Nonsense Story Volume One: Monkey Island (1931)

Nonsense Story Volume One: Monkey Island (1931)
Article 5529 by Dave Sindelar
Date: 2-4-2018
Directed by Kenzo Masaoka
No cast
Country: Japan
What it is: Early Japanese animation

A human baby is washed off a ship and lands on an island inhabited by monkeys. He is brought up by them, but eventually trouble erupts and he becomes ostracized due to his lack of a tail.

One impression I’m getting from checking out these early Japanese animated shorts is that they really can’t be compared with the American animated shorts from the same era. They’re playing a very different game; in comparison with American shorts, this one is longer, more realistic, slower, and less given to cartoon exaggeration. In fact, it may be a little too slow; there are moments here (such as when the human child gets into a race with some other monkeys to reach a hill) that go on so long that you become antsy waiting for something to happen. There is humor here, but it’s a bit drier and doesn’t quite satisfy; it might not be very accessible to a non-Japanese audience. On the other hand, the animation is quite good; I especially like the animation of the clouds during the storm sequence. It makes for interesting viewing, but I didn’t find it to be entirely successful.


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