At around 10 pm on December 10 in China, an animated series based on sci-fi trilogy “The Three-Body Problem,” which had been online for less than 12 hours, exceeded 100 million views on domestic video streaming platform Bilibili. At the same time, the number of simultaneous online viewers in the platform’s “animation stations” reached a new high. However, the highly anticipated animated work was quickly criticized by many viewers.
Negative comments abounded on Chinese social media, such as “the modeling is not as good as that in common games”; “picture quality is not as good as Incarnation [a Chinese animated series]”; “the modeling is okay, but characters’ movements are not smooth…” These posts offer some insight into the first impressions of many viewers.
In addition, some said that the story is not clearly expressed by the new series. Specifically, the “Guzheng Project” in the first episode of the animated series did not explain the cause and effect of the action, which made many viewers who hadn’t read the novel confused. One interviewee said in a report by Chinese media outlet Ranciyuan, “The reason why I watch this animated series is because it is a popular IP in China and abroad. I hadn’t read the novel itself and didn’t expect a perfect delivery of the original novel when I read it. I just want to have a look at the story content. However, I was totally confused.”
Another viewer said to Ranciyuan, “I watched the animated version with my friend. She introduced the content of the novel for five minutes to me before we started watching it, and stopped to share the background of the story for a minute every three or four minutes while watching the animated series. Even so, after watching it for 10 minutes, I was still confused and finally gave up watching it.”
“I have read the original novel twice, listened to the radio drama version once, and also saw the animated work of ‘My Three-Body Problem’ made by fans. The animated series launched this time gives me the feeling that the characters are quite shallow,” commented Li Dongdong, the founder of Chinese media outlet Geek Movie.
Although opinion on this animated version of The Three-Body Problem is now fiercely divided, it has been a successful project from the perspective of data and business performance.
Zhang Shengyan, the person in charge of The Three-Body Problem animation project, once said, “This animation is by far the largest animation project in Bilibili in terms of time and money.” It has been exclusive to Bilibili members since the second episode. According to current public feedback, the work may become a highlight of Bilibili‘s Q4 financial report.
In recent years, title sponsorship has become an important yardstick with which to measure the commercial value of films and television works. The Three-Body Problem animated series has four pre-roll ads, and there are also many advertisements embedded in the play, which is enough to show the commercial success of this animated series.