China rolls out the welcome mat for the iconic Japanese franchise as the two countries celebrate the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties.
Pokémon, the iconic Japanese animation franchise with a global following, looks set to hit Chinese cinema screens for the first time in 20 years as relations between China and Japan continue to thaw.
A new Chinese trailer for last year’s Pokémon the Movie: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel was released on Thursday as film industry insiders and local media speculate it would be hitting screens in China this year.
The news comes as China’s top foreign affairs leader, Yang Jiechi, visits Japan for three days this week to mark the 45th anniversary of the normalization of diplomatic ties between the two countries.
Japanese animation has enjoyed a recent roll of success in the Chinese market as Beijing continues to spurn South Korean films, television, and popular music from entering the world’s second largest entertainment market.
Created by Satoshi Tajiri in 1995, Pokémon (short for “pocket monster”) is a series of movies, comic books, TV shows, trading cards, and video games that follows a group of amateur monster trainers who hunt and train new Pokémon creatures.
The first film, Pokémon: The First Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back, which is also known as Pokémon: The First Movie, was released in 1998, two years after the release of the Game Boy game.
Pokémon the Movie: Volcanion and the Mechanical Marvel is the 19th film in the franchise and was released in Japan in July 2016. The 20th film in the franchise, Pokémon the Movie: I Choose You! is set to hit screens in Japan this year.
Despite none of the films previously being shown in China, Pokémon still boasts a huge fanbase. After Chinese censors blocked Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality, location-based mobile game that became a global phenomenon in 2016, Chinese fans scrambled to find ways to circumvent the ruling.
The success of the game prompted Legendary Entertainment, which since January 2016 is a division of China’s Dalian Wanda Group, to strike a deal with The Pokemon Co. to launch the first Pokémon live-action film franchise based on Detective Pikachu, a new character in the Pokemon universe.
The news of Pokémon‘s imminent arrival on Chinese cinema screens comes on the heels of Doraemon the Movie 2017: Nobita’s Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi being cleared for a cinematic release in China too.
Late last year anime blockbuster Your Name, earned RMB 577 million ($83.6 million) to become the biggest Japanese success in China box office history.