Anime Collector Realizes He Has Early Walt Disney Film

Mickey’s Celebration Merchandise

Mickey’s Celebration Merchandise

What if I told you that Mickey Mouse was not a mouse, but a rabbit?

The two-minute black-and-white footage features "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit", a long-eared character with a button nose which inspired Mickey Mouse.

Yasushi Watanabe, 84, reportedly bought the 1928 film directed by Walt Disney himself for just $6 at a toy wholesaler in Osaka as a teenager. The film was restored and its world premiere was hosted by Walt Disney Animation Studios at BFI Southbank in December 2015. The reel contained a 2-minute version of the Oswald cartoon called "Neck n' Neck", produced for 16-mm home movie projectors (the original was cut at 5 minutes).

The find came about after Watanabe read "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons", by former Disney animator David Bossert, which details the history of the character and notes that a number of the early animations had disappeared.

Title: The film was later identified as "Neck "n" Neck".

The newspaper contacted the author of the book and the Walt Disney Archives and confirmed that the reel was indeed one of the missing films, originally titled "Neck "n" Neck".

Watanabe's copy is now being held at Kobe Planet Film Archive, one of the largest private film collections in Japan.

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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'.

Mr Watanabe's childhood purchase is now being kept at the Kobe Planet Film Archive, and another film showing 50 seconds of the same cartoon has also been unearthed at the Toy Film Museum in Kyoto, the newspaper said.

This is not the first Oswald cartoon to resurface in recent years.

And Mr Watanabe's is not the first lost Oswald film to be unearthed.

Six of Disney's original Oswald cartoons remain lost.

Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927, and it was Disney Studios' first character to have its own series. Disney asked for a budget increase, but Mintz balked, countering for a decrease in the production budget instead. However, producer Charles Mintz claimed the rights to Oswald in a dispute with Disney, taking the character in-house at Universal. Oswald continued on under the Universal banner, but eventually was twilighted. At the same time as Oswald was being made in the United States, for example, Bonzo the dog was having surreal adventures on UK screens. Or experience the uncanny valley of Mickey and Oswald together on the same screen.

In 2006, Disney CEO Bob Iger made a trade with NBC Universal and regained control of the Oswald character.

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