37th ‘Doraemon’ Film Set For China Release

With competition from Korean imports cleared, Japanese anime films look set to continue their dominance in the Chinese film market.

Japanese animation’s recent roll of success in the Chinese market looks set to continue with news Thursday that Doraemon the Movie 2017: Nobita’s Great Adventure in the Antarctic Kachi Kochi has been cleared for a cinematic release in the world’s second-largest film market.

Chinese posters and a trailer for the 37th feature installment of the Doraemon robot cat anime franchise were released on Thursday. The Japanese animation will be imported by the China Film Group, distributed by Huaxia Film, and translated by Bayi Film Studio.

The film follows Doraemon, Nobita, and his friends as they escape the midsummer heat and travel to a huge iceberg floating in the South Pacific. It topped the box office in the first weekend of its release in its native Japan on March 4, 2017. A Chinese release date is yet to be announced.

Stand by Me Doraemon, the previous installment in the franchise, was released in May 2015 in China and grossed an enormous RMB 530 million (US$76.8 million). It was the first Japanese film to be allowed to release in China for some three years at the time.

That film’s box office record was wiped away by anime blockbuster Your Name, which earned RMB 577 million ($83.6 million) to become the biggest Japanese success in China box office history.

Japanese films haven’t always been welcome in the Chinese market. In 2013 and 2014, Japanese films were shut out of China altogether after political and diplomatic relations hit a nadir over Tokyo’s decision to nationalize the East China Sea’s Senkaku Islands.

Since then, South Korea has taken on the mantle of Beijing’s diplomatic bête noire for its decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) U.S. missile defense system on its soil.

That decision resulted in a freeze on Korean films, television, and popular music that, though still not officially acknowledged, is still underway with several South Korean films given the cold shoulder at the recent Beijing International Film Festival.

Political considerations aside, the outsized success of “Your Name” has made importing Japanese anime films even more enticing. There are already rumblings that Naoko Yamada’s animation coming-of-age story A Silent Voice will also be hitting Chinese cinema screens this year.