by Zhang Yunlong, Wang Tianyu, Yu Pei, and Xu Xiaoqing
BEIJING, Dec. 10 (Xinhua) -- The highly anticipated animated adaptation of the Hugo Award-winning science fiction novel "The Three-Body Problem" by Liu Cixin was released online to widespread praise on Saturday.
The web drama opened with the release of the first two episodes, with more set for release each Saturday, according to its streaming platform Bilibili.
News of "The Three-Body Problem" animated series' release soon made headlines on Chinese social media platforms, with a hashtag generating more than 25 million views on the microblogging site Weibo in just eight hours.
"The Three-Body Problem" is the first book in a sci-fi trilogy that revolves around physicist Ye Wenjie's contact with the Trisolaran civilization existing in a three-sun system, and the centuries-long clashes that follow between earthlings and the aliens.
Film, television and radio adaptations of the critically acclaimed trilogy have been avidly followed by China's online community.
In January 2022, the final episode of the Chinese audio drama "Three-Body" was released on the online audio-sharing platform Ximalaya, where it received great acclaim from internet users.
Tencent Video revealed in November 2021 that a live-action TV drama based on the same book was on its list of dramas to be released or pursued by the online streaming platform in 2022, releasing its first trailer cut but providing no specific release date.
"The Wandering Earth," a short sci-fi story by Liu Cixin, became a blockbuster film in 2019 and raked in a Chinese box office total of 4.68 billion yuan (around 673 million U.S. dollars).
"I was overjoyed to finally be able to watch a video adaptation of 'The Three-Body Problem.' It shows people the unique charm of Chinese sci-fi," a Weibo post read, calling Saturday's release an important step in terms of the hit novel's adaptation for cinema and TV.
Saturday saw the new show hit a record number of simultaneous online viewers for a drama on the platform, Bilibili said. As of Saturday afternoon, the animated series had garnered more than 90 million views on the streaming page.
"The Three-Body Problem" animated series is Bilibili's biggest Chinese animation project and also its Chinese animation project with the most investment in recent years, according to the platform.
Ruan Rui, founder and CEO of YHKT Entertainment, the animation studio behind the adaptation and a co-producer of the drama, said it was challenging to use animation to present the rich content of the original novel, which highlights oriental philosophies and embodies Liu Cixin's thoughts on the spirit of humanity.
"Information conveyed through pictures is more direct, while words on the page allow more room for imagination," he said.
From the perspective of someone working in the culture industry, Ruan expressed his belief that both Chinese animation and Chinese sci-fi will enjoy rapid development as China continues to strengthen its cultural confidence and pursue self-improvement in science and technology.
"We will redouble our efforts to give full play to the strength of animation as an art form featuring free imagination, and we will show the vitality and creativity of Chinese film and television works to the world," Ruan said.
His observation echoes the thoughts of critics.
Yin Hong, vice chairman of the China Film Association and a professor at Tsinghua University, said in a previous interview with Xinhua that he expects animated Chinese films to "achieve a breakthrough in communicating Chinese culture to the rest of the world."
"A unique art style of Chinese animation is in the making, which breaks away from the old styles of Hollywood or Japanese animation," Yin said. ■