Thursday, January 18, 2007

The 21st century

A major change has took place in 1999 both in mainland China and Taiwan when the Internet has open major opportunities for animators, artists all over the country to work together in animation. In China, the first change is the emergence of Flash animation and Flash artists. FlashEmpire (閃客帝國) become the first Macromedia Flash community in China to formulate a weekly ranking system (爬行榜) with functionalities such as receiving score, votes, and comments from each viewers. It become so popular that by the beginning of the year 2000 it had 10,000 visitors visit the site daily with more than 5,000 individual works published. However, most of the works are amateurish. Among the amateurs, Bai Ding's No View Below 18 (少兒不宜), intending to show audience a picture of a nude woman but ending up showing a picture of a dog, become the typical work of this period. A real trend of change started in August, 2000 when Lao Jiang (老蔣) published the world's longest and first full vector graphic animated MTV in Flash using the pop star Cui Jian's A New March in The 25,000 Li (新長征路上的搖滾). This work received more than 10 million hits up to date. Since its release, animated MTV in China took a new direction. Many successful artists started to produced MTV in flash.

By 2001, Xiao Xiao (小小) Kung Fu stick figures (小小作品系列) not only become the most popular animated shorts in China, but overseas as well. His total work received more than 50 million hits up to date, making his the most known flash artist in China and in the world. By year 2002, flash artists in China is moving toward a more artistic direction. The work of Buhua's (卜樺) Cat (貓) used painting like style and mentioned about a story of a baby cat and his mother's suffering. In addition, labix's (蠟筆X) works have become one of the best fairy tale styles flash history. By 2003, new studios such as B&T, Snailcn, and Sinodoor formed and has become the first private, non-state owned animation companies in mainland China. Moreover, several novels based on animation and comics way of story-telling have been proposed to be transformed into animation. These works included Guo Jing Ming (郭敬明)'s Phantom Castle (幻城) and Xuan Yu (玄雨)'s Legend of a Small Soldier (小兵傳奇).

At the same time in Taiwan, Chun Shui Tang (春水堂) established themselves as an online disney world for all Chinese speaking audiences. By 2001, Time magazine Asia edition listed A-kuei as one of the top 100 new fugures in Asia. In Hong Kong, sponsored one of the most popular online work series called the Romance of San Guo (大話三國). This work is still the most widely read online animated series in China. The work is known for its parody of the traditional historical story of the period of Three Kingdoms.

In Hong Kong, the first 3D company, GDC entertainment established in Shen Zhen. Their very first 80 minute 3D rendered movie Through the Moebius Strip have already undergone the review is scheduled to release into North American theaters in 2005.

In April 24th, 2006, theflatworld, formerly known as suansworks, launched which translates high quality Chinese animations from mainland China to Native English speaking regions. The website is currently hosting several hundreds of flash animations and artists' profiles. This is the first cross cultural web site attempt to capture foreign market with domestic productions, though the success of the site is yet to be determined.
The 1990s

By the 1990s, Chinese animation faced major decline by the onset of Western and Japanese animation industry. Saint Seiya is published in China under Hainan Photography and Arts Publication (海南攝影美術出版社). Doraemon and Transformers entered the market by broadcasting on the CCTV central television channel. The commercialization and innovation of Japanese and American animation pushed the traditional Chinese animation out of the market. Complaints have been heard throughout the '90s about the problems facing Chinese animation. Therefore, the '90s is an increasing time of change. By the mid '90s, numerous artists have adopted into American and Japanese styles. In 1994, the mainland published its first bi-weekly comics magazine called King of Hua Shu (画书大王). Numerous artists started to publish their works on the magazine. Including Chen Xiang's (陳翔) Xiao Shan's Diary (小山日記), a story about a crazy scientist, bearing some resemblance to Dr.Slump. The publication of King of Hua Shu is forced to shut down by the government due to its copyright violation of using some Japanese manga in some of its pages. Nevertheless, it is a first journal and first attempt to change the direction of Chinese animation. Following King of Hua Shu, several weekly, monthly, and bi-weekly animation journal started to appear in China. Shao Nian Weekly (少年周刊) is one of the most popular. At the same time in Taiwan, new comic artists emerged including Zhu De Yong (朱德庸). He published satirical style cartoon about secular life in a humorous, self de-facing manner and won numerous awards and gained popularity. Some artists such as You Su Lan (游素蘭) from Taiwan has become one of the few foreign manga artists established in Japan.
The 1980s

The 1980s is a time of change in China after the turmoil, several animation series were produced though international recognitions are not received. Among these works, the Hulu Brothers (葫蘆兄弟) and Marshall the Black Cat (黑貓警長) have become popular among children. At the same time, the rapid commercialization of Japanese animation industry have started to find its way into the Chinese market.