5 Reasons Why Turning Red Is Chinese (#3 Is My Favorite!)

Turning Red has become the talk of the internet, I know you’ve wondered to yourself if it’s a Chinese movie or not.

We will answer that and more in this article. Let’s keep reading to find out.

Here’s a quick answer:

Turning Red is an American animation that highlights Chinese cultures and traditions. 

This movie is about the struggle of a 13-year-old, Canadian – Chinese girl, Mei Lee. 

In addition, most scenes will show Chinese elements like the Chinese temple and steam dumplings.

Well, there’s more to it than what I mentioned above. Let’s take a look at some of the Chinese elements shown in the movie.

Why Turning Red is Chinese:

The Chinese Food

The Chinese Food
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People in the movie are shown eating Chinese delicacies. 

You can see foods like dumplings, fresh leaves of lettuce, porridge, mounds of eel rice, and a box of Tim Hortons Timbits.

These fresh meals remind Chinese fans that live overseas of their homes and make them want to go back.

Director Shi confirmed that in Chinese culture food is very significant.

When a Chinese man wants to say I love you he expresses it by offering you food.

Chinese Family Relationship

A typical Chinese parent is overprotective. 

They appear bossy and compel their children to behave a certain way and do certain things. This played out in Turn Red as Mei’s overbearing mother wants her to be a perfect daughter. 

Her grade in school is all that matters to her and is used as a standard for measuring her worth.

Mei’s mum had her future planned out even without consulting her or asking her what she wanted.

The movie also illustrated a Chinese family belief, “Xiao” (filial piety). i.e. loyalty to parents & ancestors.

Dombey Shi explained that Turning Red was born out of her own childhood experiences. She argued with her mum and was a rebellious teenager. 

After all, it’s not all Chinese families that have obedient daughters like Mei.

The Decoration Of Mei’s Family House

The decoration of Mei's family temple
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The decoration in Mei’s home represents a common Chinese residence.

The house was decorated with red lanterns and stone lions just before the gate. 

The old ones perform tai chi, while the younger ones play chess in the quadrangle.

Several koi fish are seen swimming in the pond.

The Chinese Dressing

Mei’s mum, Ming, is shown wearing a cultural Chinese attire “qipao”.

She loves watching TV shows starring ancient Chinese clothes.

A scene showed the children putting on hanboks, a traditional Korean attire that originated from Chinese culture.

Chinese Ancestor Worship

My family is seen chanting and performing rituals just exactly the way it is done in Chinese homes.

A Disney fan as well as a Chinese person confirmed this.

He said,

“Never did I imagine I could watch Chinese ancestor worship, burning joss sticks at family altars just as I’ve done hundreds of times with my own family, in a mainstream Disney movie.”

The points above indicate the Chinese details in Turning Red.

Who Made Turning Red?

Turning red was made by Domee Shi.

Domee Shi is a Canadian Chinese animator, administrator, and scriptwriter. 

She started as an intern student at the 36-year-old animation studio.

She participated as a storyboard artist for movies like Incredibles 2, Inside Out, etc.

Presently, she’s the First Lady to single-handedly direct a movie in the history of Pixar studio.

At an award conference, Domee Shi mentioned that she made Turning Red show kids, girls, and women they can do better.

They can direct great feature movie productions and be successful at them.


The Turning Red Chinese Chant – What is It?

Watch Mei’s family chanting here;

In the concluding part of the movie, Turning Red, a ritual scene is shown and Mei’s family is heard chanting uniformly in Cantonese.

The interpretation of this chant conveys an intense meaning to the activities taking place at the moment.

Fans of Turning Red have asked what exactly they were chanting, and they’ve made good efforts to find out what it is. 

Reddit users gave it a cold interpretation saying that they spoke Cantonese & English. 

Thus, they translated it to be “Cleanse your heart and body or Hold on to your heart or Let your spirit return  swiftly to where it belongs.”

They also passed the sound through  checks on Cantonese to the English translator, this was the finding;

“Purify the mind and body, shake hands, return to the position of the soul and return to the body.”

Domee Shi herself interpreted the chant to be a preservation chant.

The words are about watching over Mei, leading her throughout her life journey.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Turning Red was created to show the struggle of growing up with mixed traditions.

Most Chinese cultures and traditions are highlighted in the movie.

The film was made by Domee Shi, a Chinese Canadian animator,  scriptwriter, and director.

She directed Turning Red out of her personal experience, being stubborn and not obedient to her parents.

Producing the film was her way of stressing the importance of a mother and daughter relationship.

It’s clear to us now that Turning Red highlights most of the Chinese traditions! But did you know that it’s also a Disney movie?

Click here to learn what makes Turning Red a Disney movie.