Anime director Makoto Shinkai on Friday said China could eventually leapfrog Japan on the global animation stage as Chinese animated drama "Art College 1994" had its world premiere in Berlin.

Shinkai's "Suzume," among the contenders for the Golden Bear at this year's Berlinale film festival, has made a splash amid a global boom in Japanese anime. But "Art College 1994," Chinese director Liu Jian's animated portrait of a group of art students in the 1990s, has also got the critics talking. Screen Daily said it "evokes a specific time and a place so vividly that you can almost taste the stale cigarette smoke and cheap beer."

"The quality of (Chinese) movies is improving rapidly, and they're also able to build those unique characters that we have in Japan," Shinkai said. "So I think that sooner or later they're going to overtake us."