Top 5 Most Influential Chinese Cartoon Series

Despite the Chinese animation industry is not as famous as its neighbour’s – Japan – China has made some significant progresses in recent years. Both the quality and quantity of its anime production have increased considerably. Furthermore, there also have been increases in cartoon-related exhibits being held in China, which won great popularity from fans.

Today we will be looking at the five most influential cartoon series ever produced in China. Two of them are modern, and they are still updating and airing on TV and the Internet. Meanwhile, the others are classic cartoon series produced before the 2000s, and they provided a solid foundation for the later industry advancement.

The Moderns

Happy Friends

Happy Friends is one of the most well-received animation series. It was created by one of the most famous Chinese cartoon producers, called Weiming Huang. The cartoon revolves around a group of child superheroes saving the world from the invasion of monsters and aliens. Its constant innovation in style and storytelling are the key factors that made this cartoon so successful.

The newest season tells about a story where Commander Disappointed, who is the subordinate of a powerful sleeping demon, aims to resurrect his master by gathering five energy cores. Those cores were created from five ancient heroes, who defeated the demon many years ago. To obtain the cores, Commander Disappointed and his army invade planets and our protagonists – a group of child superheroes – are here to stop them.

Although the background story is similar to some other cartoon series, each episode uses creative storytelling methods and brings freshness to audiences every time. The central theme also teaches children never to give up and always be courageous. It perfectly combines entertainment and education, which is the reason I place it to be the most recommended new Chinese cartoon.

Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf

Created by Weiming Wang, the same producer as Happy Friends, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf is another original cartoon series, which is popular both domestically and internationally. The show was not only aired in local television stations such as Zhejiang Television and CCTV, but also in overseas markets like India and Singapore.

The series mainly talks about a group of goats living on the Green Green Grassland, where they also need to help each other out and fight a clumsy wolf called Big Big Wolf who tries to eat them. Each season has a different main topic such as time travelling and sports.

Besides its success in producing animated series, their movies have been performing exceptionally good in the Chinese market. Its first movie broke the domestic box office record for a Chinese animated film, and the following entries were not disappointing at all. The interest these animated series created has also brought the demands for side-products like toys and books.

The Classics

Calabash Brothers

This is my favourite classic Chinese cartoon of all time, because of its art style and background settings.

It contains 13 episodes only, and together they are telling one adventure instead of creating a new story in each episode like those modern series. Released in 1986, Calabash Brothers was one of the most popular animations in China in the 1980s. Although it was at a point where the industry was in the downed state compared to other countries, this show was translated into seven different languages and aired internationally.

The story begins with the scorpion and snake demons escaped from the Calabash Mountain, and caused harm to nearby villages after they were jailed for decades. An old man was told by a pangolin that he had to grow calabash in seven colours to annihilate those demons. The calabashes ripen sequentially, and they turned into seven boys with different superpowers, their journey is set to defeat the scorpion and snake to protect everyone.

Black Cat Detective

Initially released in 1984, this is an adventure series about a detective called Black Cat Detective, who wanders around with his motorcycle to stop villains from harming civilians.

Unlike other series, Black Cat Detective was criticised for being too violent and lacking the suitability for children’s education. Its constant use of guns and gores prevented it from being heavily promoted in China during the 1980s, though proponents of the show claimed the cartoon was merely for entertainment.

Its aggressive adaption of Japanese animation, as well as its differences compared to other Chinese cartoon series acquired a group of special fans that supported the Black Cat Detective. In 2006, the series was broadcast again and then a 3D animated film was released in 2015 with 80 million CNY in the box office. Its struggles under the particular Chinese market conditions make it be one of the most classic and well-known cartoon series. 

3000 Whys of Blue Cat

Speaking of a cat being educational, we have to mention 3000 Whys of Blue Cat. It is the first large-scale animated series with a focus on science in China. It is also one of the longest-running series in the world with over 3000 episodes.

Each episode is an adventure in any corner of the universe with the protagonist called Blue Cat. During the explorations, Blue Cat would solve problems with science, or introduce species in great details. It covers everything a kid is interested in, from the deep sea to outer space. Children can enjoy an exciting journey while learning new things with joy.


Now you have discovered something more about the top five cartoons that have unique places in Chinese fans heart, and we could definitely learn something from these great series. These cartoons prove that the Chinese cartoon industry is not only able to learn from its history and mistakes, but also adapt its style from different foreign productions and innovate its own works. Happy Friends and Pleasant Goat” will be some of the leading models that open up a new era for the Chinese animation.