New animated short by former Tudou CEO draws comparisons to 'Despicable Me'
'Little Yeyos', spearheaded by ex-Tudou founder Gary Wang, has received a mixed reception
An animated short developed by the founder of one of China’s top video streaming sites has caused debate amongst animation fans, with some praising the short’s looks but others finding it derivative.
Little Yeyos, a three and a half minute animated film, was revealed to online audiences on March 12. The short features seven chubby spirits from Chinese mythology who taunt each other and have a brief squabble over a mysterious dot of light.
Watch: Light Chaser Animation's Little Yeyos
The film is the first work from Light Chaser Animation, a startup studio founded in 2013 by Gary Wang, the ex-CEO and founder of Tudou.com, one of China’s most widely-used video streaming sites.
After Tudou and competitor Youku.com merged in 2012, Wang retired from his role as CEO and began focusing on Light Chaser Animation, citing a desire to create “world-class animated films”.
“With animated films, [we’ll] be really competing directly against Hollyood,” Wang said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last year. “There are very few animation movies that Chinese people can call their own. It will take time, but [Light Chaser Animation] could be potentially bigger than Tudou.”
Since its debut, Little Yeyos has racked up more than thirty million clicks on the Chinese internet and garnered a mixed reception. Many viewers have pointed out that the mannerisms of the film’s tubby characters bear more than a passing resemblance to those of the yellow Minions of Universal Pictures’ Despicable Me series.
“I want to support animated works that are being produced in China,” wrote one internet commentator going by the name of Winnie Wong. “I applaud the technical artistry in the short and I like how the storyline has its roots in Chinese myth.
“But I’m still a little dissatisfied. The roles and actions of the spirits are too similar to the Minions. China has technology and talent, but more time needs to be spent cultivating innovative themes and content.”
Light Chaser Animation representatives have acknowledged that the Little Yeyos short is only intended as a glimpse into the budding studio’s future projects. Concepts and characters from the short are likely to be used again for a full-length feature set to be released in the second half of 2015, with an estimated budget of US$11 million (HK$85 million)
China has frequently promoted its local animation industry in the last few years, but profits remain slow. In 2012, Chinese animated films only contributed to seven per cent of the mainland’s total box office revenue, and a 2013 report by Want China Times found that 85 per cent of the country’s animation companies had suffered losses due to declines in production.