Anime & Manga News

Focus: As Streaming Booms, China Sees Growing Demand for Japanese Animation

by arsonal
May 16, 10:00 PM | 63 Comments
On one breezy weekend in February, employees at the animation studio Emon were busy setting up new workstations in their Kichijoji office at the edge of Tokyo. The five-story building houses the entire anime production operation at the Japan branch of Shanghai-based animation company Haoliners.

Since Haoliners was established in 2013 by Li Haolin, a rising animator who had not yet turned 30 at the time, it has become one of China's leading domestic animation studios. It is backed by some of the leading players in the streaming content market, such as Internet giant Tencent and China's largest online video platform iQiyi.

While China has traditionally been a destination of outsourced work for the Japanese anime industry, that trend is starting to shift in the opposite direction. "There is demand from the Chinese side," says Widad Noureddine, Emon's general manager of international media operations. "Tencent has a big catalog of webcomics which are very popular, and they would love to see these works adapted into animation."

Talent has mushroomed in the Chinese animation industry in recent years, and producers now believe they are ready to take the charge in animation production. Emon, Japan's first animation studio by a Chinese production company, was established in response to this market shift. "If you want anime, you have to produce it in Japan," so goes the mantra, according to Widad.

The Nikkei Asian Review reports the Chinese animation market is projected to reach 150 billion yuan (US$21.7 billion) this year, a figure three times its size in 2010 and also larger than the Japanese market. According to 2015 data from the Association of Japanese Animations, Chinese buyers account for more than half of the year-over-year increase in industry revenue generated from overseas anime license sales.

An executive with a Beijing affiliate of Dentsu, Japan's largest advertising agency and a major anime investor, explains in a recent report by The Wall Street Journal that the crackdown on piracy has shifted the landscape of China's anime market in a positive direction. Government enforcement of copyright laws has resulted in producers and licensors seeing increased animation sales.

Reduction in piracy has made anime licenses more attractive to local buyers such as streaming sites Youku Tudou, Tencent Video, and Bilibili. The industry also benefits from the fact that streamed animation is not subject to the same quotas and content reviews put in place for foreign live-action films and television shows. At the same time, however, industry insiders warn this boom could end if Chinese media regulators decide to change their stance.

License costs are also on the rise with increasing competition among video streaming sites. For example, The Wall Street Journal estimates that one episode of Gintama sells for approximately US$100,000. This is why Tencent and other media publishers are beginning to invest as joint stakeholders in Japanese productions in order to avoid bidding wars. At the same time, Tencent can also develop its own webcomic properties with Japanese talent not only for the enjoyment of Chinese audiences, but also for others.

With the establishment of a Tokyo office, Haoliners has been able to produce some of its titles entirely in Japan. Other works, such as Hitori no Shita: The Outcast, are mainly planned and animated in Japan but through collaboration with studios in China and South Korea. "Right now, the only 100 percent Chinese product is To Be Hero, which is created by Li Haolin," Widad reveals.

As Chinese companies increase investment in anime productions, they still face obstacles in these new ventures due to negative perceptions of Chinese-made works. "The most challenging thing is dealing with the image that Chinese people only copy," Widad admits. "It's true that the origin of the works is not Japanese, but they are animated by Japanese people, in the Japanese way, at a Japanese studio."

Given the anime industry's current challenges, such as the shortage of animators, Widad believes Chinese co-productions can help revitalize support for creators. "Japanese people keep doing the same stories every time. The characters may be different, but they are still the same pattern of stories. I think that's where the Chinese market can do something different."


Animation Productions Supported by Haoliners
  1. Centaur's Worries (Centaur no Nayami), based on a manga published by Tokuma Shoten, and produced by Encourage Films (Japan).
  2. Fox Spirit Matchmaker (Huyao Xiao Hongniang), based on a web manhua published by Tencent, and produced by Emon Shanghai (China) and Emon Korea (South Korea).
  3. The Silver Guardian (Gin no Guardian), based on a web manhua published by Tencent, and produced Emon Tokyo (Japan).
  4. Spiritpact (Ling Qi), based on a web manhua published by Tencent, and produced by Emon Korea (South Korea).
  5. Reikenzan (Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage and Eichi e no Shikaku), based on a web manhua published by Tencent, and produced by Studio Deen (Japan).
  6. Girl Beats Boy (Kenka Banchou Otome), based on a PlayStation Vita game by Spike Chunsoft, and is produced by Project no.9 and A-Real (Japan).
  7. Bloodivores, based on a web manha published by Tencent, and produced by Creators in Pack (Japan).
  8. The Outcast (Hitori no Shita), based on a web manhua published by Tencent, and produced by Pandanium (Japan) and Namu Animation (South Korea).
  9. To Be Hero, an original creation produced by Studio.Lan! (China) and Emon Tokyo (Japan).
  10. Cheating Craft, based on a web manhua, and produced by Blade (Japan).

Original reporting by arsonal for MyAnimeList. A complete transcript of the interview with Widad Noureddine, Emon's general manager of international media operations, will be available at the end of May.

20 of 63 Comments Recent Comments

They can keep the Chinese cartoons, although i am happy for their animation industry, i'll stick to the "same stories every time" Japanese ones.

"one episode of Gintama sells for approximately US$100,000" Is this true? The Gintama people must be so rich

arsonal said:

As we all know, Anime means simply "animation" in Japanese, and not Japanese animation. Hence why Japan gave its industry top award for best anime to Frozen years back.


Anime has a different meaning in English, it means animation from Japan, it's not at all misguided elitism.

May 28, 12:10 AM by bhaktivinoda

Comic_Sans said:
Yaoi-Senpai said:
Can someone explain this in 1 sentence pls? I'm not a fan of reading a novel.
Chinese Communists are trying to infiltrate the Japanese anime market and make anime Communist again


"ching chong ping pong, seize control of the means of production with me, ling-kun"

May 27, 7:57 AM by Ouroboros

LilGreasyKid said:
Symphyon said:


No I didn't meant you said it was a bad thing I was more referring to the other comments, sorry if I didn't clarified. Again sorry.

And I don't really see a problem with having chinese shows in here in all honesty. True they should have a different "section" where it separates Japan and Chinese production shows, but I really don't see an issue when it comes to entries over here. Then again, that's just how I see it.


To build off this ideal, MAL should embrace the diversity of Eastern animation in general. MAL should become a hub of ASIAN animation and drawn media, not just a hub of JAPANESE media. MAL already serves as a key platform for the anime community. I look forward to seeing how the site grows alongside the new industry trends.

Which in all honesty I'm all for that to be fair. Having the Chinese shows here would expand the library the site already has in a sense and yeah despite the quality it doesn't matter much I guess, at the end of the day I think it just means other people can select stuff from other countries. Besides... anime isn't really ONLY a Japan exclusive thing if I can be completely honest.

May 27, 4:46 AM by Symphyon

Symphyon said:
tragedydesu said:
@Symphyon
i didnt say is a bad thing
i'm pretty sure they can make a decent stories , (they will never surpass japanesse voice acting though)
i just wanted to say this site should countain only informations about anime
and by the definition " anime is used to refer specifically to animation from Japan"
korean/chinese/americain cartoons are not supposed to be here


No I didn't meant you said it was a bad thing I was more referring to the other comments, sorry if I didn't clarified. Again sorry.

And I don't really see a problem with having chinese shows in here in all honesty. True they should have a different "section" where it separates Japan and Chinese production shows, but I really don't see an issue when it comes to entries over here. Then again, that's just how I see it.


To build off this ideal, MAL should embrace the diversity of Eastern animation in general. MAL should become a hub of ASIAN animation and drawn media, not just a hub of JAPANESE media. MAL already serves as a key platform for the anime community. I look forward to seeing how the site grows alongside the new industry trends.

May 27, 4:30 AM by LilGreasyKid

tragedydesu said:
@Symphyon
i didnt say is a bad thing
i'm pretty sure they can make a decent stories , (they will never surpass japanesse voice acting though)
i just wanted to say this site should countain only informations about anime
and by the definition " anime is used to refer specifically to animation from Japan"
korean/chinese/americain cartoons are not supposed to be here


No I didn't meant you said it was a bad thing I was more referring to the other comments, sorry if I didn't clarified. Again sorry.

And I don't really see a problem with having chinese shows in here in all honesty. True they should have a different "section" where it separates Japan and Chinese production shows, but I really don't see an issue when it comes to entries over here. Then again, that's just how I see it.

May 18, 10:27 AM by Symphyon

@Symphyon
i didnt say is a bad thing
i'm pretty sure they can make a decent stories , (they will never surpass japanesse voice acting though)
i just wanted to say this site should countain only informations about anime
and by the definition " anime is used to refer specifically to animation from Japan"
korean/chinese/americain cartoons are not supposed to be here

May 18, 10:01 AM by tragedydesu

tragedydesu said:
I wish if they create "mychinesecartoonlist" to announce that kind of articles ....

ANIME IS ONLY JAPANESE


Red_Tuesday said:
arsonal said:
"If you want anime, you have to produce it in Japan"


Maybe if you're Chinese. Not exactly the most alluring relocation prospect. USA does fine with RWBY and the others.

As we all know, Anime means simply "animation" in Japanese, and not Japanese animation. Hence why Japan gave its industry top award for best anime to Frozen years back.

The quicker the delusion that anime has to be from Japan in the world of misguided elitists ends, the better.


^ Quoting these two because I have to agree with Red_Tuesday on what he pointed out though... anime isn't really like only Japan. And also... again that's not really a bad thing either. It means other countries can join the medium if China is starting to involve more into it, plus more stuff for the "anime" library. How I say it.

CatSoul said:
I'm afraid if they're trying to convince people Chinese animation is worth watching with Bloodivores they're going about it wrong.


Well if you take Bloodivores out, they aren't that bad. I think they are just... there, but they have been more consistent from what I've noticed though.

May 18, 6:34 AM by Symphyon

arsonal said:
"If you want anime, you have to produce it in Japan"


Maybe if you're Chinese. Not exactly the most alluring relocation prospect. USA does fine with RWBY and the others.

As we all know, Anime means simply "animation" in Japanese, and not Japanese animation. Hence why Japan gave its industry top award for best anime to Frozen years back.

The quicker the delusion that anime has to be from Japan in the world of misguided elitists ends, the better.

May 18, 6:30 AM by Red_Tuesday

So once Chinese cartoons are a significant real part of Eastern Animation, what joke term will we use then? Mongolian colored skits?

May 18, 6:06 AM by InsaneLeader13

I wish if they create "mychinesecartoonlist" to announce that kind of articles ....

ANIME IS ONLY JAPANESE

May 18, 5:21 AM by tragedydesu

Rayrin said:
Please China, just do more Jackie Chan movie and stay the hell away from animation. Your "anime" sucks

I'd have to disagree. Some of their animated movies are really great like Big Fish & Begonia.

May 18, 4:20 AM by Z4k

China always amaze me.
this is a step forward for China, i hope they adapt their own web novel cause most of their novel are good.
i hope to see their animation in the near future, good luck China!

May 18, 2:32 AM by Vonatra

China market is super large, that's a good news for anime creators.

May 18, 2:09 AM by AJohnson92

Hope they adapt their own novel, i long to see Coiling Dragon or Against the God animated. Just not Tale of Demons and Gods i already tired waiting for author to update the novel cause he busy with manwha

May 18, 12:46 AM by Duck_knight

Chinese animation has huge potential

May 17, 10:35 PM by Woraken

I'm afraid if they're trying to convince people Chinese animation is worth watching with Bloodivores they're going about it wrong.

May 17, 9:42 PM by CatSoul

Please China, just do more Jackie Chan movie and stay the hell away from animation. Your "anime" sucks

May 17, 9:13 PM by Rayrin

China being one step closer to conquering the world, perfecting the craft of japanese animus.

May 17, 8:53 PM by OppaiSugoi

tragedydesu said:
KaiserNazrin said:


Clearly never watch King's Avatar.

i really hate chinese voice acting
so not sure if i should give it a try or not

i'd say its worth a try
the voice acting isnt that great yes, but it's decent
but the story, art make up to it

May 17, 6:29 PM by ryukan

Some people see this as a problem, I do not see it this way: it can open many doors, and generate a diversity of works like we've never seen before. The Chinese market can warm up the market for animators, as well as investing in the formation of the market. Apart from that, although no one seeks to know about it, some Chinese animators already work for Japanese studios as well as Koreans. If the [$] producers as well as Korean and Japanese entertainers get closer to each other this can be a good thing, not bad!

The fact that there is already an opening of the Japanese studios for artists from outside, proves that they are apt to change. If this is a step for the market to become more competitive and fair [salary] then I am not against.

May 17, 5:59 PM by ronie91