Chinese-Japanese Anime Co-productions: A Booming Industry

//Chinese-Japanese Anime Co-productions: A Booming Industry

Chinese-Japanese Anime Co-productions: A Booming Industry

By | 2018-06-05T08:22:35+00:00 June 5th, 2018|Anime|

The Chinese animation market is a multi billion dollar industry that rivals Japan’s anime industry. The Chinese animation market was expected to reach 150 billion yuan in 2017. Co-productions between China and Japan have been growing in numbers in recent years. Thunderbolt Fantasy, a wuxia puppet-animated television series, was broadcasted in both China and Japan.

Screenshot of the Chinese-produced show, Thunderbolt Fantasy

Thunderbolt Fantasy had involvement from famous Japanese writer Gen Urobuchi who wrote for the Puella Magi Madoka Magica  and Psycho Pass anime series in Japan too name a few of the titles he has worked on. The show was also turned into a serialized manga in Japan with art by the officially English translated mangaka who created Complex Age, Yui Sakuma. Another recent Japanese-Chinese co-production is the anime adaptation of Kei Murayama’s A Centaur’s Life manga.

The Japanese animated theatrical film Your Name earned $83 million dollars at box offices in China while Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi had $21.5 million dollars in box office earnings. Other recent co-productions between China and Japan include Legend of the Demon Cat which earned $84 million dollars in China and Manhunt which earned $16.1 million dollars in China. To Be Heroine, the sequel to the anime series To Be Hero, a Chinese animated television series is currently airing both in Japan and China.

Key visual of the To Be Heroine anime series

Crunchyroll simultaneously broadcasted the original To Be Hero series as it aired on Japanese televisions. A simultaneous broadcast of To Be Heroine, a series related to To Be Hero, is streaming online with English subtitles as new episodes air. Crunchyroll has simultaneously broadcasted other Chinese-Japanese anime co-productions as well including Thunderbolt Fantasy and A Centaur’s Life. A Centaur’s Life received a simuldub as it aired in Japan. A second season of Thunderbolt Fantasy is presently scheduled for an Fall 2018 launch window. Funimation provided a simultaneous dub of A Centaur’s Life with new episodes premiering weeks after their Japanese television broadcasts.

Funimation also provided an English language simuldub of The Silver Guardian Japanese-Chinese co-production weeks after episodes were broadcasted in Japan. Manhua, Chinese comics, are being released in the English language comic market as well. Tapas, formerly known as Tapastic, has launched a number of English translated Chinese webcomics although the titles skew more towards boys’ love titles like Honey Catch and My Four Masters, titles aimed at different demographics have also launched on the site such as Fox Spirit Matchmaker and My Ancestor Is A Witch.

Japan's and China's foreign merger acquisitions chart.

A chart showing China’s and Japan’s foreign mergers and acquisitions.

Some of these titles have received Japanese-Chinese animated co-productions, specifically, Fox Matchmaker and Bloodivores which is being released in English by Tokyopop. Bloodivores is serialized in English under Tokyopop’s Pop Comics webcomic service. An event which was formed by Bili Bili garnered $290 million dollars in merchandise and goods sales. Bili Bili is a Chinese video streaming service which has aired Japanese animated television series in China.

In the 1980’s anime series such as Astro Boy and Ikkyu-san were popular in China; in the new millenium, Japanese animated series such as Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and One Piece are in China. A video game produced in China titled Omnyoji which has voice acting by Japanese voice actors to add a more authentic feeling to the game has garnered popularity. Within three months alone, the video games was downloaded over 8 million times. Through in-game purchases, Omnyoji has amassed over $134 million dollars. In Shanghai, an event where which people cosplayed as characters from the Omnyoji, sung and danced to theme songs from the show. Fan made comics were also sold at the event.

With China’s film industry at $8.9 billion dollars as of April 2018, Japan and China have assigned a new accord for co-productions. Specifically, the accord is for theatrical films. In China, films produced in the country through the accord will be viewed as domestic made films and will not be subject to the Chinese government’s regulations on foreign produced films. Concern was expressed over whether the accord will be effective as the political climate worsens between Japan and China.

An interest in Japanese theatrical films has grown in China with the release of the Japanese animated film Your Name. The studio behind  the Makoto Shinkai directed Your Name film is listing Shikioriori a Japanese-Chinese co-produced film with Chinese animation company, Haoliners. Shikioriori is an animated anthology film expected for release in Summer 2018. JY Animation, a veteran in the Chinese animation industry, also announced plans to release between 15 and 20 animated series in Japan. The company has existed since animation piracy became rampant in China. JY Animation’s standard production model is producing 1 or 2 cour animated series, promoting the works, and releasing a theatrical tie-in at a later point in time.

JY Animation began as an Japanese anime distributor in 2010 but has since contributed to Japanese-Chinese animated co-productions. The company’s recently announced co-productions include Anime-Gataris, Sengoku Night Blood, Nil-Admirari Ottome, and Mahjong Girls. China’s animation industry is popular with people from a variety of age groups. One demographic is the 0-3 crowd. Another common demographic is people in their twenties and thirties, with some Chinese animation fans in their forties.

Additionally, China is also exploring the African market through its animation industry. Chinese multinational media company, Startimes, is present in more than 20 African countries. The company intends to air Chinese animation on their Startimes Kung-fu channel each day as prime time television. China’s animation and comic industries are also branching out further and further into international markets with simultaneous broadcasts of Japanese-Chinese co-productions in English speaking territories such as North America. Chinese webcomics on platforms such as Tapas and Pop Comics in North America.

In conclusion, Japanese animation projects are garnering major success in China. Animated films such as Your Name and Doraemon: Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi are bringing in millions of dollars at the Chinese box office. Chinese animation is reaching different markets across the globe on top of Japan, countries in Africa and the English speaking market with Chinese webcomics even being translated into English through North American based webcomic publisher Tapas. Video games are also being produced in China with Japanese voice actor casts, in particular Omnyoji. It is an excellent time right now with technology advancements such as the internet connecting parts of the globe together, allowing international media production collaborations to develop.