2024年7月10日水曜日

JAPANESE MANGA 'CHIIKAWA' STRIKES CHORD WITH YOUTH IN CHINA - BEIJING CHINA

JAPANESE MANGA 'CHIIKAWA' STRIKES CHORD WITH YOUTH IN CHINA - BEIJING CHINA

@Jackie San


Cute animal characters from the Japanese manga "Chiikawa" have recently captivated China, thanks to their "soothing" effect, resulting in exceptional merchandise sales amid a stressful environment for many young people in the country.


Chiikawa characters embrace small moments of happiness despite facing everyday challenges, such as living in a modest home or failing to pass an exam. This positive attitude has "struck a chord" with a great number of young Chinese people navigating intense competition, according to local media.


People's Daily, the flagship newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, has described Chiikawa as "ibuprofen" for young people, or a "painkiller" for those who are emotionally exhausted.


Amid an economic slump, the youth unemployment rate remains relatively high in the world's second-largest economy, with the May figure for those aged 16 to 24 standing at 14.2 percent. University entrance exams are also highly competitive in a society that places much emphasis on academic performance.


The manga by Japanese illustrator Nagano, also known as "Nanka Chiisakute Kawaii Yatsu" (something small and cute), has been serialized online via Twitter, now X, since 2020 and TV animation adaptation began in 2022. There are three main characters -- Chiikawa, Hachiware and Usagi.


In late March, several hundred fans formed a line before the opening of a pop-up store in Shanghai to buy Chiikawa character goods, with some waiting for nearly five hours before entering the shop.


Sales during a three-day period exceeded 8 million yuan ($1.1 million), with each customer purchasing items worth 1,000 yuan on average.


A female college student who visited a Chiikawa pop-up store in Beijing said, "I want to sleep with the stuffed animals" of the manga and anime characters.


Some avid fans posted comments on Chinese social media platforms, with one saying, "I cannot stop crying when I watch Chiikawa," and another describing the creatures as having "the power to heal our hearts."

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