Rapid growth of ACGN subculture in China has companies standing up and taking notice

By Li Jingjing Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/27 15:08:39 Last Updated: 2016/11/27 17:23:39

Two cosplayers live-stream from the Migu Universe Festival on November 19 in Xiamen, Fujian Province.Photos: Li Jingjing/GT

Two cosplayers live-stream from the Migu Universe Festival on November 19 in Xiamen, Fujian Province. Photos: Li Jingjing/GT

Two cosplayers live-stream from the Migu Universe Festival on November 19 in Xiamen, Fujian Province.Photos: Li Jingjing/GT

Two cosplayers live-stream from the Migu Universe Festival on November 19 in Xiamen, Fujian Province. Photos: Li Jingjing/GT

Dressed in traditional Japanese kimonos or carrying large samurai swords, the people on stage look like they have just walked out of the popular Japanese manga Rurouni Kenshin.

However, this is not some show from Japan, but a cosplay show from a group of young Chinese with the Trefoil Animation Club at the Southwest University for Nationalities in Chengdu, Southwest China's Sichuan Province.

The show was held during the Migu Universe Animation Festival last week in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province, where fans celebrated their favorite characters in animation, comics and games from China, Japan and the US.

While still unfamiliar to a lot of people in China, Anime, Comic, Games and Novels (ACGN) is a rapidly rising subculture in the country.

It is also known by the nickname erciyuan (two dimensional space) since most comics and anime are two dimensional.

Rapid growth

ACGN subculture has seen some serious momentum in China in recent years.

According to the Annual Report on the Development of China's Animation Industry (2015) released by the Beijing Film Academy, the total value of the industry exceeded 100 billion yuan ($15 billion) in 2014, a year-on-year increase of 14.84 percent. Total industry value is expected to break 200 billion yuan by 2020.

Together with this growth has been a rising demand for a variety of related products.

Industry veteran Zhu Jiajun has seen this industry evolve over the past 30 years. Zhu founded China's first weekly comic magazine, Zhiyin Manke, back in 2005.

"For reasons, I left the magazine for a while in 2014, but when I came back in January, 2015, I discovered that the world had changed," Zhu said at an animation industry forum on November 19 in Xiamen.

With Zhiyin Manke's serialized comics updating every week, the magazine reached a circulation of more than 7 million copies at its peak. However, since the beginning of 2015, an increasing number of readers have started to prefer online comics, which tend to update even more frequently. This online preference became especially prevalent after the rise of Webtoons, online comics from South Korea.

"We used to make comics for general readers, but now we have to be more specific, to target our readers," Zhu said, explaining how the magazine has adapted to changes within the comics industry in China.

China's Ministry of Culture has also been working to support the development of the country's animation industry and original animation. With this support, new companies have popped up that are attempting to use various platforms to target animation lovers. For example, Migu Technology Culture Company, the organizer of the Migu Universe Animation Festival, also organizes cosplay and dubbing competitions in addition to providing videos, music and novels.

Other companies have also moved in interesting directions such as creating stage plays adapted from comics and anime.

Rising voices

A huge competition to select voice actors attracted a lot of attention at the festival. ACGN lovers, most in their teens or early 20s, came from all across the country to take part in this competition in the hopes of becoming a professional voice actor.

"Dubbing for animation is different from voicing over work for TV shows, because the presentation of a character's personality and emotions rely solely on your voice," voice actress Ji Guanlin, who rose to fame for doing the Putonghua voice over for Zhen Huan in TV drama The Legend of Zhen Huan, told the Global Times.

Ji said she felt that voice performances have been attracting more attention in recent years, especially now that ACGN subculture has been gaining ground with the general public.

Consumer power

As ACGN fans gradually becoming a major consumer force, an increasing number of companies are targeting them in every way possible.

Website bilibili.com, a portal known for its dedication to ACGN content, recently became an official sponsor of Chinese basketball team the Shanghai Sharks. Industry insiders speculate that the move is an attempt to get ACGN fans into basketball.

This is the first time that any entertainment streaming platform, let alone one that has such a strong influence among China's ACGN community, has sponsored a Chinese Basketball Association team and is yet another example of ACGN's growing power.


Newspaper headline: Two dimensional explosion


Posted in: ART

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