How to find a very old Japanese animation series
October 6, 2013 8:32 AM   Subscribe

In the mid to late 1960s, early morning Saturday television included -- I believe in the very early morning, before the regular Tom and Jerry etc -- a Japanese animated series that looked nothing like contemporary anime. It was all set in a regal Japanese past with women wearing kimonos, ornate animation of detailed old-fashioned Japanese houses, etc. The only possible detail we have is a faintly remembered character name that was something like "Shushan." Is there any possible way to find out what this show was? Any suggested googling hints?
posted by third rail to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Google "1960s Japanese Anime series". You'll get a lot of hits.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 9:29 AM on October 6, 2013

These Birds: series that looked nothing like contemporary anime

Have you looked for just "1960s cartoons" and read through lists to see if anything rings a bell? (I had a cursory look, I got nothin'.) If you are on Facebook there is at least one group given over to old TV shows.
posted by kmennie at 9:46 AM on October 6, 2013

This might be a good list to go through. Nothing rings a bell for me, though.
posted by nightwood at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2013

Response by poster: Google "1960s Japanese Anime series". You'll get a lot of hits.

Thanks, this is what I've been doing, but everything we find is an obvious precursor to modern-anime in style (ie Speed Racer). This show was not what you'd think of as anime style, ie no big eyes or "cute" looks, though it is animated... rather the style was what you'd see illustrating, say, a mid-century Japanese-style room screen: an imitation of traditional Japanese woodblock prints.
posted by third rail at 10:27 AM on October 6, 2013

Where were you watching TV at? This sort of thing might be regional.
posted by codacorolla at 1:42 PM on October 6, 2013

Also, was it in color or black and white?
posted by codacorolla at 1:47 PM on October 6, 2013

Best answer: Could it have been Hakujaden? There's a character called Xu-Xian. It actually takes place in China, not Japan, but ...
posted by wintersweet at 1:50 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

(More info on Wikipedia.)
posted by wintersweet at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Is it "The Tale of the White Serpent"? It's a feature length film, but I can see how it might be shown piece-meal...

Here's a version on Youtube with Italian subs.
posted by codacorolla at 1:51 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

I don't know what show you are talking about (though I'd love to see it now), but have you seen Sazaesan ? Or I guess it's possible it's the same show since the name you give looks similar. But it's not really set in the past. It's my favorite Japanese cartoon ever and is really long running. There are episodes on Youtube (in Japanese).
posted by Blitz at 1:53 PM on October 6, 2013

(Hakujaden is "Tale of the White Serpent." As for Sazae-san, people sometimes wear kimonos but they're usually threadbare, not regal :))
posted by wintersweet at 2:34 PM on October 6, 2013

Response by poster: Oh, this is incredible. I think that is it, wintersweet and codacorolla! I was about 4 when I used to see this, and my siblings and I have always wondered what it was. That clip is the first thing that has rung a real bell in all these years, and I do think the name Xu- Xian is what I remembered. THANK YOU wintersweet and codacorolla, and everyone who answered.
posted by third rail at 3:03 PM on October 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

No problem, glad to have helped. I found it by reading through this page, which is a short history of Japanese Animation and Manga. A little further information is in the timeline down the page:

1956 - The production company, Toei Animation, was founded by Hiroshi Okawa and released its first feature, The Tale of the White Serpent.
posted by codacorolla at 3:30 PM on October 6, 2013 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: (For anyone who was interested in this mystery: the film looks more like a child's anime than my original description implied. Over the decades, I recalled it as a classical Japanese woodblock style, obviously combining my memory of the original with art images I saw later in life. I'm thrilled to have found it, and it's great, and does have a magical regal classical setting -- but please don't expect it to look exactly as I described it above...!)
posted by third rail at 4:03 AM on October 7, 2013

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