Chinese animation movies are great for helping kids who are learning Chinese get immersed in the language while having fun!

We chose these five movies because many kids in the Chinese-speaking world have watched these films.  If your children are learning Chinese, watching these movies will allow them to participate in a broader cultural conversion with Chinese kids from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Southeast Asia and elsewhere.

From traditional folklore to detective stories, here are 5 Chinese animation movies that are great for watching together with your kids this holiday!

1.《大侦探福尔摩斯:逃狱大追捕》Sherlock Holmes and the Great Escape

Title: 《大侦探福尔摩斯:逃狱大追捕》(Dà zhēntàn fú’ěrmósī: Táo yù dà zhuībǔ)

Suitable for ages: 6+

Available on: Apple TV | Amazon

Language: Originally in Cantonese, but audio is available in Mandarin and English

Subtitle:  English and Chinese

Trailer:

Summary:

Sherlock Holmes, the great dog-tective, and his feline assistant Watson, are out to catch Mack, a notorious outlaw. But when Mack’s daughter is kidnapped, the plot takes a surprising turn…

Why we recommend it:

Many kids in China, especially Hong Kong, are very familiar with Lai Ho’s children’s books, transforming Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes characters into animals. Lai Ho’s books (which have also been translated into English) have sold a cool 4.5M copies! Although aimed at kids, this movie has some ambition in trying to tackle the really difficult issues of poverty and class disparity. Don’t expect Pixar-level 3D animation, but those who enjoy anime will enjoy the 2D art style and the tight storytelling in this film.

2. 哪吒闹海 (Nezha Conquers the Dragon King)

Title: 哪吒闹海 (Nǎ zhā nào hǎi)
(literally: Nezha Causes a Ruckus in the Sea, but its official English title is Nezha Conquers the Dragon King)

Suitable for ages: 7+

Available in its entirety on Youtube (with English subtitles):

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Subtitles:  English and Chinese

Summary:

This movie follows the old Chinese legend of a young and mischievous warrior, Nezha, who was born out of a lotus flower and who fights against the evil Dragon King to protect the world!

Why we recommend it

This 1979 film is a classic – so many kids in the Chinese-speaking world grew up with the legend of Nezha, and this film, in particular. The character designs are super-fun, with Nezha as a baby born walking and jumping, his various acts of mischief, and his trademark Wind Fire Wheels. The musical score is truly lovely as well!

If you enjoy this film, check out another film by Shanghai Animation Studios “Lotus Lantern” or 《宝莲灯》

3. 巧虎大飞船历险记 (Qiaohu and the Fantastic Flying Ship)

Title: 《巧虎大飞船历险记》(Qiǎo hǔ dà fēichuán lìxiǎn jì)

Suitable for ages: 3+

Available on: iQiyi

Language: Mandarin

Subtitle:  English and Chinese

Trailer:

Summary:

Follow Qiaohu and his friends on an exciting journey to save the drought-stricken forest by flying an airship to bring back the rain. Will they be able to work as a team to overcome all the difficulties?

Why we recommend it:

Qiaohu, a cute tiger, was originally a Japanese character in an anime series aimed at pre-schoolers: Shima Shima Tora no Shimajirō (しましまとらのしまじろう, lit. “Striped Island Tiger Shimajirō”). Qiaohu is also immensely popular in Taiwan, where families order monthly content packets containing books, toys and music for their toddlers. Adult friends who are beginning to learn Chinese in Taiwan also tell us their tutors play Qiaohu videos non-stop to get them to learn Zhuyin/Bo Po Mo Fo (what the Taiwanese use instead of hanyu pinyin to learn traditional script). If you can’t access the movie on iQiyi, you can get a sense of the characters through the short Qiaohu videos on Qiaohu TV.

 

4. 功夫熊猫 (Kung Fu Panda)

Movies-To-Help-Learn-Chinese-功夫熊貓KungFuPanda

Title: 功夫熊猫 (Gōngfū xióngmāo)

Suitable for ages: 4+

Language: Mandarin Chinese and English

Subtitle:  English and Chinese

Trailer:

Summary:

Follow Po, a bumbling panda bear, in his journey towards becoming a “Dragon Warrior” and learning that there’s more to himself than he thinks.

Why we recommend it:

You’ve probably seen Dreamworks’ English version already, but the Mandarin version is just as fun, and features very famous Chinese actors and actresses. It might be interesting to get your kids to do a comparison! The story has adorable animals, martial arts, and plenty of slapstick humor. Oh, and the animation is great too! Kungfu Panda took the world by storm in 2008. In particular, the film took China by surprise, breaking all box office records, and taking in many tens of millions of dollars. It led the entire animation industry in China to do quite a bit of soul-searching as to why China had not been able to produce a Chinese animated film as popular as Kung Fu Panda.

5. 喜羊羊与灰太狼之羊年喜羊羊 (Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Amazing Pleasant Goat)

Title: 喜羊羊与灰太狼之羊年喜羊羊 (Xǐyángyáng yǔ huītàiláng zhī yáng nián xǐyángyáng)

Suitable for ages: 5+

Language: Mandarin Chinese

Subtitle:  English and Chinese

Available in its entirety on YouTube (with English subtitles)

Summary:

Follow the story of two good friends, Weslie and Paddi, as they dream of becoming “Dragon Slayers”. After a heated argument, Paddi decides to visit the Wolf Fortress. Worried, Weslie heads to the fortress to rescue Paddi from Wolffy, but the trio end up being transported back to ancient times. Paddi and Wolffy also realise that their bodies were swapped during the process. Will Weslie, Paddi, and Wolffy be able to guard the ancient world and return to their normal selves?

Why we recommend it:

This is the 7th Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf film and the least profitable. Weirdly, we like this one the most! The movie emphasises the importance of friendship. As the saying goes, “黄金万两容易得,一个知心最难寻” (Huángjīn wàn liǎng róngyì dé, yīgè zhīxīn zuì nán xún) It’s easier to find gold than a true heart.

The Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf Series opened in 2005 on Chinese TV and by 2009 the whole of China was basically Pleasant Goat land – everywhere you went, the 喜洋洋 characters would be on tissue paper packets, bags, t-shirts, buses, and toys.  The TV series boasts a formidable 2659 episodes! However, by 2013, the series got into trouble with the Chinese censors for promoting cartoon violence.

Nevertheless, you must watch at least something in the Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf franchise, as a whole generation of Chinese children grew up with these characters and stories.

Have you watched any of these movies yet? If so, share with us what you think!

Check out these other great movies that you can watch with your kids this holiday season: Great movies to help kids learn Chinese

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