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Animator Zanda Tang takes us back to ancient China in celebrated film ‘Diors Samurai’

Zanda Tang cannot remember the moment he became interested in art, for the Chinese native, it has always been a part of him. As a child, he preferred staying at home painting to playing outside with the neighborhood children. Rather than imaging a world with his action figures, he created one on a canvas, transfixed by the infinite possibilities that a pen and paper possessed. Now, over twenty years later, Tang still finds himself enthralled with the arts, and his passion has turned into a celebrated career as an animation concept artist.


Throughout his career, Tang has worked on many successful projects, whether for films, television shows, or advertising campaigns. He has impressed audiences around the world with his films Lion Dance and Baby and Granny, as well as with promotional content for Huiju Shopping Center Beijing and China Academy of Space Technology, to name a few.

Tang’s first taste of international acclaim started back in 2016 with his work on Diors Samurai. The animated film takes place in ancient times, where Samurai Yota falls in love with a beautiful princess and is heartbroken to learn that their love is forbidden. However, a chance encounter with a magical elder reveals that Yota may marry his princess if he travels through time to find her in the dystopian future. Yota jumps at the chance, and finds her, only to learn that she is now a successful police officer with no memory of him. Now Yota must divide his time between saving the city from ruthless organized gangs, trying to understand this confusing modern world, and hopefully sweeping the princess off her feet.

“This project seems very simple, but it represents the motivation of young people to fight bravely and dare to explore the future,” said Tang. “There is also a lot of playability in animation. For example, how did the ancient warrior adapt to the life in the modern society, and how did he use the traditional weapons to resist when he faced the enemy with the advanced weapons? How could he help his princess accomplish her mission in modern police identity? This story is very original.”


Diors Samurai has successfully screened at many prestigious film festivals around the world. It was an Official Selection at Trailer Fest Film Festival, London Monthly Film Festival, Direct Short Online Film Festival, Creation International Film Festival, and Play Film Festival. Tang also created the trailer to promote an original story idea for a US network TV pitch.

“Before the film went to festivals, I was actually at a turning point in my career, hesitating whether to be an illustrator or a game concept designer. After all of Diors Samurai’s success, I firmly believe that I can continue to take my favorite animation as my career. My goal is to integrate more styles, so that I can easily handle different types of projects,” said Tang.

Tang designed all the characters in this animation. He boldly used more ink style visual effects on the picture so that the characters formed a strong contrast between black and white, which enhanced the impact of the animation action fragments and made the whole film obtain a certain mystery. Monochrome embellishment makes the whole animation full of personality and creativity.

Tang had extensive knowledge on ancient warrior armor outside of the film, as a hobby he found interesting. This became pivotal in his designs for the film. In terms of painting style, he proposed to use more Asian style black and white to express the characters. He embellished the main character with high-purity colors, which represented the character's personality and state. This not only adds more atmosphere to the later martial arts movements, but also adds a deeper tone to the whole animation. This resulted in an ink-painting style of samurai animation.

“My understanding of Chinese culture and my years of obsessing over Japanese animation came in handy here. I've always liked to copy comic book characters, so this style is very familiar to me. I have a good command of body shape, structure and lines, and tend to caricature the character's facial features. The setting of traditional Oriental elements and a lot of fighting scenes were things I knew I could not only accurately depict, but also be passionate about,” he said.

It is Tang’s strength to give the characters a comic style; his designs give this film a unique and appealing image. Diors Samurai could not have achieved what it did without his animation talents, but for Tang, the most rewarding part of the project was working with such a stellar team.

“Each member of our project has the same personality as the protagonist of the story and dares to explore the unknown. As long as we set our goals, we will work hard to achieve them. Because of our personalities, this project can be completed well,” he concluded.

Written by Annabelle Lee
Published Jan. 29th, 2019

Animator Zanda Tang takes us back to ancient China in celebrated film ‘Diors Samurai’ Reviewed by JaamZIN on 10:49:00 AM Rating: 5
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