100-year-old anime discovered in Japan

100-year-old anime discovered in Japan100-year-old anime discovered in Japan
via NHK World
Ryan General
10 days ago
A silent anime film, believed to be over 100 years old, has been discovered in Japan.
Key points:
  • Anime wasn’t a recognized industry at the time the film was created in the 1920s.
  • Titled “Dental Health,” the animated short is believed to be one of the earliest examples of anime ever made.
  • It features educational messages about dental hygiene and healthy eating habits.
  • Experts believe the film will be instrumental in understanding early anime production techniques.
About anime:
  • Anime, which has become a global phenomenon, is known for its distinctive art style, character designs and often fantastical or dramatic storylines.
  • Today, the industry is a multi-billion-dollar powerhouse, with fans actively involved in cosplay, merchandise collecting and online communities.
The details:
  • The 8-minute, black and white film, was discovered among the belongings of a late film enthusiast.
  • The film depicts children using utensils and avoiding sugary snacks, which indicates a message about dental hygiene. 
  • It is believed to have been produced around 1923 by an early version of the modern-day Lion Corporation.
  • The company, which preserved the film, believes it was created by pioneering animator Kitayama Seitaro. The animation legend is known for nurturing future animation stars.
  • Doshisha University associate professor Akiko Sano, an anime history expert, highlighted the importance of the discovery, pointing out the film’s deliberate use of visuals to enhance its message.

“I am impressed by the meticulous detail in the backgrounds and costumes. The 1920s were a golden age for Japanese anime, and this film may be a pioneer in using anime to make educational content more accessible. There are few surviving films from this era, so this is a valuable clue to understanding the time.”

  • The rediscovery comes amid ongoing concerns about the preservation of anime history. The Agency for Cultural Affairs has recently initiated efforts to archive original animation materials.
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