The rising Chinese animation industry has reignited the flame of interest in animation, several decades after its golden years approximately 60 years ago. One of the shows that paved the way for this new light of interest is “The King’s Avatar.” This Chinese anime captured the attention of fans around the world with its e-sports focus, a rarity in anime series. The genius and overpowered main character provided a compelling story, appealing to casual anime enthusiasts who love video and online games.
In addition to “The King’s Avatar,” there are several other Chinese animation series and movies that have set the bar high for Chinese anime, amidst the mainstream popularity of Japanese animation. “Soul Land” stands out as the most-watched Chinese anime in China, showcasing the growing popularity of the genre. Other beloved Chinese anime films like “Nezha: The Devil’s Rebirth,” “Big Fish and Begonia,” and “White Snake” have also gained recognition for their stunning animation and captivating storytelling.
When it comes to animation series, “Battle Through The Heavens” has evolved as one of the most popular Chinese animation series, standing in the same league as “Soul Land.” “Link Click” and “Fog Hill of Five Elements” have also become huge hits, rivaling even the best of Japanese animation. These shows draw inspiration from various Chinese novels and manhua, with a particular focus on xinxia and wuxia genres, known for their cultivation plots. Additionally, the danmei (boys-love) genre has gained prominence, spearheaded by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu’s “Mo Dao Zu Shi” and “Tian Guan Ci Fu.”
My Best Chinese Anime Every Year (2017-2022)
Hence, I will be sharing my top Chinese anime every year since I started watching donghua in 2017, all thanks to the surging popularity of The King’s Avatar at that time. By sharing this list, I hope to inspire people to explore more donghua and discover the unique storytelling and animation style that Chinese anime has to offer.
2017: The King’s Avatar
“The King’s Avatar” stands out as the best Chinese anime of 2017 for several reasons. Firstly, the e-sports focus of the show was a refreshing change from the typical anime series. It delved into the world of competitive gaming, showcasing the dedication, skill, and strategy required to excel in this field. This unique premise attracted a wide range of viewers, including casual anime enthusiasts who love video and online games, role-playing games in particular.
One of the highlights of “The King’s Avatar” was its protagonist, who was not only a genius but also an overpowered character. This combination made for a compelling story, as we followed the main character’s journey to reclaim his glory in the gaming world. The show effectively portrayed the challenges and triumphs of the protagonist, creating a sense of excitement and anticipation in each episode.
Furthermore, the animation quality of “The King’s Avatar” was top-notch. The action sequences were visually stunning, immersing the viewers in the intense battles that took place within the virtual gaming world. The attention to detail in the animation brought the characters and their abilities to life, enhancing the overall viewing experience.
“The King’s Avatar” captivated audiences with its unique e-sports focus, compelling story, and impressive animation. It set the stage for the resurgence of Chinese anime and paved the way for other outstanding series in the years to come. Whether you’re a fan of gaming or simply enjoy a well-crafted donghua, “The King’s Avatar” is a must-watch that showcases the best of Chinese animation.
2018: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation
In 2018, the Chinese donghua “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” took the anime world by storm with its unique blend of humor, drama, and captivating characters. Despite the challenges of censorship, this series managed to pave the way for boys love stories to thrive in Chinese animation.
Based on the popular novel by Mo Xiang Tong Xiu, “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” introduced viewers to the complex and intriguing world of cultivation. The story follows the adventures of Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, two young cultivators with contrasting personalities. Wei Wuxian’s mischievous nature and Lan Wangji’s stoic demeanor create a dynamic and compelling dynamic that keeps viewers hooked.
What sets “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” apart is its ability to balance humor and drama. The series seamlessly transitions between lighthearted moments and intense emotional scenes, creating a rollercoaster of emotions for the audience. This delicate balance, combined with the intricate plot and well-developed characters, makes for a truly engaging viewing experience.
Despite the restrictions imposed by censorship, “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” managed to portray the deep bond between Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, captivating fans with their undeniable chemistry. The series challenged societal norms and showcased the power of love and friendship, resonating with viewers on a profound level.
“Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” is a testament to the resilience and creativity of Chinese animation. It broke barriers, introduced new narratives, and left a lasting impact on the industry.
2019: Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation Season 2
In 2019, “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” returned with its highly anticipated second season, captivating fans once again with its intricate storytelling and compelling characters. The continuation of the story allowed viewers to further delve into the conspiracy surrounding Wei Wuxian and Lan Wangji, keeping them on the edge of their seats.
One of the reasons why the second season captured the hearts and attention of many fans was its ability to present the backstory of Wei Wuxian in a poignant and impactful way. The tragic past of the protagonist was explored in greater detail, shedding light on the events that shaped him into the complex character he is. This added depth and complexity to the overall narrative, making it even more engaging for the audience.
Furthermore, the second season of “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” skillfully connected the plot and antics from the first season, creating a seamless continuation of the story. Viewers were able to witness how various events and characters were intricately linked, unraveling the mysteries and secrets that had been teased in the previous season. This sense of continuity and progression kept fans invested in the story, eager to uncover the truth behind the conspiracy.
The second season of “Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation” successfully built upon the foundation laid by its predecessor, delivering a captivating and emotionally resonant storyline that left fans eagerly awaiting the next installment.
2020: Fog Hill of Five Elements
Fog Hill of Five Elements emerged as the standout Chinese anime of 2020, surpassing even the highly acclaimed Heaven Official’s Blessing. This action-packed series captivated audiences with its stunning ink-brush animation, setting a new standard for visual excellence in Chinese animation.
The fluidity and beauty of the animation in Fog Hill of Five Elements were truly remarkable. Every frame was meticulously crafted, showcasing the intricate details of the characters and the world they inhabited. The use of ink-brush techniques added a unique and artistic flair to the animation, making it a visual feast for the eyes.
Despite its short duration of only three episodes, Fog Hill of Five Elements managed to deliver a satisfying and immersive experience. The fast-paced action sequences kept viewers on the edge of their seats, while the well-developed characters added depth and emotional resonance to the story. Each episode was packed with intense battles and thrilling moments, leaving audiences craving for more.
For Chinese anime enthusiasts, Fog Hill of Five Elements is a must-watch. Its exceptional animation, combined with its engaging storyline and memorable characters, make it a standout series in the genre. Whether you’re a fan of action-packed adventures or appreciate the artistry of animation, Fog Hill of Five Elements is an anime that should not be missed.
2021: Link Click
In 2021, a standout Chinese anime emerged as the best of the year, captivating audiences both in China and beyond. Link Click, or Shiguang Daili Ren, proved to be a breath of fresh air with its original story that was not adapted from a novel or manhua. This series became Bilibili’s most beloved series to date outside of China, and for good reason.
The plot of Link Click revolves around a time paradox, adding an element of suspense and intrigue to the story. Viewers were treated to plenty of action and nerve-wracking experiences as our duo, Cheng Xiaoshi and Lu Guang, navigated a series of complex plots involving time travel, rewriting the past, and dealing with the cause and effect of their actions.
What set Link Click apart was its ability to balance intense action with a refreshing tale of friendship and familial drama. The bond between Cheng Xiaoshi and Lu Guang was at the heart of the series, providing emotional depth and resonance to the story.
The animation and visual effects in Link Click were also top-notch, further enhancing the overall viewing experience. The attention to detail and the stunning visuals brought the world of Link Click to life, immersing viewers to dive it into its own world.
For fans of Chinese anime, Link Click is a must-watch. Its original story, gripping plot, and well-developed characters make it a standout series of 2021. Coming closer in the 2nd spot is Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation Season 3, and Battle Through The Heavens: Three-Year Agreement.
2022: Battle Through The Heavens
In 2022, there were several notable Chinese anime series, but none that particularly stood out as exceptional. However, there were a few long-running series like Soul Land, Perfect World, and Battle Through The Heavens that continued to captivate audiences. Among the shows that aired in 2022, Immortality, Jade Dynasty, Dragon Raja, A Record of a Mortal’s Journey to Immortality, and Fairies Albums Season 4 were also noteworthy.
While Soul Land was nearing its finale and would have been a solid choice, my personal recommendation for 2022 is Battle Through The Heavens Season 5. This season continued the story from the beloved Three-Year Agreement Arc and took us on a new adventure with Xiao Yan in the Black Corner Region. Throughout 2022, Xiao Yan’s journey and character development were nothing short of fascinating.
Battle Through The Heavens Season 5 offered a fresh start and introduced new challenges for Xiao Yan to overcome. The series maintained its high-quality animation and engaging storytelling, keeping viewers hooked with its action-packed scenes and intricate plot twists.
The past six years have been a good era for Chinese anime, with each year bringing us exceptional shows that have captivated audiences worldwide. From the intense gaming world of “The King’s Avatar” in 2017 to the thrilling adventures of Xiao Yan in “Battle Through The Heavens” in 2022, we have witnessed the growth and evolution of Chinese animation.
Looking at the 2023 lineup, we can’t help but feel excited about the amazing shows that await us. “Link Click Season 2” did give us a gripping storyline and kept us on the edge of our seats. Additionally, we have highly anticipated sequels like “Heaven Official’s Blessing Season 2” and “Fog Hill of Five Elements Season 2” that are sure to deliver more epic moments.
Although we bid farewell to “Soul Land” this year, its legacy will live on, and we can still enjoy the thrilling journey of Xiao Yan in “Battle Through The Heavens.” With its rich animation and intricate plot twists, it continues to be a fan favorite. The Chinese anime industry has proven its ability to create compelling and unforgettable stories. As we eagerly unraveled various donghua shows in 2023, we can confidently say that the future looks bright for Chinese animation.
Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Yu Alexius