This article is an intertextual reading of Nezha naohai (Nezha Conquers the Dragon King), the second cel-animated feature produced at the Shanghai Animation Film Studio, the major animation film studio in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) from the 1950s until the 1980s. Released in 1979, the story of Nezha Conquers is an adaptation from three chapters of a popular Ming Dynasty 16th-century novel about a rebellious boy-god. The year Nezha Conquers the Dragon King is released, 1979, is a turning point for the hero in PRC cinema. Visual design for Nezha Conquers the Dragon King seems to be a combination of Osamu Tezuka’s Astroboy and Chinese Communist sports propaganda. Chief director and screenwriter Wang Shuchen considered the film to be a return to fantastic subject matter after the Cultural Revolution. Nezha Conquers the Dragon King signaled a return to mythological themes in PRC film and ends with an elliptical, open-ended finale, suggesting the propensity for future social and cultural contradictions.
Nezha naohai (Nezha Conquers the Dragon King)
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People’s Republic of China (PRC)
Shanghai Animation Film Studio