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April 12, 2013

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WWII TV dramas border on the ridiculous

THE recent spurt in television dramas with themes of anti-Japanese aggression during the World War II - and its over-the-top dramatization - has left many viewers squirming and ducking for cover despite their strong public ratings.

The country has produced more than 150 anti-Japanese-themed TV dramas from 1949 to 2004. About 20 new dramas were produced in 2005 alone with the figure touching a staggering 70 last year, according to Chinese media reports.

In one controversial production, a Chinese man takes on armed Japanese soldiers with kung-fu. Screenshots from the drama, the Legendary Anti-Japanese Hero, showed the man tearing apart the soldiers with his bare hands.

As much as it was ridiculous, it was equally gory for its bloody content on air.

In another TV series, "Arrow on the Bowstring," a Chinese woman, on the verge of being raped by the Japanese soldiers, leaps into the air and fires off three arrows, killing an entire platoon of soldiers!

If that's not comical enough, another angry Chinese soldier destroys a Japanese aircraft by - if you will believe - throwing a grenade into the air!

With increasing number of such productions hitting the air, it has led to a growing public criticism against the makers of the television dramas.

Shi Zhongpeng, an actor who has played the Japanese soldier in over 30 such dramas, "died more than 200 times."

On one occasion, he died eight times in a day, Shi said.

Chinese netizens are questioning how the dramas manage to get past the censors.

"This is so ridiculous. The drama producer should invent an app called "slicing the Japanese devil," one netizen commented. "After watching the dramas, I am beginning to wonder if the Chinese won the anti-Japanese war just by martial arts?" wrote another.

But despite the scorn, these dramas seem to enjoy a high audience rating.

The "Legendary Anti-Japanese Hero," where the Japanese soldiers are torn up like pieces of paper, topped the audience ratings on many channels. In fact, each episode cost those TV channels more than 2 million yuan, according to the Southern Weekly newspaper.

Ni Jun, a professor with the Central Academy of Drama, said one should draw a line on such dramas. "It is just ridiculous that Chinese soldiers fly in the air when riding a motorcycle or a Chinese hero shoots down Japanese soldiers with arrows instead of bullets," Ni said.


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