Lost Disney Cartoon Featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Found

Angelo Anderson
November 18, 2018

A long-lost Disney relic has been rediscovered in Japan, according to Japanese media sources. But an 84-year-old anime historian named Yasushi Watanabe in Osaka, Japan recently discovered that he had a 16mm copy of the film in his personal collection - after buying it almost 70 years ago from a toy wholesaler who sold it to him for the Japanese equivalent of $4.40.

Before Mickey Mouse, there was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the very first major animated character created by Walt Disney who starred in as many as 27 short films.

It wasn't until Watanabe read a book released previous year called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons by Disney animator David Bossert that he realized several of the shorts were missing.

Yasushi Watanabe, now 84, had no idea he was purchasing animation history when he picked up the reel for just 500 yen (£3.45 today) at a toy wholesalers in Osaka.

Originally called Neck & Neck, the 16mm cartoon was tagged with the name Mickey Manga Spide (Mickey Cartoon Speedy), and remained in Mr Watanabe's personal collection for 70 years. After speaking with Watanabe, the paper reached out to the Walt Disney Archives and confirmed that it was one of seven of the 26 Oswald cartoons that had been thought to be lost for good.

A collector bought the 70 year old film for less than a fiver.


He told Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper: 'As I've been a Disney fan for many years, I'm happy I was able to play a role'.

"We're absolutely delighted to learn that a copy of the lost film exists", Becky Cline, director of Walt Disney Archives, told the newspaper.

Watanabe's copy of Neck "n" Neck is being kept at Kobe Planet Film Archive, which has more than 16,000 titles in its library.

In response, Disney began work on a new lead character: one that would eventually be known as Mickey Mouse.

Judge for yourself by taking a look at Oswald shorts available online and comparing them to Mickey's first appearance on screen, in the short "Steamboat Willie", which premiered 90 years ago this weekend.

In 2014, Norway's National Library announced it had discovered a copy of a Walt Disney cartoon featuring Oswald, which had been thought lost.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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