March 14, 2015 posted by

Japanese color animation 1907 to 1945 – Part 2

This is part 2 of an essay about the earliest use of color in Japanese animation films. To read part one, click here.

2 Artificial coloring methods

According to a study of about 800 films shown in Europe between 1908 and 1912, 74% of them were at least partly colored. 69% of these had been colored by “tinting” (“virage”; immersing the developed film in dye baths), 13% by “toning” (exchanging silver salts by colored metal salts through chemical reactions in a bath), 9% by stencil-coloring, and 3% by hand-coloring (Yumibe[2012], 6) (17). In Japan, at least among the holdings of silent films on inflammable stock (a proxy for early film) at the National Film Center in Tokyo, more than half were tinted and/or toned (Itakura[2011], 369).

In fact, what we today know as black-and-white films more often than not were seen in (artificial) color by contemporary audiences, and not necessarily in monochrome either, because tinting and toning, for example, could be combined (Koshofer[1988], 15ff.). As one film historian put it: “By the late 1920’s, features were being tinted all colors of the rainbow” (Limbacher[1969], 6).


Western animation films were also artificially colored in various ways. To mention just two examples: Germany’s oldest extant animation for the cinema, Guido Seeber’s (1879-1940) advertisement for sparkling wine, Prosit Neujahr 1910 (Here’s to 1910; 1909; one minute), was a tinted mixture of drawn animation, stop-motion, and live action.(18) And Winsor McCay’s (1869?-1934) Little Nemo from 1911 is probably the best-known example of a hand-tinted animation (Solomon[1994], 14ff.).


2.1 Artificial coloring in Japanese animation

Japanese animation before 1940 employed at least three of the above-mentioned coloring methods (20):

• Tinting (“senshoku” 染色) can be seen, e.g., in Ōfuji Noburō’s first film, the recently rediscovered Noromana jijī のろまな爺 (Dumb old man; 1924) (Watanabe[2013]).


• Toning (“chōshoku” 調色) is found quite often in so-called “toy films” (“gangu firumu”/“omocha firumu” 玩具フィルム): 35mm live-action or animation films, roughly one to three minutes long, sold to the public for use in home projectors. These toy films divide into three main types (personal communication by Matsumoto Natsuki, 31 March 2014):

• films which were cut into shorter sequences after having finished their cinematic release, and which were sold either by cinemas or by companies selling home projectors (21);

• longer sequences re-assembled from such film cuts, copied, and sold by these companies;

• short animation films made directly on order for these companies, for example Sunakemuri Takata baba 砂煙高田馬場 (Dust clouds at the Takata riding grounds) by KIMURA Hakuzan 木村白山.(22)


• Hand-coloring seems to have been rarely employed. According to Sugimoto Gorō, Kitayama Seitarō used hand-coloring sparingly in his films, for example coloring a flag or a flower (Sugimoto[1990], 284). ICHIKAWA Kon 市川崑 (1915-2008) reports in an interview that while in the animation department of J.O. Studios in Osaka (1933-1935), he and his colleagues once hand-painted an animation print in red, blue and yellow (Quandt[2001], 25), but this print was presumably not released.

"An Expression" (24)

“An Expression” (24)

Among advanced amateurs this technique was also used, at least by Ogino Shigeji in An Expression (international title; Japanese title: Hyōgen 表現; 1935): This abstract animation of geometrical shapes on 9,5mm film was filmed with alternating red and green filters on b/w film stock, similar to Ōfuji’s and Masaoka’s experiment in 1934. It was then, however, colored by hand, twice (Ogino cited in Goda[2013], 105).(23)

Further examples of amateur color animation are mentioned in the literature ‒ e.g., the drawn animations Haru hitotoki 春ひとゝき (Spring Break; 1934) by SAKAMOTO Tameyuki 坂本為之 and Umi wo egaku 海を描く (Drawing the Sea; 1938) by ASADA Isamu 浅田勇 (Nishimura[2008], 140, 144), yet, with the information at hand, it is often difficult to ascertain in which way these films were colored.(25)

3 Printed color animation

“Printed animation film” is a phenomenon rarely mentioned in histories of animation, either out of ignorance, or because it does not fit the author’s idea of what an animation film should be (cf. Crafton[2011]). It is a form of cameraless animation ‒ like the “direct animation” by Norman McLaren (1914-1987), for example ‒ and involves printing images directly on a paper strip to be used, e.g., in such “optical toys” of the 19th and early 20th century as the zoetrope, or on blanc celluloid film for use in (home) projectors.

3.1 Early German cinematographs and printed color animation

To understand the (likely) template of the Japanese printed color animation film strip Katsudō shashin, it is necessary to turn first to Germany.

In 1866, Gebr. Bing, a metal and optical toy manufacturer (model railways, toy steam engines, magic lanterns, etc.) was founded in Nuremberg/Bavaria by Ignaz Bing (1840-1918) and his brother Adolf (1842-1915). In 1898 they seem to have been the first to present a Kinematograph at the Leipzig toy fair (Bing[2004], 71). Until the early 1930s, such a cinematograph was essentially a magic lantern with a good light source and one or two spools, a crank-handle and perhaps a shutter attached to enable it to show 35mm celluloid film with standard (Edison) perforation, the same that was used in cinemas (Plank[1922], 70; Herbert[1987], 14).(26)


At the time, toy manufacturers clustered in Nuremberg, so without much delay other companies there also began producing such “toy cinematographs”, based on their respective experience with optical toys; notable among them the companies of Ernst Plank (1844-1914) and of Georges Carette (1861-1954).(27) Yet, as was the case with magic lanterns, these companies did not just produce the hardware, they also offered the “software” in the form of slides, and now film strips. If we look at a price list/catalog from 1902 by Ernst Plank (reprinted in Baecker Baecker[1974], 1037f.) and use the explanations contained in his grandson’s doctoral thesis on the Nuremberg toy industry (Plank[1922], 174f.), we can see that these “children’s films” came in three types:

• “Extra-Filmsbilder ‒ in Farben ausgeführt” (“extra film pictures ‒ done in colors”): color images printed on blanc film by lithography, i.e., animation by a method which the Nuremberg companies knew well.(28) The lithograph images were made by artists or traced from live-action film in a manner reminiscent of the later rotoscopy (Plank[1922], 174; Herbert[1987], 11).

While Yves Rifaux’s data, as we will see, are not always reliable,(29) we can be certain from the entries in Plank’s price list that such color animation films existed by 1902 at the latest and, likely, in black-and-white already in 1898/99 (Rifaux[1990], 60).(30) By putting the ends of a film strip together, it could be shown “endlessly” (“loop film”).(31)

Rifaux argues that the reason printed animation was taken up by the toy manufacturers was the scarcity and high price of live-action film, especially in the beginning (Rifaux[1990], 61). Yet, this kind of animation was also an easy way to provide color images ‒ certainly an important reason for companies that were appealing to children.

• “Extra-Films mit photographischen Aufnahmen” (“extra films with photographic recordings”): mass reproduced (photographic) monochrome children’s films, i.e., live-action film made for/by the toy companies.(32)

• “Original-Films ‒ Photographische Aufnahmen in Längen von […]” (“original films ‒ photographic recordings in lengths of […]”): sequences of theatrically-released films (similar to some of the Japanese toy films mentioned above).

According to Plank’s 1902 catalog, the “Extra-Filmsbilder”, i.e., the printed animation films, had titles like Smoking a cigar or Gymnastic lessons in a girls’ school and were mostly sold in sets of six. The conventionally filmed “Extra-Films” were sold singly; among them is one, no. 34 Der Weintrinker (The wine-drinking man), which we will encounter later.

Sadly, no such early catalog by Carette is available.(33) The Frenchman Georges Carette had begun his toy production as a supplier of Gebr. Bing in 1886, but very soon became one of the big players in Nuremberg in his own (Hoffmann[2000], 38), also in the field of optical toys. A local advertisement from 1899 does not yet show cinematographs among Carette’s offerings (Schwarz[n.d.]), but at around this time production of these devices must have started (Hrabalek[1985], 84f.).(34) In 1911, at the very latest, he not only offered cinematographs, but also “extra sets of colored films of excellent cinematographic effect” of lengths varying between 20 and more than 150 frames (Levy[1975], 144). Titles included Leap Frog, A Cow Crossing the Road, and so on.


Nuremberg toys, not least by Carette who since 1904 also supplied the British company Bassett-Lowke (Schwarz[n.d.]), were sold and appreciated all over the world.(35) In Japan a newspaper article in 1910, for example, declared that “the home of high class [toys] is Germany” (Natsumuki no omocha[1910]).(36) Since Japanese companies could not build high-quality metal optical toys, it comes as no surprise to encounter German-made toy cinematographs as well as film strips in Japan, even though Japan was not one of the top export markets for Nuremberg (Plank[1922], 41, 84).

3.2 Carette in Japan

In January 2005, Matsumoto Natsuki, a Japanese collector and academic lecturer on visual culture, bought three old film projectors, eleven 35mm loop films and thirteen glass slides from a second-hand dealer who had obtained all of them from one wealthy household in Kyoto that would now be called an “early adopter” of all things related to film. One of the projectors was a cinematograph manufactured by Georges Carette in Nuremberg,(37) which came in a box that originally had also contained at least some of the film strips and glass slides (Matsumoto[2011], 98ff.).(38)


It should be noted here that Carette had never renounced his French citizenship and had to leave his factory in Nuremberg at the outbreak of World War I (Bing[2004], 82). Since toy exports from Germany also ended at that time, we can assume quite confidently that this cinematograph and the box came to Japan no later than 1914.

Eleven of the thirteen glass slides were color lithographed and presumably belonged to a set of a dozen slides accompanying the Carette cinematograph. The other two slides were hand-colored and apparently belonged to another magic lantern (Matsumoto[2011], 100f.).

Of most interest here are, of course, the eleven 35mm film strips: seven of them were Western or Japanese live-action films (with a length between 31 and 75 frames), three were Western animation films, and one apparently a Japanese animation film (Matsumoto/Tsugata[2006], 92). One of the Western animation strips (no. 10 in Matsumoto/Tsugata[2006], 92; 46 frames) ‒ also shown in a catalog of the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography ‒ was identified by Matsumoto as Der Weintrinker by Ernst Plank, based on Rifaux’ data (Matsumoto/Tsugata[2006], 92, 103; Matsumoto[2011], 101f., 125; Rifaux[1990], 39 left, 49).

However, as noted before, Der Weintrinker was a live-action film strip, not an animation film.(39) Thanks to Darren Nemeth, an American collector whose copy of this strip carries the stamped trademark “G.C.&C[o].N.”, it was possible to identify it as, in fact, a Carette product, called A good drop in the English Carette catalog of 1911 (Levy[1975], 144, nr. 329/11CB). Another animation film strip in the box (no. 4 in Matsumoto/Tsugata[2006], 92; 61 frames), called Magician, came from the same set sold by Carette. As with A Good Drop, both the number of frames and the topic match Matsumoto’s description. The third Western animation film (no. 9; 46 frames) was very likely Gymnastic in Carette’s set no. 329/23A (Levy[1975], 144).(40)


Whereas Plank films were available by 1902 at the latest, we do not know for certain when the Carette films began to be sold before 1911 worldwide, as copies of A Good Drop in, at least, the US, France, the Netherlands and Japan attest to, although it is very likely that they were already on the market by 1905.

3.3 Katsudō shashin

Just like A Good Drop and the other Carette film strips, Katsudō shashin was originally a 35mm celluloid loop film with Edison perforation (it has now shrunk to 33,5mm). Unlike with A Good Drop we do not know its real name: Katsudō shashin or “Matsumoto fragment” (e.g., Tavassi[2012], 47; however, it is a complete film, not a fragment) are just provisional names. Its 50 images show a boy in a sailor uniform who writes the Japanese characters for “moving pictures” (“katsudō shashin” 活動写真) on a wall and then turns again to the viewer to raise his cap. Projected at 16 frames/second, it runs for about 3 seconds, but being a loop film, it would have been projected for longer. While the outlines of the boy and the characters are black, his cap is red (Matsumoto/Tsugata[2006], 92).


Obviously, the printer did not do his job correctly, because the color is not always in register with the outline of the cap. Yet, this is further proof that this was not, as is so often claimed in Western sources (e.g., López[2012], 584; Clements[2013], 20), drawn by hand on celluloid, but a printed animation. In fact, Katsudō shashin was made by stencil-printing (“kappazuri” 合羽刷り), a traditional Japanese technique for colored glass slides for magic lanterns, but also for silk screens, etc. (Matsumoto[2011], 102, 108f.). Both the technique and the content thus strongly suggest that it actually was a Japanese product, not an imported one. Moreover, Katsudō shashin was not a lone curio, but had been “mass” produced (Matsumoto[2011], 116f.).

Which leads us to the contentious question of dating Katsudō shashin. Without a firm identification, ideally a price list or an illustrated advertisement, we can only speculate about when Katsudō shashin had been produced and sold. However, in my opinion it is probable that it was made around 1907:

As we have seen, the idea of printed animation was already current, at least in Europe, at the beginning of the 20th century. The “kappazuri” technique for stencil printing had been in use in Japan since at least the first Sino-Japanese war in 1894/5 (personal communication Matsumoto Natsuki, 11 June 2014).

Especially during the Russian-Japanese war of 1904/5, shops such as Yoshizawa Shōten 吉沢商店 and Ikeda Toraku 池田都楽 ran advertisements in the national press for cinematographs (“katsudō shashin kikai” 活動写真機械) and “head machines”, i.e. attachments to magic lanterns to project film (“katsudō gentō kikai” 活動幻燈機械). (41) Such advertisements can, for example, be found in the Asahi shinbun 朝日新聞of 17 February 1904 (p. 7) and 18 November 1905 (p. 5), or in the Yomiuri shinbun 読売新聞already on 3 November 1903 (p. 4) and on 25 February 1905 (p. 6).

But, again, not just hardware, but also software was offered. So, in the Asahi shinbun of 8 February 1905 (p. 1), Yoshizawa Shōten listed Japanese and foreign film (in the modern sense) on the war, and foreign film for entertainment, too. And in the Yomiuri shinbun of 20 March 1906 (p. 4), Yoshizawa Shōten boasted of more than 350 kinds of films.

That Yoshizawa Shōten was really offering cinematographs and loop film can be seen from an illustrated advertisement in the journal Sekai shūyū shashinchō 世界周遊写真帖 (World Tour Illustrated) from 1906. However, it cannot be discerned whether it was animation film.


On the other hand, the “world travel films” mentioned in the advertisement (in line with the journal’s specialty) would point to imported film ‒ and it would seem highly unlikely that animation loop film had by then not been imported, too.

In any case, with interest in film surging during the Russo-Japanese war (Gerow[2014], 164) and a massive fall in the price of celluloid afterwards (Katsudō shashin dairyūkō[1908]), smaller players in the Japanese optical toy sector might also have entered “film production”. In Matsumoto Natsuki’s opinion, the rather poor quality of Katsudō shashin and the “kappazuri” printing technique are not typical of the big players like Yoshizawa Shōten, but rather of such a smaller company (personal communication, 5 June 2014; see also Matsumoto[2011], 116). Yet, it might also have been an early attempt to add some local flavor to imported cinematographs and films, mimicking the German print technique instead of laboriously hand-coloring the film like magic lantern slides.

An advertisement by Yoshikawa Ganguten 吉川玩具店 in the Asahi shinbun of 11 Dezember 1908 (p. 7) shows an imported cinematograph, another one in the journal Shōnen sekai 少年世界 (Boy’s World) in October 1910 by Osaka-based Takagi Gentōho 高木幻灯舗 specifically mentions the sale of German cinematographs with films (Matsumoto[2011], 119).(42) By 1912 we can be certain that German animation films for cinematographs were sold in Japan (Matsumoto[2011], 121), although, as already noted, it is extremely likely that animation films had been bundled with imported cinematographs from the beginning.

Obviously, in the absence of direct evidence we can only operate with probabilities. A production date before 1905 or after 1912 is unlikely.(43) If we focus on ca. 1907, it is plausible that Katsudō shashin could have been made by then. Foreign printed animation should have been seen by then in Japan; there should have been enough sales of cinematographs, also to travelling magic-lantern showmen, to make it sensible to try to produce localized animation; the price of celluloid was low; and there was not yet much competition from film cuts from theatrically released (foreign) animation.

Whether Katsudō shashin was the only sujet that was produced then is, of course, unknown. We also don’t know for how long it was sold (Plank’s “Der Weintrinker” was still listed in its 1914 catalog (Baecker[1974], 1138). So there is still a lot of mystery around this short film strip, but I would argue that it actually is the oldest extant Japanese animation film, by far. And I see no reason to exclude it from the category “animation film”; after all, it could have been projected in a cinema, it was just a bit brief.

3.4 “Baby Talkie”

A "Baby-Talkie"

A “Baby-Talkie”

A “Baby-Talkie”[/caption]1932 saw a curious return to an invention of the 19th century: the “Baby Talkie”, produced by Mikado Shōkai 美加登商会 and distributed by Nihon Tōkingu Shōkai 日本トーキング商会. (44) This was a metal zoetrope (“wheel of life”) to be put on the turntable of a record player, with a diameter of 24 cm, matching a 78 rpm record, and 23 slits.

In terms of this research note the most interesting part are the paper strips (“katsuga” 活画) for the “Baby Talkie” which were offset printed (personal communication by Matsumoto Natsuki, 3 June 2014) in color and formed a loop. There seem to have been at least 39 strips (5,7 cm x 78 cm), consisting of 21 to 23 “frames”.(45)

Subjects shown were a skeleton dance, soldiers marching off to the front, girls dancing, Charlie Chaplin and his dog, and so on. According to KUSAHARA Machiko, some of the strips might have appealed to children, while others were probably meant for adults. The quality of both the drawings and the printing was high, and, in light of the following section, it would not be surprising if an animator was involved in their production.

Detail from paper strip no. 16 for the “Baby Talkie”.

Detail from paper strip no. 16 for the “Baby Talkie”.

The story of the “Baby Talkie” probably ended quite soon; at the latest, the start of full-scale war with China in 1937 led to the end of metal toy production. Yet, in the same year that Disney showed its first color animation film (with sound-on-film), this represented the first time that a Japanese “film” could be seen in color and with synchronized sound at all.

3.5 “Paper film”

One reason for assuming that the “Baby Talkie” soon disappeared was the introduction of another idiosyncratic method to see animation in color and with synchronized sound: the “paper film” (“kami firumu” 紙フィルム).(46) This first appeared on the market in Tokyo in 1933 under the name “REFCY” レフシー (“REFlection Cinema”?) and had been developed by TSUJIMOTO Shūgorō 辻本秀五郎and KOBAYASHI Yūtarō 小林勇太郎, both coming from the print business.(47)

A REFCY projector and “paper film”.

A REFCY projector and “paper film”.

REFCY projectors were available in several models, including a portable one. Despite patents being held by Tsujimoto and Kobayashi, at least two other companies, one of them the Osaka-based Katei Tōkī 家庭トーキー (“Home Talkie”), also sold “paper film” projectors, some to be synchronized with a record player.

As its name implied the film was made of paper (which was a stable material, unlike cellulose nitrate film), on which images were offset printed. The film had a width of 28mm which, thanks to being perforated in the middle, resulted in roughly the same picture area as with 35mm film. It was projected, not with transmitted (diascopic), but with reflected (episcopic) light. Thus film width, perforation, and illumination system all meant that only film made for this contraption could be projected. Even if REFCY projectors were “not that expensive toys” (Sugimoto[1990], 256), this would seem to have been a disadvantage.


The paper films (one to three minutes long) again fall mostly into two types: live-action film in monochrome reprinted on paper film and, much more importantly, manga (film) printed in four-color offset.(48) The names of the animators/directors of the latter were not stated, but Sugimoto assumes that most of the top-class animators of the time made paper film animations: YAMAMOTO Sanae 山本早苗 (1898-1981), MURATA Yasuji 村田安司 (1896-1966), SEO Mitsuyo 瀬尾光世 (1911-2010), ŌISHI Ikuo 大石郁雄 (1901-1944), and others (Sugimoto[1990], 258). Masaoka Kenzō mentioned in an interview in 1978 that he, too, had worked in that field (Masaoka Kenzō intabyū[2004], 21). And Murata Yasuji’s disciple Okamoto Masao岡本昌雄 (1915-1996) had not only drawn paper films such as Hi fu mi yo go roku 一二三四五六 (One two three four five six), but was even able to see this film decades later for the first time as a 16mm transfer (Okamoto[1995], 25).

Yet, the ban on metal toy production in 1938 also meant the end of “paper film” because the projectors could hardly be built without metal. As the system was never exported, and was not revived after the war, it has been mostly forgotten.


Color, as we have seen, was certainly a feature of Japanese animation in the first decades of the 20th century. However, in contrast to other leading countries, such as the US, Germany, or the Soviet Union, the Japanese did not manage to produce “natural color” animation film for the cinema at all, and hardly any in the amateur sector ‒ nor very much in the live-action field. Japanese animation producers therefore had to employ, either the “artificial” methods of tinting and toning, or color printing by stencil or offset. Yet all their products, even when they seem to have left not much of an imprint on animation history as a whole, are certainly part of that history.

These efforts also show that there was a certain demand among the public for color animation. (After all, manga comics of the time were often in color, too; so was at least part of the foreign animation shown in Japan in the 1930s.) So why did Japanese animation producers not manage to introduce the more demanding form of natural color until after the end of World War II? The answer to this question goes beyond the scope of this note, but it will probably include technological, economical, and human factors. Much remains to be explored …


(17) The introduction of sound film did not end artificial coloring, because pre-tinted positive film was available (Koshofer[1988], 19). When the original nitrate films were copied on safety film for protection, the artificial coloring was not replicated, which is the reason we usually know them today only in b/w.
(18) The film can be found on the DVD Von tanzenden Zigaretten und Elchen. Der deutsche Animationsfilm in Werbung und Musikvideos.
(19)Image from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Little_Nemo_%281911_film%29.
(20) Stencil-coloring was probably too expensive for the rather few prints made for Japanese animation films. The use of stencils in printed animation will be covered later in part 3.
(21) Among them are the two oldest surviving copies of Japanese animation for the cinema: Kōuchi Jun’ichi’s Namakuragatana なまくら刀 (The Blunt Sword; 1917) and KITAYAMA Seitarō’s 北山清太郎 (1888-1945) Urashima Tarō 浦島太郎 (Urashima Tarō) from 1918. (Cf. Litten[2013b].) Both were tinted, although we do not know whether they had already been shown in that coloring in the cinema.
(22) http://toyfilm.jp contains more information and examples and shows how extensively artificial coloring was used at the time. See also Ōta/Matsumoto[2002] and Tomita/Matsumoto/Kozaki[2008], 11f.
(23) Claims, e.g. by Asari[2014], 109, that the film employed the Kinemacolor method, are thus not really correct since there seems to have been no intention to project the film using filters; besides, other methods also used red and green filters during filming, as evidenced by Sanba no chō. Even the statement that this was a “natural color film”, already made by Ogino (Goda[2013], 105), seems misleading. An Expression was shown at an amateur film festival in Budapest in the color film section (Asari[2014], 109).
(24) This title sequence is found on the first page of Tokyo Kokuritsu Kindai Bijutsukan kenkyū kiyō 東京国立近代美術館研究紀要, no. 18, 2014.
(25) It seems possible that such dedicated amateurs also used a natural color system in the second half of the 1930s; after all, Ogino used Kodachrome with Ōfuji in 1937. At the least, they certainly knew how to tint and tone (Goda[2013], 104).
(26) A device such as Watson’s Motorgraph, which did not yet integrate magic lantern and film projector, preceded the toy cinematographs (Herbert[1987], 11).
(27) Around 1900 the largest Nuremberg manufacturers each produced more than 50.000 magic lanterns a year, with only Paris providing some competition (Senst[1901], 41). As already observed by Rifaux[1990], 60, at least one French manufacturer, Lapierre, entered the market for cinematographs at about the same time as the Nuremberg ones (also see http://cinematographes.free.fr/lapierre-amateur.html). Animation film for these home projectors was apparently produced in France, too (see also Mannoni/Pesenti[2010], 249, but note that the date given for the Plank cinematograph on the same page is wrong).
(28) Carette especially was renowned for the quality of its lithography (http://www.brightontoymuseum.co.uk/wiki/ Category:Georges_Carette).
(29) Rifaux’ short study published in 1990 is still the main source on these animation films; Robinson[1991] mostly took up his arguments, but did not deepen or correct them. No German study of these films exists yet.
(30) They would thus match or even predate Arthur Melbourne-Cooper’s (1874-1961) stop-motion films, which are believed to date from 1899 (de Vries/Mul[2009], 11-18, 267-313).
(31) For a simulation combining several such “loop films” of the time, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v= UN3jvV0GGYA.
(32) Plank[1922], 174f., does not disclose details of the “special process” developed in the Nuremberg/Fürth region for this mass reproduction.
(33) I have not been able to find a copy of the 1905 catalog which is only partially reprinted in Levy[1975].
(34) The earliest models, at Bing and Plank as well, ran the film horizontally, but this seems to have changed very soon.
(35) On their sale in the US see also Singer[1988], pp. 38ff.
(36) See also Gangu no kairyō[1906]. The compliment was not returned: Ernst Plank (1898-?) wrote in his dissertation that Japanese toys were of the absolutely lowest quality (Plank[1922], 40). On the Japanese toy industry of the interwar years, especially the production of celluloid toys ‒ which Plank[1922], 41, deemed one of the only remarkable products there, see Tanimoto[2007].
(37) At first he had identified this as a French product, but on re-inspection in 2011 understood that it was a German product by Carette (Matsumoto[2006], 89; Matsumoto[2011], 125).
(38) For another example see: http://www.luikerwaal.com/newframe_uk.htm?/kinematograaf_uk.htm.
(39) According to Plank[1922], 174, these lithographs were usually owned by the toy manufacturers; it can therefore be assumed that a certain film strip was not offered by more than one manufacturer. The film strip shown by Rifaux[1990] on the middle of p. 39 also seems to have been wrongly identified: it was not sold by Ernst Plank, but by Bing (Spielzeugmuseum Nürnberg, Inv.-Nr. 1983.1309; dated there to 1912). This calls into question whether, for example, the b/w strips on p. 45 really came from Plank and Carette and date to 1899. However, as can be seen from Carette’s 1911 catalog, he did offer b/w lithographed film strips, and as they are mentioned at the end, they may have been the oldest ones (Levy[1975], 144). Plank’s 1902 price list does not even mention b/w animation film strips (Baecker[1974], 1037).
(40) They can be seen as simulated animations on http://www.toverlantaarn.eu/celluloid_37.html, …32.html, and …34.html, respectively.
(41) The terminology of those years is a dangerous field. “Eiga” 映画, for example, in those years denotes not “film”, but the glass slides for the magic lantern. “Film” in the modern senses was “katsudō shashin” or “firumu” フィルム / ヒルム. Thanks to Matsumoto Natsuki for pointing this out to me.
(42) However, German optical products were already imported much earlier. See the advertisement for German Karl Zeiss binoculars, and unspecified cinematographs, by Konishi Honten 小西本店 in the Asahi shinbun of 8 April 1905 (p. 1).
(43) Matsumoto[2011], 110ff., being more circumspect, comes to the conclusion that Katsudō shashin was made at the end of the Meiji era. If it were not a direct imitation of German (or other) imported animation loop films, it might have to have been produced before 1905, which seems to me to strengthen the case for it having been an imitation. With the outbreak of World War I the price for celluloid rose rapidly (Seruroido to bunmei[1916]), so it is unlikely to have been used for such “trifles”. The Kinemacolor process, for example, needed twice as much celluloid as a film and, for that reason, was mostly being abandoned by Tenkatsu already in 1914 (Komatsu[1995], 73).
(44)Information in this section from Kusahara[2011]. The illustrations come from Matsumoto Natsuki’s collection.
(45)According to an advertisement in the Asahi Shinbun (20 June 1932), quoted by Kusahara[2011], 127, the film could be “manga or photographic”.
(46) Unless otherwise noted, this section is based on Inaba[2010]. The illustrations come from Matsumoto Natsuki’s collection.
(47) Inaba[2010], 91f., here refutes the assertions made in Sugimoto[1990], 256, and repeated in Okamoto[1995], 24, that REFCY was invented by a furniture maker. The idea of using paper as a basis for film already appeared in Japan in 1913 (Matsumoto[2011], 121f.).
(48) There were some kinds of paper films which could be colored or drawn in by the children themselves (Sugimoto[1990], 261).


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Other web resources cited (all accessed on 16 June 2014):

http://www.toverlantaarn.eu/celluloid_32.html [Carette’s “Magician”]
http://www.toverlantaanr.eu(celluloid_34.html [Carette’s “Gymnastics”]
http://www.toverlantaarn.eu/celluloid_37.html [Carette’s “A Good Drop”]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN3jvV0GGYA [loop films]

Hakujaden 白蛇伝. 2002.
Animēshon no senkusha Ōfuji Noburō ‒ Kokō no tensai アニメーションの先駆者 大藤信郎 孤高の天才. 2010.
Von tanzenden Zigaretten und Elchen. Der deutsche Animationsfilm in Werbung und Musikvideo (= Geschichte des deutschen Animationsfilms VI). 2011.


  • Katsudō shashin:

    • Thanks, Peter. I’ve now incorporated the video into the post.

  • I like how the little vandal pauses to take a peek back at the viewer. Personality animation.

  • Thanks for this intersting article.

    For general questions about the history of color in film I would like to propose my Timeline of Historical Film Colors:


    And I would also be happy to include information about Japanese film colors.

    Kind regards,

    Barbraa Flueckiger

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