Century Old Anime Discovered In Japan; Sheds Light On Early Animation Industry


A silent anime film believed to be created nearly a century ago in Japan has been discovered, offering a unique glimpse into the nascent days of the country’s animation industry. It was found among the possessions of a late cinema enthusiast.

Experts believe this film, which is one of the very few surviving works from its era, will be instrumental in understanding the early development of anime production.


The silent anime film titled ‘Dental Health‘ was believed to have been produced in 1923, and showcases a child enjoying a meal with a knife and fork, alongside another child consuming something from a bag.

Produced by a company specializing in daily necessities like toothbrushes, the eight-and-a-half-minute-long anime serves as an educational piece advocating for cavity prevention. Through captions and visuals, it emphasizes the importance of dental hygiene and dietary habits.

The present-day company Lion had preserved the film.

The film is attributed to Kitayama Seitaro, a pioneering animator who founded a company that nurtured some of the industry’s leading figures.

Kitayama Seitaro

Kitayama’s characteristic handwriting style was identified in the film’s font, further solidifying his involvement.

This roundish font really resembles the letters Kitayama used to write,” said Kitayama’s grandson Yasuda Takeshi.

century old anime
century old anime

An expert on anime, Sano Akiko, Associate Professor at Doshisha University, noted the film’s deliberate use of visual techniques. “People are drawn to the relatively large faces in front, looking straight at the viewers. This apparently takes into consideration the purpose of the film, which was for an advertisement,” she explained.

century old anime

While anime had not yet established itself as a formal industry at that time, this discovery highlights how early creators, much like their modern counterparts, constantly explored methods to enhance the expressiveness of their works.

Source: NHK

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