Hey guys, once again I am back bringing a topic that I truly adore on a more personal note and that would be Chinese animation which grows tremendously in recent years.
I know I have made a list before about the top 10 Chinese anime to watch, however, those were written during those times where I only watch few Chinese animations and the industry itself is just starting to expand for the international audiences. After 3 years, I am more confident to share my selection of the top 10 Chinese anime that I have carefully chosen and followed through the years.
In this post, I am not simply sharing my list of best Chinese anime that I have seen but also asking for suggestions and recommendations that anyone can give.
However, as of writing – February 22, 2020 – the following list of Chinese anime had been sitting atop my favorites for so many reasons which include the animation quality, story & narration, plot deep, popularity and impact in the community, and personal biases that I have based on my preferences.
Unfortunately, I am not able to include some big hits in my selection as I didn’t see them yet which includes the record-breaking box office 2019 smash hit NeZha.
Alright, before 2020 finally takeover and made my list a little bit conflicted since we have tons of amazing Chinese anime coming this year, I hereby introduced my top 10 Chinese anime of all time as of writing this post.
Top 10 Chinese Anime (Series & Movies)
10. Martial Universe
Wu Dong Qian Kun. I seriously did have a huge good impression about Martial Universe – a 3DCG Chinese animation which I previously listed as one of the best cultivation and martial arts anime from China. It looks like your typical Chinese anime when it comes to plot with a generic plot.
What captivated me about this donghua (Chinese animation) is the world-setting and how interesting the world of our main character revolves. Our main hero is a young and adventurous soul who always gives us a good fight. And talking about the good fight, Martial Universe did have one of the best action sequences that I have seen from a Chinese anime yet. Paired with energetic audio, the anime is an exciting journey filled with fight scenes and escapade about the Martial Arts world.
9. Soul Land
Douluo Dalu. No matter how bad the animation quality and the screenplay had been in the past few episodes, Soul Land will always occupy a special place in my list of favorite Chinese anime of all time. It’s among my very first Chinese anime and one with the best fight scenes I’d seen during my early years of watching donghua. It made me realized that donghua could even produce high-quality action sequences with interesting world-setting.
I have to admit though that the biggest turn off for me about Soul Land is the unnecessary screenplay and narration about the romance aspect of the story which I find quite peculiar and insincere. The characters are truly an amazing hell of troublemakers, with every one of them being monsters at its core.
Just like Martial Universe, Soul Land has an overwhelming main lead who is seriously OP and a transmigration traveler. Yes, Soul Land is one of those isekai types of anime story but far from the usual execution of Japanese storytelling.
8. I’m Joybo
Wo Shi Jiang Xiaobai. Sitting at the 8th spot is the Chinese anime that hit me through all of my emotional senses in various ways and that is I’m Joybo. As a frustrated writer and emotionally unstable dork, the drama in this anime just screams nostalgia and heartache. I’ve been a sucker for sad anime story all these years and it could be easily seen with my addiction for tearjerking anime movies.
Nonetheless, I’m Joybo is more than just the drama. While I felt that our character, the titular Joybo is quite lame, coward or clueless in so many occasions, he as a character is someone whom I think I could see in many people nowadays, while the two main characters Rey and Raine carry a heartbreaking story that melted my heart. Aside from the story, I’m Joybo also thrives with how amazing the soundtrack is –I am addicted to both the opening and ending theme song of the anime’s 1st season.
- Related Post: I’m Joybo First Impression Review
7. White Snake: The Origin
Bai She: Yuan Qi. White Snake: The Origin – we have the first of the two film entries in my list of top 10 Chinese anime and it’s the retelling of the classic Chinese folktale – The Legend of the White Snake. One thing that I truly loved about White Snake is the beautiful animation that I barely see in any of 3DCG films nowadays. I mean, there are plenty of top-notched 3D animated films from Hollywood but it’s very rare to see such beauty and enthralling visuals and animation quality such as White Snake: The Origin.
I have to give my kudos to the Light Chaser Animation Studio, and the people working behind the film. Story-wise, it’s very dramatic and intense which made me fell in love over and over again, while breaking my heart in various ways. The typical cliché of star-crossed lovers was even intensified in White Snake with the difference in the race of the two main characters which is also led to the question – is everything that society accepts is good, and everything it rejects is evil? That is a very basic question and logic but the essence is quite deep and simply reflects with the values and prejudices of the modern world that we lived in today.
White Snake: The Origin is a beautiful story, not just of love but of acceptance, and family.
6. Battle Through The Heavens
Doupo Cangqiong. One of the few Chinese anime which made me read its source material from the start until the end. Yes, I have read Battle Through the Heavens or Fights Break Sphere novel and the entire journey of delving into its fantasy world is overwhelming and wonderful.
As of writing, this anime had run for a total of 3 seasons with the 1st one leaving some negative impression on me but good thing the 2nd season redeemed it and had inspired me to read the whole novel. I have seen the animation quality had increased throughout its run from its 1st season until the recently concluded 3rdseason.
The story is just pretty generic and among the typical cultivation Chinese anime that you can see out there. Battle Through the Heavens source novel is written by the same author as Martial Universe, so there are so many similarities in its world-building despite differences when it comes to characters’ descriptions and terminologies.
In the end, I felt like both anime were the same story which is parallel to each other. Nonetheless, I love Battle Through the Heavens more because I have followed Xiao Yan’s journey and he is such a find young hero. Xiao Yan and his exciting harem of different ladies had made the story of Battle Through the Heavens even more exciting and fascinating.
- Related Post: Battle Through The Heavens Season 3 Review
5. Big Fish & Begonia
Da Yu Hai Tang. The 2nd film entry in my top 10 Chinese anime list is Big Fish and Begonia which left me in awe the first time I watched it. I remember my co-worker recommended this to me and before watching it, I expected it to have similar vibes with studio Ghibli film which I have seen at some point in the story especially with how magical and visually enchanting the whole film is.
The story follows a heartbreaking path that broke my heart big time but also did gave me a satisfying watch throughout its whole run.
The main characters are all lovable, especially our main heroine. Nonetheless, the MVP of the whole story is her childhood friend who always supports her and covers for her at the expense of his own life. This is what love is, this is what friendship is, real devotion and trust through thick and thin.
4. Legend of Qin (Qin’s Moon)
Qin Shi Ming Yue . The classic that I’ll never get tired of watching is Qin’s Moon or The Legend of Qin – one of the longest-running Chinese anime of all time. With over 200 episodes, The Legend of Qin had been an enduring and fantastic journey to follow and I loved it no matter how annoyed I am with the main character.
On my end, the supporting characters truly carried the whole story for me with its great fights and beautiful narration which hit all the senses when it comes to bringing all the feels.
3. Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens
Qin Shi Ming Yue: Tian Xing Jiu Ge. Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens is a prequel to The Legend of Qin and was set 10 years before the actual timeline in the main series. However, Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens stand with a separate story and revolves around the Quicksand and the people from the Kingdom of Han, which plays minor roles in the main series aside from the Quicksand being among the antagonists.
In the Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens, the Quicksand is the protagonists and allies of the people. There are hugely different between the narration and the story of the two donghua – The Legend of Qin being a progressive story that revolves around You Ming growth as a warrior, while Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens mostly focus on the political intrigues within the royal court of Han, and its neighboring kingdoms.
And this is where my personal biases lie, Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens have one of the best-animated fight scenes that I have seen from any Chinese anime, and the characters are all interesting and truly catch my attention in so many ways.
I say, Nine Songs of the Moving Heavens is more like a Game of Thrones with eastern beliefs and ideologies. It’s more political than an actual adventure.
2. Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation
Mo Dao Zu Shi. We have here the biggest danmei or BL anime from China so far, it’s the Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation which was my best Chinese anime of 2018. Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji had truly given us a dramatic and action-packed story of friendship, and brotherhood. Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation is among the most well-animated cultivation anime that I have seen so far with breathtaking visuals and out of this world animation quality.
The different cultivation sects of the anime made the story even more interesting and intriguing. While Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji could carry the whole story, it feels great to have the supporting characters behind them which carry their own interesting stories to tell and I am simply craving to learn about each of them.
This Chinese anime also can make us cry in various ways and feel sentimental about its heartbreaking story. Most of the time, the humor is also effective and the advertisement inserted in every episode made those moments and jokes even more hilarious.
1. The King’s Avatar
Quan Zhi Gao Shou. Now, the greatest Chinese anime so far for me is here and it’s the gigantic e-Sports donghua – The King’s Avatar. I am not a big fan of online games anime despite Sword Art Online’s huge popularity from the last decade.
Furthermore, isekai and online game genre had been almost identical in so many ways yet; only a few of them had made a great appeal on me which includes Overlord, Log Horizon, and .hack//signs. In 2017, everything had changed a bit and I ended up delving deeper into online game anime series all thanks to The King’s Avatar – the phenomenal Chinese anime that brought a new wave of popularity to the Chinese animation industry.
So, what I like about The King’s Avatar could be summed up in few things – animation quality, interesting characters, lit fight scenes, effective humor, and brand new cliché that we often not see in Japanese anime series or movies that time. Ye Xiu as the main character is just an amazing one no matter how savage he is both in the online and offline world of the story.
The Glory Professional Alliance and the various teams truly gave that fantastic e-sports competition vibes that all the gamers out there might have the desire to be true. Although Chinese animation had been increasing in quality and quantity since then, and several donghua titles might even surpass The King’s Avatar, I am pretty sure deep within me that The King’s Avatar will always occupy a special place in my heart no matter what the medium is since I also loved the novel and its live-action series.
And this is where I will finish my list of favorite and top Chinese anime. These donghua are highly recommended and I am pretty confident that many people out there will surely enjoy them once they finally delve deeper into Chinese animation. Furthermore, I also listed here some of the honorable mentions that I am also proud to recommend to anyone who loves to watch Chinese anime as follows:
- Crystal Sky of Yesterday
- Psychic Princess
- Rakshasa Street
- Stellar Transformations
- Adorable Food Goddess
- Scissor Seven
- The Legend of the Condor Hero
Alright, before I end this post, may I ask for your opinion about your favorite Chinese anime of all time? Is there any specific title that you can suggest to me so I could also check on it? Have you guys watched these anime titles from my list? I’ll be more than happy if you guys can share your top Chinese anime series or movies by dropping a comment below.
Last Updated on February 15, 2021 by Yu Alexius