China hopes for anime buzz as 'B.E.E' takes flight in Japanese

Fri Sep 11, 2015 11:41am EDT
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By Yu Wang

TOKYO (Reuters) - Chinese filmmakers have long admired animation from Japan, and now they want to bring their own works to their "anime kingdom" neighbors.

The first episodes of "B.E.E," a sci-fi thriller series produced by Chinese online comics platform operator U17, began streaming last month for Web audiences in Japanese. This was the first Chinese anime project developed with Japanese viewers in mind from the onset.

China is keen to boost its cultural industries, including animation. Growth has been rapid at home, but the business has so far made little headway outside its borders.

"B.E.E" uses well-known Japanese voice actors like Kana Hanazawa and has a Japanese theme song.

"We wanted to make this anime more 'local' to audiences through familiar voices," Zhiling Dong, vice president of U17 owner Beijing Starry April, said in a phone interview.

The series was adapted from the manga "School Shock," whose writer, Heng Sun, has cited Japan's "Mobile Suit Gundam" and "Evangelion" as influences.

Producers said the lack of major cultural barriers in the story made it a good fit for international viewers, and they wanted to start with Japan because of its strong animation culture.

"Japan is an anime kingdom," Dong said.   Continued...