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Chinese Review International






University of Hawai'i Press

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In her groundbreaking monograph, Daisy Yan Du offers a rigorous discussion of Chinese animation by highlighting the historical course of Chinese animation and how animated filmmaking contests the notion of nationhood and opens up a spatialized conception of intercultural encounters and collaboration. The book contains a theoretical introduction essay, four substantial chapters, a concise epilogue, and three appendices on animated films by Mochinaga Tadahito, on leaders of Shanghai Animation Film Studio, and on major publications on Chinese animation. It contributes valuable discussions on the “disjuncture between politics and aesthetics in the sense that politics cannot fully control arts” (Du 2020, p. 5). Including detailed discussions of animated filmmaking from the 1940s to the 1970s, Du argues that instead of quenching artistic creativity and production, the totalitarian control of cinema during this time, and particularly during the Cultural Revolution, created an opportunity for collective animated filmmaking and unexpectedly allowed Chinese animation to come into its golden age of development. The author observes that animation produced under totalitarian political environments still boasts unique media specificity because of its perceived status as a “minor artistic and cinematic form” (Du 2020, p. 4). Instead of easily falling prey to political accusations, missteps in animation works were often deemed “moral or educational rather than political” (p. 4). Rather than merely playing ideological roles, animation films have the important potential to provide entertainment. The double marginality of animation leads to some possibilities of subversive mimicry and artistic self-empowerment. Following Homi Bhabha’s notion of “colonial mimicry,” Du proposes the term “childish mimicry” to refer to representations of children both as marginalized subjects in animation and as potentially subversive subjects who could garner certain powers from their marginalization (Du 2020, p. 10). The book argues that animation’s double marginality allows it “double power to play around with and even eschew totalitarian politics” (Du 2020, p. 13).