Concepts, Assessments, Subversions
Edited By Matteo Stocchetti
Animation: a new method of educational communication in China
Animation has always been considered a minor art and it has been neglected by the media experts – although it has a very ancient history and is so successful on the world market. From 2006 to the present, the Chinese Government has considered animation a key sector for the birth of a new national identity and for cultural development in China. In 2004 China used to produce less than 30 titles with about 20,000 minutes of animation products for TV and cinema. Thanks to the Chinese Government’s support, in few years China has become the world’s leading producer of animation. All the animation products from the production to the distribution are under control of the State Administration of Radio Film and Television agency (SARFT). Animation is considered not only a business but also a new method of communication. The Chinese Government supports businesses but ask that the animation products made in their studios have to provide for an educational feature in order to teach and educate the next generation of young people in the context of soft power. In this paper, we try to outline the actual situation of animation in China, focusing on the new methods of production and distribution of animation in the country. We conduct the analysis from a comparative point of view, in order to better study and analyse the traditional way of creating animation and the new methods. The second part of the paper deals with the artists and the new methods of distribution used in China in the last 10 years. The aim of this paper is to give an overall view of the state of animation in China and above all to understand this new way of communication, such as animation, which can influence the new Chinese generation as well as foreigners.
The origin of the Chinese animation
In China the history of animation is closely linked to political events. The government is the largest producer and controller of each film and then allows for the creation of animations dedicated exclusively to education and propaganda. Although the animation industry has been dominated by American cartoons, China has been able to create its own art with traditional Chinese features and contents, known throughout the world as the “Chinese School” of animation1. The animation film from the beginning has been one of the most powerful means of communication for two reasons: 1) because it was used a lot in propaganda, both in the West and ← 259 | 260 → in the East, due to its simple way of communicating messages and ideas, and 2) because it spoke to a universal audience that included both children and adults. The animation pioneers were the Wan brothers (万氏兄弟, Wàn Shì Xiōngdì), who at the beginning, in the 30s were the only ones to experience and create animations for advertising, then propaganda, and they finally created animations with clear Chinese cultural characteristics (Quiquemelle, 1991). Chinese animation has a long history of education communication, which can be traced back to the Wan brothers’ time. The Wan brothers once made a statement in a magazine stating that their works were not just for fun, but they spoke highly of and pursed the educational value. We can clearly see this point in those animation films produced in 1932, such as The Hare and Tortoise which came from the fairy tale and told the audience not be overconfident, A New Wave which expressed patriotic ideas, Compatriots, Wake up revealed the war’s absurdity and abnormality and appealed to everyone to fight against the invading army.
The progressive animation cinema (1931–1936)
This historical period is marked by tensions between the Republic of China and the Japanese Empire, and in particular should be mentioned the so-called Manchurian accident (Mukden Incident of September 18th, 1931), which caused the destruction of the Japanese railway in Mukden in Manchuria, then under the sovereignty of the Japanese Empire. This attack, never proved, was the excuse used by the Japanese to accuse the Chinese terrorists, thus providing Japanese troops a pretext for the invasion of Manchuria and the annexation of this part to the Japanese Empire. In addition, this was one of the events that led later to the bloodiest clash between China and Japan: the Second Sino-Japanese War (Xiao-Bin, 1966).
At that time, Shanghai was still the city with the highest lifestyle, a city open to the West and with the highest percentage of artists throughout China. In 1930 there was the inauguration of the foundation of traditional Chinese Opera and of the second largest film studio in Shanghai, the Lianhua Film Company (联华影业公司, Liánhuá Yǐngyè Gōngsī).
Shanghai was the breeding ground for experimenting with new film styles and in this period there was the birth of the so-called progressive cinema (or Left movement). Even animation and the Wan brothers were influenced by this current cultural policy which had as its aim the production of films that focused on the social struggle and contents against the Japanese imperialist invasion.
Most of the films of this period were still silent, although some Chinese director-experimenters invented several devices that reproduced and synchronized ← 260 | 261 → the sound with the images. But the most important films of the ’30s were still silent because they were linked to a narrative structure typical of the language of silent cinema. This period is also remembered as the first Golden Age of Chinese cinema, as it saw the establishment of actresses and famous actors who became then the stars and movie stars of the 30s (Zhang, 1995).
The influence of the policy was also important since the very beginning of film production: an example is the Lianhua Film Company in Shanghai, a studio supported by the political Left, which was the most productive in the 30s; in fact it produced films and animated films. In this very studio, the Wan brothers directed the first animated film that had as its basis the progressive propaganda, especially with anti-Japanese content.
This part of animation history has never aroused much interest, and therefore it has been neglected by scholars of animation movies. In fact, there are only a few papers that analyze this period in detail. Yet in some texts, sometimes, there is just a hint or a list of titles produced in this particular historical moment, and all that even happens in the research carried out by the same Chinese in the Chinese language.
In our opinion, it is exactly in this historical period and in this cultural background that the foundation of Chinese animation is laid, which is why it is considered important to carry out a thorough search of the content and techniques used by this kind of animation.
These films had the intent to educate the younger generation with political and anti-imperialist ideas, so they were not designed only for youngsters but also for the whole population: their aim was primarily to educate young people to be proud of being Chinese and to participate actively in the resistance.
Between 1931 and 1937, the Wan brothers shot many films with patriotic, anti-Japanese, anti-imperialist contents. The first film of this series was Compatriots, wake up (同胞速醒, Tóngbāo sù xǐng), of 1931, whose content is a clear patriotic appeal against the Japanese invasion and the new cultural progressive ideology. The story is very interesting and the narrative structure is simple to understand (Zhang Yuanmin, 1999) in order to facilitate the understanding of the content by a wide audience. The first images of the film are the sequences of peaceful landscapes, mountains, lakes and then of a huge lion asleep. But this peace is violated by the Japanese military artillery: the military aircrafts indiscriminately bomb all these places, causing huge lion to stir, who, with a roar, wakes up, pushes and encourages all the farmers and workers to resist the Japanese imperialist invasion (Lin, 2002).
The film Solidarity (精诚团结, Jīngchéng tuánjié) of 1932 has the same style and narrative language: here the character is a bug (metaphor of the Japanese ← 261 | 262 → army) which is bad towards the humans who try to drive it away from their property. Compatriots and Solidarity are two movies in black and white whose exact length is unknown, because they are missing.
In 1932 one of the Wan brothers, Wan Dihuan, left the production of cartoons to start his own business, a photography studio based in Shanghai. Since then Wan Dihuan did not participate actively in the Wan brothers’ film production anymore, but he made an important contribution to the most important productions of his brothers.
Very interesting are the two films The detective dog (狗侦探, Gǒu zhēntàn) and Bloody Money (血钱, Xuè qián) of 1933 and 1934. From the technical point of view, these two films use a very interesting technique, and in fact the characters in the film are real but they move in an animated world. The story of the detective dog is very unique because it tells the story of a student, played by Zhang Minyu, who, with her dog walks round the streets of Shanghai, and in one of these streets she runs into an opium den. The girl is very disappointed by this discovery and encourages her dog to sniff everywhere searching for the source of the evil. The dog discovers that the evil comes from a military ship (it is unclear if the ship is of English or French origin) in which there is a load of opium. The student sets fire to the ship and destroys its cargo. The interpretation of this film is very complex, but essentially it wants to make clear that all products coming from abroad were dangerous to the Chinese economy and so had to be fought and burned (Lijun Sun 2011).
The film Bloody Money has the same ideological line, but it is much more explicit, and it tells the story of a student (Zhang Minyu) who, after finishing the lesson with his teacher, begins to fancy inventing a story whose character is a mysterious man. Thanks to a magical blood transfusion, this man is able to receive a briefcase with the words “Made in China” in which there is plenty of money to buy planes, tanks and guns to be distributed to the Chinese people in order to fight and destroy the Japanese products.
All these four films are typical examples of progressive animation and you can easily understand that they are definitely aimed at a young audience, as the stories are told in a metaphorical way, but far from the animated film for children, and moreover the topics covered convey a powerful message of patriotism (Wu Zhouguan, 1995), protection of products of the internal market against Japanese imperialism.
Other films of this genre were made by the Wan brothers, such as History of national pain (民族痛史, Mínzú tòng shǐ) and New Wave (新潮, Xīncháo) produced in 1936 always in the Star Film Company studio based in Shanghai: the first contains anti-imperialist contents and part of the story tells about the Opium ← 262 | 263 → War. Instead, the themes of the second film are especially the anti-feudalism and the movement of May 4th.
The special feature that unites all these films is their content imbued with a strong moral sense, and like the other progressive films, they use a narrative language which is very easy as it is dedicated to a very wide audience.
The year 1936 ends with this film, the progressive phase of animation is to be marked with the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War.
Propaganda animation (1937–1941)
This cultural and historical phase of China goes from 1937, the year of the beginning of the so-called Second Sino-Japanese War, until 1941, when China joined forces with the Soviets and the Americans.
After the so-called Marco Polo Bridge incident (7th July 1937), Shanghai was one of the first cities to be occupied by the Japanese imperial army and this led to both the commercial decline of the city and the end of the first so-called Golden Age of Chinese cinema. The famous production studio Lianhua, where the Wan brothers and many other cinema artists worked, was forced to close as well as all the other large studios of Shanghai.
Before the Japanese invasion, most of the artists who worked in the Shanghai studio took refuge in other major cities, such as Hong Kong and Chongqing. But it was in Chongqing that there was the last hard resistance of the Chinese and where many artists joined the opposition party. The Wan brothers though moved to Wuhan, where they joined and worked for the China Film Studio (Chinese anti-Japanese National Film Association). Obviously, the war and the resistance represented the topics of all the animations created in this period, and the Wan brothers decided to take advantage of animation to communicate patriotism and the progressive ideologies, and especially to encourage everyone to stand up against Japanese imperialism (Needham 1962).
In 1938, influenced by the American and European productions, the Wan brothers experimented for the first time with animation in episodes and series. The first set of animations of this kind was War slogans (抗日歌辑, Kàngrì gē ji) made up of 6 episodes, and the second series called Anti-Japanese war songs (抗日歌辑, kàngrì gē ji) was made up of 7. The soundtracks of these series of animations were famous patriotic songs: memorable compositions of authors very famous at that time, such as Xian Xinghai (冼星海), Liu Xuean (刘雪庵), Sneah Kar Loon (Sheng Jialun) (盛家伦) and Lui ( He ) Luting (贺绿汀).
The technique of using musical videos in the form of animation was a great way to educate and inspire a good emotional impact on the audience, and it also ← 263 | 264 → managed to attract the attention of the entire population. Furthermore, using the music of famous composers turned out to be a good propaganda strategy for the ideas of resistance (De Masi, 2011).
With the end of the civil war in 1949 and the proclamation of the Republic of China by Mao, animation, even if controlled by the Communist Party, reached its maximum period of greatness, with production whose target was to educate following the examples of the traditional Chinese culture. Animation reached its second Golden Age during this period, and there was the opening of the Shanghai Animation Film Studio, the birthplace of the famous “Chinese school” animation (Bendazzi, 1998).
With the establishment of the new China, the Wan brothers worked for the government and passed on their idea of education communication, and they especially influenced the animation editors in Shanghai Studio. These animators of the Shanghai Studio followed Wan brothers’ way stressing the education function in the animation films. There are many classic animation films that influenced Chinese children at that time, such as Monkey King (1961)2, Little Sisters On the Grassland (1965), Snow Kid (1980)3, etc. Little Sisters On the Grassland is based on a real report about two sisters in Inner Mongolia who get trapped in a big snowstorm. In order to protect the sheep, they set out to find the lost sheep in the storm. Unfortunately, the youngest sister has her foot amputated because of exposure to the freezing conditions for a long time, but not one sheep is lost. Lin Wenxiao, who took part in this animation film, said that protecting public property was a common value at that time, and the idea of the sisters’ risking their lives to preserve the sheep is the core theme of this animation. In fact, this action affected a whole generation of Chinese who are in their 50s now, and they have a strong collective spirit and do not care about individual loss (Ye, 2012).
The cultural revolution and the re-education (1966–1976)
This period is a very dark one in the Chinese history of cinema and animation as there was the production of short animated propaganda films without any reference to the cultural past. The main characters of the film are always children who are forced to become “adults” to fight for high ideals, such as the class struggle or against the Americans. Obviously, the narrative formulas are very mature and ← 264 | 265 → closer to the thinking of adults, and in fact the animation loses its peculiarity to speak to a wide audience, especially a young one, favouring an ideal concept of revolution.
The Cultural Revolution began to reject all the traditional art and the so-called Four olds (old culture, old ideas, old habits and old behaviours), furthermore all places of worship were closed, looted, destroyed, occupied and turned into other purposes. One slogan was very famous at that time, which was also very direct and powerful, asserting that<<without destruction there is no reconstruction>>.
As already happened in Italy during Fascism and Nazism in Germany, even in China the cinema was forced to make revolutionary films leading to a re-education. The Shanghai Animation Film Studio was forced to close until 1972. Some artists succumbed and agreed to shoot the film imposed by the Party, because it was a matter of life or death for them. The Wan brothers and the great master Te Wei were forced to leave their families and sent to far-off areas of China where they had to learn humility and the revolutionary consciousness of the peasants (Sun, 2010).
Even for this period, there is very little information and the official sources of the studio SAFS didn’t report any animated film produced in those years. But actually, some films were produced, such as: Shanghai arts and crafts (上海工艺美术, Shànghǎi gōngyì měishù) but there isn’t any certain information about it; The village of the emerging Artists (山村新苗, Shāncūn xīn miáo), produced in 1966, whose music was of Wu Ying-Ju (吴应炬): the film tells the story of some children living in rural areas, who, with the help of the Party, founded a team and then becoming important members of the revolution; The great affirmation (伟大的声明, Wěidà de shēngmíng), there isn’t any certain information about it; Fruit (果实, Guǒshí), of 1967, is dedicated to children but there is no information about the direction and the cast.
The years running from 1967 to 1972 were poor years because there was no production of any movies of any kind, and it is only in 1972 that there was the revival of artistic cinema. In fact, the artists of the studio SAFS were brought back to start the production again for the studio itself, but they could only make propaganda films after being subjected to a period of intense analysis of the Cultural Revolution ideas.
The first film after the reopening of the studio SAFS was The Battle Hymn to achieve the hydraulic pressure machine (万吨水压机战歌, Wàn dùn shuǐyājī zhàngē), whose direction was of Hu Jinqing and Wu Qiang who used the cut-paper technique. Very interesting are the contents of this animation because it tells the story of the era of the so-called Great Leap Forward, when there was an urgent need for plenty of water, necessary for the development of industry and ← 265 | 266 → agriculture. In Shanghai, the working class, despite not having useful technical information and the right equipment, based their ideas of design upon the principles of Chairman Mao’s philosophy, successfully implementing a hydraulic pressure machine that was able to deliver the first million tons of water.
The animation film called After school (放学以后, Fàngxué yǐhòu), produced with the traditional technique by the director Yan Dingxian, tells the story of some young students, belonging to the so-called Small Red Guards, fighting against the bad songs learnt at school and taught by a soldier named Xiao Gang. But one of the boys, Li Guohua, is against all those songs and, with the help of the teacher Chen, discovers that the soldier is Huang Yilang, widely regarded as a notorious criminal.
The animation Not bad, Half Penny (不差半分毫, Bù chā bànfēn háo) also deals with the same ideas of the other animation films. The film was shot using the cut-paper technique by the directors Di (Li Andi) and Yanping Xiao and it was produced in the Xi’an Yaping Studio.
However, it is important to know that of these animations there are just propaganda cartoons based on the films, so it is impossible to have the chance to view the audio-video material of them.
Wang Shuchen and Yan Dingxian were back again with a propaganda film called The trumpeter (小号手, Xiǎo hào shǒu)4 where there are all the features typical of the next propaganda films. In fact, the main character is taken up many times in the history of cinema. It is the story of a country boy who wants to help the army to defeat the enemies of the Nationalist Party. He learns to play the trumpet, he enlists in the army and goes directly to the battlefield where he is wounded and then forced to stay at home to recover. But he wants to find the enemies and punish them, so he adventures alone to the mountains. There he discovers the refuge of enemies and, thanks to the sound of his trumpet, he can call the Red Army. Unfortunately, he is discovered and later imprisoned, but the Red Army frees him and he, once again, wants revenge and chases the chief enemy, at night, who is running with his horse. The boy manages to hit the enemy on the run, who falls with his horse over a cliff. The film is characterized by both a good quality animation, much more mature than the others of the previous years, and a different narration whose language is more modern (Benecchi 2011).
We have to mention then the film called The little coast guard (东海小哨兵, Dōnghǎi xiǎo shàobīng)5 which is very close to the story of the animation called ← 266 | 267 → The Red Scarf (1965), produced before the advent of the Cultural Revolution. But here the quality of the animation and the cut-paper technique is much improved, the characters are more real and the movement much more natural. In this period there is also the return of the puppet animation technique. A clear example of this is the film called The small army of eighth road (带响的弓箭, Dài xiǎng de gōngjiàn6) which covers the events of the Second Sino-Japanese War, and even here the character is a child hero who fights against the Japanese. Interesting are the aesthetic and somatic features of the characters, in fact, the child type character of this film, which seems to be the same in all other propaganda films: he has the same face, the same expression and the same adult attitude.
Te Wei also shot a film in 1976, whose title was The golden geese (金色的大雁, Jīnsè de dàyàn)7: it is the story of some Tibetan children, who led by the Communist Party, fight against their enemies. Te Wei tried to make a propaganda film different from the others, using a new style and features far from the ideals of the Cultural Revolution (Xiao, 2011).
With Mao’s death in 1976, animation continued to promote revolutionary ideas and mourned the deceased. One of the most interesting recent propaganda films was The Red rock (火红的岩标, Huǒhóng de yán biāo)8 because it tells the story of the people who mourn Mao’s death, so they build a stone sculpture to celebrate their saviour who freed them from slavery. The Tibetan people decide to remain loyal to the Communist Party.
Until the late 70s, all the films continued to be of propaganda and in memory of the communist leader Mao.
The new animation dedicated to edu-entertainment
After the period of propaganda, the government has tried to help the animation industry with financial contributions and tax breaks, with the aim of creating an industrial virtuous chain, but all the films produced had to have as their main objective the education and the entertainment of the young generations.
One of the first animations that responds to the features of edu-entertainment is Haier Brothers (海尔兄, Hǎi'ěr xiōng, 1996)9 which aimed at teaching children about the scientific and social knowledge of the nature world and in daily life. It ← 267 | 268 → was broadcast in America as well and not only the American children liked it but also their parents who, in fact, spoke highly of it because they thought that it was quite different from the other animation films they had watched: there is no blood or pornography in it and it is full of useful knowledge (People, 2001).
Since 1999, in most of the Chinese television the series 3000 Whys of Blue Cat (蓝猫淘气3000问, Lán māo táoqì 3000 wèn)10 has been broadcast. This cartoon is in line with a new concept of animation called ‘Knowledge animation’ (知识动画, Zhīshì dònghuà), focusing on informing and raising awareness in children about some topics such as ecology, cultural history, astronomy, biology, etc., so the intent was to create an animated children’s encyclopaedia. Every day the Blue Cat is seen by 80 million viewers and broadcast by 700 different TV stations. In the context of the ‘Knowledge animation’, there are other animation products such as The Boy Toad (蟾童, Chán tóng, 2006) which, through the mythical characters of Chinese culture, aims at teaching children what to do in case of earthquakes, two years before the 2008 terrible Sichuan earthquake.
Many animations of this kind are made with an educational purpose, most are designed for the web like the Original Net Animation Series (ONAS) or for mobile devices, and they have different topics such as health, education, culture, etc.: most of them are funded by the regional governments, provincial or public institutions.
Many of these works do not have the qualitative features suitable to be broadcast by the Chinese televisions, although the ideas are sometimes very interesting and educational, as for example the animation series made by the Guangzhou Straw Animation Design (广州稻草动漫设计有限公司, Guǎngzhōu dàocǎo dòngmàn shèjì yǒuxiàn gōngsī) which created the cartoon titled Emergency Superman (急救超人, Jíjiù chāorén)11, made in 3D, and talking about how to deal with the different emergencies in cases of necessity. The characters are: a man who is very similar to “Superman”, a large tomato, a corn cob corn and Jimmy, who face various emergency situations. In general this cartoon does not meet the tastes of a television audience, because in some places it is very simple and obvious, but it might work well, with a few tweaks, on other platforms such as web or mobile devices (Variety, 2011).
Another very remarkable example is the animation made with educational features telling the history of the Chinese Communist Party entitled Bugle (号角, Hàojiǎo, 2013): it consists of 26 episodes available on the websites of CCTV (Chinese state television) and tells about the 90th anniversary of the Chinese ← 268 | 269 → Communist Party. Each episode has a slogan and the stories are very easy to understand, and they are set with a clear teaching method suitable for children. The various episodes deal with the initial creation of the Party, the Northern Expedition, the Agrarian Revolution, the war of liberation, the socialist revolution and the reform of openness, in the different historical periods (CNTV 2013).
In recent years there have been filmmakers who have also tried to talk about the social problems of the country using their animation. One of these is the famous director Pisan (the original name is Wang Bo). In his famous animated series Kuang Kuang, censored in China, he is highly critical of the social situation in China. The most interesting episode of this series is Kuang Kuang Special edition year of the Rabbit (Kuang Kuang 贺岁特别版兔年贺卡, Hèsuì tèbié bǎn tù nián hèkǎ)12, where Pisan deals with the problem that struck China in 2008, which is the matter relating to the milk powder infused with melanin that caused not only the death of 6 children but also, according to reliable studies, the suffering of more than 300,000 children. In his animation, Pisan uses a metamorphosis to describe this serious piece of news: the common people are transformed into rabbits whose babies die soon after drinking milk. Therefore, the parents go to complain to the regulators, represented by tigers, who instead of helping them, beat up and kill them.
In 2005 Pisan opened his own studio in Beijing, named Hutoon Studio13, where he created one of his most famous animation series: Miss Puff14. The original cartoon, aired on Youku, marks a turning point for his animation because it describes a modern China, where women have more power and are emancipated.
Since 2010 the Chinese Government has tried to promote the use of new technologies and therefore promulgated the National Outline of Mid-long Term Educational Reform (2010–2020) which emphasized the acceleration of the progress of education informatization15 in all the schools, from primary to secondary ones, including the professional ones, to universities. The purpose of government is to get a “revolutionary impact on future generations that will create new ideas useful to shape the new social context.”
In July of the same year, the National Education Plan states that as “information technology has a revolutionary impact on educational development, it must be highly valued”. In fact, in 2011 the Notification on Several Key Jobs to Accelerate ← 269 | 270 → the Education Informatization was issued by 9 departments including the Ministry of Education. In the same year, the Ministry of Education started 682 national education informatization pilot16 projects.
The Ministry of Education issued the Educational Informatization Plan for the next ten years in order to achieve this goal. In fact the Ministry is planning to launch the “China digital education 2020 action” programme in the near future, containing five major activities including the construction of a network for sharing high-quality data as a resource for learning in schools, the construction of a national system for interactive education, and the use of information technology in education in order to improve sustainable development17.
We can see that the animation produced by Shanghai Studio from 1960s to 1980s played an important function in education communication, while it seems different nowadays. On the one hand, some animators think that we do not need animation films to educate anymore and entertainment is the only purpose; on the other hand, some other animators undervalue animation aimed to educate considering it as childish and shoddy and even causing bad effects on children. Just think about those dreadful stories about two boys (aged 5 and 8) burned by another boy (aged 9). They were playing together and mimicking the plot of burning the sheep, watched in the animation film Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf (喜羊羊与灰太狼, Xǐ Yáng Yáng yǔ Huī Tài Láng). Afterwards the parents of the two victims sued the producer of the animation for promoting violence (China Jiangsu Network, 2013)18. Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf19 is the most popular animation, in fact about 17.3% of local audience viewers chose to see this TV series animation, hitting a ratings record. But at the same time, the scholars and critics think it is a poor work considering its artistic quality. That indeed is true. In the old animation Snow Kid, snow kid rushes into the firing house to rescue his friend little rabbit, but he himself melts into water. Many children were moved to tears and learnt that fire is dangerous rather than a funny game.
As the development of the animation industry progresses and its audience is expanding, entertainment is becoming the main purpose of some animation films. ← 270 | 271 → But the animation companies and individual animators hope their works are suitable not only for children in the learning stage but also for adults. One Hundred Thousand Bad Jokes (十万个冷笑话, Shí wàn gè lěng xiàohuà) is an animationseries broadcast through the Internet. There are many classic characters in this animation. In one of the episodes, Fu Lu, wants to send their grandfather to the snake-shaped demon, which is the same as appeared in the old story of Calabash Brothers produced by Shanghai Studio in 1986. Beyond that, these two animation films are different in many aspects: the theme of the old one is the family love while the new one’s is funny; the characters in the old one are smart while in the new one are stupid. All in all, the characters in the One Hundred Thousand Bad Jokes do not follow the former style. On the contrary, they become a funny element in the entertainment animation.
Animation in China is experiencing both an industrial and creative success. In fact, to date many animation films with an educational purpose have been produced but they have not been so successful with the public and the market, except for some we have previously analysed.
This is due to two main reasons: 1) young audiences do not like these products, and 2) the language of the narrative series is sometimes very obvious for a child audience and sometimes very complicated to understand even by adults. However, there are some positive aspects such as the development of the most interesting series regarding animation dedicated to education. For this reason, over the years, the studios have tried to make products closer to the tastes of younger audiences. But it is a real challenge not easy to achieve in a short time because it focuses on the educational value and entertainment.
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1. He Huang (2007). Journey to the East: the Re(Make) of Chinese animation. Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
7. See: The golden geese http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/q9_9O4dpZjE/isRenhe=1.