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China's Domestic Animation Is Getting Better... Says China

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Chinese animation's always sorta been the bastard child of Asia. Not that Chinese animation isn't any good—in fact, it's getting better. Now, the country's official news source has come out with articles talking about how China's animation is getting better and how more people are watching domestically-created programs.

In two separate articles written on China's People's Daily and Xinhua, both state media organs talk about the virtues of domestically-produced Chinese animations.

Talking up the virtues of domestically created animations, Xinhua's article, which was originally an article from China Business, shows the growth of Chinese animation through its spread outside of China. Citing a Blue Ocean Network newscast that foreigners in America are watching Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf, one of China's most popular cartoons, the writer of the article goes on to talk about the growth of China's own domestic animation market, predicting that in the future, there will be far more foreigners watching Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf.

However, even as Chinese animation is growing, there are obvious dissenters in China. Addressing the age-old of issues of copying western ideas and properties, the People's Daily writes that China's animation industry has come a long way. The writer says that despite the allegations and complaints that Chinese animation tends to be low-quality, or imitates, say, Japanese animation, ratings and box office sales in China prove that domestically-created animations are doing very well.


The People's Daily further argues that the reason some Chinese cartoons are called copies or rip-offs at home and abroad is because the animation styles are so similar to western and Japanese art styles. The writer also suggested that fans should consider these cases homages, not rip-offs.

In the closing graph of the People's Daily article, the writer reiterates that Chinese animation, despite how poor it might seem, has come a long way.


It is no lie that the quality of China's domestic animation is getting better. After years and years of working as an art outsourcing location, it seems China's animation industry has learned a few things.

However, domestic animation in China literally faces zero competition (except with itself). On TV, the shows that are broadcast on Beijing's equivalent to Cartoon Network are primarily Chinese animation. It's been a few years since Detective Conan was shown on broadcast. Many people who grew up in the 80's and 90's in China said they used to watch lots of Japanese series when they grew up. Now, they lament the fact that they can only find those shows online.


The same can be said about computer-animated films. There was some fuss about China's refusal to screen Despicable Me 2 because it was conflicting with a domestic product. There haven't been any big domestic animated movies since July.

The Chinese animation industry's biggest issue right now is the same one that all of its "cultural" industries face—China itself. Until China can change certain policies and censorship issues, I doubt Chinese animation will be getting much better than it is today.

在“模仿”中进步的国产动漫 | People's Daily
“美国人民也看喜羊羊”——国产动画发展走向纵深| Xinhua

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian Internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.


Eric is Beijing based writer and all around FAT man. You can contact him or follow him on Twitter @FatAsianTechie.