"New Gods: Yang Jian" is one of the best Chinese animated films to watch this year, based on solid animation production standards and a strong Chinese art style.
"New Gods: Yang Jian" is an animated film produced by Light Chaser Animation, directed by Zhao Ji, and featuring the voices of Wang Kai, Li Lanling, and Ji Guanlin, and was released in mainland China on August 19, 2022.
The film tells the story of Yang Jian, who has fallen on hard times due to the third truth-seeing eye hurt, and his nephew Chen Xiang, who is eager to save his mother, as they go on a thrilling fantasy adventure together.
In its first three days of release, the film has grossed more than 100 million RMB and the cumulative box office has now exceeded 200 million RMB. Why did audiences have such high aspirations for "The New Gods: Yang Jian"? It stems from the solid market foundation laid by its production company, Light Chaser Animation, and previous works.
In 2019, "White Snake: The Origin" made a box office of 468 million RMB, and in 2021, "New Gods: Nezha Reborn" and "White Snake 2: Green Snake" made 456 million RMB and 580 million RMB respectively.
As the second installment of the "New Gods" series, "New Gods: Yang Jian" was a refreshing upgrade in terms of story setting and visual style, and received unanimous praise from viewers: "Full marks for the visual effects and the new world of the New Gods overturned the imagination." "The art style is strong and unique, and the special effects are stunning."
New energy for a classic myth
Yang Jian and Chen Xiang are both protagonists in folklore, but the film "Yang Jian" combines the two stories in an innovative way for the first time, explaining from a new perspective why Yang Jian and Chen Xiang have both "saved their mothers by splitting mountains". This not only reflects the creative concept of Light Chaser Animation to make the classic mythology blossom into a new life, but also makes the audience expect the subsequent development of the story.
At the same time, for today's Chinese animation, taking lessons from traditional stories does not mean simply copying them. In terms of both thematic expression and characterization, "Yang Jian" is integrated with today's social and cultural context to create content that keeps up with the times.
In terms of characterization, Yang Jian once split Mount Tao in order to save his mother, but as the heavenly realm declined, his third truth-seeing eye became blind for some reason and earned his living as a bounty hunter. This new interpretation of the role of the immortal, who was above all other beings, is refreshing. At the same time, the film's three-dimensional portrayal of Shen Gongbao as both good and evil, without deliberately creating a dichotomy with the protagonist, was also quite a surprise.
A magnificent spectacle that showcases the beauty of the Chinese style
"New Gods: Yang Jian" is based on the same virtual worldview as its predecessor, "New Gods: Nezha Reborn", but "Yang Jian" film extends the temporal and spatial context by recreating the mythical islands of Peng, Fangfu and Yingzhou, creating a magnificent spectacle in a cloudy, dreamy landscape. Through the screen, but as if in a fantasy world, raise eyes will see the flow of stars and clound, pavilions and tower reflect.
Penglai is a punk business city with heavy traffic.
Fangfu is a night city of all-night feasting and fun.
Yingzhou is a tourist city with exotic atmosphere.
For the presentation of the scenery, the creative team of "The New Gods: Yang Jian" drew on a large number of ancient Chinese documents to fully reflect the beauty of traditional Chinese culture. For example, the film's "Immortal Mountain", Jinxia Cave, was designed using the Taihu Lake stone as its base, and a large number of clouds were used instead of the traditional waterfall flowing down from the mountain, giving the space a quiet Zen feel.
To ensure the cultural attributes carried by the film, as well as the credibility of the Wei-Jin background. The team had made special trips to Shaanxi History Museum and Dunhuang. The flying dance in the film is the best example, with the extensive use of folk instruments such as pipa, flute, Xiao, and a combination of orchestral music, which is both fairy-like and classically lilting.
The choreography of the dance movements was modified several times just to bring out the weightlessness of the fairies' flight, and the dancers in the motion capture had to sit or even lie on the ground to barely simulate the flying and dancing. So that the audience is able to touch the ancient and distant culture of Dunhuang and feel its profound and mysterious beauty in addition to the audiovisual enjoyment.
In addition, the film also reflects traditional culture in subtle ways, such as Yang Jian's hair crown, headscarf and cloud-patterned hanfu robe, all of which contain classical Chinese elements, and the wooden boat he rides on, which is equipped with a Hu bed that famous scholars of the Wei and Jin dynasties liked to lean on.
Director Zhao Ji also revealed, "The clogs alone are presented in a variety of ways in this film, for example, the Hulu Fairy and Yang Jian are worn two different styles, and the weaving of the twine on the clogs is a reference to the braided flowers in the ancient texts."
The film's design, based on extensive research and almost costless craftsmanship, exudes the beauty of Chinese traditional culture throughout the film.
Visual effects technology upgrades again
Compared to live-action films, the most unique advantage of animated films is that it is possible to jump out of the confines and maximize the imagination. The realization of imagination, in addition to the creators by virtue of the wild design of the brain, but also rely on strong technical support.
In recent years, in Chinese animation production in virtual reality, augmented reality, motion capture, and other advanced technology development trend, the technical level of maturity, and animation film level has reached a new height.
As a Chinese head animation production company, Light Chaser Animation let the audience verify its strength in animation creation. While gaining recognition, they always insists on keeping the righteousness and innovation, and keeps improving new technologies. The 3D rendering of ink and water, the most iconic visual effects point of Light Chaser Animation's works, continues to be a highlight point in "New Gods: Yang Jian".
In the film, the ink and water effects show a majestic battle with Taiji, and the visual effects are quite stunning. Yang Jian is standing by with a three-tipped, two-edged sword in his hand, while the remaining seven characters come from all directions with their magic weapons, bringing the tension of the battle between the earthly and immortal worlds to the forefront. A few clips show the high standard of production.
"New Gods: Yang Jian" and the series from Light Chaser Animation have profound relevance to the cultural branding of Chinese animated films. Not only have they effectively explored traditional Chinese cultural resources, resulting in such iconic works as the "Gods of Honour" series and the "Journey to the West" series, but they have also carried forward the Chinoiserie trend and the spirit of classical aesthetics.