Most of us are more familiar with the Japanese Anime than the Chinese Donghua. However, in recent years Donghua is becoming popular due to its quality being as good, sometimes better than anime. Donghua is the counterpart of Japan’s anime, it’s the term for Chinese animation however, I’ll use the term anime because of its familiarity. The 2019 Chinese animated movie, The Legend of Hei is a heartwarming, fantasy, action-adventure movie that will be enjoyed by viewers of all ages. The movie gives off the vibes of Studio Ghibli because of its animation and ecological themes. However, its cute animation really caught the viewers off guard because it also has intense action-packed scenes.
The Legend of Hei tackles the issue of the environment and how humans destroy nature for technological advancement. It’s a world where spirits and humans have fought and coexisted for centuries. A story set in the modern-day, as ancient spirits plot a plan to reclaim their land.
To find a home for Hei
Luo Xiaohei or Hei is a young spirit who normally takes the form of a black cat. Hei is living in the forests, however, human development and deforestation force him to leave his home. Hei struggles as he wanders in the city streets until one day he encounters a fellow spirit named Feng Xi. He takes Hei to an isolated island inhabited by a small group of monsters and invited him to live there. Living with them didn’t last long enough to know one another. A human Guild Executor named Wuxian, arrives on the island in pursuit of Feng Xi and his group.
Hei got separated from the group which left him with only Wuxian as a companion. Together, they went on a voyage out of the island forcing them to bond as they went. The first thing I have noticed in this movie is the art style, itself may be simple Animation like what we usually see in Ghibli movies however, outstanding cinematic. The story is deep as it reflects the reality of our environment and how deforestation destroys the homes of animals. Xiaohei developed hatred towards the human race because of what they did to his home, if we could understand animals they would probably be the same as Hei.
Master and Disciple
As Wuxian and Xiaohei travel back to the spirit guild, they build a bond they never expected. Hei hated Wuxian at first for attacking his spirit friends, without knowing Wuxian’s reason. Wuxian may seem to be stoic and cold but he deeply cares about Xiaohei, he saw potential and talent in him and asked if he wants to be his student. Their friendship did not start well and that is one of the developments in the movie that I love. They gradually soften to one another, as Wuxian teaches Hei how to harness his power and helps him see the better qualities of the human world.
Overall, The Legend of Hei is now on the list of movies I have re-watched multiple times. I like how the villains have an understandable reason for being the way they are, to them, humans stole and destroyed their land. They will do anything to reclaim their home even if it’s against their morals. I like how they balanced the soft moments and the action. The music is great as well as the landscape shots. It’s a movie that has a lot of moral values and lessons that we could learn.
The Legend of Hei is available on Bilbili. Produced by Shout! Factory and directed by MTJJ Mutou.
Rosemarie is a writer and an artist, She developed a passion for arts at a young age, inspired by the Japanese animation that she frequently watches which also sparked her love for writing. Her arts and writings became her special way of expressing her feelings as she's not really good with words. Most of her time were spend on either honing her digital drawing skills, watching anime, or gaming.