Chinese animated works have gained worldwide attention. ENLIGHT PICTURES COCO CARTOON
When people think of animation, many automatically think about those that come from Japan or the Disney classics that they watched as children. Yet in recent years, China has been making efforts to establish itself on the global animation map. Many Chinese animations not only become mainstream, but also are reviewed highly and bring in large amounts at the box office.
For example, in 2016, the Chinese film Big Fish and Begonia brought in over 200 million yuan in just three days after its release. In 2019, the film Ne Zha opened with 100 million yuan in ticket sales and topped the mainland’s ticket-revenue charts for four consecutive days. Recently, after the animation White Cat Legend was released on video-sharing platform Bilibili in April, it immediately became the top-rated Chinese-language TV drama on the review platform Douban, scoring 9.2 points out of 10.
According to The Paper, the rise of Chinese animation is partly due to its Chinese culture-inspired content and fantastic visual effects.
The TV drama White Cat Legend is set during the rule of Tang Dynasty Empress Wu Zetian. It tells the story of an official named Li Bing attempting to solve crimes with the appearance of a white cat. In order to make the show more attractive to audiences, the producers replicated the architecture and customs of the Tang Dynasty, including the bustling streets, merchants, clothing and utensils.
“The production and visual effect seem to bring us to Tang Dynasty”, an internet user commented on Bilibili.
Similarly, Big Fish and Begonia is based on ancient Chinese legends and follows the grand adventure of a 16-year-old girl named Chun who lives in a magical world beyond the human realm. Using a mixture of 2D drawings and 3D animation, the film is aesthetically impressive. “It is visually dazzling and made very much in the Hayao Miyazaki mode, including an intrepid young heroine and the cultural specificity that characterizes works like the Oscar-winning Spirited Away,” wrote Kenneth Turan, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times.
The excellent visual effects aren’t the only thing that make these works stand out. The universal themes have also helped to extend the reach to millions of audiences worldwide.
Big Fish and Begonia teaches people about love and sacrifice, which is a lesson all people need to learn in their lives. In the animation Ne Zha, we can see a rebellious underdog who has to overcome hardship and his dark destiny to become a hero. The theme is about “the rebellious but righteous youth, which young people can relate to, encouraging them to become dream-chasers and fate-changers”, noted China Daily.
With more Chinese producers’ effort on these aspects, the Chinese animations will be promising in the near future, noted The Paper.