The question of "Is enjoying Japanese manga and anime an unpatriotic act?" has been a great point of debate in China. The topic has caused many problems, and many young Chinese people are torn between their anti-Japan feelings and their love for Japanese manga.
One college student once posted on a Chinese bulletin board: "I don't want to be unpatriotic, but I can't help but watch Japanese anime. What should I do? Please give me some advice, I'm really under a lot of stress."
In 2006, a Chinese newspaper called Global Times published an article titled "Beware of Japanese Manga Misleading the Next Generation" (the article was later posted on the internet). The article triggered fierce response, many people asked: "Why blame Japanese manga?"
The article criticized some Japanese manga for ridiculing China and Korea's culture, as well as trying to "retell history by covering up Japan's war crimes." The article goes on to state that:
The reason Japanese manga has a dangerous influence on the next generation is not because it's promoted by the government or because of some extreme works. The reason is that the entire Japanese manga industry is using manga, a medium that appeals to children and young adults, to unconsciously push Japan's way of thinking, values and the concept of right and wrong, good and evil into the minds of children from other countries.
The article goes on to say that manga itself is good; it's just that most manga from Japan are being used in a wrong way. The writer concludes that China should be on alert for manga from Japan, and that China should battle this cultural influence by producing its own original and "healthy" manga.
Many writers responded by pointing out the difference between enjoying a manga and believe what's in a manga. Most modern Japanese are based on a fictional world, a world that people want to escape to.
According to one writer:
"Japanese manga show Japanese people's desire to escape into a different world, such as their desire to move to Europe, which is why many characters in manga look more like European than Asian."
It's perfectly normal to better understand these ideas and values by reading manga, which act as a mirror to another culture: "To have gain an understanding of Japan, it's better read manga than to read some third class sociology book, provided you read manga from an objective point of view and don't believe everything the manga has to say."
Many criticized the author of the article of being ignorant, pointing out that manga has long evolved out of a entertainment medium intended only for children. Works like Slam Dunk, Evangelion and Death Note were popular among many adults:
"Manga is a privilege available to everyone, works like Doraemon and Dragon Ball carried the dreams of millions, and continue to be popular even today."
During the discussion, a point was brought up: "If we block ourselves out from Japanese manga, what else do we have?" It has been a known fact among Chinese fans that China lacks its own original content, and what China does have can hardly compare with their oversea counterparts.
According to one writer, people can't even name three original Chinese products that are both popular among children and have positive influence on their growth.
In conclusion, many agreed that despite the current tension between China and Japan, people should try to look at things objectively instead of picking an extreme. Below is the translation of a Chinese blogger's thought on the matter, which reflects the point of view of many young people from China:
A Chinese Manga Blogger's Objection
The scary face above is a character from the popular manga Death Note, which was recently adapted into a movie.
This movie experienced remarkable sales in Japan and China, many young people (including me) are into this movie.
Because the Death Note movie is based on a manga, many angry comments appeared on bulletin boards criticizing the movie for being associated with a Japanese manga. The comments accused fans of the movie/manga, including myself, of being unpatriotic, that we prefer foreign goods over Chinese products.
However, I want to ask the attackers: "While you're attacking us, aren't you all impressed by the movie as well? How often have you talked about Death Note?"
Please calm down and stop attacking those who love Japanese manga. Just because I enjoy Japanese manga doesn't mean I have betrayed China.
People are accusing others of being unpatriotic without stopping to consider the quality of the manga. These people are shortsighted and their attitude exaggerated. I would like to ask them: "Do you have any foreign products around you? Have you ever eaten any imported foods, and used any foreign products?" As our forefathers once said: "Learn from the enemy in order to expel the enemy." So what's wrong with trying to surround ourselves with things from overseas?
Then there are manga imported from Japan. It's true that when China and Japan fought decades ago, Japan committed many inhuman acts, but are war and manga related in anyway? Does it mean China will stay away from Japanese manga because Japan invaded China? Germany also invaded China once, so should China ignore Adidas clothing? America is no good, so should we block NIKE shoes?
Do manga accusers know anything about themselves? China also committed many horrible crimes like the Japanese, the only difference was the number of victims,
Now we're enjoying Japanese manga and American movies, it's not an unpatriotic thing, we just want to enjoy good products. Who are the real patriots? I think we are more patriotic than those who abuse others.
Think what our country needs, China needs to be developed, and all countries need to learn from other countries.
While Japanese manga and anime are not perfect, people shouldn't see matters from one side only, it's meaningless. I hope they will be able to enjoy Japanese manga. Don't worry, we won't forget the war from decades ago, we are not betraying our country.
- "Beware of Japanese Manga Misleading the Next Generation" [ people.com.cn ]
- "Why Blame Japanese Manga" [ people.com.cn ]
- LaoDing Looking at the World
- Spring Here
Selected texts translated by T. Ohara