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While we’ve come to exclusively associate anime with cartoons made in Japan from Japanese material, there’s a world of Chinese anime that’s slowly making its way into the light. Whether it’s a Japanese animation company making an adaption of a Chinese web novel or a completely Chinese (voices, animation, source material) cartoon, China has managed to catch the attention of many anime fans and with good reason. Here are our top ten Chinese anime picks!
10. Aishen Qiaokeli-ing... (a.k.a. Cupid’s Chocolates)
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: December 2016 – March 2016
Haoyi enjoys his simple, high school life free of disturbances even if it means he has no real relationships to speak of. That all changes when the popular Zitong interrupts his class one day to announce she’s pregnant with HIS child. When it rains, it pours, as several other beautiful school girls speak of delusions of being engaged or in a long-term relationship with the reclusive boy. Things only get weirder when a ‘cupid in training’ reveals that because Haoyi accidentally shared a magic cake he found with some girls, everyone who ate up would fall madly in love with him! How can Haoyi go on when everyone in school either wants to kiss him or kill him?
This Chinese anime from G.CMay Animation & Film enjoyed a respectable popularity thanks to its harem-y goodness. The girls’ designs are all quite different from each other from the busty but gentle Zitong to the ripped and raging Xuan. While many harem protags experience some amount of jealousy from less-fortunate guys, the extent his male classmates go to punish him is unprecedented. Some of the physical humor is a little old but it gives you a nice nostalgic feeling of earlier harem anime while still being quite funny and cute.
9. Zhongguo Jingqi Xiansheng (a.k.a. Chinese Mystery Man)
- Episodes: 63
- Aired: February 2014 – May 2016
Xiao’er seems to end up in the wrong place at the wrong time. Lixue is a cute cop with something to prove. They wouldn’t cross each other’s paths normally but when strange murders keep popping up, Xiao’er and Lixue find themselves involved in something greater than a strange serial killer. Strange man-eating monsters stalk the night and a strange power from the Han Dynasty is reviving corpses. Although if the monsters in his life don’t take out Xiao’er, it might just be the sexy, violent women in his life that do him in!
For a show with fart jokes and masturbation references, Zhongguo Jingqi Xiansheng can be pretty scary. The murders can be graphic and often the chase scenes play out like a horror movie complete with foreboding atmosphere and jump scares. Yet in the next moment, you’ll have bouncing boobies in your face or an otherwise scary moment ruined by a character suplexing a zombie. It’s definitely got some not PC humor with gay jokes and women being creeped on by men as a funny thing but if that’s not something that will turn you off from the show, there are other redeeming qualities.
8. Quanzhi Fashi (QUANZHIFASHI)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: September 2016 - November 2016
One day Mo Fan goes to sleep wearing a strange pendant and when he wakes up, the world has changed! Society is powered not be science, but magic, and magicians are the most elite members. Despite everything as he knows it having changed except for his classmates and family, Mo Fan devotes himself to the study of magic in hopes of raising his and his hard-working father’s social status. Things seem to be bleak until he discovers an affinity for not just one elemental magic, but two, making him the most powerful student in all of his classes!
Right off the bat, Quanshi Fashi doesn’t have stunning art or even smooth animation half the time. It is, however, a fun comedy about a down-on-his-luck high school guy who is super overpowered despite knowing little about the world he winds up in. Unlike in many other shows with an almighty shounen protag, Mo Fan tries to keep his special skill a secret! Trying to find ways to pass just enough to advance without giving away his incredible power is no easy task. His younger half-sister is also paraplegic which we don’t see much in anime.
7. Ling Qi (Spiritpact)
- Episodes: 10
- Aired: June 2016 – November 2016
Tanmoku Ki has lived his life as the most powerful exorcist which has earned him both envy and hatred. When a young You Keika dies in front of him in a car accident, Tanmoku Ki decides to make You Keika his spirit shadow. This amplifies Tanmoku Ki’s powers and allows You Keika to fight and remain in the world of the living. Despite both being proud and ornery, with ever battle the two learn they have a much deeper connection than mere coincidence.
Based on the web manhua, Ling Qi is a funny yet bitter-sweet tale of spirits, broken promises, and sacrifice. Both lead guys are very set in their ways so it’s a miracle they ever became partners. But they Tanmoku Ki and You Keika make quite a formidable pair once they can quit their bickering. Ling Qi is also a BL so bonus for fujoshi! However, their romantic feelings play a very small part in the show and half the time you’d never know they would become a couple.
6. Kitsune no Koe (Voice of Fox)
- Episodes: 4+
- Aired: October 2018 - ongoing
Hu Li is quite an unlucky guy between his facial scar and having to pay for his mother’s hospital bills. Things seem to be turning around when he gets hired as a ghost singer for Kong Que and his financial burdens are lifted. But when Hu Li starts receiving messages from the mysterious SKY who knows about his secret and claims to always be watching him, his new happiness might be torn away.
A lot of Chinese anime or anime based on Chinese comics tend to have magic or spiritual battles, but Kitsune no Koe is just about a boy’s beautiful voice and inner turmoil. Caught between wanting recognition and his devotion to shouldering his family’s burden, Hu Li is tormented by anonymous messages stating he’s always being watched. There’s also a strange fox-person spirit that encourages him to ditch Kong Que and take to the stage himself and in the first few episodes, it’s unclear if that’s simply his own desires manifesting of something else!
5. Huyao Shao Hongniang (Fox Spirit Matchmaker)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: June 2015 – November 2015
Humans and demons may fall in love but without help, their love is doomed to end once the human’s short lifespan has ended. Fox Spirit Matchmakers exist to reunite demons with reincarnations of their true love and awaken their past memories so that they may love again. Haku Gesshou is an extremely talented Daoist monk who wants nothing to do with the Yi Qi Dao League he begrudgingly works for. Suusu is a young fox spirit often bullied by her older and much more powerful sister for her lack of ability. Trying to escape the tremendous pressure placed upon them by others, Haku Gesshou and Suusu team up to work as Fox Spirit Matchmakers. Fighting off dangerous yokai and helping grieving yokai find their love, may be difficult but every step brings them closer to realizing about themselves.
This can be a bit of a complicated story as those with past lives tend to be. It’s great in that a lot of characters get fleshed out and you get to see just how intertwined everyone’s lives are. Fox Spirit Matchmaker does a good job of showing how people’s life experiences can change them yet there are fundamental things that make a person unique. With the Japanese dub of the show, the names are changed but whether in Chinese or Japanese it’s a funny yet moving anime.
4. Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage (a.k.a. Spirit Blade Mountain)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 2016 – March 2016
A comet shower that was thought would herald chaos for Heaven and Earth passes by without much incident while a baby with a unique soul is born in a remote village. Years later, the Reiken clan decides to hold an examination to find new potential sages by testing young people’s wit and power. Ouriku has managed to catch the attention of the test master Oubu who’s whimsical nature my either hinder or help the promising hero.
One might expect village elder spirits to be refined and virtuous, but Oubu clearly cares about her own amusement more than the outcome of the trials. Ouriku is similarly self-serving and vain but thankfully both want to stop calamity from befalling Earth. More than just battle after battle, Ouriku has to face mental trials and puzzles which is a nice change of pace.
3. Da Yu Hai Tang (Big Fish and Begonia)
- Episodes: 1 movie
- Aired: July 2016
Spirit-beings, neither human nor gods, watch over the Earth and its natural cycles. In order to properly understand the effects of their actions, the children must undergo a rite of passage. A young girl named Chun goes to the human world with the other children who take the form of red dolphins. When she becomes caught in a net, a young human boy drowns trying to save for. Chun’s desire to bring the boy back to life at any cost causes a chain reaction that might put not only her life but her whole world in danger.
Da Yu Hai Tang is a beautiful tale of how even the most well-meaning actions may cause suffering for others, and what is right is not always obvious. Her childish naivety in wanting to save someone drags many other people into a complicated situation. You learn that no good deed goes unpunished and while it’s somewhat saddening, you cannot overcome fate without sacrifice. It’s beautifully animated and magical and well worth the tears!
2. Ken en Ken: Aoki Kagayaki (Xuan Yuan Sword Luminary)
- Episodes: 13
- Aired: October 2018 – ongoing
Ning, Yin, and Zhao are childhood friends who spent their days together until the Taibai Empire came and burned their village to the ground, killing or enslaving everyone. Sisters Ning and Yin managed to escape at the cost of Yin’s arms and Zhao manages to use his expertise in engineering to rise from a slave to a chief engineer. Their suffering is far from over as the empire’s greed knows no bounds. If they want to bring peace to themselves and the land, they’ll have to use their new-found magic and station and risk the little happiness they have left.
Of course, a story about war isn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows but seeing a young girl’s arms get cut off is particularly hard to watch. Other than that, it’s very easy-to-watch with the detailed clothing designs and beautiful palace art and architecture. The show is based on a Taiwanese role-playing game Xuan Yuan Jian Waizhuan: Cang Zhi Tao and is a reimagining of historical events with magic and incredible technology. It’s not all good vs evil as some tough choices are made and with only 8 episodes out, it will be interesting to see where the story goes.
1. Quanzhi Gaoshou (The King’s Avatar)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: April 2017 – June 2017
Glory is an MMORPG that has thousands of players desperately trying to make a name for themselves. Ye Xiu used to be one of the top players but was forced to leave his guild and give up being a professional player. However, he can’t stop thinking about Glory. He creates a new character, keeping his identity a secret, and manages to catch the attention of current top players. Yet starting over presents new challenges and limitations and it will take more than skill to regain what he lost.
One of the most immediate good points of this Chinese anime is just how stunningly beautiful it is; from the game matches and the city at night to holograms of fireworks. The magic spells and light effects are enough themselves to catch your attention but the intricate strategies of the players are also really intriguing. Things like allocations of skill points and manipulations of cool-down periods can be the difference between victory and defeat when everyone is super powerful and skilled. It’s hard to just cheer for Ye Xiu when you see how important Glory is to so many dedicated players.
China has certainly come a long way from its earlier works that often lacked originality or good quality production. The popularity of manhua-based or Chinese anime is definitely rising. Using Chinese-specific culture, humor, and folklore references, Chinese anime can be both a comfortingly familiar and refreshingly different type of show than what many of us are used to. There are a number of interesting stories out there but we hope you’ll enjoy these top 10 picks!
A unique trait of anime that people can sometimes get caught up in is the fact that it’s distinctly a Japanese medium. A vast amount of the anime created is firmly rooted in Japanese culture. Some aspects of it can be very visible, such as the story being set in Tokyo or Japanese characters being used on signs. Other aspects of it are more subtle: there may be references to events in Japanese myths or historical events, or the humor used may be funnier to Japanese due to it involving the Japanese language. Regardless, anime is very much a reflection of Japanese culture, making other Asian countries’ take on it, such as China’s, very intriguing.
China’s history in regards to the rise of animation in its culture is very much different than that of Japan’s. China’s development in the aftermath of World War II was one that did not encourage a rise in the arts, whereas in Japan animation would eventually flourish into what we have today. As a result, China had a “late start” when it began to turn to animation as a form of entertainment, leading to heavily borrowing from the Japanese anime style while combining it with their own values, stories, and developing culture. As a result, here are the Top 10 Chinese Source Anime.
Just a note for this diving into this article.In this list, we are referring to anime that have a Chinese source such as a Chinese light novel, a Chinese Manhua, or an online series. This does not infer that the anime listed here are all Chinese aka made in China. As with, for example, Reikenzan and Hitori no Shita on this list, Reikenzan was made in Japan by Studio Deen and Hitori no Shita was made in Japan by Namu Animation. So, please do not call them “Chinese Anime” as these two in particular are not. If it is made entirely in China, then you can refer to it as that, but for the two aforementioned shows, they are simply anime.
10. Nuwa Chengchang Riji
- Episodes: 30
- Aired: Apr 2016 - ongoing
Feng Xiao Xiao is an orphan girl who is just your typical Chinese girl with an upbeat personality and a desire to make those around her happy. That all changes on her 20th birthday when her guardian, Li Chang, reveals to her that she is actually the reincarnation of Nuwa, a legendary Chinese deity who “created man from Earth” and “mended the heavens”. After Li Chang awakens the spirit of Nuwa within her, Xiao Xiao eventually learns to accept her fate: to assemble other deities as part of a team to look for lost souls and restore them back to Heaven.
The unique thing about this Chinese anime is the merging of both ancient Chinese history with the present day. The background animation is very much in tune with modern China, such as the doorknobs on the doors or the special “checkbook” Li Chang possesses, yet the subject matter is based on actual deities from Ancient China. The humor is also a blend, as the 4th wall is broken multiple times in conjunction with typical jokes about indecent behavior seen in most Japanese anime. If you’re interested in seeing a humorous Chinese anime that has a modern tone to it, Nuwa Chengchang Riji would be a great one to start with, especially since it’s currently airing.
9. Cupid's Chocolates
- Episodes: 15
- Aired: Dec 2015 - Mar 2016
Jiang Haoyi is a 19 year old high school student who enjoys living a life of peace and solitude and dreams of keeping it that way for as long as possible. That all changes one day when Xia Zi Tong, a girl he’s never met, announces to him in front of his entire class that she is carrying his baby, resulting in many jealous peers threatening to beat him up. As Jiang Haoyi tries to figure out what’s going on, more girls step forward claiming that he is their one true lover, escalating to the point where Jiang Haoyi jumps off the roof of the school in order to escape his pursuers. This only leads to a mysterious girl stopping time and explaining to Jiang Haoyi that because he had eaten a special cake left on the roof the previous day, anyone else who had that cake would now consider him his lover…
The Chinese take on the typical harem anime, Cupid’s Chocolates stands out from most in that it certainly keeps a fast pace in order to resolve the story in 15 episodes and develop Jiang Haoyi’s relationships with the 5 other female protagonists. The animation is pretty solid, and there are modern details tying in to Chinese schools today, such as the school’s layout as well as the cell phones and social media used. If harem anime is your focus, Cupid’s Chocolates is certainly worth your time.
8. Spirit Blade Mountain (Reikenzan)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2016 - Mar 2016
12 years ago, a comet was falling towards the planet, bringing an unknown disaster. However, at the same time, a newborn boy by the name of Oriku was born, and was touched by this mysterious entity connected to said comet. In the present day, nobody seems to remember this event. However, the Reiken clan are looking for the most powerful people throughout Kyuushu to become sages, and they are in for a treat when Oriku decides to take their entrance examination. Not even he knows the special powers that he possesses…
Sprit Blade Mountain is a classic coming of age story about a young boy who desires to learn martial arts and unique techniques from a beautiful older woman who develops a very close bond with said boy. However, some unique takes on the story include Oriku already being somewhat powerful in his own right at the very beginning in addition to the other characters possessing certain personalities not often seen in anime of this genre. Not to mention the tie-ins to Chinese culture as a whole. If you have a liking for Chinese culture as well as martial arts, then Spirit Blade Mountain may be your best bet.
7. Hitori no Shita - The Outcast
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jul 2016 - ongoing
Zhang Chulan is a normal college student until police inform him that someone has apparently dug up his grandfather’s grave. While walking through the graveyard, Chulan is assaulted by zombies, saved by a mysterious girl wielding a knife, receives some crucial advice from her, and watches her disappear. However, Chulan runs into the same girl once again at his university, leading him down a strange path that will result in encountering “Outsiders”, or people with extraordinary powers, as well as forcing him to truly learn his abilities…
The unique aspect of this particular Chinese anime is how family oriented the main cast is, as there are a fair amount of characters related to either Chulan or Houhou. Apart from that, this is a pretty standard anime about random people with powers; nothing too deep or anything involving deep drama. If you’re looking for a standard adventure type of Chinese anime without anything too complex, then Hitorinoshita - The Outcast delivers.
6. Storm Rider Clash of the Evils
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: July 2009
Sword-Worshipping Manor houses the best sword-smiths in the world; unfortunately, the residents are viciously massacred due to suspicions of planning a rebellion against the government. Ngou Kuet, the master of the estate and the only survivor, vows to finish forging the "Kuet" Sword, a task passed down in his family for generations. However, this task has yet to be completed, and Ngou Kuet realizes that only by obtaining the blood of the Fire Kirin can he unleash the power of the sword…
Storm Rider serves among the best anime films that China has to offer. With an extensive display of choreography in the fight scenes as well as compelling characters that drive the story forward, Storm Rider serves as a solid film in general. It helps that the main characters, referred to often as Wind and Cloud, relate to normal people in their downtime as opposed to being one dimensional in regards to their fighting. If you want to see the Chinese depiction of an anime action film, Storm Rider serves as the staple.
5. Requiem Street
- Episodes: 15 (so far)
- Aired: Apr 2016 - ongoing
Xia Ling was a normal art student in her final year at university until a chance encounter results in her crossing dimensions. There she learns about Requiem Street, a dimension where humans and spirits co-exist due to humans not being pure enough to pass on to the spirit world. However, evil spirits are attracted to Requiem Street with the desire of destroying it, and Xia Ling, along with her new companions, soon finds herself in the middle of preventing this catastrophe…
Requiem Street does a solid job in terms of breaking the mold from the standard anime story with its beginning. You have a female protagonist whose primary purpose is not to fall in love with the male protagonist, suspense in terms of not knowing who’s going to die next, and an overall creative sense of originality in regards to both the art style used as well as the setting. The show is still ongoing and has only begun rather recently, so if you’re looking for a Chinese anime that’s somewhat different from the typical Japanese anime, then Requiem Street would be the anime to check out.
4. The Legend of Condor Hero
- Episodes: 78
- Aired: Apr 2001 - Oct 2002
Youka is a 13-year-old boy who begins to follow in his uncle’s steps of martial arts by studying the art of Zenshinkyou. However, after running away, Youka stumbles on a Forbidden Tomb where he finds a woman named Shouryuujo. Youka is eventually accepted by Shouryuujo to study the art of Koboha under her, thus beginning the adventure…
A story full of both martial arts and love, The Legend of Condor Hero is an anime adaptation of the typical Chinese love story seen in Chinese culture. In addition, the anime’s real name is Return of the Condor Heroes (in order to dispel any confusion). It does have its flaws; the anime definitely suffers somewhat from repeated scenes over and over, and the design as well as the soundtrack leave something to be desired. That being said: if you are primarily interested in good storytelling as well as seeing a Chinese anime be more or less faithful to the classic Chinese love story it’s adapted from, then this anime can fulfill those desires.
3. Fox Spirit Matchmaker
- Episodes: 27
- Aired: Jun 2015 - Apr 2016
Yuechu Bai is a poor kid who will try to save money as much as he can given the opportunity. When he learns of his family’s plans for him, Yuechu decides the best course of action to foil their plans is to find a bride. As if right on cue, Susu Tushan falls right through the roof, and it just so happens that she is a fox youkai, or matchmaker, tasked with aiding couples that pledged their love in front of a special tree to fall in love again in their next lives…
The brilliant thing this anime achieves is slowly developing the feelings the multiple couples in the story have for each other, resulting in the viewer genuinely understanding and believing their love for each other. Throw in the unique aspect of fox spirit matchmakers carefully developing a couple’s love so that they will do it again in their next lives, and you have yourselves a well-developed romantic anime. If that’s the kind of anime that you’re into, then Fox Spirit Matchmaker will deliver and then some.
2. Monkey King: Hero Is Back
- Episodes: 1
- Aired: Jul 2015
The Monkey King: a powerful figure said to be unmatched in combat. Legends say that when he broke some of the rules set by the all-powerful Gods, he was imprisoned in a cage under a mountain by the only powers able to control him. Darkness spreads across China in the absence of the Monkey King until a chance discovery by a young boy unlocks Sun Wukong from his cell…
Without a doubt, the Legend of the Monkey King is (arguably) China’s biggest ancient story, as the tale itself was adapted by Akira Toriyama into Dragonball, one of Japan’s most famous manga as well as anime. Therefore the movie about the Monkey King himself is somewhat similar to Goku from Dragonball, as we are introduced to a character who possesses incredible powers yet has the temperament of a child with few things that can keep him in check. However, throughout the movie we eventually see Sun Wukong grow into the hero that China needs, and in the end defeat the evil once and for all. If you’re interested in watching China’s biggest legend adapted to an animated style, this is the move you should begin with.
1. Qin's Moon: Hundred Steps Flying Sword
- Episodes: 139
- Aired: Feb 2007 - ongoing
Set during ancient China’s Qin Dynasty, an assassin’s attempt to save his homeland by killing the Emperor fails. As a result, the Emperor sends his troops to kill the assassin’s eight year old son; however, a swordsman is able to rescue the boy just in time. After their escape from the Emperor’s forces, they embark on a quest to change the empire’s future while meeting both friends and foes along the way.
Without a doubt China’s most successful anime to date. Currently in its 5th season and still going strong, China has tapped into their ancient history for stories worthy of adapting, and they’ve done an excellent job in their adaptation as well as their development of their characters. Qin’s Moon also holds strong to its idea of chivalry and executes that idea very well. If you’re looking for a long running Chinese anime series with both humor, action, and well developed characters, then Qin’s Moon will be the top choice every time.
China isn’t the only country that has adopted from the Japanese anime style in their entertainment. Many others, including the United States, have created cartoons that bear some resemblance to Japanese anime in terms of the drawing style used. Some have even adapted some of the themes constantly portrayed in anime. However, China has definitely done a solid job in being able to reflect their own themes and values through this animation style. What do you guys think? Is there any Chinese anime you believe should have been on this list? Should there have been no movies on this list? Post your opinions in the comments!