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There’s Another “Three-Body Problem” TV Adaptation in the Works – And It Might Make It to Screens First

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As RADII reported last week, Shanghai’s YooZoo Pictures, the film production company that owns the adaptation rights to Liu Cixin’s Three-Body Problem, will begin filming a 24-episode series adaptation of the epic sci-fi trilogy as early as this September. Whether we actually end up seeing the series (YooZoo has a poor track record on this project), it now looks likely that we will be able to watch an animated Three-Body adaptation on video streaming platform Bilibili in the near future.

Bilibili, China’s largest anime streaming platform, is gearing up to mark its 10th anniversary. To celebrate, it’s released a theme song called “Cheers”, sung by Taiwanese pop band Mayday, and a second season of its popular original food documentary The Stories of Chuan’er, which got our mouths watering last year. But the most exciting news that Bilibili has announced in connection to their anniversary is that the platform will be teaming up with a YooZoo subsidiary, The Three-Body Universe, as well as YHTK Entertainment, an original animation production company, to adapt Liu Cixin’s trilogy into an animation. 

Related:

Liu Cixin’s “Three-Body Problem” To Be Adapted as 24-Episode TV Series

YHKT Entertainment is based in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, which fosters a rising animation industry. After three years in production, a 13-episode original animated series produced by the company, Incarnation, will air on July 13 exclusively on Bilibili. The eschatological sci-fi promotion video for Incarnation has been viewed nearly 15 million times on Bilibili so far. Perhaps in an effort to build on this buzz, a conceptual promo video for the Three-Body Problem animation being made for Bilibili’s anniversary was released last week, and has raised the hopes of millions of sci-fi and animation fans.

Technically, this will not be the first animated adaptation of Three-Body Problem. Since 2014, Shen You Ba Fang (Li Zhenyi) has directed and released a three-season, fan-made sandbox game-like series called The Three-Body Problem in MC on Bilibili, which has attracted more than 300,000 subscribers. Shen You Ba Fang showed up in an official interview as a member of the production team behind the newly-announced animation, along with Three-Body Universe CEO Xu Yao and YHKT founder Ruan Rui. So it seems official that The Three-Body Problem in MC is part of the official Three-Body Universe now.

Liu Cixin, the trilogy’s author, was also at a Bilibili party on June 26 for the announcement. Asia’s first Hugo Award winner has never hesitated to support adaptations of his works. He wrote a preface for a collection of 111 illustrations based on Three-Body Problem that was published in May, and attended a digital, 3D stage play created and performed by Lotus Lee Studio this year.

“When I was writing the book, I always imagined how the texts would be visualized,” said the author in an official interview released at the announcement event. Three-Body Universe CEO Xu explained that for a hard sci-fi narrative like Three-Body Problem, with so many high-concept images, “animation can present it in a unique form, while live performance might have its limits.”

Does this mean YooZoo will focus on the animated adaptation over the film or TV series? A 144-day countdown for the animation’s official promotional video release is a promising sign.

Many Three-Body fans are getting tired of waiting for a screen adaptation, such as the person who left the most-liked comment on Weibo:

“Go for it Bilibili! I’ve given up hope on the film and TV series.” – Zhui Feng Zhe Xu

The animation might be the best bet for book fans hoping for an adaptation:

“The ace of the China-original animation section [on Bilibili] has finally been laid on the table.” – Wudu Fangxin Nai

And hardcore fans should learn from this Bilibili user Yugan Paole, who’s committed to making lifestyle changes in order to make it to the animation’s premiere:

“From now on, I’ll go to sleep early and get up early, drink red date and wolfberry tea, and work out when I can. Don’t ask me why — I’m gonna ensure I live to see this animation aired.”

Fingers crossed they won’t be waiting too much longer.

Cover photo: Weibo

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Fan Shuhong
    Shuhong (aka Rita) is a language instructor, English/Chinese translator, writer, and proud bunny owner based in Beijing. She's previously worked in Washington D.C. and IUP at Tsinghua University. She loves Chinese language, Japanese arts, post-rock music and good English TV series. Instagram: rita_van

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