Chen Ge, a Chinese student, earnestly picks out manga comics in Chinese, translated from the original Japanese, one after another at Uchiyama Shoten bookstore - which specializes in books written in the Chinese language - in the Kanda Jimbocho district in Tokyo.
Chen is one of the Chinese students whose essays on their affection for Japanese pop culture were chosen for their excellence and published in an anthology late last year.
The anthology, titled "Otaku to Yobaretemo" (I'll stay even if I'm called 'otaku'), is filled with the writers' praise for manga and anime.
In Shanghai, a musical themed on TV anime "Bishojo Senshi Sailor Moon" (Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon) was performed in January, pleasing local anime fans as they didn't have to fly to Japan to see it.
Japanese anime has been accepted well in China since starting to be broadcast in the 1980s in the country. The most significant contributing factor is probably the strong support of young Chinese people.
"I fell in love with Japanese anime." "Maruko-chan makes me happy." The anthology's table of contents lists such titles. The essays in the anthology were praised at an essay competition hosted by The Duan Press and the Center for China-Japan Exchange Studies.
With "ACG (anime, comics and game) and I" or "public manners and Chinese" as its themes, the contest has the subtitle "Japan's subculture and Chinese people's awareness of public manners discussed by Chinese people born in the 1990s." The 10th competition attracted a record 4,133 essays and 80 per cent of them wrote about ACG.
Chen, who was born in 1993, wrote in her essay that the popularity of Japanese anime "may have something to do with Japanese people's earnest character." She entered the essay when she was studying at a university in Zhejiang Province. Since September, she has studied at Josai International University in Japan.
According to Chen, the detail in Japanese anime production is meticulous and its fans are very earnest, as is represented by the so-called "otaku."
She also said that more and more Chinese people are becoming anime enthusiasts through the influence of Japanese otaku.
Japanese anime was first broadcast in China in 1981. The anime, "Astro Boy," depicting a mighty robot seeking justice, gave aspirations to Chinese people, leading to the broadcast of more Japanese anime.
Ryu Seira was born in Beijing in 1985. An anime otaku, she came to Japan and even became an anime voice actor. When Ryu was a primary school student, she was enchanted by the broadcast of "Sailor Moon" in China in the 1990s. In "Sailor Moon Crystal," which has been streamed online since July, she was chosen to perform the voice part for Shingo Tsukino, the protagonist's younger brother.
When the choice was announced, comments saying that a Chinese national had became a voice actor for the famous "Sailor Moon" were posted on the Internet and redistributed by several thousand people with such responses as "It's like a miracle."
According to Ryu, Japanese anime is popular partly because many works are themed on love. "When I was a middle and high school student, we were told it was too early to love somebody. Chinese anime doesn't regard love highly," she said.
Wei Qinru, who was born in the late 1980s, is a Japanese anime enthusiast, too. She studied politics at Fudan University in Shanghai and later obtained a master's degree from The University of Tokyo graduate school. She is now involved with the anime business at Asatsu-DK Inc.
Wei attributes Japanese anime's popularity in China to such keywords as "bukatsu" (club activities at school), "mune kyun" (feeling one's heart skip a beat for love) and "moe" (infatuated). Anime serves as a colorful other world for adolescents living in a gray existence where they are busy preparing for entrance exams. "Roughly, three out of 10 girls around me first fell in love with Tuxedo Mask (a young man adored by the protagonist of 'Sailor Moon')," she said.
In China, since 2006, TV broadcast of foreign anime has been restricted to promote domestic anime production. Now, it cannot be seen on terrestrial channels. Its fans watch mainly online.
Since the "Sailor Moon" musical was performed, some anime fans in China have been awaiting a musical version of "Tenisu no Ojisama" (The Prince of Tennis), Wei said.