Anime movies and series are usually remembered by their titles and seldom by the people who worked behind them. However, it is a fact that viewers should also take some time to discover the team that brings their favorite series and movies to life. Making anime is not an easy job and it takes a lot of talent, effort, money, and even guts to produce one, and in the rising industry of Chinese animation, it is usually the brave and innovative team that breaks the limit and comes out with masterpiece that could get the viewers enthralled over and over again.
As the Chinese animation industry is growing, various studios are expanding and even set their eyes on the international arena. Chinese animation or donghua have a huge market and potential, there are several big players that dominated the industry all these years while some just recently started and making a name on their own.
In this post, we had listed the most popular Chinese anime studios together with their respective works that both local and international viewers loved. These studios had produced anime that stood the test of time and bring a new wave of inspiration and popularity to the Chinese animation industry.
Shanghai Animation Film Studio
One of the oldest animation studios in China, Shanghai Animation Film Studio, or SAFS had produced many classics over the last 70 years. The studio had over 500 films under its belt and they covered 80% of China’s domestic animation production. Shanghai Animation Film Studio is one of the most prolific anime studios in China, producing several of the most celebrated piece of animation and art in China from the 20th Century.
During the Golden Age of Chinese animation (1957–1966), the studio had produced its most well-known animation, Havoc in Heaven or Da Nao Tiang Gong, the feature donghua film is an adaptation of the 16th-century novel Journey to the West by author We Chengén. It received various accolades and international recognition during the 60s. In the 21st Century, the studio had been collaborating with various international studios.
Other notable works from Shanghai Animation Film Studio includes The Magic Paint-Brush (1955), The Proud General (1956), Pigsy Eats Watermelon (1958), Where is Mama (1960), Buffalo Boy and the Flute (1963), The Cock Crows at Midnight (1964), Prince Nezha’s Triumph Against Dragon King (1979), The Fight Between the Snipe and the Clam (1983), Black Cat Detective (1984), Calabash Brothers (1986), Lotus Lanten (1999), and Music Up (2001).
For Chinese anime viewers of this generation, B.CMay Pictures is a familiar name because it produced two of the most popular donghua in recent years. The King’s Avatar (Quan Zhi Gao Shou), and Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation (Mo Dao Zu Shi) were among the donghua that standing at the forefront of the Chinese animation industry and among the most recognized series from China.
In 2020, B.CMay Pictures had animated some of the biggest donghua from Tencent Penguin Pictures’ lineup such as A Will Eternal (Yi Nian Yong Heng), The Chronologist (Li Shi), Mo Dao Zu Shi Q, and Bureau of Paranormal Investigation (Min Diao Ju Yi Wen Lu).
B.CMay Pictures also produced Cupid’s Chocolates (2015), Twin Spirit Detectives (2016), How to Steal 55 Kisses (2016), Nuwa’s Diary (2016), and The Running Heroes (2017).
Sparkly Key Animation Studio
Chinese anime is usually divided into many art forms but the dominant is the 3D and 2D animation. In terms of 3D animation, Sparkly Key Animation Studio dominated the industry in recent years with its popular donghua. It produced some of the most beloved 3D donghua including the long-running series The Legend of Qin or Qin’s Moon with a total of 5 seasons so far. It was released in 2007 and has been set as the standard of Chinese 3D anime in terms of storytelling and quality.
The studio also produced The Legend and the Hero (Wu Geng Ji), and Soul Land (Douluo Dalu), one of the most-watched donghua of all time. Sparkly Key also animated The Legend of Qin’s spin-off series Nine Songs of the Moving Heaven, and all of its side stories such as Birdsong in Hollow Valley, Under Luosheng Tang, Lady Xiang Descends, and Entrance of the Doctor.
In 2020, the studio is animating Legend of Tang (Tian Bao Fuyao Lu) from the bilibili lineup.
Haoliners Animation League
Known for their collaboration with Japanese animation companies, Haoliners Animation League might have some of the most popular series that even non-donghua viewers are familiar with. Their animated works were also released in Japan further fueling its popularity among anime viewers.
The studio was founded in 2013 and had made effort to produced Chinese anime series for anime viewers. Its animation style is often compared with Japanese anime works due to their similarities.
Haoliners Animation League had animated popular donghua titles such as Fox Spirit Matchmaker, Spiritpact, Flavors of Youth, Hitori no Shita: The Outcast, To Be Heroine, and Psychic Princess.
Other donghua series under its belt are Lu’s Time, Monster List, Ace Censorate, Spirit Realm, I am Bai Xiaofei, Spirit Blade Mountain, The Daily Life of Immortal King, God of Deception, My Holy Weapon, and The Manual of Hundred Demons.
Light Chaser Animation Studio
If White Snake: The Origin and Little Door Gods sounds familiar to you, it’s because Light Chaser Animation Studio, the company behind it is one of the rising names in the Chinese animation industry and the international arena nowadays. The studio was founded in 2013 and has then produced popular animated films that were released not only in China but also abroad.
Light Chaser Animation Studio specialized in 3DCG and its first project is Little Door Gods which was released in 2016. It was then followed by Tea Pets in 2017, and Cats and Peachtopia in 2018.
In 2019, they produced White Snake, inspired by the famous Chinese folktale Legend of the White Snake. The feature film was shown in various festivals including Annecy International Animation Film Festival, Fantasia International Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival, and Warsaw International Film Festival.
Light Chaser Animation is also producing the 2021 Chinese film New Gods: Nezha Reborn, an original story featuring gods from Chinese legends.
Shanghai Foch Film Culture Investment
Shanghai Foch Film Culture Investment had animated some of the most famous donghua in recent years including Full-Time Magister (Quanzhi Fashi) which was one of the gateway series for new viewers. They also animated some 3DCG works such as the 2018 xianxia series Stellar Transformations (Xing Chen Bian), and the first season of Battle Through the Heavens (Doupo Cangqiong).
Another popular series from the studio is Way of Choices (Ze Tian Ji) also known as Fighter of Destiny which has been adapted into live-action drama series.
Big Firebird Culture Media
With several donghua under its belt from various genres, Big Firebird Culture Media is one of China’s most dynamic animation studios. It animated one of 2020’s most hyped Chinese anime and that’s the 3rd season of The Outcast. The studio is also animating the highly anticipated donghua adaptation of the popular manhua Hero? I Quit a Long Time Ago (Yingxiong Zailin) under the title Hero Return.
Other notable works from the studio include My Cultivator Girlfriend (2017), The Demonic King Chases His Wife (2019), Girl’s Frontline (2019), and Planting Manual (2020).
One of the most influential animation companies in China that specializes in creating and producing animation brands for the global market. Their animated works were not only shown locally in China but also broadcast abroad via Disney, Netflix, Nickelodeon, and Sony.
The studio had produced famous animated brands like Boonie Bears, Boonie Cubs, and Chicken Stew.
These were only some of the most popular Chinese anime studios that produced several of the beloved and well-known donghua throughout the years. As the Chinese animation industry keeps on growing and finding its way to establish itself in the global arena, viewers can only expect more studios and animated works to come.