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The Influence of Japanese Pop Culture in China
    2007-08-02 16:20:53     CRIENGLISH.com

China got its first taste of Japanese cartoons around the New Year in 1981, when China Central Television screened a dubbed version of the anime classic "Astro Boy".

Twenty six years later and Japanese pop culture is all the rage in China, especially among the younger generation.

"Astro Boy" is the first Japanese cartoon introduced to the Chinese mainland. [File photo: bzkoo.com]
Our reporter Peng Ran asked two very different people how Japanese pop culture has affected Chinese youth.

Li Qiang is a young guy in his twenties who's a huge fan of Japanese cartoons, or anime.

And Doctor Li Wen is a senior scholar from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. He published the award-winning book "Japanese Culture in China (1972-2002)" in 2004. It provides a comprehensive and systematic look into the cultural interactions between both countries.


From "Astro Boy" to "Doraemon", "Saint Seiya" to "Slam Dunk", Chinese youth born in the 80s and later have grown up with Japanese cartoons and comic books.

Almost everyone under 30 can remember waiting in front of the TV to watch cartoons at dinner time on Sunday, or wrapping comic books in fake covers to sneak them past nagging parents.

IBM employee Li Qiang certainly does.

"I started watching Japanese cartoons when I was 6 years old. I was in primary school then. Japanese cartoons and comic books had a magic power to grip people's attention. Every one can find his favorite style in the cartoon world."

Li Qiang's favorite cartoon is "Slam Dunk". It's the story of a group of Japanese high school basketball players, their talents, struggles, friendship and puppy love affairs.

The realistic storyline, gorgeous characters and humorous dialogue made it a smash hit on Chinese TV in the 90s.

Li Qiang says it always cheers him up.

"My favorite Japanese cartoon is 'Slam Dunk', because it conveys the spirit of how to fight against failure, depicts the friendship of the basketball team and has upbeat music. If you are short of the will to fight, I suggest you watch it."

Japanese cartoons are much more than just entertainment for Li Qiang and the other young men who account for the bulk of China's manga fans. It helps them learn about Japan and the Japanese language.

Japanese cartoons have changed the way people view cartoons in China for once and all. They used to be considered only for kids but now lots of adults are flocking to the cinemas to watch animated Japanese films, or anime, as well.

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