China's government and entertainment industry regularly get into conflict over what's aired on television. Generally this targets singing competition and other reality TV, with the tension resuling in those shows being replaced by historical drama emphasizing traditional values. However, this week, it was cartoon in the crossfire, with shows like Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf being drubbed for contaminating the nation's children with violence and vulgarity.
China's boom animation industry and the popularity of its products have led to new scrutiny. This week, Xinwen Lianbo, the flagship news program of China Central Television (CCTV) singled out Xiyangyang and Huitailang (Pleasant Goat and Grey Wolf) and Xiongchumo (Boonie Bears) on Saturday for criticism.
Media watchdogs point to case from April in which two brothers, aged 5 and 8 years old from Jiangsu Province were tied to a tree and set on fire by a 9-year-old boy and were seriously burnt. The victims' father blamed Xiyangyang for the violence.
In a five-minute video presentation submitted during a civil court case against the offender's father and CPE in June, the plaintiff assembled clips from Series 1 to 170 - over 500 episodes.
According to tabulations... Big Big Wolf had been physically assaulted with a frying pan on at least 9,544 occasions, the government news agency Xinhua reported on Monday.
Meanwhile, Pleasant Goat had been boiled alive in water 839 times and received no fewer than 1,755 electric shocks.
Boonie Bears has been accused of airing 21 pieces of foul language in just 10 minutes. The the show about two bears who attempt to protect their forest from an unscrupulous logger is also said to cause some children to becoming obsessed with electric chainsaws.
"Even if only one kid imitates the cartoons, we should try to prevent this from happening," the Beijing Times cited cartoon director Yu Shengjun as saying, adding that the producers were at fault.
Shanghai Daily newspaper noted that while Chinese cartoons were "relatively mild by Western standards" many parents still worried they were sending "wrong messages to [their] impressionable young children." Violent and "illogical" cartoons were being "avidly consumed by uncritical young children who can't yet distinguish between good and bad influences," the newspaper claimed.
While formal standards are being developed, The State General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television on Saturday said that 20 cartoon producing companies and broadcast institutions have vowed not to produce or broadcast cartoons containing violent or vulgar content, dangerous plots or foul language.
In an interesting anime angle to this, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf had become the focal IP of Imagi, the people behind the CG Astro Boy and TMNT movies, the abandoned CG Gatchaman, and co-producers of the Highlander Search for Vengeance anime. Those CG and anime based endeavors were left behind to focus of this Chinese children's how, However, last month, they sold Infoport Management, which includes brand manager Toon Express, for HK$634.2 million, having bought it in 2011 for HK$814 million.