The conformation and negotiation of nationalism in China’s political animations—a case study of Year Hare Affair

Tianru Guan, Tingting Hu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Nationalism is a prominent theme in China’s cultural productions. While many studies research nationalistic representations of wars, revolutions and nation-building processes in Chinese socialist cinema and dramas, this article focuses on a marginal media form: political animations. It examines the patriotic discourses in popular Chinese animated series Year Hare Affair and presents three main findings. First, that the series characters represent personified/animalized nation states, reflecting the animator’s perceptions of ‘self’ and ‘other’ (and ‘friends’ or ‘enemies’), which are highly consistent with the Chinese authority’s stance and policy in foreign affairs. Second, that the animation’s key theme of ‘dreams of being a powerful nation’ explicitly demonstrates nationalist and developmental connotations, showing confirmation and resonation of Xi’s China Dream initiative. Third, that the animation also moderately deviates from the mainstream representations and offers re-interpretations of the official patriotic narratives with regard to China’s performance in international affairs. The analyses conclude a negotiation dynamic between the (half-) independent political animation and the state’s hegemony in China’s transformative political communication space.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-430
Number of pages14
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2020


  • China
  • narrative analyses
  • nationalism
  • political animation

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