Chinese State Media Congratulated on Return of Japanese Anime Cells at Work! but some unfortunate series edited to be less violent

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A popular science anime that makes heroes and villains out of human body cells has become the first Japanese manga series on the Chinese state broadcaster since the foreign cartoon ban over a decade ago.

Cells at work!, which shares the daily life of human blood cells as they work to maintain the health of the body, became an instant hit among Japanese animation fans after its 2018 release.

The cartoon’s sudden appearance on CCTV-6, which hasn’t aired any foreign animation since 2007, has drawn criticism as well as enthusiasm from social media users across Japan and China.

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The image above shows a scene from Cells at Work! before it is changed to black and white to remove the color from the blood. Photo: Handout

On Chinese film reviews site Douban, the series was rated 8.9 out of 10 by viewers. However, the released Chinese version has been criticized by some for cutting scenes that authorities deemed too violent and turning the color of blood from red to black.

“I’m so used to colorful images that I was a little shocked when everything suddenly turned black and white during a bleeding scene. Such a sharp change occurs frequently in this show and seems hostile to anime fans, ”one user on Weibo said.

“I have to say I’m disappointed that a lot of the fight scenes are being deleted. It’s a lot less exciting with such a montage, ”said another user.

The recent comeback of Japanese animation has made some speculate, wondering why now? This could be a sign of improving Sino-Japanese relations, said Live Japan, a weekly for Chinese readers in Japan.

There was a time when Astro Boy and IkkyÅ«-san were the most talked about animated series among Chinese children, but with the goal of encouraging the growth of the country’s animation industry – coupled with the deterioration of Japan-China relations – the Japanese series has gradually disappeared from screens, the publication reported.

In one example, the Japanese series Pokémon: Diamond and Pearl first aired on CCTV in 2011, but was then abruptly taken off screens without any explanation.

The CCTV version of the Japanese animated series Cells at Work!  has been changed to black and white when there are scenes involving blood.

The CCTV version of the Japanese animated series Cells at Work! has been changed to black and white when there are scenes involving blood.

In 2006, China’s State Administration of Radio, Film and Television banned all television stations in the country from broadcasting foreign cartoon series during prime time. It was also necessary that at least 70% of the animation broadcast throughout the day be made in China.

After debuting in Japan in July 2018, the series gained tens of millions of views on Chinese video-sharing websites although it was not available on Chinese TV until now.

Dubbed in Chinese and partially edited to meet Chinese standards for young viewers, the show began airing last month on CCTV-6.

The CCTV version also wowed fans by introducing a Northeast Chinese dialect, the unofficial language of Chinese comedy, when it doubled the voices of a group of red blood cells transfused into a body.

It has been suggested that the CCTV version of the Japanese animated series be released to help raise awareness of health during the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been suggested that the CCTV version of the Japanese animated series be released to help raise awareness of health during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some viewers felt that Chinese authorities gave the green light to this fictionalized version of biology in the interest of public health education during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Over the past year, we have been through so many hardships because of the coronavirus pandemic. Now is a good time to release this anime, where people can learn more about the immune system, ”commented one Weibo user.

“The introduction of this Japanese manga by state television suggests that the authorities are changing the way they communicate with the younger generation. They are trying a method more acceptable to young people, ”said another user.

An article promoting the show by CCTV-6 read, “Whether you are an adult or a child, we hope you can get to know yourself better after watching Cells At Work!” Be more aware and able to protect yourself during [coronavirus] epidemic.”

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