Deep Sea

  • China Deep Sea (more)
China, 2023, 112 min

Directed by:

Xiaopeng Tian


Xiaopeng Tian


Peng Dou


Shenxiu has felt a deep sadness since her mother left the family. Awaking after a storm at sea, she finds herself in a kaleidoscopic, dreamlike world of swirling colour and cascading water, vividly realised in 3D animation. Guided by a many-eyed creature, the Hyjinx, she embarks on a quest to locate the Eye of the Deep Sea where she hopes to meet her mother again. She is accompanied by the wildly experimental chef and ship’s captain Nanhe whose restaurant under the ocean has fallen on hard times. To pay off his debts, he seeks a way to revive his signature soup dish, despite a scarcity of ingredients. It will take all of Shenxiu’s courage to brave the feared Red Phantom and weather the darkest storms, never losing sight of life’s bright moments. (Berlinale)


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English This grandiose mega-project is unfortunately illustrative of all of the attributes of Chinese animation, which still stands in the shadow of Japanese anime, which it also brazenly rips off, though unfortunately only in terms of form and style, without being able to focus on the strength of competitive screenplays. Deep Sea thus delivers a blatant variation on Spirited Away, but instead of Miyazaki’s multi-layered and empathetic treatise on growing up, the Chinese filmmakers just drastically overwhelm viewers with exaggerated milking of emotions and a stunning visual aspect which, however, is purely superficial at its core. Technically, Deep Sea remains disarming and amazing, but it’s rather disappointing that it doesn’t have the same ambitiously well-developed characters. ()

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