​Producers bring 3D Shin-chan and hilarious joy to China

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, December 4, 2023
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The new "Crayon Shin-chan" movie hit Chinese cinemas on Nov. 25, with producers from China and Japan sharing insights with China.org.cn about the making of the film and expressing hope for more Chinese-Japanese cultural exchanges in the future.

A still image from "New Dimension! Crayon Shin-chan the Movie Super-Powered Climactic Battle: Soaring Hand-Rolled Sushi." [Image courtesy of Open Culture Entertainment]

"New Dimension! Crayon Shin-chan the Movie Super-Powered Climactic Battle: Soaring Hand-Rolled Sushi," directed and co-written by Hitoshi Ône alongside the original manga series writer and illustrator Yoshito Usui, is the 31st "Crayon Shin-chan" movie in the beloved franchise and the first to be rendered in 3D CG. The series has proven an international success, spawning multiple TV series, movies, and even video games.

The film's story follows 5-year-old kindergartener Shinnosuke Nohara, popularly known as Shin-chan, after he acquires telekinetic superpowers after a white light from space is intercepted by Earth. Concurrently, a counterpart black light bestows psychic abilities upon Mitsuru Hiriya, who endeavors to destroy the Earth. As Japan grapples with existential dread, Shinnosuke emerges as the nation's newfound hero, bravely confronting the looming threat. Notably, the film underwent an extensive seven-year preparation and production process, marking the lengthiest production duration in the franchise's history. The animation team comprised artists who contributed to the 2014 Japanese 3D computer-animated blockbuster "Stand by Me Doraemon."

"Creating the new movie in 3D was inspired by many expressing their desire for a 3D version of Shin-chan," said Japanese producer Yoshida Yuki. "Additionally, I heard that 3D animation is quite popular in China, so I hope more people can go to the cinema to watch Shin-chan."

It was the very success of "Stand by Me Doraemon," which grossed 529 million yuan ($74.11 million) in China and $183.44 million worldwide, that gave confidence to Chen Jinhuan, the Chinese producer and distributor of the new "Crayon Shin-chan" movie, that it would be a success. "There is a big 3D market in China, and many overseas markets also embrace this format, even more so than Japan itself, as the Japanese prefer 2D a little more."

"This time, we spent a lot of time testing and adjusting to create an authentic 3D version of Shin-chan," Chen explained. "It was a big challenge, but when we imagined how cute, soft, and rubbery Shin-chan would be in this form, we were captivated by the prospect and proceeded with enthusiasm to bring this new experience to the audience."

Japanese producer Yoshida Yuki poses with the poster for "New Dimension! Crayon Shin-chan the Movie Super-Powered Climactic Battle: Soaring Hand-Rolled Sushi." [Photo courtesy of Today Pictures]

"The challenge was how to make the character more like Shin-chan in 3D CG form," Yoshida explained. "The original charm of this work lies in its flat 2D design. If presented entirely in a 3D style, it might lose the essence of Shin-chan. However, since we have made significant efforts to adopt 3D CG production, we want to differentiate it from the usual 2D animation. Finding a balance between these two styles is very difficult."

Chen expects the film to provide a dose of light entertainment to audiences as well as an unexpected surprise for both fans and non-fans alike.

Yoshida Yuki described the film as "an exhilarating and laughter-inducing roller coaster," with the highlight being the uproarious portrayal of Shinnosuke using his new superpowers.

Following the success of various Japanese animated films this year, including Takehiko Inoue's "The First Slam Dunk," Makoto Shinkai's "Suzume," and the re-releases of Hayao Miyazaki's works in China, Chen has been pleased with the positive audience response so far. However, he also acknowledges that the popularity of these films is partly driven by nostalgia, and the nostalgic sentiment will eventually fade. He hopes that in the future, he and his team can introduce more original animated film content and franchises to China.

Chen's company, Open Culture Entertainment, has been involved in importing Japanese films to China and taking Chinese films to Japan for more than 11 years. His criteria for selecting films always revolves around finding releases that have a positive energy and that are likely to resonate with audiences via universal emotions and values. In addition, he has noticed a growing interest in Chinese films in Japan in recent years and has distributed several Chinese films, such as "I Am What I Am," widely across Japanese theaters.

He said that regularly organizing movie weeks or festivals around China would be an efficient way to promote Chinese films and culture. Furthermore, Chinese filmmakers and artists should actively go abroad to promote their works and engage in exchanges with local audiences.

An amusing photo captures Chinese producer Chen Jinhuan posing with an actor playing Crayon Shin-chan. [Photo courtesy of Today Pictures]

"New Dimension! Crayon Shin-chan the Movie Super-Powered Climactic Battle: Soaring Hand-Rolled Sushi" was released in Japan in August and became the highest-grossing film of the "Crayon Shin-chan" cinematic franchise after taking 2.5 billion Japanese yen ($16.7 million). The film debuted in China on Nov. 25 and grossed more than 80 million yuan by Sunday.

The new movie has been lauded for touching on various current social issues faced by many countries, from economic depression and the pandemic to bullying and prejudice. Chen believes that director Hitoshi Ône demonstrates how Shin-chan fearlessly deals with these issues as a way to inspire people rather than solely focusing on describing these issues.

"Yes, Shin-chan is naughty, annoying, and hilarious, but he also has a sense of what is right and possesses innocence, boldness, and courage. He can face these problems, difficulties, and issues in life with bravery, which touches me deeply," Chen said.

Producer Yoshida added, "The most important message this film wants to convey is giving support to others, like saying 'when you are sad, I will be by your side.'"

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