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2019-01-18 13:43:52

A promotional video for an upcoming film starring the beloved British cartoon character Peppa Pig has become a massive hit in China.

Running over five minutes long, “What’s Peppa” has garnered over 43 million views in less than 24 hours on video site Miaopai. Alibaba Pictures released the short film Thursday to publicize a new movie it co-produced, “Peppa Celebrates Chinese New Year,” which is scheduled to premiere in China on Feb. 5 — the day that marks the beginning of the Year of the Pig in the Chinese zodiac.

Set around the Lunar New Year holiday, also called Spring Festival, the film follows a lonely old man’s quest to give his grandson what the boy wants most: Peppa Pig. Unsure of exactly what or who that is, the grandfather is shown talking to villagers and watching them play board games in an attempt to figure out what “Peppa” is before ultimately making a do-it-yourself gift from scrap metal.

Chu Mufeng, a Beijing-based film critic, appreciates the video for portraying kinship with a dash of humor — one of the reasons it may have connected with so many online. “It’s an expression of genuine emotions,” he told Sixth Tone on Friday. “And the Peppa fashioned from iron is quite cute,” he added.

Debuting in the United Kingdom in 2004, the TV series “Peppa Pig” first made it to China in 2015, instantly becoming a favorite among the country’s children. Its popularity soared to new heights last year after the titular character inexplicably became a street couture icon, leading to a new wave of Peppa Pig videos, merchandise, and even haircuts. But the cartoon soon disappeared from many video platforms in China because it supposedly promoted a “gangster” attitude.

Peppa’s return has already brought joy and fortune ahead of the festival season. On Friday, share prices of companies associated with the franchise rose following the promotional video’s release. Meanwhile, the Chinese hashtag for “What’s Peppa” had been viewed over 520 million times on microblogging site Weibo by Friday evening.

But not everyone has been bitten by the “What’s Peppa” bug.

Hannah Han, a 34-year-old marketing professional in Beijing, told Sixth Tone on Friday that the video hadn’t left much of an impression on her despite its feel-good tone and high production value. “It’s a version of village life imagined by middle-class people in big cities: This fantasy picture of life at the bottom of society doesn’t ring true to me,” she explained. “But the fact that it has gone viral means it’s already a success.”

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: A screenshot from the short film ‘What’s Peppa,’ released Jan. 17, 2019.)