ANIMATION WORLD MAGAZINE - ISSUE 4.9 - DECEMBER 1999
Tadahito Mochinaga: The Japanese Animator Who Lived In Two Worlds
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A greeting card from MOM Productions' version of the classic fairy tale Pinocchio. © MOM Productions.
MOM was a subcontractor, so all of the films were directed by Videocraft International, which prepared and sent scripts and pre-recorded voices and sounds. Upon receiving these, MOM made puppet models and animated them. Needless to say Mochinaga (as Tad Mochinaga in the credits now) was the director for the Japanese part of the production. At their peak, some 130 people worked at MOM.
The Tie Which Binds
Although Mochinaga was based in Japan, he kept in touch with the Shanghai Animation Film Studio and followed its growth. In 1979, just after the Cultural Revolution was over, Mochinaga was invited to the studio as a consultant to shoot a new puppet animation, Who Mewed?, with Chinese animators. Also from 1985 to 1986, he taught animation technique at the Beijing Film Academy.
When the "Retrospective of the Shanghai Animated Film Studio" was held in Tokyo in 1981, three guests, including Tu Wei, were invited. This was the first and greatest event ever focused on Chinese animated films to be held in Japan. Moreover, it would never have been realized without Mochinaga's coordination.
More characters from Mochinaga's A Badger and a Boy. © Tadahito Mochinaga.
The first Hiroshima Animated Film Festival was held in 1985. Until his death, Mochinaga played a major role as the coordinator between this festival and the Chinese animated film world.
Mochinaga was also an active coordinator in arranging tours for Japanese animators and related personnel when they visited the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. At times, he himself took part in such tours, arriving in China beforehand to welcome the guests from Japan.
In October 1986, the 60th anniversary of Chinese animation was celebrated at the Shanghai Animation Film Studio. Mochinaga was the only official (and honorary) guest invited from Japan.
In 1992, Mochinaga produced and directed, as well as financed, his last puppet animation short: A Badger and a Boy. The story revolved around a young badger, which saw a human boy riding a bicycle, and turned itself into a girl so it could ride the bicycle with the boy. This heart-warming 13-minute short was screened in both the Hiroshima International Animated Film Festival and the Shanghai International Animation Festival in 1992.
At his home, Tadahito Mochinaga, age 78.
For some years, Tu Wei took every chance to tell Mochinaga to write his autobiography, and Mochinaga started writing some fragments. Even when he was hospitalized for liver trouble, Mochinaga continued writing. Though he wrote a considerable amount, he was unable to finish. At present, his widow, Ayako, is in the process of compiling and editing his writings, which also includes memos and notes jotted down on fragments of paper.
In the China Cinema Encyclopedia, published in Shanghai in 1996, you can find Mochinaga's entry as "Fan Ming: an animation director, Japanese."
Kosei Ono was born in Tokyo, Japan. He is a noted film critic and expert on animated films. His books include: The History of Chinese Animated Films (1987), the only full-scale perspective on Chinese animated films to date, and Osamu Tezuka (1989). He is now preparing the book, The History of Japanese Animated Films.
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