In: Chinese Animation and Socialism
Editor: Daisy Yan Du
Free access


This book originated from a conference I organized at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (hkust) in April 2017. As this book came to fruition, the first person I must thank is Duan Xiaoxuan, a renowned animation camerawoman active in socialist China.

I became acquainted with Duan Xiaoxuan through the mediation of Japan. When I was pursuing my PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the spring of 2008, I took courses in Japanese animation, film, and history, and was amazed by the popularity of anime studies in the United States. I kept wondering, though, why no one paid attention to Chinese animation. I therefore wrote papers on the Japanese connection of Princess Iron Fan (1941) and the Chinese connection of Mochinaga Tadahito. During my research, I fortunately got the chance to know Mochinaga Noriko, daughter of Mochinaga Tadahito. Through her, I came to know Duan Xiaoxuan. In the summer of 2010, I went to Shanghai to conduct field study for my PhD dissertation and met with Duan Xiaoxuan face-to-face for the first time. She walked me around the old Shanghai Animation Film Studio (safs) at 618 Wanhangdu Road and patiently explained the images, documents, puppets, sound-effect gadgets, and others used in animated filmmaking. She invited me to her home, answered my questions, and shared her collection of photos and files. She also introduced me to other socialist animators so that I could conduct interviews and browse their family holdings.

In the spring of 2017, when I was planning the conference titled Chinese Animation and (Post) Socialism: From Animators’ Perspectives, Duan Xiaoxuan was the first to answer my call, even though she had surgery and been discharged from the hospital. She helped me to liaise with other socialist animators in Shanghai, exchanging dozens of messages and phone calls every day. When I planned to include more essays to diversify the topic after the conference was over, Duan Xiaoxuan helped again in introducing the voice actress Ding Jianhua to me. Without her generous support, this book could never be published in its present scope.

I am indebted to other socialist animators who came to the conference and contributed chapters for this book: Yan Dingxian and Lin Wenxiao, Pu Jiaxiang, Yan Shanchun, Jin Fuzai, Chang Guangxi, Pu Yong, Yin Xiyong, and others. Most of them were in their seventies and eighties and some even had health issues, but they came to Hong Kong by plane or train to share their insider perspectives. They were serious about the art of animation and still passionate about their work made decades ago. As renowned artists, they were extremely humble, approachable, and considerate, exhibiting socialist stoicism. Jin Fuzai even missed his birthday party with his family in Shanghai in order to speak at the conference. I hope the party we improvised for him in Hong Kong will be equally memorable. My thanks are also due to Mochinaga Noriko and Ono Kōsei, who flew from Japan for the conference and wrote essays for this book. I can never thank all the conference speakers enough for their sincerity, enthusiasm, and professionalism.

I extend my sincere thanks to Zhou Keqin, Ling Shu, and Wang Yiqian for contributing chapters for this book even though they were unable to come to Hong Kong for the conference. I need to thank Fung Yuk-song for kindly connecting me with Wang Yiqian, the son of Wang Shuchen. I also thank Dai Tielang and Ding Jianhua for kindly accepting my interviews, which were organized into essays, translated into English, and collected in this volume. Thank you also to Chen Hailu, who liaised with the senior animators in Shanghai and helped with the images and photos in this book.

The conference was generously funded by the Division of Humanities and the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. I am particularly grateful to our Dean, James Lee, and Division Head, Billy So, for their enthusiastic and generous support. Rita Chui, our division secretary, worked around the clock for this conference, even after working hours and on weekends. Many graduate students from Hong Kong, Japan, and Canada helped with the conference as volunteers and I thank them all: Hang Wu, Hanyang Jiang, Min Qiao, Yiqiao Wang, Wing Sze Kat, Yunxian Li, Mian Chen, Ying Chen, Yuji Xu, Huanyu Yue, Shasha Liu, Yan Chen, and Terrie Cheung. I especially thank Yan Chen for working as a Japanese interpreter for this conference.

I began to work on this book project during my stay at the Harvard-Yenching Institute (2017–2018). I thank Elizabeth Perry and the institute for providing a much-needed haven for me. I am also indebted to the institute for screening the socialist animation classics to the Harvard community. Melissa Brown, Francesca Coppola, Tanaka Yoko, Deng Fei, and many others came to the screening and shared their diverse views on the animation classics. I especially thank Ruohong Li for her advice on locating the translators for this book.

I thank all the translators for their quality work and professionalism: Sean Macdonald chose the most challenging essays and finished the translations in a timely way despite his busy schedule. Isabel Galwey, Yixing Li, Nick Stember, Shaopeng Chen, and Eva Chang all delivered quality translations on time. I thank Song Han for organizing my interviews with Dai Tielang and Ding Jianhua into Chinese essays.

The translation and publication of this book were financially supported by the Research Grants Council of Hong Kong (Project Number: grf 16600417).

I am grateful to Qin Higley, Senior Acquisitions Editor at Brill, for her enthusiasm and confidence in the value of this book when I first broached the idea to her. Elizabeth You, an associate editor at Brill, kindly walked me through the logistics patiently and professionally. I also thank my copyeditor Helen Glenn Court for her professional and timely work. It was a pleasure and rewarding experience for me to work with the publication team of Brill. I am indebted to the anonymous reviewer for the warm encouragement, compliments, and constructive suggestions for further improvement.

The romanization in this book follows the pinyin system. For people who mainly write in Chinese, their names follow the Chinese order, their family names coming first. For those who mainly write in English, their given names are placed first.

The earlier versions of the first three chapters were published on the official website of the Association for Chinese Animation Studies ( They were revised and reprinted in this volume with permission.

The Chinese version of this book will soon be published in mainland China. Readers of this book can find the original Chinese names, terms, and film titles there.

Chinese Animation and Socialism

From Animators’ Perspectives