China and Japan: cartoon warfare

As a celebration of National Day, the CCTV in China is now showing a 36 episodes 3-D Cartoon “Devil soldiers in Mao-er Mountain” (帽兒山的鬼子兵)in October. The cartoon was produced by a company in Heilongjiang and selected by the National boardcast bureau in Dongbei area (North east China) as one of the best cartoon production of the year (see press release on September 30, 2006).

The background of the cartoon is 1930s-40s (during WWII), in a village near a mountain (Mao-er) in Heilongjiang. The story is about the interaction between 3 Chinese kids and 5 Japanese soldiers.

The Chinese science fiction writer Han Song (韓松) comments that the image of Japanese soldiers in that cartoon is the stereotype Chinese imagination, it would certainly irritate millions of Japanese people.


The IQ of the 5 Japanese is designed very low, for example, when there is thunder storm, they don't take off their iron helmets and hide themselves under the big tree… they enjoy taking advantage of others and are gluttonous, always fall into the kids’ trap because of that…

At the end of the cartoon, the lyrics of the song goes like this:


I irritate the devil soldiers
I playfully torture the devil soldiers
I play and irritate, with hits and kicks
I spoof / torture the devil soldiers to death!

Why showing this cartoon during the national day's month? When the country is preparing for the Olympic?


Probably, it is for the revenge of the spoofing of the Chinese classic, “the Red Mansion” (see ESWN's sex slave of Red Mansion). However, the two spoofings are at two different levels, now that we are criticizing the “invaders” and backing up by the CCTV. And the National Boardcast Bureau has selected the cartoon among the best national production, recommended it to all the children in China. How come the Diplomatic department has not made any comment.

There were no much discussion among Chinese blogsphere yet. But Xu Xiaoping (徐小平) has re-posted a commentary written by Rui Cheng Gang (芮成剛), CCTV international programme host, advising every Chinese, especially the youth, to read more about Japan (zh).



If a Amercian has never been to China and doesn't have any Chinese friend, s/he get some bad impression from the media and cliams that China is bad. I couldn't accept that. I would say: without investigation, you have no right to speak. You know nothing about China, how can you make such judgement?

How about us? Do we really understand Japan?


  • “Devil soldiers”; unless somthing is lost in the translation, it gets me wondering…

    For avowedly atheists, they claim not to believe in God, but still fear Devils an Demons. A lot of “propagandist” use the word, apparently; this is similar to the Arab world.

    Coercion by fear works better than convincing people with hope…

  • yeah, thanks for pointing that out. Gweizi means ghost from the hell. In Hong Kong, we also used to call foreigner Gweilo. The original meaning is rather impolite and discriminative. However, in recent years, many local foreigners also call themselves Gweilo in a joking tone. It is not offensive.

    But Japanese Gweizi or Gweizi soldier is offensive and discriminative. And it is widely used in mainland china.

  • iridium

    Yes, I’a agree with Han Song. But he missed this: Japan has irritated millions of Chinese.

  • markuc

    Please, you guys are ridiculous. “Gui” literally translates to “ghost”. These are ghosts from the netherwold in chinese folkslore and has nothing to do with judaic/christian “hell”. As a general note, translations on this site are often exaggerated even twisted based on the translator’s obvious detest of the chinese government. That is the site owner’s position and it’s fine but I think neutrality should still be practiced in translations. Masking everything through this colored lense would actually turn away readers who just want an objective story.
    Don’t become another Fox News!

  • oiwan

    of course, “gui” means ghost and in Chinese, there are good ghosts or bad ghosts. if it is 黑鬼 (a discriminative term for black people), it can be translated into black alien. however, for 日本鬼子, the connotation is definitely more negative as it is related to the “invasion” and killing of innocent people. in this sense, i don’t think “devil” is a big twist from the original meaning. of course, there is a cultural difference in the understanding of underworld. even the world ghost has different meaning in western and chinese culture. for chinese, we feed ghosts during ghost festival in july.

  • Pardon me. Hello.

    Brilliant discussion and interesting information.

    this is a bit of a seguey, but its part of the discussion now, so:

    ” 黑鬼 (a discriminative term for black people), it can be translated into black alien. ”

    “Black alien”


    Do many people really support that outlook in China?

    Its difficult to be reminded of such insolent behavior towards other human beings. Afterall, we do have alot of important things in common.

    … the planet being one.

    That’s enough for We.

    Why not drop the pettiness and treat ourselves instead to nurturance, joyful survival and celebration?


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