Propaganda Kimono
Boy’s Kimono  |  Wool muslin  |  34”x 32”

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Propaganda Kimono

First published as a manga, or comic-strip character in 1931, Norakuro's status in Japan, in both popularity and longevity, is roughly equivalent to that of Mickey Mouse in the U.S. Created by Suihõ Tagawa in the same year as the Mukden Incident, canine Norakuro was originally a soldier in a fictitious "fierce dogs brigade" and the strip had obvious parallels to the actual Japanese military situation at the time.

The complex pattern on this child's garment shows an armored car, military plane, and the famous dog with a boy scout, as they walk over a background of silhouetted battle scenes and Japanese flags. The images of troops behind, including the very realistic one of soldiers, arms raised, yelling banzai in unison, are framed by the sprockets of motion picture film - an allusion both to Norakuro's own films and the newsreels that were ubiquitous in Japan and around the world before the invention of television.

In 1941, as Japan entered an all-out war-footing and luxuries disappeared, the general frivolity of Norakuro and its specific portrayal of Imperial troops as dogs led to the strip's cancellation by the Japanese government. But it re-emerged after the war and remains popular today.