China’s Animation Streaming Industry is Still On Schedule Because of Remote Work During the Quarantine

By Ryan Carroll, Managing Editor

March, 2019.

In the last week of March first Bilibili then Tencent Video announced their Spring / Summer Donghua, aka Chinese Anime, series line-up for streaming release.

Now for some this may come as a surprise to how 2D animation could be ready to go after an entire country was lockdown – serious draconian lockdown – for two months due to the COVID-19 coronavirus?

It is because 2D animation is not fully drawn by hand any longer. It is done using smart tablets such as Wacom and 2D animation software Toon Boom, which is used by every major animation studio from Disney to Fox, and is utilized all over the world. Plus, you can even these tools at home as an amateur – though your incoming relief check will not cover the cost.

Here in the United States where a 1/3 of the country is in some form of “lockdown”, California being one of these states and of course where the animation industry lies, animation production still goes on. All due to the ability of remote work, with the afore mentioned tools, among others.

Tools and software that were similarly used in China, and with a nationwide surge for the first time in its history of remote work. China began utilizing team focused instant messaging apps for business, similar to Slack, such as WeChat Work and Alibaba’s DingTalk.

Interestingly enough, over the quarantine lockdown both Tencent and DingTalk vied for Chinese Gen Z consumer attention on the Donghua streaming video platform Bilibili. After Chinese children, who had to use DingTalk to complete school work at home online, began giving it one-star rating on the app store. Highlighting the power the 4th largest streaming platform has in China, especially among China’s most loyal consumer-base.

The ACG Culture and Gen Z Powerhouse Bilibili was the first to announce their initial Donghua lineup, followed suit by some announcements coming out of Tencent Video on their own Donghua. Now obviously not everything appears to have been released that was expected to, but a pandemic has been sweeping the Earth and even with remote work it has disrupted every industry and bit of life.

Unlike the China Box-Office, which had 500 cinemas re-open for less-than a week, and then abruptly close, the Chinese Donghua and Manhua industry is all digital and streaming, so it has the ability to rebound in a manner its live-action counterparts cannot.

It was an industry reported to hit $72BnUSD by 2022 (including all comic con type events, associated games, etc. and not just the animated and comic industry which currently sits at a projected $36BnUSD).

Now it is unlikely to happen as initial research from Huaxing Capital is suggesting that the average working in China is now looking at a reduction of 10-20% of their 2020 salary; which is understandable for a loss of 2 months of work or more.

But, animation and comics is a feel good relief industry and is one that is not high dollar (yuan) on the consumer, and will quickly make a comeback.

Stay Tuned China Watchers!

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About the Author

Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.