If anyone have been followed animation closely for the last few years, they will notice a recent rise of Chinese animation (call it a wave if you like), both in feature and in series. While it does not have much of an impact in any English speaking world like anime has been, they are really popular in their mainland and some parts of Asian countries. With the success of Kung Fu Panda (half-produced by China) and its power on movies industry (China IS the main market for feature films now), it is worth it to take a look on this current trend and see how they are different from anime.
While my fellow bloggers are the ones who more specialize in Games and Manga, I will be the one who cover World Animation (by that I mean anything animated other than anime and American big studio animation – they got way too much coverage already). Like majority of you guys I am not from China, my Chinese is as good as my Japanese (which is to say NONE), so this is actually goddamn difficult to look for titles, and the information I could find are sacred here on top of that find a suitable sub for it, most of them does not even have an English name, thus the title and the synopsis that I give you here are just a rough translation. So behold. This is our very first attempt to cover the animation of china.
Part 1: Computer Animated Wuxia shows
This is a staple genre in Chinese animation, the combination of modern revisit of traditional wuxia genre, together with the rise computer animation and the boom of RPG online game in China make this a very distinctive animation genre, and the fighting scenes are somewhat a trademark for Chinese animation shows. Here are the 6 shows in no particular order:
The Legend of Qin (秦时明月)
Let begin with a blast, The Legend of Qin, or Qin’s Moon, is the most popular show right now, both in their mainland and in international appeal. As of this writing the season 5 have been aired and the live action series are underway, and that happens for a reason. The first episode introduces a young boy (Jing Tiaming) and his master (Ge Nie) are ambushed in the desert. After fending the enemy troops off, Ge Nie is injured and is found, along with Tianming, by the Royal Tribe of Chu. Set in the rich time of Qin dynasty, Qin’s Moon already had a strong backstory. I like both the two main characters, and the story while dense at times, so far is easy to follow. If you want to check out the Chinese animation, make this one your first.
Swords of Half of a Man-ho (三剑豪之半面人)
The story seems to be about a young man who eventually become a master swordsman, but we didn’t learn that in this first episode. There’s already a fighting scene in the very beginning of the show, which we don’t even know who the main characters are so why do we care? There is a lot of action but the choreography is clumsy at best and stupid at worst. I mean there is an assassin and she easily took down our main character, but then for no reason she would turn her back on him so he could punch her in the back, all that so the assassin would lose it and tried to kill our main character, but ends up that his lover’s got knifed. WHAT? The second half of this busy episode we have a chance to see a mysterious girl, a talkative boy and again a fight at the end. None of them act like normal people. Even the main protagonist just come off as bland. The only point I can give is the above average character design.
The story is about a young boy called ZhanChi, who fated to become “one of the heroes who hold the fortune of the world” (by a weird mark in his left hand). When he was 5, his sister got kidnapped by a monster, people called them ling. He promises he will recuse his sister back someday. When he was 15, his second mother finally lets him go. This first episode plays like a prelude, telling us a story of Zhanchi before he began his adventure. While this may feel like your typical plot: he wants to get out of the house to join the heroes gang, his second mother puts him off every time by any means necessary, even to trick him. What makes it a success is its focus on the mother/ child relationship, yes she is not his own mother, but she loves him all the same and she just scare if there something will happen to him out there. I love how the show places the emotions here. His mini adventure is enjoyable as well. This is a winner for me.
Spirit of the Main Rivers and Lakes – Hua Jianghu Zhi Ling Zhu (画江湖之灵主)
There are two types of people, one for the living things, and the other for the dead to do bad. Through a series of events and learned of the existence of psychic and spiritual master of believers, and to eliminate their exposure to the responsibility of the mysterious organization ” Yu Ling group.” With a pile of mystery cracks, they get closer to the truth. The story is a classic wuxia, but the animation was so great and the production design was excellent that I can’t help but enjoy it anyway. The fighting scenes technically is among the best of its genres, every fight is so breathtaking and awe-inspiring, like some of the more intense action scenes, the screen would turn to black and white. There were fast forward and slow motion as well. In other word the actions are as in your face as you would get, but because they do it right, it still an impressive work. The story itself is a bit busy, with already many side stories and a huge casts of characters, but in all this could be a fun adventure and I’m eager to check out more of this.
Magical Legend (太乙仙魔录)
Here comes the worst show I see out of this guide, not simply because it’s bad (it is), it’s just uninspiring and will likely to be forgotten anytime soon. The episode follows a young female warrior, who pretty much unsure about herself and what she is good at. Her master, decided to go back to her past lives for whatever purposes it might be. They tried to cute-out the two main characters (by having the main girl standing in a branch of big tree and having cute music for the majority of runtime). The fighting between them are stupid and I don’t even care about why they want to learn her past’s life. And this training ends with the master hold the girl gently in his arms. What the heck? NO NO NO
Zetianji (择天记 第)
A boy orphan Chen Changsheng, left the master and brothers, with a marriage promises to an unknown girl. During this stunning journey, he met a handsome bearded wealthy son, received a mysterious lovely girl as an apprentice, and they were forced to fight with the dragon and all the mysterious force. This is the only hand-drawn wuxia from this list, but the art style is so familiar that I have to include it here anyway. This is a slightly above the middle line of quality here. The two young boys make up for the main casts are different in terms of personality and their gestures are fun to watch. One of them is arranged to marriage an unknown girl, and it seems like the girl will be the main cast as well. I like what I see so far so I could give this a second look.