Chinese animation has become a fairly popular art form. Unlike its counter part, Japanese animation, Chinese animation’s look has changed over the years. There is a wealth of Chinese animated TV shows and movies. Chinese animation comes from mainland China, specifically from the more modernized cities, and from Hong Kong. Because of the more popular Japanese and American cartoons, the Chinese cartoons have been somewhat overlooked. However, Chinese animators have started to come up with their own competitive style. It is likely that Chinese animation will become more popular over the next few years.
Chinese animation first emerged around 1918. Animation clips were used to advertise different products. The first Chinese animations that were created as entertainment started in 1926 with the Wan brothers. The Chinese animation market was severely hurt by the Communist serge in China. Most animators were forced to switch to creating political cartoons. This made China fall behind other countries. It was not until China began to open to the idea of non-traditional Chinese characters in the 1990s that they began to re-emerge as a competitor for the larger animations market in the U.S. and Japan.
It is easy to tell what animation is Chinese in origin. Usually the style looks very similar to ancient Chinese art. Usually the stories in the shows are somewhat mythological, re-telling ancient Chinese myths and fables. In recent years China has allowed other art influences, however, the Chinese themes remain the same. Look for traditional Chinese colors such as red and yellow, small eyes, swirled lines, and ancient Chinese symbols. The stories also usually have story lines that are related to Chinese topics as well.
The original intent of Chinese animation was to preserve the ancient Chinese stories for future generations. This has been reflected in the highly localized relevance of the cartoons. First animations were used for commercial purposes, and then later for political reasons. More recently the cartoons have been used for purely entertaining reasons. Many games and shows in China use the new style of animation and have become quite popular world wide. A lot of new video and computer games in China are using the new animation style as well.
China has need of many more animators than are graduating from their universities. Once China has enough animators then the Chinese animations market will become much more competitive with other countries. One of the main reasons for this is because there are so many children in China. With such a large following it is almost impossible for Chinese animation to remain a hidden, lost art.
Many people confuse Chinese animation with Japanese animation. Japanese animation is completely different. Japanese animation is characterized by an unrealistic style of crazy hair and huge eyes. Chinese animation focuses mostly on preserving the style of Chinese art. Chinese characters will generally look Chinese. Newer Chinese animations look slightly different, but still retain a look of China in the faces and clothing of the characters.