Tokio Jokio – Racist WWII Propaganda

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In Japan itself, we see Japanese characters being portrayed in anime opposite to how they look in reality. Colored hair, big eyes and tall stature.

In the West, in certain drawings such as South Park, their features are exaggerated, being drawn with very small eyes, large glasses, horse teeth, a goofy face and an extremely short stature with the intention of satirizing them.

But these cartoons today are nothing compared to a short film made by Warner Bros. Pictures in 1943, in the middle of World War II. The short is called Tokio Jokio and you can easily find it on YouTube because as Warner Bros. didn't renew the copyright, the animation became public domain.

Tokio Jokio animation

The short Tokio Jokio lasts about 7 minutes and the animation starts with the narrator saying:

"Attention please! This movie released to the public was captured from the enemy! It is an example of evil Japanese-Nazi propaganda!”

Then the image changes to a rooster about to crow when, suddenly, a toothy vulture with big glasses comes out of the rooster saying: “Cocoricó, please!” in Japanese accent.

And then, the image changes to text that says “Civil Defense” and then it changes to the image of a village as the narrator talks about the “best air raid siren” and shows two Japanese people pinning each other in the ass and screaming.

Then the scene cuts to the “listening post” which is basically a post full of keyholes and then cuts to the “aircraft painter” literally decking a plane with spots.

The narrator then talks about the "fire prevention headquarters" with the scene showing rubble from that headquarters. The narrator then says, “Oh, gosh! Too late!

The scene transitions to an image with a lit firebomb with text reading “Firebombs: First Lesson” and then a Japanese man appears with an umbrella.

Tokio jokio - World War II racist propaganda

How does the animated short end?

Then a text appears: “Stay away from firebombs for 5 seconds” and the Japanese man looks at his watch and counts 5 seconds. Afterwards, he approaches and starts roasting sausage near the bomb which then explodes.

Then, the scene switches to “Cooking Tips” where it shows Hideki Tojo (Japanese prime minister at the time) teaching how to make a paper sandwich and then punching himself in the head.

Afterwards, the scene switches to the “Japanese victory costume in which there are no sleeves, pleats, lapel and no uniform” while showing a semi-naked Japanese man getting cold, warming himself with a candle.

The scene switches to the "Major Personalities" showing Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (responsible for planning the attack on Pearl Harbor) walking on a pair of stilts to appear taller, explaining his intention to negotiate peace terms at the White House.

An editor's note appears covering the screen saying, "This is the room reserved for Admiral Yamamoto" and then shows an electric chair. In the short, dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini also appear being satirized.

What was the intention of Tokio Jokio?

At the time, Japan and the United States were at war and the Americans produced such animation to demoralize the enemy and make anti-Japanese propaganda. In war, propaganda demoralizing the enemy (both on the Allied and Axis sides) and improving the nation's self-esteem was common.

Nowadays, this type of propaganda is considered racist and would not be aired due to the content of the animation. Warner Bros. purposely did not renew the copyright of the short because he wanted to make the animation fall into oblivion.

Is that you? Did you know this Tokio Jokio advertisement? What is your opinion on the matter? We'd love to hear more in the comments and have your share as possible.

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