Possibly my favorite thing about The Legend of Korra was its animation—though its story may have at times been lacking, its animation was far better and more impressive than that of its predecessor, Avatar: The Last Airbender. So when I saw this gifset on Tumblr, I immediately knew it was by Studio Mir, the Korra animators, and I went looking for the actual trailer.
Big Fish & Begonia appears to be based, at least in part, on the Chinese myth of the Peng and Kun, which is about a massive fish (kun) who turns into a massive bird (peng). From the myth:
In the northern darkness there is a fish and his name is K’un. The K’un is so huge I don’t know how many thousand li he measures. He changes and becomes a bird whose name is P’eng. The back of the P’eng measures I don’t know how many thousand li across and, when he rises up and flies off, his wings are like clouds all over the sky. When the sea begins to move, this bird sets off for the southern darkness, which is the Lake of Heaven.
Part of the trailer quotes the first couple lines of this myth, and it’s pretty clear that Kun will be a main character in the story. Like Haku in Spirited Away, Kun needs help returning to his home past the Gate of Heaven. Our protagonist has to help him get there, seemingly as a way to repay a debt she owes him. Beyond that, it’s as yet unclear why she’s helping him or how—from the trailer, it looks like she willingly enters the spirit world and becomes a dolphin, only to run into a world of trouble. Nevertheless, Big Fish & Begonia has been in the works for twelve years and is now finally approaching its release date as one of the most highly anticipated movies of the year.
A story like Big Fish & Begonia could be a great way for kids, both Chinese and otherwise, to learn about this lesser-known myth (and the other Chinese myths it folds in). However, though the movie is scheduled for a July 2016 release in China, it doesn’t appear to have an international release date. I guess the rest of us will just have to sit and wait.
(Hat-tip on this article goes to my mother, who was horrified to learn that I didn’t know about the legend of Peng and Kun and then lectured me for a half hour on my lack of understanding of the classics. Thanks, Mom.)