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Animation / Big Fish & Begonia

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What does it take to win back a soul?

Big Fish and Begonia (Chinese: 大鱼海棠, Pinyin: Da Yu Hai Tang) is a Chinese feature-length animated movie made in 2016. It tells the story of Chun, a young girl who lives in a mystical realm populated by the Others, magical spirit-like creatures. Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, she is transported to the human world in the shape of a red dolphin to spend seven days there as a rite of passage. During her time there, a human boy saves her from mortal danger but he dies in the process. Wracked with guilt, Chun is determined to bring the boy back to life - no matter what it takes...

Not to be confused with the 2003 movie Big Fish.


This animated movie provides examples of:

  • Amazing Technicolor Population: While Chun, Qiu and a few others have human-like pigmentation, plenty of Others have grey, blue or pink skin.
  • Award-Bait Song: This movie is full of them which all play in the credits. First, there’s ''Rendevous in this World'' by Eason Chan, then there’s ''Qiu like the Wind'' by Lala Hsu and finally, the main theme, ''Big Fish'' by Zhou Shen.
  • Balancing Death's Books: Chun has to pay half her life to the soul keeper in exchange for Kun being resurrected. Later on, Qui pays his whole life in exchange for Chun being able to follow Kun into the human world and live with him there.
  • Barbie Doll Anatomy: Every character we see naked or half-naked is like this.
  • Cats Are Magic: Cats are the only living creatures the soul keeper can keep as companions.
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  • Childhood Friend Romance: Unlucky Qiu, whose love is unrequited by Chun.
  • Cyclops: The soul keeper.
  • Green Thumb: Chun and her mother Feng possess the power to make vines and whole plants grow out of nothing.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: This film might as well be Heroic Sacrifice: The Movie.
    • The plot kicks off when Chun as a dolphin in the human world is caught in a net-like barrier in the ocean, and a human boy, in the process of saving her, drowns. This leads her to seek the soul keeper to attempt to resurrect him.
    • When Qiu is bitten by a venomous two-headed snake, Chun's grandfather says there is no antidote for it. He then uses his magic to suck the venom from Qiu's wounds and transfer it into his own body. He dies in the process by turning into a begonia tree.
    • Near the end of the movie, Chun realizes her actions have brought the apocalypse upon her people. She uses up all of her magic in order to make the begonia tree her grandfather turns into grow large enough to block all the water pouring from the sky and flooding the land. In the process she becomes part of the tree herself. Due to intervention from Qiu and the soul keeper, she gets better though, but loses her ability to perform magic in the process.
    • Finally, Qiu gives up his whole life to the soul keeper to save Chun and bring her to the human world at the film's end.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: In spite of knowing Chun will never love him in a romantic way, Qiu stands by her all the way and in the end, even helps her to reunite with Kun.
  • Love Triangle: Type 4. Qiu loves Chun, but she's in love with Kun.
  • Making a Splash: Qiu and his grandmother have the power to control large moving bodies of water.
  • Meaningful Name: "Chun" and "Qiu" mean 'spring' and 'fall' in Mandarin, respectively. When Chun dies, she turns into a begonia flower. When Qiu dies, his body turns into a flurry of autumn leaves.
  • Mystical White Hair: Qiu has magical powers and comes from a mystical world, and he has white hair despite his very young age (probably 17 and 18 years, as he has already accomplished his ritual one-week journey in the Human World at the beginning of the film).
  • Naked on Revival: Both "Kun" and Chun.
  • Our Souls Are Different: Human souls turn into tiny dolphins or rats after they die, depending on their morality. The Others can apparently choose what form they want to take in the afterlife, such as Chun's grandmother, who turns into a phoenix, or her grandfather, who turns into a begonia tree.
  • Our Spirits Are Different: The Others. It's never clearly established what role do they play in the universe, or even what they are except from stating they are neither humans nor gods.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: The Rat Matron doesn't have much plot importance, and why she wants to enter the human world isn't elaborated on.
  • The Sky Is an Ocean: The premise of the whole movie, both literally and metaphorically.
  • The Stinger: During a scene in the middle of the ending credits, we see the soul keeper resurrecting Qiu and revealing Qiu is to become the new soul keeper due to their pact.
  • Toilet Humour: Near the beginning, Qiu gets a load of horse feces on his head.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The rat matron is able to pass into the human world, but what happens to her beyond that is unknown.
  • You Dirty Rat!: Zigzagged. Rats in the underworld are stated to be human souls who used to be bad people before (in contrast to dolphins). The animals we see though are often shown to be quite helpful, if only out of obedience.