Boonie Bears (熊出没) is a hit in China ever since it debuted on Jan 22nd and this year marks their 10th anniversary. This animated series is available to watch across many platforms, and in international markets, Netflix, Sony, YouTube and Disney are doing what they can to show just how beloved these bears are.
This series is similar to other fond long-running franchises featuring talking animals. It’s sometimes takes inspiration from The Land Before Time. The television series is fairly basic, taking on a few tones akin to to Yogi Bear meets Wile E. Coyote, and tends to keep its artistic style simple. The films, however, have progressed from low quality renders to high, and the sequels look better as more companies are investing into this IP. Also, the narratives tackle harder themes so viewers are aware of problems around the world, like eco-terrorism.
The adorable Briar and Bramble often interact more with Logger Vick and they have quite the complex relationship. Those new to this franchise are best advised to look at Fantastica (Entangled Worlds). It’s the most Ghibli-esque and has a lot of terrific CGI moments to marvel at.
The Big Shrink is the fifth instalment where Vick gets the much needed character development that the television series barely delved into. His father makes an appearance and wants to make up for those years when he wasn’t there for him. The bears are less involved here, but remain on the sideline to provide some support. It’s a satisfying watch for those youths facing a similar issue.
The sixth film, Blast to the Past, is darker in tone. Vic is now a tour guide. He’s magically blasted to the ancient world and with the two bears in tow, they’ll have to find a way back to the future. They become friends with a wolf, but her alpha dislikes what’s going on and plans to eat these strangers.
The latest, The Wild Life, sees the trio deal with a theme park built right near their habitat. Their life is disrupted, and even worse, the nefarious scientists working here want to turn this attraction into another Jurassic experiment!
Because these films are pumped out almost annually, I’m eager to see what the eighth movie will entail and if it’ll be celebratory. For some odd reason, I think this event will go unnoticed internationally, but I’ll do my bit to let animation fans know China has its own donghua empire, and yes, these bears are leading the pack!