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5 Chinese ‘donghua’ animations that you need to see

Those who watch animé may have come across Chinese animated series recently on their radar. 

In the last few years, the Chinese animation industry has been rapidly flourishing, offering multiple donghua (动画) that have caught the interest of local and international audiences. Featuring a broad range of genres and stories, which include both original content and web novel adaptations, donghua have not only begun to be a strong competing force against their similar Japanese counterparts but have also started to evolve into something more distinct in both narrative and style. 

Available on legal streaming sites such as WeTV and iQIYI, here are five popular donghua series for you to check out!

 

1.The King’s Avatar 

Chinese Title: 全职高手 (Quanzhi Gaoshou)
Genre: Game, Action

Based on a light novel of the same name, The King’s Avatar is centered on Yexiu, the top player of the online role-playing game Glory. Forced to retire by his management company, Yexiu resigns himself to work in an Internet cafe only to be drawn back to the gaming world when Glory’s tenth server launches. 

With a new character in hand, Yexiu once again begins the journey to the top, meeting new players and challenges along the way.

 

2. The Founder of Diabolism

Chinese Title: 魔道祖师 (Mo Dao Zu Shi)
Genre: Action, Wuxia, Adventure, Mystery

Another popular novel-turned-donghua series, The Founder of Diabolism follows the life of Wei Wuxian, who falls into the wicked path of demonic cultivation. Scorned for the chaos and destruction that he leaves in his wake, Wei Wuxian is cast aside by the cultivation world and killed by his dearest martial brother, only to be reincarnated thirteen years later. 

Reunited with a former classmate and enemy Lan Wangji, Wei Wuxian embarks on a journey that reveals there is much more to his history than he lets on. 

 

3. Beryl and Sapphire

Chinese Title: 小绿和小蓝 (Xiao Lu He Xiao Lan)
Genre: Slice of Life, Game, Comedy, Drama, Danmei

Beryl and Sapphire is an adaptation of a manhua of the same name. A light-hearted series with only eight minutes of running time per episode, this donghua reveals a different world for Beryl and Sapphire to meet in on every episode, exploring a wide range of genres and enjoyable tropes along the way!

 

4. Scumbag System 

Chinese Title: 穿书自救指南 (Chuan Shu Zijiu Zhinan)
Genre: Xianxia, Transmigration, Drama, Comedy

Noted for its 3D-animation style, this donghua is based on the web novel The Scum Villain’s Self-Saving System (人渣反派自救系统, Ren Zha Fanpai Zijiu Xitong). It narrates the perspective of Shen Yuan, a modern Chinese man who transmigrates into a historical high-fantasy novel that he despises, inevitably becoming the scum villain Shen Qingqiu. 

Wishing to stay alive, Shen Yuan employs the use of the in-world game-like system to avoid being killed by Luo Binghe, who is both his once-abused disciple and the protagonist of the novel!

 

5. Big Fish and Begonia

Chinese Title: 大鱼海棠 (Dai Yu Hai Tang)
Genre: Adventure, Supernatural, Drama, Romance

An original donghua film, Big Fish and Begonia is set in a mythical society where spirit-like beings preside over the order of the mortal realm. Here, 16-year old Chun must face her rite of passage by undergoing trials in the human world. Transformed into a dolphin, she is saved by a boy who sacrifices his life for her.

Chun, riddled with guilt, revives him with ancient magic, only to discover that the power comes with a heavy price. 

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