Ancient anime lost, now found

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Copies of two of Japan's oldest animated films, thought to have been lost forever, were found in Osaka and have been digitally restored at the National Film Center of Modern Art in Tokyo.

The two films, "Namakura Katana" (The Fine Sword) and "Urashima Taro," will be shown alongside 94 other old and rediscovered movies at a film festival titled Hakutsu sareta Eiga tachi (Unearthed Films) — 2008, scheduled to run in April at the film center.

"Katana," the story of a samurai duped into buying a blunt sword, was drawn by Junichi Kouchi and released in June 1917 by the Kobayashi Shokai production company.

"Taro," a version of a classic Japanese fairy tale, was illustrated by Seitaro Kitayama, first seen in February 1918 and produced by Nikkatsu.

The films were discovered in a second-hand shop in July by Natsuki Matsumoto, a lecturer at Musashino Art University. The animated Japanese film previously thought to be the oldest in existence was released in August 1918.
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