Happy Running, also known as Running Freely, is a 2009 Chinese animated film directed by Sun Lijun (Director of Little Soldier Zhang Ga and Legend of Kung Fu Rabbit) and published by the Beijing Film Academy.
Set in a world with anthropomorphic vegetables, fruits, and other plants, it is about an anthropomorphic white gourd named Toto, who struggles to be skilled in sports due to his weight. When he learn from his mistakes and train with his friends, he would take on the 101st Super Vegetable Contest, an major event held every four years filled with obstacles that requires teamwork to pass.
The film is a message to children to promote exercise and eating organic foods, justified by the fact that the characters are usually anthropomorphic food. The film was released in August 2009. It was anticipated by the production team to become a blockbuster and milestone animated film in mainland China but as with most other Chinese animated films in theaters, it was a box-office disappointment, and received mixed reviews. Despite this, Sun Lijun would still create high profiled and innovative animated movies.
Tropes used in Happy Running:
- Animesque: It has anime-inspired visuals.
- Captain Ersatz: The worm monsters in the Super Vegetable Contest, which look like Wrigglers from Super Mario Bros., hence their ball-like segments.
- Cats Are Magic: Toto's pet cat. He enchants Toto to win in competitions.
- Conspicuous CG: The worm monsters as described above appear in static CG animation (Only the ones that come out of the pumpkins).
- Eldritch Abomination: The monster encountered near the end of the Super vegetable Contest.
- Fangirl: Three fangirls cheer on Toto and Thorn several times.
- Jerkass: Thorn is a very arrogant bully who constantly teases Toto and his friends.