Open Culture Entertainment Empowers Chinese Animated Film “I am What I am” to Go Global!


01 Not a prodigy, not reborn. But still have dreams!

This is the sentiment expressed by anime director Tomohiko Ito after the Japanese release of I am What I am.

Tomohiko Ito, a top Japanese anime director who has worked on multiple acclaimed works such as Sword Art Online, Silver Spoon, and NieR: Automata, praised I am What I am as embodying the sporting spirit of the Reiwa era.


Similarly, renowned figures in the Japanese industry such as Makoto Shinkai, Hirokazu Oku, and Kunihiko Ikuhara all expressed admiration and awe after watching the film.


In the current overseas anime market, dominated by themes of reincarnation in other worlds, innate supernatural abilities, and nepo babies, it is not easy for I am What I am to receive such high praise from the Japanese industry insiders.

Starting from May 26th, the animated film I am What I am was released in Japan, with an impressive initial screening in 83 theaters. Major Japanese rating websites gave it an average score of 4.2 out of 5.

What is even more touching is that the news of its positive reception in Japan has reached back to China, garnering attention from China Central Television's "Focus Report" program.


02 The first step is always the hardest.

How did I am What I am manage to be released in Japan, and what is the story behind it?


Going back to 2021, one of the Japanese distributors, Facewhite Pictures, approached Open Culture Entertainment with the hope of jointly promoting a platform called the "Chinese Film Festival" to help Chinese animation films go global.

The "Chinese Film Festival" is a platform that showcases contemporary mainstream Chinese language films, including domestic animation productions, in mainstream Japanese cinemas. It serves as a testing ground for Chinese films to explore the Japanese market.

Different from other Chinese films released in Japan, over 80% of the audience who came to watch these films during the festival were Japanese, making it a more representative reflection of the local market. Any films that receive positive feedback or box office results during the festival will be nurtured and promoted for a potential release in Japan.

Before the advent of the "Chinese Film Festival," venturing into the international market was often solely relying on empirical decision making, fraught with costly trial and error. While the festival significantly reduced these risks, it remained a daring endeavor that few dared to undertake. This is where Facewhite Pictures turned to Open Culture Entertainment (OCE).

The objectives of this project seamlessly aligned with OCE's core mission – serving as a cultural bridge between the Chinese and Japanese film and entertainment industries. Their unwavering commitment to fostering bilateral exchange between these two creative powerhouses led OCE to make a resolute decision: to invest wholeheartedly and become deeply involved in the "Chinese Film Festival."


Presently, the "Chinese Film Festival" has triumphantly spread its cinematic wings, leaving an indelible mark on prominent cities such as Tokyo, Osaka, Yokohama, and Sapporo. But its ambitions extend far beyond these metropolises, with plans to venture into other mainstream Japanese cities like Fukuoka and Nagoya. I am What I am, Realm of Terracotta and The King's Avatar proudly stand as the vanguard, the first wave of films to conquer the hearts of audiences across the nation through this illustrious festival.

03 No pain, no gain.

The journey to global recognition is far from smooth-sailing.

n contrast to the centralized import and release system in China, each cinema in Japan operates independently, making it a challenge for films to achieve nationwide releases. The decision to screen a film is at the discretion of each cinema, and scheduling is often done through a reservation system, making the process arduous and complex.

When a film is released in Japan, it is often promoted as being available in "N theaters". The more theaters a film is released in, the more optimistic the cinema or market is about the film. For a Chinese domestic film, having a premiere in 50 theaters in Japan is considered a remarkable achievement. Therefore, I am What I am opening in 83 theaters is a testament to its exceptional quality.

Prior to this, OCE has achieved remarkable success in propelling two Chinese domestic films, Pegasus and Detective Chinatown 3, into the global spotlight. Pegasus soared to unprecedented heights as the fastest Chinese film to grace the screens of Japan, rewriting the record books for Chinese films venturing beyond their shores. Meanwhile, Detective Chinatown 3 was released in 130 cinemas in Japan. These extraordinary achievements served as a beacon of hope and inspiration, prompting Facewhite Pictures to eagerly seek the collaborative prowess of OCE.

Beyond their extensive expertise in international expansion and strategic investments, OCE embraced an immersive role within the project. It facilitated the creation of a Japanese theme song titled "この日々よ歌になれ" (literal meaning: These days, become a song.) brilliantly performed by the renowned Japanese singer, Non.


The indomitable perseverance and success story depicted in the movie I am What I am continues to touch the Japanese market, and Open Culture Entertainment, captivated by this, eagerly joined the journey to conquer foreign shores. Eventually, the news of its release also gained enthusiastic coverage from the Japanese media.


At last, let us now witness the international trailer of the film, featuring the voices of top Japanese voice actors such as Natsuki Hanae, Hiyori Sakurada, Koichi Yamadera, and Kappei Yamaguchi.

Though our languages may differ, the roaring cry of the lion within our hearts unites us all in a harmonious world.