Anime’s influence hasn’t only reached the West. It has also managed to spread to other Asian countries, such as China. Chinese anime uses Japanese animation elements but adds its own cultural meanings and folklore to create something completely unique. Unfortunately, Chinese anime (aka donghua) isn’t as popular as its Japanese counterpart. Even so, there are a few hidden gems that are worth exploring. So, here are five Chinese anime that you should check out.
Cupid’s Chocolate (Aishen Qiaokeli Jinxingshi)
Jiang Haoyi is a regular high school boy who always does his best to stay out of trouble. But, one day, a girl he’s never met announces in front of Haoyi’s class that he’s the father of her unborn child. And the bad news keeps on coming, as more girls confess their love for him. It goes so far that Haoyi attempts to jumps off the roof.
Luckily, a mysterious girl stops time and explains to him that the magical cake he ate is the source of his woes. Anyone who ate the cake after him has fallen madly in love with him. As a result, Jiang becomes the Harem King.
Cupid’s Chocolate‘s art direction has many Japanese anime elements. It makes use of all the usual harem anime tropes but from a Chinese perspective tha’s bound to draw viewers in.
The King’s Avatar (Quanzhi Gaoshou)
The King’s Avatar follows Ye Xiu, an online gamer who is ousted from his pro league team and forced into retirement. But that doesn’t stop Xiu from continuing to play. He creates a new game character to once again battle it out in Glory, a popular online multiplayer game.
Although the series gives off an isekai (another world) vibe — a trope that’s overused — The King’s Avatar is far from it. It doesn’t immerse the character in the game. Instead, we get to see how they see themselves and the game’s surroundings.
This gives the series the opportunity to take place in not only the virtual world but the real world as well. Something that a lot of isekai anime series have yet to do. You can catch the English-subtitled version on Tencent’s YouTube channel.
Big Fish & Begonia (Da Yu Hai Tang)
Big Fish & Begonia, which has already been widely released in North America, won critical acclaim from both viewers and critics. The Chinese anime movie takes place in an alternate world where spirit-like creatures oversee the natural balance of the world. One such being is Chun, who must experience the human world for herself.
While on her journey — as a red dolphin — she gets caught in a fishing net but is rescued by a human boy. Unfortunately, the boy ends up drowning. Feeling guilt over the boy’s death, she visits the Soul Keeper and asks him to revive the boy. But, in exchange, she has to give up a part of her lifespan. Unfortunately, meddling with the natural order of life has severe and unforeseen consequences.
Inspired by tales from the ancient Chinese Taoist classic Zhuangzi and other classics, Big Fish & Begonia is a touching tale that embraces the power of sacrifice, love, and death.
Spiritpact (Ling Qi)
You Keika has a promising future. Heir to a famous family of exorcists, Jinghua’s destiny was as a bright as ever. However, when his parents pass away, he loses all his wealth. Now, he must work as a street fortune teller and a part-time computer technician to make ends meet.
One night at the junkyard he meets a mysterious man, Ki Tanmoku, who happens to be an exorcist. But as luck would have it, You Keika gets hit by a truck and becomes a ghost. Ki Tanmoku appears and asks You Keika to make a “pact” with him to fight evil spirits together. So begins the partnership of our two heroes.
Despite the 15-minute runtime of each episode, Spiritpact manages to effectively combine humor and action in a satisfying way. Throughout the series, the characters get into funny situations thanks, in part, to the main characters’ relationship. But, the animation truly shines during the action scenes when they fight spirits. If you’re a fan of shounen-ai, then Spiritpact is undoubtedly a show that you should check out.
Rakshasa Street (Zhen Hun Jie)
Based on the popular Chinese manhua (manga) of the same name, Rakshasa Street revolves around the human and spirit world. After spirits die they go to Ghostdom, but the number of dead spirits has been growing. So, the dead have to temporarily wait, in Requiem Street, a place connecting the human world and Ghostdom.
However, the endless waiting causes some spirits to turn evil. It’s up to the Requiem General, Cao Yan Bing, to manage them. One day, Xia Ling, a university student, accidentally stumbles into Requiem Street, something that only pure human beings can do. Dragged into this new world, Xia Ling, Cao Yan Bing, and their new friends must keep the peace in Requiem Street.
Rakshasa Street not only features a lot of fight scenes between humans and spirits, it also has a sense of suspense. These features come to life when combined with the series’ art direction and setting. If you’re looking for a Chinese anime full of action and adventure, then Rakshasa Street is the donghua to check out.