Title: Tako No Hone, English Title: The Octopus’ Bone (How the Octopus Lost its Bone(s)/Skeleton). Released theatrically on November, 2, 1927, Yokohama Cinema, Shokai Theatrical Cartoon,
Characters: Octopus, Monkey, Fish-Men.
Directed by: Yasuji Murata. Produced by: Yasuji Murata. Written by: Chuzo Aoji. Story by: Chuzo Aoji. Cinematography by: Yukikiyo Ueno.
It is one of the earliest Japanese cartoons, forerunner to modern manga. Yosuji Murata was one of the earliest animators and an innovator of this art form. This cartoon was not created using the cel-animation techniques, mastered by his Western counterparts, such as Max Fleischer. Yosuji Murata created this and other cartoons, using paper cut-outs and stop-motion.
This is the first time Tako No Hone has been viewable by the public in nearly a century.
It is a digital transfer from a 9.5 mm, Pathe, acetate film, a second generation copy of an original, 35 mm, theatrically released print.
It was restored and digitized by Movette Film Transfer in San Francisco to 1080p24, speed corrected, 1556 Overscan, with post-scan, image stabilization.
It was acquired from Japan in 2017 by Aaron J Cohen, collector and historian/author of cephalopod art, in all media, from around the world; prehistoric, ancient, antique, vintage, modern, and contemporary.
The story is based on the traditional, Japanese myth of Urashima Taro; in which a fisherman is transported from the seashore into a fantastic underwater world on the back of a giant turtle.
Translation of Intertitles, Japanese to English
Bone of Octopus
At a Palace of Wadatsumi, at King’s room… (Sea Dragon Deity)
Wadatsumi = God of Sea, aka Ryūjin = Emperor or King of the Sea)
The princess has been sick, and the King is deeply worried about the princess’s life.
The Servants are discussing how to cure Princess illness, but they have not come up with any good idea.
Fish: Hey Mr. Flounder, there is no other way but to get the hidden gem “a raw liver of a monkey (or spirit of a monkey)” and give it to our princess.
Flounder: However, there is no monkey in this Palace……
Fish: Then, isn’t there any brave man who could go to “Monkey Island” at the edge of this big ocean and capture a monkey and bring it back here?
Fish: I don’t think there is such a strong man who can capture such agile monkeys here, but I think there is a man who is clever enough to deceive a monkey and bring it here…
Flounder: Yes, there is. That Mr. Octopus is clever and has a smart mouth. What about sending Octopus to the Monkey Island?
Fish: That is a good idea. Bring Mr. Octopus here and ask him to do that.
Octopus: Appreciate your request on me. I will surely complete this job.
(Octopus is going to Monkey Island riding on a turtle.)
Arrived at Monkey Island
Octopus: Your reputation precedes you. I heard you are the best singer in this Monkey Island, and our King wants to hear your singing. So, I’ve come here all the way to take you to the Palace.
Octopus: Good alcohol, tons of delicious food, and so many gifts…. We have prepared for all these stuff. Let’s go to the Palace with me.
Monkey: Got it. Let’s leave for the Palace before other monkeys hear us.
(Octopus & Monkey: Leaving Monkey Island riding on a turtle)
Monkey: Why don’t we take a little rest on that island?
First episode ends
Monkey: Oh, I got my liver crashed (or I lost my spirit).
Octopus: What!? You got your liver sick (or you lost your spirit)? That is a problem.
Monkey: Why is it a problem?
Whale: That Octopus brought you here to take your raw liver (or your spirit).
Whale: I will help the monkey.
Right: To Monkey Island
Left: To Wadatsumi Palace
Octopus: I shame myself and cannot go back to the Palace without Monkey’s liver (or spirit). If I were a Samurai, I would have to kill myself (harakiri) though.
Octopus: Hey, this is all I can do to compensate it.
Octopus: (Talking to Turtle) Please bring my bone to the Palace and report to my boss that “Octopus worked so hard to break his bone, however, Octopus was killed and eaten by lots of monkeys.” I am finished!!
(Japanese has an expression “break one’s bone” that means work hard or break one’s leg, or get in trouble.)
That is why octopus have got no bone since then.
Happy ever after?
Yasuji Murata (村田安司) January, 24, 1896 - November, 2,1966, was a pioneering animator who helped develop the art of anime in Japan. Studying the animation techniques of Sanae Yamamoto, Murata produced dozens of mostly educational films at the Yokohama Cinemastudio. Along with Noburō Ōfuji, he was renowned as a master of cutout animation. Among his students was the animator, Yoshitarō Kataoka.