Chinese anime strives hard to unlock Japanese market

Source:CGTN Published: 2018/5/20 10:19:38

China signed 355 contracts to buy Japanese animation in 2016, making it the biggest buyer of the year, according to "Anime Industry Report 2017" by the Association of Japanese Animations.

However, the country's anime artists and industry participants are looking to make a change. Led by "Once upon a Time There Was a Spirit Blade Mountain," Chinese animations are striving hard to unlock the seemingly impenetrable market across the sea.

'Once upon a Time There Was a Spirit Blade Mountain'

The novel-adapted webcomic has been serialized since 2014 but the anime adaptation did not debut until January 2016. Nonetheless, it was the first Chinese animation adapted from comic books to be aired on Japanese TV channels.

The immortal cultivation-themed anime was set in the Spirit Blade Sect in the year 4233. After thousands of years of producing first rate immortal cultivation geniuses, it had become one of the five biggest sects in the Ten Thousand Celestial Alliance.

The Spirit Blade Sect is dedicated to peaceful development, and holds the core values of Truthfulness, Kindness and Loyalty. In order to expand the sect and bring in new blood, all heroes and geniuses have been welcomed to attend the Celestial Gathering.

The anime adaptation was a joint production of Chinese and Japanese studios. The Chinese side behind the work is Tencent Comic.

But as a trial in the Japanese market, the expectation was not held high. "They can see this animation aired on Japanese TV stations and they will be curious to see what it is," said Zhang Ziyu, a publicity specialist with Tencent Comic.

"Under One Person" with subtitle "The Outcast" is adapted from a Chinese webcomic under the same name. It was also published by Tencent.

The Chinese/Japanese anime television adaptation titled "Hitori no Shita: The Outcast" was aired from July to September in 2016. The second season began on January this year and is simulcast in Chinese and Japanese.

The story follows college student Chou Soran as he gets caught up in a terrible incident in a small village while visiting his grandfather's grave. He is assaulted by zombies until a mysterious girl wielding a knife appears and leads him to confront with the zombies.

On Japan's leading anime site "d animestore", the first season ranked the 6th on the site's to-watch-list when it first aired. It even invited famous voice actors like Saori Hayami, Yoko Hikasa and Daisuke Hirakawa to join the production.

The anime combines Chinese folk songs with Taoism in building its universe and employs a number of quotes from the Tao Teh King, which is a unique attraction to Japanese viewers who fell in love with Chinese culture during the process.

'Fox Spirit Matchmaker'

"Fox Spirit Matchmaker" takes place in a world where humans and demons co-exist and can fall in love with each other. The story follows Tushan Susu, a clumsy young fox spirit, and Bai Yuechu, a poor and greedy Taoist, as they set off on an adventure to help humans and demons reunite with one another.

The anime was aired on Japan's MX Television Station on July 1, 2017 and later the country's largest online ACG platform Niconico. Its rating soared to 87.6 percent on Niconico after 14 episodes.

The anime's promotional events in Tokyo's metro stations also caused some buzz as fans went to look for the posters of the series.

Catching up

China's animation industry began as early as 1926 when the Wan brothers, Wan Laiming and Wan Guchan, produced a black and white animation titled "Uproar in the Studio." The Wan brothers are recognized as the pioneers of the animation industry in China.

China's animation has since taken off and reached its climax in the 1960s when a variety of works surfaced, including the first colored animation "The Monkey King," ink and wash-styled "Where is Mama?" puppet animation "Tales of Avanti," and paper cut-styled "Calabash Brothers" or "Bottle Gourd Brothers".

The flourish of Chinese animation also influenced Japanese artists who later helped push the country's animation industry to the next level.

In the meantime, China's animation industry entered a so-called "frozen period."

But China is quickly catching up. The government enlisted the development of animation industry in its 11th Five-year Plan in 2006 and has been promoting the industry in the following years.

China's animation output has long exceeded Japan with 260,000 minutes in 2012, compared to Japan's 90,000 minutes - though the quality is yet to be leveled. And dozens of cities across the country are aiming to turn them into a center of ACG.

The country has also been cooperating with Japan to work on joint productions to learn from its counterpart to better facilitate the development of China's animation industry.

With fast-growing investment in the industry and talents, Chinese animation is looking to turn the table around and gaining popularity in the stronghold of the Japanese market.

Posted in: COMICS

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