On Wednesday I blogged about anime that caught my attention because of their unique names, especially the feels-loaded film I Want To Eat Your Pancreas. I guess this must be a trend because the other night I found myself watching another anime with a unique name: Shiyan Pin Jiating, which is not the kind of title you generally associate with “Japanese” anime. It turns out it’s a Chinese-produced anime based on a popular Taiwanese work by an artist from Hong Kong, called Jikken-hin Kazoku: Creatures Family Days, aka Frankenstein Family.
Frankenstein Family is a slice-of-life about a “monster family” in which most of the members are strange creatures, thanks to the parents being mad scientists who loved to experiment on their own children. There’s a tomboyish spider girl, a calm and collected plant girl (voiced by famous seiyu Saori Hayama), a mind-reading daughter plus the oldest son, who can transform into a dog at will. Added to that is the only normal human, Tanis, who just wants his family to be normal. Being animated by China’s Tencent, the feel is quite different from what we’re used to in traditional anime, and I approached it the same way as I did the South Korean anime of Winter Sonata from a few years ago, opening myself up to whatever unique cultural elements I could notice. (In Frankenstein Family, lots of visuals of delicious local foods and a guide to Chinese tea ceremony. In Winter Sonata, jokes about which high school age characters had had plastic surgery.)
So how do I feel about this new series? Is it the dawn of Chinese anime, when China will dominate the industry going forward? It’s funny, but anime is already something that’s not only made in Japan but created as a cooperative effort across many Asian counties, with Japanese creators and animators working with studios in South Korea, Vietnam, China, the Philippines. When I watch a show, I often try to guess which Asian countries were involved in its creation and check the staff names in the ending credits to see if I got it right.
Sometimes cultures can bump into each other in interesting ways. In an episode of The Pet Girl of Sakura-sou, which was animated in South Korea, there’s an anime where Nanami catches a cold, and Sorata brings her a traditional rice porridge dish called okaiyu to cure her cold. But the South Korean animators had other ideas, and changed the food to the beloved Korean dish Samgyetang, or ginseng whole-chicken soup. Japanese fans weren’t particularly happy at having “their” pop culture hijacked, but it was all okay in the end.
Do you love gorgeous artbooks from Japan? Of course you do, and today we posted lots of new titles for you, including the 15th anniversary Kantoku artbook, filled with his amazing illustrations done over the past decade and a half. We also posted lots of popular “doujin artbooks” which are high-quality color illustration books made by Japan’s up-and-coming artists and doujin circles. Browse all the artbooks here.