Given that even ancient Chinese writing were based on drawn pictures, the art of cartoons is no stranger in Chinese history. But domestic cartoons of the more modern variety went through a flourishing period until the late 1970s and 1980s (after the Cultural Revolution 1966-1976 and before Japanese cartoons were imported in the 1990s).
Some of them may appear a little dated, but there are classics that are still watched and adored by a new generation of Chinese children. We picked 10 that have never strayed far from children’s and adult’s minds.
Lotus Lantern (1999) 宝莲灯
A fairly modern color animation film produced by Shanghai Animation Film Studio, Lotus Lantern was a great success and was China’s most popular film in 1999. The story is based on the traditional folklore tale about a young boy Chenxiang, son of a Goddess and a mortal, who battles with the evil to win his mother’s freedom. Watch it here.
Calabash Brothers (1987) 葫芦娃
This Chinese animation TV series received wide acclaim among audiences after its release. The villain-fighting cartoon was a "must-watch" for children born in the 1980s and remains popular today. The episodes were noteworthy in the use of paper-cut animations. Watch it here.
Wanderings of Sanmao (1984) 三毛流浪记
Funded, produced and broadcast by CCTV, this series’ main character, Sanmao, is a poor orphan who had featured in comic books since the 1930s. Sanmao wanders the Shanghai streets at a time when people dreamed of wealth and status in the 1930s. Watch it here.
Black Cat Detective (1984) 黑猫警长
Black Cat Detective is usually found stopping villains while on patrol on his motorcycle. This animated TV series, also created by Shanghai Animation Film Studio was very popular among post-1980s children. Despite its success, some critics claimed it was overly violent due to the frequent use of guns and bloodas the feline detective clashed with mice and other characters. Watch it here.
Monkeys Fishing on the Moon (1981) 猴子捞月
This delightful cut-paper animation features some very mischievous monkeys trying to catch the moon’s reflection in a well. They break the reflection because of a selfish quarrel but finally realize the moon was in the sky. Watch it here.
Photos: Scorpions and Centaurs (Flickr) and screen grab