Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (2023)

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Donghua – Chinese animation,sometimes mistakenly confused with anime- covers as many different tones and themes as any other type of animated story, from sunny necromancers to particularly rebellious children with dragon friends. Donghua titles have been popping up more and more on Crunchyroll and Netflix lately, and some like the fantasy of gods and demons inOfficial Heaven's Blessing, follow familiar emotional roller coaster beats. Others have their own tear-jerking and laugh-out-loud effects. Many Donghua films and TV series retell Chinese household stories, and they all explore and question the audience's relationship to the contemporary world. The characters are funny, naughty or determined, like heroes in stories from all countries, but they mix past, present and future in an irreplaceable culture.

The visuals may remind anime fans of Disney, DreamWorks, or anime films, but they have their own purpose, narrative aesthetic, and iconography. They will be as visually grounded as Disney'sTangledanother or so stylized asInto the spider-verse the next. Here's a guide to help viewers get started with the diversity of Chinese animation by checking out some of the best titles the country has to offer.

Pan Gu

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (1) Image: Taiko Studios

Playing time: 6 minutes

Created by Chinese-American Taiko Studios,Pan Guis free to watch on YouTube. It is a short journey that retells the Chinese myth of the creator of the earth through a father and his son. Neither of them say a word, nor do they need to. This geometrically oriented animation speaks volumes across generations through its shapes and the increasingly divergent ideas between the characters. Taiko Studios was founded by Shaofu Zhang, a former Disney and Sony Pictures animator who wanted to chart his own creative path, and it shows.

Pan Guis available for streamingYoutube.

Monkey King: Hero Is Back (Xi You Ji Zhi Qi Tian Da Sheng Gui Lai)

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (2) Billede: Beijing Weiyingshidai Culture & Media, Hengdian Chinese Film Production Co., October Animation Studio, S&C Pictures, Shandong Film and Television Production Center

Playing time: 89 minutes

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This crowdfunded misfit became a cultural icon upon its release and became China'shighest earningsAnimated film of the year. It is a retelling of the story of Sun Wukong, the Monkey King, who was crushed by a mountain as punishment for destroying Heaven, and his subsequent journey to the West as a Buddhist monk's protector.

In the original story, Sun kills Wukong with impunity, and some of the major plot points hinge on the pacifist monk's attempts to teach him compassion. This film reverses their master-disciple dynamic. Sun Wukong is still falling from power, but instead of being apprehended by the Buddhist monk, he is now the reluctant road trip father of Jiang Liuer, a wide-eyed child monk and biggest fan of the Monkey King. Meanwhile, Sun Wukong tries to find out for himselfHowto restore its former powers. After all, he's not done wreaking havoc on the gods (or the world at large). For viewers familiar with the original story, it's a good laugh with all the inside jokes mixed in with the dialogue. For those who don't know, it's a slapstick, random parenting story, akin to Grogu and The Mandalorian.

Monkey King: Hero is backreassessing her connection to the original story. Sun Wukong still values ​​the welfare of this morally believing monk who has nothing to do with him. But instead of Sun Wukong being a thorn in the monk's side, it's Jiang Liu'er chirping in his ear.

Monkey King: Hero is backstreamed for free onVuduwith advertising support.

Big Fish and Begonia (There You Are High Tang)

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (3) Billede: Horgos Colorroom Pictures, Beijing Enlight Media, Biantian (Beijing) Media, Studio Mir

Playing time: 1 hour 45 minutes

This is the film they call "the beginning of the Chinese animation industry." It was inspired byStudio Ghibli-style animations and designs, but based on cultural texts like thatClassics of mountains and sea.With huge, bold designs that walk the fine line between nature and the supernatural, this existentialist film touches the hearts of audiences. To restore the soul of a man who saved her, Dolphin Man Chun defies the natural order—shaking not only nature, but also her relationships with her loved ones to their roots.

Large fish and begoniais available for streamingFunimationand continue for freeYoutube.

White Snake (Bai She: Yuan Qi)

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (4) Image: GKIDS

Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes

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The snake demon Bai Suzhen spent a thousand years developing into a woman. She is selfless and loving, a better person than most people. This film is a retelling of the adventurelegend of the white snakeIn its earliest form, it was a good versus evil story where Bai Suzhen is a malevolent snake spirit. But that's not what the story is known for: Over the centuries, it evolved into a love story where she marries a mortal, but the happy couple is driven apart by a Buddhist monk. This film further develops the story as a pure love story by sending her on a mission to kill the general who is oppressing her people. In the process, she loses her memory and struggles to regain it while falling in love with the man who becomes her mortal husband. Bai Suzhen in her flowing white robes contrasts sharply with the lush landscapes of the earthly world, and you can see every emotion in her DreamWorks-esque eyes.

white snakeis available for streamingApple TVAndYoutube.


Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (5) Billede: Chengdu Coco Cartoon/Beijing Enlight Pictures

Playing time: 1 hour 50 minutes

"Oh my god, he's so ugly, I love it," he saysCinema with an accent, YouTube expert on Chinese movies. Little leprechaun Nezha - not a literal leprechaun, but a classic Chinese character who appears in various forms in various myths - terrorizes a town for slapstick kicks and befriends his other half, a delicate, princely dragon who lives most of time, spends his time in human form. As the day approaches when they both must come to terms with their awesome godlike powers - and the fact that they were born and raised to destroy each other - things really go downhill. The battle is not just fluid and violent, it is gigantic and completely magical.

Nezhacontinues to streamNetflix.

Neue Götter: Nezha Reborn (Xin Feng Shen: Nezha Chong Sheng)

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (6) Image: Light Chaser Animation Studios

Playing time: 1 hour 50 minutes

Another remake of the original Nezha story, but this time it's steampunk. HereCG footage from the director of White Snake, Nezha is reincarnated as Li Yunxiang, a motorcycle racing rebel who tries to distribute collected water to the impoverished population of the city of Donghai. The action runs through Donghai – a metropolis that unites 1920s New York and Shanghai – and the story of How the Other Half Lives. Its eponymous sea ripples with detail as it rises towards the city. Li Yunxiang sticks close to his friends and battles his inner conflict as he questions who might get hurt in his quest to save the world. This is a timeless, immersive film – the city's Roaring 20s aesthetic may be a thing of the past in the 21st century, but the story of rich and poor is not.

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New Gods: Nezha Rebornis available for streamingNetflix.

Nezha erobert den Drachenkönig (Nezha Nao Hai)

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (7) Image: Shanghai Animation Film Studio

Playing time: 1 hour 5 minutes

This movie is the original of both the Nezha animated stories and the Chinese cartoons. All roads lead to this animation that heralded the return of expressive storytelling after the Cultural Revolution. It was the first adaptation of the Ming Dynasty novelInvestor of the gods. We see the character designers in everyone elseNezhaAdaptations from the past few years come from this film. It directly affects Chinese perceptions of what Nezha's story symbolizes today.

The main conflict is between Nezha, his father, the military leader, and Ao Guang, the tyrannical Dragon King of the East Sea. When Ao Guang eats a local child, Nezha attacks him in retaliation, but justice does not stop there: Ao Guang threatens Nezha's city, and the conflict shifts when Nezha's father demands an apology from Nezha to appease the Dragon King. This story set in motion the contemporary interpretation of reconciling family and community obligations in each subsequent adaptation. This retro animation takes a 40-minute detour to follow the exaggerated movements of characters such as the fast and lively Nezha and the large and clumsy Eastern Dragon King. It's a style based on traditional arts like Chinese opera, a bombastic performance that is notoriously uncompromising when it comes to colorful flair.

Nezha defeats the Dragon Kingis available for streamingYoutube.

The king's avatar

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (8) Image: B.C. May pictures

Running time: 12 ~ 24 minute episodes + three 27 minute specials

Based on a web novel of the same name, this series brings together young Chinese's appreciation of anime and e-sports. Ye Xiu, a professional e-sports player, is forced to leave his team after years of involvement in the sport. Forced to start over, he slowly fights his way back to the top of his game's leaderboard at an internet cafe.The king's avatarIt's both about the game world his avatar cuts through and the emotional bonds he forms in real life.

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The fantasy action in the game world reflects the influences of anime andLeague of Legends, and it is balanced by the emotional tenor conveyed by the light smiles of the characters as they wander through the bright snow of the city. It manages to combine both the thrill of action and a strangely profound snapshot of modern Chinese urban life.

Ye Xiu's quiet determination is so effectiveThe king's avatarwas adapted into a live-action remake,available on Netflix.

The king's avataris available for streamingYoutube.

Mo Dao Zu Shi

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (9) Billede: Tencent Penguin Pictures, B.C May Pictures

Running time: 35 to 24 minute episodes (three seasons)

Based on the web novel "Mo Xiang Tong Xiu", which smashed bestseller lists when a print version was released in the US,Mo Dao Zu Shiis the story of Wei Wuxian, a cheerful young man who invents necromancy to wage war, dies and rises again - this time with a chance to connect with a man who has been in love with him since she was a teenager. has criticsrostthe effects and transitions used for both large magical battles and sequences revolving around emotional conflict. Considered the scourge of the earth, Wei Wuxian must gather the fragments of past relationships that he has inadvertently damaged with his immense power. The music, world building, voice acting, and recreation of the plot of the original web novel combine to create an immersive fantasy world.

Mo Dao Zu Shiis available for streamingYoutubeAndViki.

Blessing of the Heavenly Clerk (Tian Guan Ci Fu)

Top 10 Donghua for Chinese Animation Beginners (10)

Running time: 12 episodes (season 1)

Based on a novel by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, which hit #8 on the New York Times bestseller list,the blessing of the heavenly officialdoesn't pull his emotional punches. It makes the viewers laugh a little at the martial god Xie Lian banished from heaven. Then the tone changes abruptly as viewers are plunged into a world of silver butterflies and blood-stained wedding scenes.

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As the story unfolds and Xie Lian begins to fight with surprising abilities, it becomes clear that there is more to him than meets the eye. He is led away by a blindfolded stranger who seems to know him well. This is the pilot episode only. Mo Xiang Tong Come and admireTian Guan Ci FuExperience the landscape, then delve deep into the intricate stories and motivations of the gods in this character-driven narrative.

the blessing of the heavenly officialis available for streamingFunimationAndNetflix.


What is Chinese animation called? ›

In Chinese, donghua (simplified Chinese: 动画; traditional Chinese: 動畫; pinyin: dònghuà) describes all animated works, regardless of style or origin. However, outside of China and in English, donghua is colloquial for Chinese animation and refers specifically to animation produced in China.

Who is the strongest character in donghua? ›

Donghua With The Strongest Main Character
  • Supreme God Emperor.
  • Martial Universe.
  • Soul Land.
  • Spirit Blade Sovereign.
  • The God of War Dominates.
  • Snow Eagle Lord.
  • Fairies Album.
  • My Holy Weapon.
Aug 6, 2022

Which is better Chinese or Japanese animation? ›

The only difference that you can notice between the two is mostly the contents of the anime series, like in China you can mostly see that their animations are related to their culture. As for Japanese anime, it actually covers more topics than in Chinese anime. Don't forget to pick up your Wixoss Cards.


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