Coincidence or not, there seems to have been quite a run on news reports about Death Note fans in China just recently.
More specifically about how Chinese fans of Death Note and other banned media
access their favourite manga/anime, despite state censorship of the same in their country.
Chinese Twitter and Torrents - Death Note Fans Evade State Censorship in China
Prompted by the previous month's blacklisting of 38 Japanese anime/manga in China, as per a directive issued by its Ministry of Culture, Orsini's piece investigated how fans still manage to gain access to all that was banned.
Not to mention staging anime conventions (100,000 attendees last year) and enjoying a thriving cosplay culture. There is no prohibition in place for cosplay.
It seems that Sina Weibo - China's answer to Twitter - is a key source of information on where to locate Japanese entertainment, either on-line or in one of the many Anime Viewing Clubs now springing up everywhere. There are also forums dedicated to keeping fans informed, many of which have been around for over a decade.
It's mostly Chinese dubbed anime which is being wiped from the nation's easily accessed web channels. But the Japanese language is so close to Chinese, that many fans simply find a 'raw' (undubbed) version streamed in a plethora of places online, and watch them instead.
Otherwise, it's BitTorrent to download Japanese anime or manga, like Death Note, which has a huge fanbase in China.
All this is a summary of the fascinating fine detail in Orsini's article. I recommend that you check it out for more information and photographs.
Why Does the Chinese Government Hate Death Note ? An Anime Historian Spells it Out
Next up was Manga Series Banned in China, a radio broadcast from the BBC World Service - initially aired on July 25th 2015, at 17.32; since repeated several times over varying hours.
BBC Trending's Mike Wendling played host to Lulu Ning (who became a Death Note fan whilst still a student in China), Kerry Allen (China Analyst with BBC Monitoring) and Dr Jonathan Clements (author of The History of Anime amongst other related books).
The chat about Death Note censorship in China begins at 2.15 mins and ends around 8.37. Yet manages to cram a lot of informative insight during that short span.
Ning merely contextualized the popularity of Death Note for Chinese fans. Her brother introduced her to the anime, and it quickly became a talking point amongst her friends. It felt very different to the normal fare on offer, particularly because it discussed death - a topic avoided so often in mainstream society, that it almost felt taboo.
The picture was broadened by Allen, who explained why China banned certain anime and manga on June 8th 2015 - the official line was that these stories were too violent or pornographic.
However the restriction had not been received meekly by fans of the 'wildly popular' Death Note.
Yet the hashtag #DeathNote goes on with 10,000 people currently using it.
He described how this latest suppression of Death Note and other manga is indicative of a much wider trade war with Japan. Which hits the hearts and minds of Chinese citizens, simply because the stakes are so high on both sides.
For the Japanese, the goal is simple - there are 1.3 billion consumers in China, with a language and culture close enough for entertainment exports from Japan to be quite easily embraced. Breaking that market would be highly profitable.
Moreover, there's a precedent for how popular Japanese anime may be in China. Back in 2004, a survey found that six of China's top ten cartoons were actually Japanese imports.
This downright freaked the Chinese authorities out.
They saw only the possible undermining of their Communism ideals, with Death Note one of the greatest culprits of all.
Chinese television has little in the way of detective stories, because officials want to promote the notion that China has a low crime rate. Death Note is not only swamped with detectives, but it seems to validate the criminal. At least in the early stages, wherein Light is such a sympathetic character.
It's a tale which hinges upon supernatural and/or superstitious elements, both of which are suppressed in China. They are elements which could encourage religion, also not part of the Chinese Communist Manifesto.
Moreover, Death Note is viewed as pandering to a feeling of 'entitlement' amongst the youth of China. It's fundamentally a 'teenage power trip', whereby Light Yagami takes on all authority because he can. You have to wade through dozens of episodes before he seems to attract any kind of comeuppance.
Again not themes embraced by China's ruling officials.
They all had much more to say than I've crammed in here, so that segment of the broadcast is worth a quick listen.
China's Death Note Ban Seeks to Restrict Casual Access
It was (snappily) entitled Japanese comics that are too racy for Chinese censors... but still popular online (July 27th 2015) and featured much more from Dr Jonathan Clements, as well as examples of some of the comments being posted onto Sina Weibo.
An extra snippet that I found particularly interesting came from Clements:
The issue with a lot of Chinese censorship isn't about a blanket ban that keeps 100% of material out. It's about making life as difficult as possible for people who actually want it. A ban like this is about restricting casual access. (Dr J Clements, BBC Trending, July 27th 2015)
Pretty much like this one really!