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Web Animation / Xiao Xiao

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The opening screen for Episode 3.

Before countless stick figure animations... there was only Xiao Xiao.

Xiao Xiao is a flash series created by Zhu Zhiqiang, a Chinese animator. The movies consist of stick figures fighting each other in choreographed scenes. There's not much else to it; people beating the crap out of each other is its only highlight. And what a highlight it is as it gained a lot of popularity in Newgrounds during the early 2000s. It can be found here.

After a healthy nine episodes, the series was discontinued in 2002. Zhiqiang was last heard to be animating advertisements for Chinese companies, namely Heineken's Chinese branch and Cityplaza Mall in Hong Kong, but very little is known whether he's still involved in it or not.

This flash series contains examples of:

  • Art Shift: A notable feature of the series is how the stick figures' proportions tend to change mid-episode, becoming shorter and stockier during the drag-out, one-on-one fights.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The pillar level in 2 has the protagonist winding up a punch, seemingly about to try and break it down bare-handed. If you succeed in the QTE, he instead takes out some dynamite and a detonator to blow it up instead.
  • Bullet Time: Crops up from time to time, most notably in the Mutilator duology.
  • Butt-Monkey: The boss in 6, which is just an interactive movie where he gets repeatedly taken out without any attempts to fight back.
  • Call-Back: The third scene in 6, where the protagonist throws a bunch of weapons into him, shoots him with a bow, and then unloads a gun into him, is clearly based on a similar scene in the very first animation, where the hero was the one on the receiving end.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu:
    • The first installment had one of the fighters make a clone of himself. He still lost.
    • Best showcased in the third episode. Especially when the protagonist makes it to the "Boss", who proceeds to hand him his ass for 2/3 of their fight, despite the hero having plowed through a horde of enemies before then.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The protagonist can effortlessly mow through a horde of mooks like it's no one's business, with Bad Boss being the only one capable of giving him a decent fight.
  • Cutscene Boss: After clearing through 4 (which is a Rail Shooter), the final fight against the boss is played out in a cutscene.
  • Dark Is Evil: The main villain, apparently called "Boss", is purple. In Xiao Xiao 3, he's black until he prepares to fight the hero, at which point he becomes purple, presumably to differentiate him from the hero.
  • Death Is a Slap on the Wrist: In Episode 5 both fighters continue to fight as ghosts after they die, and fighting as a ghost really isn't that different. Hell, Mr. Boss doesn't even notice he's supposedly dead until after he sees his corpse.
  • Denser and Wackier: Xiao Xiao 5 takes a far more cartoony approach to the usual stick figure fighting, with things like both sides shrugging off themselves dying and Mr. Boss taking out a 200 ton mallet that wouldn't look out of place in the hands of Wile E. Coyote.
  • Downer Ending: Xiao Xiao 8, which ends with the bad guy getting away after a motorcycle chase and our protagonist reduced to hitchhiking with no success. There was supposed to be a third installment of the "Mutilator" series that would wrap things up, but it never got made. Unless you consider the ninth episode/game to be the third installment, even if it's not even loosely related to the "Mutilator" storyline.
  • Dualvertisement: Zhu animated two adverts for Heineken China, which also seem to advertise The Matrix Reloaded.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: The first installment was originally an .avi file that was later converted to a .swf and featured only two fighters. Both the protagonist and the antagonist are colored black, so it isn't easy to tell which fighter is supposed to be our beloved protagonist. It also uses a completely different sound effects library from the rest of the series.
  • Elite Mooks: A few show up in 3. The first two fight the protagonist as a pair, forcing him to defend himself until he grabs a weapon to deal with them, while a third one shows up a few moments later and actually lands a few hits on him before going down.
  • Everything Fades: Zig-zagged in 3; the first couple of mooks that get taken down fade after a short while, but the rest remain on-screen until the boss shows up before fading.
  • Foreign Language Title: The first episode was named "Xiǎo Xiǎo Zuò Pǐn", or "A Little Bit of Creative Work". Every episode after that was a numbered sequel simply named "Xiao Xiao #", literally "Little #".
  • Hit Stop: No. 3 contains the first one of them in the series.
  • Humiliation Conga: Episode 6 is just some experiments in ways to kill the villain.
  • Inconsistent Coloring: In Xiao Xiao 3, the boss is a lighter shade of purple than he is in the rest of the series.
  • Made of Iron: At least some of the stick figures must be this. The first installment is very notable in this department, with the protagonist getting nailed to the wall by several weapons, shot multiple times, and blown up by a rocket launcher only to get up and keep fighting, while his opponent likewise shrugs off getting an arm ripped off.
  • Neck Snap: The main character in No. 7 snaps a couple mooks' necks.
  • One-Man Army: The protagonist runs roughshod over pretty much everyone during No. 3 until he gets to the final enemy.
  • Quick Time Event: No. 2 is based around QTEs, including punching a column and reflecting cannonballs.
  • Professional Killer: The protagonist seems to play one in the seventh and eighth episodes, a subseries known as "Mutilator".
  • Purple Is Powerful: The boss is colored purple, and in the fighting animations, is the only one that can put up a fight against the protagonist.
  • Rail Shooter: The fourth installment is a very arcade-flavored one, in contrast to the norm up to that point.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: the very last Mook in Xiao Xiao 3 tries to make a break for it instead of fighting. It doesn't work.
  • Shout-Out:
    • It's very blatant that the series was inspired by kung-fu films and The Matrix. The final scene of No. 3 has the protagonist pulling the infamous Trinity Kick from the first movie right before the short ends and No. 4 and the Heineken ads include more recreations of Matrix scenes.
    • Xiao Xiao's animations in No. 9 are straight out of Final Fight.
  • Smash to Black: Xiao Xiao No. 3 ends with the scene going black as the boss is kicked through the wall.
  • Stick Figure Animation: It's the Trope Codifier of stick figure fights.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: A mook throws a few weapons at the protagonist in No. 3, but obviously none of them land. The protagonist himself has much more success when throwing things, though.