Rights to Japanese WWII film gained by Funimation
Momotaro was the first feature-length animated film in Japan
Funimation has acquired the restored edition of Mitsuyo Seo's "Momotaro, Sacred Sailors," the first feature-length animated film produced in Japan.
The film was a propaganda film produced in 1944 by Shochiku Co. Ltd. and released in 1945 during the final months of World War II.
The 74-minute, black and white film was recently restored and premiered during the 2016 Cannes Film Festival in the Cannes Classics program.
Funimation gets theatrical, digital and home video distribution rights of the film in both the U.S. and Canada.
Seo, the director who lived from 1911 to 2010, based the film's story on the classic Japanese fairy tale of a boy named Momotaro, who was born from a peach and defeats monsters with the help of his animal friends. In Seo's movie, Momotaro and his friends are now Japanese naval paratroopers and the monsters represent the Allied powers, primarily the United States.
Although considered a big budget film at the time, few people actually saw the original film, as it debuted just five months before the end of the war.