What Happens When You Animate an 800-Year-Old Manga Strip

A historical artifact featuring a bunch of frolicking animals has been given a new lease of life.

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Jun 24 2016, 11:00am

Proving that old creations can be revamped to suit modern day tastes, Studio Ghibli, Japan's beloved animation studio, has gone and given motion to an 800-year-old manga scroll.

In a YouTube video released by Marubeni—a Japanese trading company that partnered with Ghibli on the project—watch the animal world get anthropomorphized as a gallant frog piggybacks his bunny pal across a river, only to have a near-death experience that requires emergency CPS.

Dubbed the Choju Jinbutsu Giga (Scroll of Frolicking Animals), the artwork is from a four-part scroll series that belonged to Kozan-ji temple in Kyoto, Japan. The scrolls were created in the 12th and 13th centuries. While some credit them as being the oldest work of manga in existence in Japan, others argue that that title could go to another scroll known as the Shigasan-engi (Legend of Mount Shigi).

Though the animation was made explicitly for the purpose of boosting Marubeni's corporate image as one of contributing to global economies and societies, it's still interesting to see how an ancient artifact can be so skilfully revitalised for the modern age.

Cool Japan is a column about the quirky and serious happenings in the Japanese scientific, technological and cultural realms. It covers the unknown, the mainstream, and the otherwise interesting developments in Japan.