Rise of Chinese Anime – Even Surpassing Japanese?

(Last Updated On: December 6, 2020)

No doubt Japanese animation or Anime has always been praised for their beautiful animation and spectacular visuals. I mean the kick of Genos from One Punch Man is one of the most mind-blowing scenes I have seen in any anime in terms of Animation. Dragon Ball Super: Broly movie is also a very good example of great modern-day Japanese animation.

But it’s not all petals and roses, the rise of the Chinese economy is just one of the biggest marvels in few decades. China is challenging American dominance over the world stage. But it is also moving forward to surpass Japanese in animation. So we will discusse the rise of chinese anime and what it means for future of animation industry and enterrainment as well.

Problem with the Anime Industry

As many of you reading this already knows that the anime industry is very very labor-intensive and animators have to devote a significant portion of their time and effort daily. But their wages don’t even justify their efforts. You can watch the dedicated video by Asia Boss on this topic “Underpaid and Overworked: Being an Animator in Japan”.

This video mainly talks about the conditions of animators in the animation industry. I will suggest you watch this video fully and understand how massive is this problem. Now let us discuss the Chinese angle to this problem.

China Striking Hot Iron with Money

Anime Production Studios
Japanese Anime Production Studios

Well, according to the Japanese website, China is seeing this as the perfect time to strike. Ironically, China is one of the countries that Japan is known for outsourcing, and this is a practice that even further cripples the Japanese talent pool.

But now China is looking to outright steal that talent from Japan for their own industry. China has been really critical of the Japanese animation industry’s business and labor practices, and now they are offering upwards of roughly $2,500 a month for Japanese animators with at least 5 years experience with promotion and raise incentives, and free housing, and the ability to create more freely. Remember that most animators in Japan are lucky to bring home $1,000.

According to an article by South China Morning Post Chinese Tech firms including Tencent, Baidu and NetEase are doing what they can to get in on the US$220 billion global animation market, while local cartoonists are winning fans by using traditional Chinese religious and cultural themes.

China’s tech firms are engaged in a cartoon arms race to develop or buy Chinese characters in an animation market expected to hit 216 billion yuan (US$33 billion) by 2020, according to the EntGroup consultancy. They are trying to emulate the success of Walt Disney’s ensemble, which ranges from Mickey Mouse to Iron Man.

Chinese Tech Giants
Chinese Tech Giants

Chinese tech giants like Tencent, Baidu, and NetEase are trying to find out the same thing. Part of the winning formula has been the use of traditional Chinese religious and cultural themes and characters. That, and the improved quality in terms of art and storytelling, helped China’s comic book and animation market reach 150 billion yuan last year, according to EntGroup estimates.

China is still behind the Japanese and US markets but is catching up. Japan is the top producer of animation, while the United States dominates in terms of sales, with a nearly 40 percent share of a global industry estimated at $ 220 billion in 2016, according to a Research & Markets report. China had a share of about 8 percent that year.

(Alibaba owns the South China Morning Post) – Link to full Article

Success with Chinese Model

According to the website, Many points to Nezha is the definitive turning point in Chinese animation. The epic animated fantasy film based on a Chinese folk deity was released in 2019 and exceeded expectations. The film became a cultural phenomenon in China.

Nezha, the first 3D animated IMAX feature film produced in China, has grossed $ 725 million at the Chinese box office to date and has become the second highest-grossing film in Chinese cinema history.

Still, both technically and in terms of audience size, China lags behind the animation powerhouses of the United States and Japan, though that’s not for lack of history with the medium. The first self-produced cartoons in China were made in the first quarter of the 20th century by the Wan brothers under the auspices of the Great Wall Film Company.

Some of the Wan brothers’ full-length cartoons, such as 1964’s Uproar in Heaven, are still considered masterpieces. But the Cultural Revolution that began two years after its release effectively halted the production of Chinese animated films, and the industry struggled to recover.

Finally, it seems that China is starting to pick up where it left off, with feature films like Nezha and shorter cartoons mostly distributed via online streaming platforms. Take, for example, the extremely popular animated fantasy show Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation), whose lush animation wouldn’t seem out of place in a Japanese production.

Chinese creative skills and product knowledge have yet to catch up with animators from Japan and the United States. While there has been much talk of China-Hollywood live-action film co-productions, only a few of which have been successful, animation co-productions are seen by many as a golden opportunity for all markets.

Jacques Stroweis is the visual effects supervisor and producer on one such project, the animated feature film and the Chinese-American co-production The First Super Hero, based on the Chinese legend of the Monkey King. Cartoon co-productions are especially attractive to Western companies as they offer huge box office profits and are not subject to onerous Chinese government restrictions that can cripple live-action films.

Finally, one thing that comes out is that the Japanese anime industry needs to implement new ways to improves the working conditions of animators and opt for some new technologies as well if it wants to maintain an edge in animation on the world stage. For China I personally think that it is a long way to defeat the US or even Japan in animation but they had a pretty good start and they are determined to make their way forward, to know more about Chinese animation and animation in general watch this video above Accented Cinema.


Thank for Reading

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Urvashi Rohilla
An anime lover who loves to explore the business and analytical side of the anime/manga industry. I write the detailed and reseach based topic on the Animeindia website.

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