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Ne Zha

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Jonathan Tam
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Ne Zha

Ne Zha is directed by Yu Yang and will be one of the few animated films that I have seen from China. It loosely tells the story of Investiture of the Gods, an old 16th century story told by Xu Zhonglin, where a young child named Ne Zha is destined to destroy the world. The film is definitely presented as a children’s movie from the start through its appearance and humor, and so I definitely want to do this review on how effective it would be in the elementary school setting.

Though it starts with a lot of background information, perhaps too much at times for younger students, the film’s concept is very simple - that you are not what you were born to be. This common theme of fate vs. free will is explored in a ton of American animated films from Toy Story 2 to Megamind and a ton of other films like Hellboy. But, reinforcing this moral is never a bad thing and Ne Zha does this while at the same time depicting chinese familial values, religious figures, and historical settings. The story elements all seem adjusted to fit a film that educates people on China. Instead of fairy godmothers, you have immortal elders. And in place of a god, you have the omnipresent taoist deity Yuanshi Tianzun. The twists and turns throughout the story are heavily dialogue driven rather than action driven, which is something I noticed was a huge difference between Ne Zha and other animated films. But, with some steady support throughout its viewing, Ne Zha can be a huge asset to younger classrooms that might be looking for a refreshing approach to an old lesson.