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December 25, 2009

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Return of 'Black Cat Detective'

THE motorcycle-riding Black Cat Detective who charmed Chinese children a generation ago rides again onto the silver screen in February.

The feline inspector has been updated, even getting into a bit of modern forensics science, and revved up for release for the weeklong Spring Festival holiday.

The 78-minute animation revisits the classic five-episode television series produced, once again, by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio.

"Black Cat Detective" was broadcast from 1984 to 1987, delighting audiences as he traveled about on his motorbike and fought villains, along with his cohorts. He defeated the greedy eagle and the crafty mouse to protect animals in the forest.

"When the series was first broadcast, the cat quickly became a popular hero for children because of his courage, wisdom and dedication," says Wang Tianyun, a producer of the film.

The effort is expected to appeal to nostalgic adults as well as kids.

According to director Dai Tielang, who created the original series, there are no major changes. The popular theme song is remixed and trendy modern elements have been added to some dialogue and to the settings.

"While retaining its original flavor, the film includes basic knowledge about modern forensic technology and zoology," says director Dai. "We hope it increases the popularity of domestic cartoons among today's children."

In a favorite episode from the classic, Black Cat solves the mysterious case of the death of a male preying mantis on his wedding day. The hapless insect, like all mantis males, are devoured by their brides after mating. The mother-to-be needs the nutrition from eating hubby.

"Black Cat Detective" will generate merchandising spin-offs, such as toys, books and DVDs.

The Shanghai Animation Film Studio has remade other classics, "Calabash Brothers" and "Magic Aster," each taking in more than 10 million yuan (US$1.5 million) at the box office.

"Black Cat Detective" will face box office competition over Spring Festival from another domestic cartoon feature, "Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf II," based on a popular 500-episode TV animation series.

Producers of the feline detective film are relying on their long-held reputation and large fan base.


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