The City of Fog!
The annual cartoon carnival hit Chongqing once again. The 9th China Western Animation Culture Festival unveiled at CQEXPO. With a total exhibition area of 50,000m2, the exhibitors–coming both from home and abroad–had enough room for their various interactive installations. Instead of following previous exhibition’s blueprint of featuring animation alone, this year the exhibition has been upgraded to an entertainment day for all, to create a comprehensive entertainment-oriented playground with animation, games and entertainment culture rolled into one.
At the exhibition, the journalists encountered an animation called I am Jiangxiaobai which entirely takes place in Chongqing. Many beautiful views of Chongqing–real scenes and exquisite images–as seen on official posters, are featured in the animated series. The animation shows a perfectly reconstructed Chongqing in the two-dimensional world.
I am Jiangxiaobai set up a binge-watching station on BiliBili, a popular Chinese version of YouTube or Netflix, with an initial focus to watch animation. On there, a preview video alone gained more than 40,000 views.
This marks the arrival of a type of animation comforting the increasingly disoriented younger generation in China. Most parts of it take place at famous landmarks in Chongqing, like the doodling avenue outside Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, Jiangjin Jukui Middle School hidden in Heishi Park, or, with over 140 years’ history and rarely-found architecture, the Liziba Light Rail Station.
Each single one of them presents virtual restoration and representation of landmarks in Chongqing. The audience was amazed at the fact that the representations looked even more real than some photos!
I am Jiangxiaobai produced by 2:10 Animation is the donghua (动画, Chinese animation) the company focused on this year. The company is a pioneer in the field, engaging in both animation and illustration, and still the sole studio doing both in China. Since its foundation, several original animation series have been developed and operated independently, such as Baodanjingying (Boom Hero), the first 3D animation of electronic sports and Yinzhi Tomb Watcher (Silver Guardian), a popular donghua that cracked the 10 billion view mark on animation platforms, Warring States FAN with numerous popular UPs co-starring, an unprecedented project in China as well as other well-known works.
“Chongqing is an extremely charming and vibrant city. Whether it is the many layers of transport on top of each other, or light rail line 2 winding through Yuzhong peninsula. The whole city feels like an actual scene out of an amusement park, alternating between reality and magic. It’s quite unfortunate that there is not any large-sized animation work using Chongqing as the backdrop,” says one of the directors at 2:10 Animation. “We hope to make up for this lack and create an animation with Chongqing characteristics to pay tribute to the city.”
Previously, some designers attempted to rebuild hotspots of Chongqing in 2D. But they just focused on parts of currently popular sites on the internet. However, 2:10 Animation is more ambitious. “What we want is to restore the city, recovering the buildings and the landmarks of each light rail station,” continues the director.
Chongqing wins the favor of an increasing number of citizens both domestically and abroad as Chongqing has been trying to shape its own urban culture over recent years. Chongqing is on the list of China Tourism Cities 2017. It ranks the 2nd place among 286 prefecture cities or higher in Mainland China. Through cultural icons like hip-hop musician and winner of The Rap of China Gai, known for Tianganwuzao and Hotpot Ingredients, Chongqing becomes a genuine “hot city” on the internet. So far, there are only a handful of 2D animation projects using Chongqing as a stage for their stories. Perhaps, the arrival of I am Jiangxiaobai will make donghua a new icon of Chongqing.