Well it ain't Japanese so fuck if I know which board this thread should go on...
Monkey King: Hero is Back (don't laugh) has broken box office records in China since its release on 10 July, grossing 730 million yuan ($117.6m) and handily beating Kung Fu Panda 2 as China's highest-ever earning animated feature: http://www.animationmagazine.net/features/monkey-king-hero-is-back-sets-chinese-animation-record/
I've been following this picture for a while (since charting the explosive growth of China's box office has been a stupidly nerdy hobby of mine) but it's exploded on my tumblr feed over the last couple of days as more people have just heard about it. There's fanart and all sorts creeping across the web. Now, I think this movie looks like the bee's knees and I'm crossing my fingers some enterprising distributor picks it up for release over here in the Anglosphere, but what do the rest of you peeps reckon?
Hey mods, sorry about the double threads. Something screwy happened when I was posting this and now I can't delete this here duplicate. You couldn't do it for me, could you?
Geeez, the last part of this gave me epilepsy. They need to learn how to cut.
So this is Journey to the West, but the Buddha is replaced with... a little kid carrying his even smaller sister? Strange. I also don't like how the Monkey King doesn't have a tail, isn't that kinda where his power is in, usually?
Here is a much older version of this story, also a chinese animated movie. Pretty good animation. Whole movie here. :)
I grew up on stories of the Monkey King as a child, so it'd be really awesome to see it in Western theaters and have more people exposed to the real thing, rather than just hearing about it secondhand through Dragonball or whatever.
>I also don't like how the Monkey King doesn't have a tail, isn't that kinda where his power is in, usually?
Sun Wukong has a tail in the GIF I threw in above, I'm guessing it goes walkabout after the intro? The story is about how he's been exiled and riven with self-doubt and needs plucky-kid-version-of-Xuanzang to beef up his shattered ego:
I've seen reactions amongst (some) Chinese bringing up the older Monkey King cartoon you've linked that remind me of the whole "Frozen is nowhere near as good as the 1957 Soviet Snow Queen" meme that briefly went around last year. I wanted to bring up this newer adaptation because of how visually-striking and professional it looks compared to most of the CGI knock-offs that have crowded the Chinese market in recent years. It had a shoestring budget (eleven million dollars!) but it looks like it could have been made in Burbank, the team behind it knew exactly where they needed to splash out to make it look exceptional. That shows a level of artistic accomplishment I haven't seen from a Chinese CGI cartoon before today.
Frankly, Frozen was OK but the overall plot left me just "meh" at the end - you could tell the betrayal coming a mile away, and most of the characters were too undefined. Besides, it really turned the original tail on its head. The Snow Queen was never meant to be a sympathetic character - she is not evil, nor is she good, she is a force of nature, simply.
You could be right, maybe instead of the gold headband he loses his tail and that's what keeps him in check?
And I never said the animation was bad - it is very good. I plan to watch it if it ever gets translated.
China can produce VERY good animation - here, known about this one? The Secret of the Magic Gourd. Co-produced with Disney, it's part live action part animation. Rather fun movie, actually. Watched it way back in 2007.
>China can produce VERY good animation
Oh certainly! They've been pioneers in some cases. It's just that Chinese animators' ducks have never entirely lined up until very recently, the local market hadn't been large enough to sustain natively-produced big budget animated features. As you said, The Secret of the Magic Gourd was a Disney co-production. Now we're getting a slew of completely home-grown Chinese animated movies that easily rival anything coming out of the US or Japan in terms of production value, and none of them need ever see the light of day outside China to make bank (though I sincerely hope they do).
Just in the next year we're getting the atmospheric urban fantasy Little Door Gods: //youtube.com/watch?v=oBY_OJbPWX0
The Miyazaki-esque traditionally-animated Big Fish: //youtube.com/watch?v=fl3BAZTJIsQ
And Master Jiang and the Six Kingdoms, which looks like someone locked Bryke and Ankama in the same building, handed them a suitcase of money and told them to go nuts: //youtube.com/watch?v=eA0JVAeSibc
And then there's Crazy Nian (<- see), which nobody seems to know what the fuck but everyone's predicting will make a bazillion yuan for some reason.
It's exciting times! I'm excited. I'm hoping other people are excited (it's really just me, isn't it?)
Only thing I'm worried about is how much artistic freedom the writers have to express their messages and how much the government sticks their noses into things. Granted all countries have that problem but the West has seen its share of successful works with explicit anti-government themes.
The authorities are pretty hands-off when it comes to censorship, it's more about terrifying filmmakers into making changes themselves than fiddling around directly. One of the quirks of the Chinese film market is that there is no rating system - no age restrictions, no parental guidance, no nothing. The state film board ("SARFT") either clears a movie for everybody or clears it for nobody, there is no in-between. SARFT's guidelines for what is allowed and what isn't are arbitrary and known only to them, so filmmakers are left to second-guess what SARFT will greenlight and what they won't. For example, it's a-okay for wee tykes to see Japanese soldiers bayonetting babies out of pregnant stomachs, but it's probably best to leave on that one frame of two ladies in a Shanghai nightclub kissing on the mouth on the cutting room floor, that sort of thing. For a long time Chinese studios shied away from time travel because SARFT criticised how it indulged in nostalgia for despotic feudal pasts, and there was a general fatwa against ghosts because of official edicts against belief in the supernatural. Nevertheless, you will still see the occasional movie, TV show or novel that gleefully delights in ghosts and time travel...because there is no official restriction that can resist the power of bribery. 70% of the current box office smash Monster Hunt was reshot because the main star (Kai Ko) was arrested on drug charges and SARFT rules state that movies should not star actors indicted of offences. But two movies that starred Kai Ko were released after his arrest just fine with no official backlash. Why? Search me. Whether SARFT allows or bans a movie seems largely dependent on whether the censor had a cooked breakfast that morning.
One thing you may notice about all of these projects is the heavy emphasis on traditional Chinese fantasies and fairy tales and kung fu hijinks. Very little modern day concepts, very little sci fi, very little based on anything outside China's borders. You may remember some years back that the Chinese media establishment had a bit of a collective nervous breakdown over the break-out success of Kung Fu Panda (especially the sequel). Even before that, Chinese filmmakers and opinion-formers have had a bee in their bonnet about Disney's and Dreamworks' ability to package a flanderised chop suey version of their culture and somehow sell it to Chinese audiences better than Chinese companies themselves could. It prompted a lot of soul-searching, a lot of incompetent attempts at aping the Dreamworks style in a passive-aggressive way, and most importantly a concerted attempt to study what the secret to Kung Fu Panda's was and see if they could tap into something uniquely Chinese that offered the same appeal. I'm sure, once Chinese studios have found their feet and created their own homegrown success stories, they'll start to branch out into fresh areas and experiment with concepts that can strike a chord with the international market.