HASHIMOTO-SANOriginal Medium: Theatrical cartoons
Produced by: Terrytoons
First Appeared: 1959
Creator: Bob Kuwahara
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Hashimoto-San was a late Terrytoons character, created during the studio's waning years following the departure of founder Paul Terry. This was the time of Luno, Silly Sidney, Gaston LeCrayon, Astronut and quite a few other
odd characters — and he was about on the same level of prominence as those guys, too. Like most of them, he flourished for a few years, was mixed and re-mixed with his contemporaries, then faded and was forgotten. But Hashimoto gets special praise that the others don't. He was a much more accurate and respectful representative of his ethnicity than, say, Deputy Dawg was of his. In fact, his were probably the very first American cartoons to portray Japanese culture without insulting it.
Not that Hashimoto was entirely free of stereotypes! He was a Judo expert, which is about as far as the martial arts went in American consciousness at the time. But he didn't use his abilities to threaten people, and was low-key in the exercise of them — tho never to the point of neglecting self-defense; and when he was called upon to defend himself, he always prevailed.. Nowadays, that, too, would be a stereotype, but back then, it went against expectations.
More important than his fighting expertise was the fact that Hashimoto was a family man. Or mouse. His wife's name was Hanako, and they had two young children, son Saburo and daughter Yoriko. Often, the stories were about Hashimoto relating aspects of Japanese history to an American reporter called G.I. Joe (no relation).
Hashimoto's first appearance was in a cartoon titled, simply, Hashimoto-San, which Terrytoons released on September 6, 1959. The director, and creator of the series, was Bob Kuwahara (Lariat Sam), who had intimate knowledge of Hashimoto's culture through his own family ties. Hashimoto's voice and that of Hanako were done by John Myhers, who mostly did face acting, but was responsible for a few other voices, such as Hector Heathcote.
Hashimoto went on to appear in 13 more theatrically-released cartoons, the last one being Spooky-Yaki, released November 13, 1963. After that, he had a segment on Hector Heathcote's TV show, which ran on NBC from 1963-65. He also appeared in comic books, from both Dell and Gold Key. Most of his comics appearances were in their New Terrytoons series, which he shared with the studio's other stars such as Silly Sidney or Heckle & Jeckle. The only comic in which his name was even a part of the title was a 1965 oneshot called Deputy Dawg Presents Dinky Duck & Hashimoto-San.
For a long time after that, Hashimoto was part of a package of cartoons sold to local television stations, and was seen alongside The Mighty Heroes, The Terry Bears and similar luminaries. But by now, it's years since any of the old Terrytoons guys turned up on TV.