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History of Chinese Animation

The history of Chinese Animation began in the 20th century in the Republic of China when the people became fascinated with the idea of animation. A lengthy history interlocks between the art, politics and the ever-changing economy.

Early history

In around 180 A.D. the first zoetrope was invented by Ting Huan (丁缓).The modern cartoon industry began in France in 1888, invented by Charles-Émile Reynaud. Chinese animation started in the 1920s, inspired by French, German, Russian and mostly American productions. One of the first examples of foreign animation did not land in Shanghai until 1918. This piece of animation from the US was titled (从墨水瓶里跳出来), known today as Out of the Inkwell.

Exploration periods (1920s - 1945)

In 1922 Wan Laiming produced the first animation in a cartoon advertisement for the Shuzhendong Chinese Typewriter. Followed by the 1924 cartoon short Dog Treat. Shanghai tobacco company also produced a cartoon called New Year. These are the earliest known cartoon shorts.

The Wan brothers

In 1926 the 4 Wan brothers, Wan Laiming, Wan Guchan,Wan Chaochen and Wan Dihuan worked under the Great Wall Film Company in China, not to be confused with Great Wall Movie Enterprises Ltd. Wan Laiming and Wan Guchan were then recognized as China's animation pioneers when they produced the first animation short Uproar in the Studio running 10 to 12 minutes long in black and white.

The brothers believed that Chinese animation should be instructive, logical and thought-provoking besides being entertaining to its audience. They wanted to emphasize the development of an animation style that was uniquely Chinese. It was a common trend at the time to combine live action film footages with 2D animation.

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