'Scissor Seven' series now global phenom
The second season of the original homegrown cartoon series “Scissor Seven” has cultivated a number of global fans since its Netflix release earlier this month.
Following the popularity of its first season on the platform in January, Netflix now offers the series dubbed in four different languages: English, Japanese, French and Spanish. The dubbing team includes “The Daily Show” correspondent Ronny Chieng, talk-show star Daniel Sosa and French comedian Max Boublil.
As the first original Chinese anime show on Netflix, “Scissor Seven” is a compelling, enjoyable show when viewed with or without kids.
“We were impressed by the production quality of ‘Scissor Seven’ (originally titled ‘Killer Seven’), as well as its unique storytelling style, which we believe will resonate and be loved by our animation fans around the world,” John Derderian, director of content for Netflix, is quoted as saying in a previous interview.
The series is the only Chinese-language title that received a nomination in the TV Film category at the 2018 Annecy International Animated Film Festival, Derderian also noted.
Combining beautiful artwork and terrific writing, the animated series now reaches an audience in 190 countries and regions worldwide with 29 language subtitles.
Directed and written by He Xiaofeng, the comedy series revolves around the adventures of Wu Liuqi, a young, not-so-dangerous assassin known for being the master of disguise. Because he has amnesia, things don’t usually go as planned and he often finds himself in the most ridiculously funny situations. On an island with Chinese elements of architecture, dialect and kung fu, he comes to learn the power of love, tolerance and understanding when facing prejudice and hatred.
Many foreign viewers are fascinated by the series’ heartwarming scenes, as well as its amusing and inspirational lines. The island’s inhabitants look quite ordinary, but each of them has an extraordinary past, adding suspense to the story.
Producer Zou Shasha, founder and CEO of AHA Entertainment, said the series has universal human emotions, humanity and cross-cultural appeal. When its first season was screened at the prestigious Annecy International Animated Film Festival in 2018, Zou noticed many viewers burst into laughter at the funny scenes and characters, even though it lacked subtitles.
Although she realized the series’ huge potential for a global market, Zou didn’t reveal any international ambitions to director He, which she feared might limit his creativity and imagination.
The series’ overseas distribution came naturally after its popularity on video-streaming websites in China. The series’ second season has received more than 500 million click throughs on Tencent. It also scored 9.2 out of 10 on China’s film and TV review website, Douban.
Netizen “Newhao” commented on Douban that he is impressed by the series’ healing power of human connection.
The series’ domestic and overseas success has enhanced Zou and her team’s confidence to present more original animated works with global appeal. She thinks the gap between domestic and foreign animation is narrowing with the emergence of many young Chinese animators with global vision and aesthetics.
Production for season three is underway. Zou is also considering making an animated film version of the series. Spin-offs have appeared in music, anime, mobile games and consumer products.
“We will spend dozens of years to develop the Chinese cartoon IP into a widely-known cultural icon with global influences,” Zou said.
She thinks animation’s ability to tackle civilization and the future of humanity is timeless. And she is optimistic about the future of Chinese animation.
“Shanghai has a complete industrial chain of animation, as well as policy and financial support for the animated industry,” said Zou. “We’ll continue to produce and develop high-quality cartoon franchises.”
Professor Gu Xiaoming, a film and TV critic from Fudan University, attributes the popularity of “Scissor Seven” to its diverse elements of martial arts, adventure and comedy.
“Chinese elements are gaining increasing attention around the world and are now applied to fashion, architecture and painting,” Gu said. “In the future, Chinese animation will feature more creative content and personal expression.”