China Versus Ultraman

It's the battle you never expected, as China's Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has unleashed the hounds of war on Japanese superhero Ultraman, as well as the entire non-Chinese animation industry. And his country is following.

According to Variety, Chinese audiences are boycotting Ultraman after Chinese PM Jiabao complained that his grandson spent too much time watching the show during a recent visit to a Chinese animation studio:

I sometimes take care of my grandson, [b]ut he always watches 'Ultraman.' He should watch more Chinese cartoons... [Chinese animators] should play a leading role in bringing Chinese culture to the world ... Let Chinese children watch more of their own history and its own country's animation.

The effect of the comments has been weird and widespread; Chinese broadcasters have moved non-Chinese animation later in their schedules, replacing it with homegrown fare in order to snare audiences when they're young, although some see the move as something approaching racism - and a sign of strained relations with Japan. The solution to the problem may be for the Chinese government to support the country's animation industry with more than just words; production of animated movies in the country was up 66% last year from the year before, but Jin Delong of the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV, feels that progress needs to be made in more than just quantity:

There is a long way to go before the animation industry prospers. We still have a lot of issues to resolve, for example, encouraging creativity ... and combining creativity with the market.

It's the kind of problem that would take a superhero to fix... as long as he's from China, of course.

China gets 'Ultra' sensitive [Variety]