewing, research and writing that goes into these posts. The episodes you highlighted are quite interesting, and all seem to display an impressive variety of tones and styles.

Thanks for posting links where we can watch them, as well!!

So far I’ve only watched the Hiroshima episode by Osamu Kobayashi. His cartoony stylization of the human form is fantastic. It looks so simple at first glance, especially due to the clean, often minimalistic clean-up, but the proportions are very cleverly distorted, and he uses a lot of dynamic posing and strong timing.

09/30/14 @ 22:27
Ben [Member]  

Thanks, Aaron! Glad you enjoyed the post. It definitely was an awful lot of work. I even emailed Masakazu Higuchi to see if I could get more dirt on MIM, but he wasn’t very forthcoming.

Yes, Osamu Kobayashi’s style at this period is really amazing, so as a huge fan of his work on shows like Dokonjo Gaeru, his work on these shows (and on MNMB) was a great find for me. Hope you find something to enjoy in the other episodes.

10/02/14 @ 11:17
carlos_rodriguez
carlos_rodriguez [Member]

I’m excited! This is the first time I find information about this cartoon series! It’s one of the series I remember most from my childhood! In Spanish I knew her with the name of “The great ones of the history” and I would like to be able to obtain the chapters to be able to show them to my children. Is it possible? Thank you very much for any information you can send me. Regards!

01/07/17 @ 07:18