From the yellowface portrayal of Dr. Fu Manchu to iconic Vietnam War flicks like Full Metal Jacket and Apocalypse Now, Hollywood depictions of Asians have long been characterized by racism and stereotypes.
Fortunately, the past year has marked significant achievements for Asian representation in cinema, from Marvel’s first Asian superhero to Academy Award-winning films like Nomadland and Minari. Now, animation fans can rejoice in the industry’s latest milestone: Pixar’s first-ever Asian-led feature film — Turning Red.
The latest teaser trailer for the film — set to NSYNC’s “It’s Gonna Be Me” — was released on November 17, and it has already generated plenty of buzz on Chinese social media.
Directed by Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Domee Shi — winner of the 2019 Academy Award for her short film “Bao,” Turning Red tells the story of Meilin Lee (Rosalie Chiang), an energetic Chinese-Canadian teen who wakes up to find that she has taken the form of a giant red panda.
In the trailer, Mei’s mother, Ming (Sandra Oh), reveals that the family has a “mystical connection with red pandas.” The hereditary quirk causes Mei to transform into her furry alter ego whenever she feels strong emotions.
Set in early-2000s Toronto, Canada — also a Pixar first — the movie will feature three new songs from Grammy Award-winning siblings Billie Eilish and Fineas, portrayed as the fictional boy band 4*Town.
In addition to the soundtrack, which also features The Backstreet Boys’ “Larger Than Life,” nostalgic Millennials may also take note of the Tamagotchi carried by Mei early on in the trailer.
The hashtag for the new trailer has been trending on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo and has garnered almost 56 million views.
“It’s a truly amazing film!” wrote a comics blogger, who claimed to be part of the film’s production. “All leaders in the production team are young females, and the team is quite Asian in general.”
“Pixar finally has a super cute character! It’s so fluffy, I want to hug it. As a Chinese director, [Domee Shi] seems to know very well what cute things Asians would like,” another movie blogger opined. “And the heroine is not stereotyped as a nerdy introvert but has a strong personality.”
The film is scheduled for release in North America on March 11, 2022, but no China release date has yet to be made public.
Cover image via IMDb
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