"Mr. Miao" "Mr. Miao"

China’s cinemas are grinding back into action, and an array of animated titles are helping them get going. One of the more interesting titles on offer is Mr. Miao, a somber, stylish 2d feature produced in the country.

Mr. Miao (aka Miao Xian Sheng) is a historical adventure epic full of kinetic action and mythological derring-do, with the design dial set firmly on “anime.” We’re put in mind of Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke. The trailer gives a strong flavor of the film, even for those — like us — whose Chinese is rusty:

China Daily provides the following synopsis:

The feature introduces a fictional golden-colored flower, which possesses the magical ability to debauch humans who get too close to it. As the flower only chooses kindhearted people as hosts, a group of martial artists who want to eradicate the plants face a dilemma: should one kill good people for rescuing men from sin?

The film is written by Bu Sifan and helmed by first-time director Li Lingxiao. Bu previously wrote and directed the animated feature Dahufa, a dark dystopian drama that became the first Chinese film to be rated PG-13 by its producers. Mr. Miao, which is billed as a follow-up to Dahufa, is also PG-13.

The producers are Coloroom Pictures, the animation subsidiary of entertainment titan Enlight Media. The hazards of the current box office may not worry them, as they are pitching Mr. Miao as an experimental work, and claim they don’t mind how much it grosses. China.org.cn quotes Yi Qiao, CEO of Coloroom, as saying that the film “looks for an audience who can understand and appreciate it.”

Mr. Miao is due to come out on July 31, having been pushed back from December 31, 2019, its initial release date. Chinese theaters started shutting down in January as the coronavirus spread.

Enlight and Coloroom scored a major hit last year with Ne Zha, a cg feature that grossed $720 million in China alone. It has also released major anime titles in China, including Your Name, Spirited Away, and Weathering With You.

Chinese cinemas in low-risk areas have been reopening since July 20. The other animated and hybrid titles playing currently or from next week include Sonic the Hedgehog (a new release), Coco, Dolittle, Big Fish and Begonia (also from Coloroom), White Snake, Ne Zha, The Adventure of Afanti, and Havoc in Heaven.

"Mr. Miao" poster

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