Though Chinese animation has seen a meteoric rise in recent times, Japanese animation still continues to be very popular in China. According to an article published recently by a Chinese media, Hong Kong NetEase, fans in the country feel that “Chinese animation is useless” when compared to its Japanese counterpart.
A Business Developer, Youhei Harada said, people in the north, such as Beijing, are strongly influenced by South Korea, which is geographically close while people in the south, such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, have a strong influence from Japan. Nonetheless, in a 2019 research paper by Lu Sen, Zhang Rong, according to some surveys, among the most popular animation works of young people in China, Japanese animation accounts for 60%, and European and American animation accounts for 29%.
The Chinese animation industry began relatively late compared to countries like the U.S. and Japan. However, it has seen steady growth since 2015. Its output value surging from RMB 88.2 billion in 2013 to RMB 174.7 billion in 2018 and expected to stand at RMB 375 billion by 2025.
But, the Chinese feel that it is not enough to compete with exquisitely made Japanese shows.
The article presents the following three reasons for the possible dissatisfaction:
- “Differences in areas of strength”: As many fans would agree, Japan, no doubt is the best at anime out of all types of videography. The Editor of NetEase mentioned that when the Chinese compared their animation to Japanese works, it felt weak.
- “Difference in voice actor level“: The editor explained that even the same Japanese anime scenes would be “greatly less attractive” as soon as it was dubbed into Chinese. In fact, the article mentioned that there is a shortage of talented voice actors in the Chinese anime industry. It looks like, most of the high-level voice actors are active in dramas and documentaries, unlike in Japan.
- “Difference in the number of works”: The article argued that many Japanese animations are very good, while many of them are not. Nonetheless, the existence of some of these extremely excellent works are because the number of works produced every year is very large. However, “due to the problem of probability” the number of works in China are still limited; that is why there are not many outstanding series to choose from.
Other than these reasons, the youths of China have claimed Japanese anime has a unique external charm, they used Chinese cultural elements and have catered to the psychological needs, which draws them towards Japanese anime.
In the research paper “The influence of Japanese anime on the values of adolescent“, researchers found that youths have complained about Chinese animation as a media where they are impatient to discuss the rationality of the story, neglect the character portrayal and the expansion of the breadth and depth of the theme. The content lacks creativity and has a strong sense of preaching.
In addition, due to the long-term neglect of the main animation audience of teenagers and the lack of film age
grading system, the theme and audience of Chinese animation are narrow, the role image and the content of the work are becoming younger, which is not in line with the taste of young people. The gap between Chinese animation and Japanese anime in these areas is difficult to surpass in a short period of time, and it is rare for young people to appreciate it.
Among the Chinese animations that became popular in China and released in Japan are “Under One Person”, the Netflix series “Scissor Seven”, “Fox Spirit Matchmaker” and so on.
China is historically a difficult market for global entertainment brands, only allowing the release of a select number of international films and TV series every year. Increased creation of in-country content could make this market even harder for studios to penetrate, or on the flip side, it could make the country more open to content exchanges.