Sagwa Miao is the title character in the educational Chinese and Canadian / American cartoon television series. The series is based on a novel published in 1994 written by Amy Tan and is made by Cinegroupe, which is based in Canada. Sesame workshop works on day to day animation requirements and it was aired on the PBS Kids channel. It started to be produced in 2001 and ran until 2002, after around 40 episodes. However, there were several reruns of episodes up until around 2008.
Sagwa lives during the Qing dynastic period in China, around 1840AD and the show follows her day to day life, showing the kids the problems she faces and teaching valuable life lessons. It is especially good at spreading messages about loyalty and family values.
Sagwa is part of the royal family of cats and has the amazing ability to be able to write with her tail. In Chinese her name means ‘silly melon head’ or ‘fool’. She lives in the palace of a magistrate in a village near pre-colonial Hong Kong, before it was leased to the British. She has lots of adventures with her brothers and sisters, all over the city. Sagwa is the middle child, around six years old in the first series, being born in the Year of the Dog (in 1834) and possesses all of the characteristics that you would want in a heroine.
She is kind, caring, thoughtful, very quick thinking and creative. She was apparently born white but then got her markings by falling into an ink pot when she was very young. She is a very talented calligrapher and is famed within the Miao family for her artistic skills. Her older brother is called Dongwa and her little sister is called Sheegwa. Dongwa is fiercely intelligent, competitive and very independently minded. He is very protective of his sisters and is creamy coloured, although has traditional Siamese markings. Sheegwa is very friendly and full of energy, although her high way of thinking of almost every animal she meets can sometimes get her into trouble. Sagwa looks out for her a lot, although she can be quite bossy.
Sagwa’s best friend is called Fu-Fu and she is also very good friends with a mouse named Shei-Hu. This relationship is important, as is the inclusion of lots of Chinese names and Chinese culture because it is encouraging children to accept all sorts of different cultures and people, no matter how different they might seem at first from yourself.
Sagwa is voiced by the actress Holly Gauthier-Frankel, a Canadian voice actress who is also a comedian and a singer. She is perhaps best known for playing Fern in Arthur and Rita in Go Hugo Go! She has numerous acting credits since the mid 1990s, including video games.
Sagwa was very popular with children on both sides of the Pacific, in China and in America and Canada. However, the commissioners chose not to recommission the series and so it petered out. However, it had great potential to show young people how people can work together, no matter who they are, and if they have a good attitude and are positive and help others, then they will have a good life.