When everybody is speculating whether and when there will be a war between China and Japan over a few rocks in the East China Sea, on China’s TV screens, China’s anti-Japan war never stopped. TV dramas depicting heroic stories during the Sina-Japanese War in the early 20th century have a long history in China to be used as part of both history and patriotism education. The year of 2012, probably due to the never-ending island dispute between China and Japan, has been a particularly fruitful year for TV dramas with anti-Japan themes.
According to Nanfang Daily, in 2012, among the 200-something TV dramas aired on prime time at all of China’s satellite TV channels, over 70 are about the Sino-Japanese War or spy wars. Together with the popularity of Sino-Japanese War themed TV dramas, rises a new anti-Japan base, the Hengdian World Studios, the largest film studio in Asia that is located in Hengdian, a town in the city of Dongyang, Zhejiang province. According to Caijing, some 700 million “Japanese soldiers” died at the Studio in 2012. That’s enough corpses to circulate the earth 3 times.
In 2012, Hengdian World Studios hosted a total of 150 production teams, of which 48 (about 30%) filmed something related to the Sino-Japanese War. The Studio hired a total of 300,000 extras (person-time) in 2012, and 60% have played Japanese soldiers.
So many Japanese soldiers died at the Studio that it has been budded by Chinese netizens as the new “anti-Japan base” (Anti-Japan base is used to describe areas in China that were controlled by China’s Communist Party during the Sino-Japanese War). On Feb,3, @横店影视城娱乐频道, the official Sina Weibo (China’s Twitter) account of Hengdian World Studios, commented:
“Just took a walk around the studio. Everything looked great. Japanese soldiers were dying in all the possible ways you can think of. Many of them need to rush to several different production teams a day, dying at different scenes from day to night. It’s a heated New Year and Japanese soldiers are dying in heaps.”
And of course, Chinese netizens never stop to show their sarcasm: “A Japanese guy travels to Zhejiang province and finds a local tour guide. He gives the tour guide 3,000 yuan. He wants to go to the place where Japanese soldiers died in the biggest numbers during the Sino-Japanese War to worship his ancestors who died in China. The tour guide takes the money, uses 300 yuan to book a car. After an hour, they arrive at the place – Hengdian World Studios.”
It’s joke, but nevertheless has some truth in it. Zhi Zhongpeng, a professional extra who has been working at Hengdian World Studios for more than 4 years, told in an interview that the role he got most is a Japanese soldier. In 2012, he played Japanese soldiers for more than 200 times in over 30 Sino-Japanese War themed TV dramas. In an extremely case, he, in the role of a Japanese soldier, “died” 8 times in a day. His tip for those who want to be a Japanese soldier extra? Try to look vicious and sleazy. And his biggest dream as an actor? To play Chinese soldier one day.
If the sheer number of such TV dramas is enough to raise eyebrows, the way in which Japanese soldiers and Chinese anti-Japan heroes are depicted is even worse. Many netizens thought that these TV shows are more like sci-fi dramas than war dramas – anti-Japan heroes are acting like Neo in the Matrix with the ability to dodge bullets and mastering Superman kung fu. The Japanese soldiers, on the other hand, are acting like stupid @sses who don’t know where to shoot.
An anti-Japan hero tears apart a Japanese soldier with bare hands
One anti-Japan hero kills a crew of fully-armed Japanese soldiers by throwing knives
Some Chinese netizens thought the increase in such TV dramas indicated a soft and incapable Chinese government. Netizen 芝加哥的早晨 commented: “If one cannot compete with his enemy in real life, he dreams about winning in TV.” Netizen 单车-小陈 was more direct: “[The Chinese government] has no guts to fight a real war over Diaoyu Islands [with Japan]. The only thing it is capable of doing is to fill TV dramas with illusions.” yidongwei shared the same view: “Only someone who has always been beaten in reality would dream about victories in his imagination. It’s a psychological relief.”
The one thing that almost everybody agrees is that these TV dramas are stupid.