Chinese are aghast at the pathetically low quality of a recently unveiled Chinese anime movie which boasted a budget of some 12 million yuan, causing many to wonder just how their anime industry will ever catch up to those overseas.

The criticism centres on a “historically themed” anime movie recently unveiled in China, “The Legend of the Hero” (“戚继光英雄传”), the trailer of which is viewable online.


Although for once free from plagiarism accusations, the movie has attracted a storm of criticism for its “pathetic” production values, not least because the studio responsible was boasting of having spent some 12 million yuan producing it.

Poor quality animation and art, constant use of the same footage, and overall slipshod production values have all caused particular umbrage, which spread online rapidly through the likes of Sina Weibo and soon had the producers scrambling to defend their work.

Figures in the Chinese animation industry have panned the work as embarrassing even by Chinese standards:

“The level of Chinese anime is widely acknowledged as being very low, but even by those standards this is atrocious.”

Even the local government has distanced itself from the series (despite being named in the credits), after being accused of having funded or subsidised it:

“The 12 million yuan figure is something they announced themselves, we don’t really know how they spent the money. We did not fund the project in any way.”

The studio responsible says the title is only for children so the quality hardly matters, although it does not address the rather glaring cost-performance issue:

“This work is aimed at children, not adults. The criticism online is irresponsible and dogmatic.”

Critics in China (and latterly, Japan) have been unsparing:

“This is Flash animation level stuff.”

“This has to be the worst anime in history.”

“How did they spend 12 million on this rubbish!?”

“Half of the production budget probably ended up being embezzled, that’s all.”

“Only half? More like 90%?”

“80% went on bribes?”

“There’s no way you could make a feature production for so little in any case. Maybe a TV drama or sitcom…”

“It really does look like a Flash title though. Although most of China’s Flash anime are probably better…”

“Looks like South Park.”

“It reminds me of Amepigu…”

“If it is aimed at children, who cares if it is rubbish?”

“Aimed at children and ripping off children are two different things.”

“On the opposite end of the spectrum, look at the amount of effort they put into the ED for Precure season 2…”

“How did they spend so much on this…”

“And they had access to top staff from an art college too… they need to think long and hard about why they couldn’t make anything decent.”

“This cost more to make than Perfect Blue and Millennium Actress…”

“Average incomes in China are about 1/6th or 1/7th of those in Japan, so the equivalent Japanese budget would actually be much higher.”

“In Japan this budget would still produce a major title.”

“It might pass if it was all made by one guy.”

“It would compare favourably to something on the Cartoon Network, I guess.”

“Their ‘it’s just for kids’ excuse for it being so bad is pretty poor…”

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    Avatar of Kaito
    Comment by Kaito
    03:46 01/06/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Maybe Chinese animators are well paid?

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:57 01/06/2012 # ! Quality (+1.0)

    Or the top fish at the company took most of the money for himself.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:56 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    $2 million is actually pathetically low for an animated movie, hence the quality. Sleeping Beauty cost $6 million in 1959 dollars, which today would be about $47.5 million--the difference is staggering. And you can see that reflected in the end product.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:05 02/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)


    Comment by Anonymous
    13:40 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    A more relatable example (for visitors of this site) could be Mononoke Hime, which had a budget of €25M / $30M.
    On the other hand, there seems to be a feeling that they could have gotten this Flash animation style creation for a lot less. (Maybe taking Chinese wages into account?)
    Whatever the case may be, there seems to be a really wide gap between the maximum sensible budget for low-quality animation and the minimum possible budget for a high-quality feature film.

    Avatar of Daisuki-chan
    Comment by Daisuki-chan
    15:33 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    12 million yuan equals approximately:
    $1.9 million
    €1.5 million
    £1.2 million
    ¥150 million

    Comment by Anonymous
    19:14 02/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Why are you comparing it with American cartoons.
    Asian anime uses different production styles to cut costs (like using key frames). Disney films have astronomical costs compared to Japanese anime.
    This shit (90minutes) costs more than 3 episodes of Fate/Zero, now that is a more reliable comparison

    Avatar of Gitami
    Comment by Gitami
    08:19 02/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    The quality, based on my previous company's standard, would be max of 1.5 million yuan.

    There's like ten times the embezzlement with this company. They need an audit of this company. In fact, they need to audit the local government, if not to clear their name then at least to know how one of their local tax paying company can mess up that sort of budget and credit the government as a sponsor.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:11 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    And those who propose this project can also have some. I'm not surprise.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:07 01/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Well paid Chinese workers? Riiiiight.

    Comment by Anonymous

    Because obviously the whole "emerging middle class" is just propaganda that the bought-out US economic media keeps mentioning.

    Avatar of Tex_Arcana
    Comment by Tex_Arcana
    09:55 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    In any case, the emerging middle class is unlikely to be making serious bank just out of art college.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:24 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    did it explode?

    Comment by Anonymous
    12:40 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Not yet, but if they print it on nitrate film and run it on a projection system with no safety equipment and it breaks or jams AND there's nobody watching it with the proper fire extinguisher near by, it would burn quite vigorously.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:15 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I wouldnt put it past 'em. the chinese seem to have a knack for arranging the perfect conditions for explosion, especially when it isnt the intended outcome

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:28 03/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    22:35 Anon: Well they did label one extinguisher as a "Hand Grenade" in one hotel...

    Comment by Anonymous
    09:36 02/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I had a side job as a projectionist for about 6 years during and after high school. The one theater I worked at had some old nitrate film trailers stored upstairs and of course, the owner (a volunteer firefighter) and I decided to burn one for the hell of it out in the back alley.

    We tried dousing the fire with water, an ABC fire extinguisher, and a specialty foam extinguisher. When nitrate film burns, it produces its own oxygen and fuel source so it kept right on burning regardless of what we did. Needless to say, after this experiment, we safely disposed of the remaining trailers.

    Comment by Anonymous
    22:35 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    The fire "extinguisher" would burst into flames.

    Comment by Anonymous
    10:11 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I'm sure the only "well paid" people are the guys at the very top. I'm sure by the time the money got to the actual production and animators it dwindled to like 1% of what it was originally.

    Avatar of Cytryz
    Comment by Cytryz
    03:58 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    never thought of it.... that;d definitley jack the prive up, who knows why 2 mil but good thought.

    Avatar of warjoke
    Comment by warjoke
    23:10 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    >laborers with good pay


    Comment by Anonymous
    04:42 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    china pays japan to create 'original chinese anime' comes next

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:43 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Really want to see this now, just to be able to judge for myself.

    Comment by Anonymous
    07:40 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Corrupt and crooked no matter where, but Chinese government's hand in all this .. no doubt.
    It seems those old Japanese anime of the 70s but with today's technology, this quality with a production so costly is a shame ..

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife

    I'm not sure what's implied here by the 'well paid' comment, but seriously, that's not a reason for animators to do poor quality if that's what you mean. If anything, that means we'll work harder in nearly every case.

    This is the result of someone who is at the top of the food chain making horrendous decisions. It always is. If they have shitty animators, it's their fault, if the production sucks, it's their fault. They are the ones who can get the needed people with the level of skill they want, and have the responsibility to do so. I know I can't comment for China, but since after the 90s, there are virtually no more creative companies that have grunts who don't do their work.

    For games companies in the early 90s and such though, there were stories of three-hour lunches and playing around a lot in the studio which delayed many titles. I won't say that it's always been the studio managements' issue, but it most definitely mostly is now. There is no shortage of people like me who would sooner go sleepless nights than let shit hit the shelves.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:27 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    I mostly agree, but there is definitely a distinction between employees who perform a task well and employees who seek out tasks to perform well. Most creative industries that treat their stock worse than comparative industries pretty much only consist of the latter type of employee, which then yes, production decisions are almost always the reason why shit happens.

    This holds true with any creative industry, so while it may explain why this is an utter disaster (for a similar event, compare APB's $110 million budget and its utter trainwreck of a development process), it doesn't explain why it's commonplace in China. That is largely because the industry is young - an analogue to that would be our current casual games industry. Despite the massive amounts of revenue found there, the industry pumps out incredible amounts of drivel. Those who cut corners undercut those who don't, and those who don't lack the expertise to add true value to their product.

    That is the current state of the Chinese animation industry. This show is a symptom.

    Avatar of HouseLife
    Comment by HouseLife

    Well put.

    Comment by Anonymous
    03:53 01/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.8)

    My Little Pony FiM is animated in Flash I think and it looks great. It's really smooth and has realistic physics. So Flash animation doesn't necessarily equal bad animation.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:43 01/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Fuck MLP, look at Wakfu. Best Flash ever, I'm sure.

    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    05:24 01/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.4)

    TIL Wakfu was done in Flash... You just blew my mind.

    Comment by Anonymous
    11:30 02/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Actually you have that incorrect Anon, the other anon was correct. Craig is indeed an animator, and he did indeed animate PPG.

    Craig attended the California Institute of the Arts and majored in animation
    This is his very first animated short of the PPG by Craig himself - but they weren't called the Power Puff Girls at first. At first he was going to call them the "Whoopass girls" but once he got a deal with Cartoon Network, of course the name had to change.

    He also did work on and oversee the other two animated shows mentioned. A small search will turn up the two interviews he did about Samurai Jack and Foster's.

    I guess you can Google Dat, but you don't need to. I spelled it out for you

    Comment by Anonymous
    17:50 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wrong Anon. MLP was drawn by the WIFE of the guy who did the PowerPuff Girls animations.

    PPG/Samurai Jack/Foster's Home for imaginary friends = Craig McCracken.

    Google dat

    Comment by Anonymous
    15:08 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Uh well, Little Pony is not animated in flash.
    It was drawn by the same person who did the powerpuff girls animations.

    Comment by Anonymous
    16:52 05/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Uh, it is getting confusing. So... we conclude that My little pony aint flash.

    Comment by Anonymous
    00:47 02/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Wrong Anon. Craig is not an animator, he was a writer, character designer and all, but he was not an animator.

    Lauren was a writer on PPG, Foster's Home and anmated many movies, such as Cats don't dance.

    Google dat.

    Comment by Anonymous
    13:08 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    This. I love MLP:FIM but Wakfu does flash animation way better.

    Avatar of Aspida
    Comment by Aspida
    11:57 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    I'm glad somebody mentioned it! My Little Pony is a good example of some well-done flash animating. Wakfu is also so well-done, I had to do a double take when I read that it was made in Flash.

    Keeping up with Newgrounds for many years, I've seen Flash animations come a very long way.

    Ten years ago, this would have been considered a decent Flash animation. Maybe not amazing, but decent. Flash animations were laughable to professional animators compared to more traditional methods of animation. With time, more and more talented artists showed just how good Flash animations could be.

    The Brackenwood series of animations from Bitey Castle are some especially fine examples of Flash animation. Adam Phillips has works from 2002-2011 up there, and you can see some noticeable improvement in that time. Even in 2002, the animation was very good, although it still appears to have a little bit of that "Flash animation feel" in the way some of the characters move. His later works, from 2005 onward, are incredibly smooth and fluid.

    Nowadays, the best Flash animations are pretty much indistinguishable from animations created through other methods. They really have no excuse for a supposedly major animation with a $2 million budget to look like this, especially when animators are putting out much higher quality animations, in Flash, just for fun and for free.

    Comment by Anonymous
    20:29 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    My Little Pony is animated in Flash, but it's composited in After Effects. I'm almost certain Wakfu is made the same way.

    Avatar of TonyBaka
    Comment by TonyBaka
    05:16 01/06/2012 # ! Good (+0.6)

    Who would want to make a cartoon movie about warriors aimed at kids anyway?! Even those poorly-acted Chinese kung fu movies are better than this lame excuse for an animation!

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:05 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.4)

    you guys are fucking stupid this not a anime its a cartoon why do people call carttons anime if they are not

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:34 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    In Japan, all animation is called anime regardless of it's source. Disney, Pixar, Matt Groening shows, Seth McFarlane shows... All of it is anime to the Japanese. Even outside Japan, most western countries call animation or comics from China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia "manhua anime" or "manhua manga."

    And seeing as this is primarily the Chinese and Japanese perspectives from a site dedicated to Japanese culture (albeit a very small portion), you can blow it out your ass.

    Avatar of alternative kyon
    Comment by alternative kyon
    04:21 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    The artstyle may not, but what does anime even mean? Is it the artstyle or the origin?

    Well, this looks like it's flash animated I have to say... Wouldn't be surprised if the top guy really took most of the money.

    I also think Chinese animators are inexperienced with certain styles, yeah....

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:15 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Those who have talent won't come back and work for them.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:10 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Just because it doesn't look like traditional anime doesn't rule it out as one.

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:14 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Simpsons is anime now then?

    Comment by Anonymous
    04:19 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Considering that "anime" is just short for "animation", yes.

    Avatar of Satonaka
    Comment by Satonaka
    15:54 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (+0.2)

    Oh dear god that word died out in the late 80's/early 90's man... Hasn't been relevant since then O_o

    Avatar of Imyou
    Comment by Imyou
    05:19 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    If you're posting entirely in Japanese, Simpsons could be anime. Since in English, anime is a loanword specifically for animation from Japan, neither Simpsons nor Chinese animation would count as anime, but seemingly unlikely shows like Hello Kitty would.

    Comment by Anonymous
    05:45 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    Simpsons would be much closer to anime. This South Park stuff is nowhere near.

    Comment by Anonymous
    08:33 01/06/2012 # ! Neutral (0)

    No, it's uniformly referred to as animation in China. Well, dong hua pian.

    Comment by Anonymous

    I still think we should call it Japanimation. It's more specific, makes use of the title of the country and takes half a second more to say. Better than calling everything anime.

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