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China Arts & Entertainment

Overview of China’s 2015 Top TV Dramas

China is the largest consumer of television drama in the world. What’s on Weibo discusses China’s most popular TV series of the summer of 2015.

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1.“The Journey of Flower” 花千骨 (Hua Qian Gu

  Costume Drama, 2015, Hunan TV.

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The Journey of Flower is the number one TV hit of this moment, a love story evolving around Bai Zi Hua (played by Huo Jianhua) and Hua Qian Gu (actress Zhao Liying). The drama is based on the popular fantasy wuxia novel (仙侠奇缘之花千骨) by Fresh Guo Guo. When the three-minute short trailer was released online, it received more than 280 million views on Sina Weibo and became one of the hottest topics on China’s social media. The show is broadcasted from June 9, 2015 until August 31, 2015.

The Journey of Flower tells the story of the heroine Hu Qian Gu, a girl born under exceptional circumstances with a special scent and magical powers. Hu Qian Gu grows up in the outskirts of a village with just her sick father. At only 16, she becomes an orphan and is taken on by Bai Zihua, an immortal in charge of a magical realm, as his only disciple. Hu Qian Qu falls in love with her master, but doesn’t reveal her true feelings. The story revolves around their evolving love and the challenges Hu Qian Gu faces in fighting off her demons. To read recaps of every episode, you can follow this blog.

2. “Diamond Lover” 克拉恋人 (Kela Lianren)

Urban Romance, 2015, Zhejiang TV.

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Diamond Lover tells the story of Mi Duo, an ambitious young woman who falls in love with diamond factory director Xiao Liang. Because Mi Duo and Xiao Liang are worlds apart, she does not want to confess her love to him. But her life changes drastically after a car accident. Mi Duo loses weight and has to go through surgery, making her more beautiful than before. She is recruited to work for the diamond factory as a designer, and as she finds her place in the workplace, she also finds love and has to make important decisions between inner and outer beauty, love and career, friends and lovers.

3. “The Lost Tomb”  盗墓笔记(Dao Mu Bi Ji

Action Drama, 2015, iQIYI.

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The Lost Tomb is an action and adventure drama, revolving around Wu Xie (played by Li Yifeng), who comes from a family of archeologists. When his parents are killed by tomb robbers while protecting national heritage, the young Wu Xie is send abroad for his own safety. But unavoidably, the young Wu gets interested in historical relics. By chance, he obtains records that contain the secrets of an old tomb, also revealing information relating to his family. With the help of his family’s notes and a team of helpers, Wu Xie sets out on a journey to find lost treasures and the people who killed his family.

4. “Best Get Going” 加油吧实习生 (Jiayou Ba Shixisheng)

Urban Drama, 2015, Jiangsu TV.

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Best Get Going contains all elements of a contemporary urban drama: a group of post-90s generation friends is about to graduate from college, and they are all entering the job market by getting an internship. They suffer from their parent’s pressure, and struggle to make their own choices for their life, career and happiness.

5. “Tornado Girl” 旋风少女 (Xuan Feng Shao Nv

Youth Inspirational Drama, 2015, Hunan TV.

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This show has become quite popular because of its inspirational narrative that encourages people to pursue their dreams. The story of Tornado Girl revolves around orphan Qi Baicao, who becomes a member of the Songbai Martial Arts Hall. In the course of fighting with her friends and fighting against her competitors, she keep pursuing her own dreams, and insists on fair competition.

6. “Hua Xu Yin ” 华胥引(Hua Xu Yin

Fantasy Drama, 2015, Jiangxi TV

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The Hua Yu Xin drama is a popular fantasy drama that revolves around various Chinese myths. Ye Zhen (actress Lin Yuan) is the princess of the State of Wei (1040-209 BC), who unknowingly falls in love with Mo Yan, who turns out to be a price of the enemy kingdom. But she remains true to her love, and even dies for him.  Afterwards, she is resurrected through the magic power of the pearl and then becomes a dreamweaver, creating dreams for people with her Hua Xu tune.

7. “My Baby” 我的宝贝(Wo De Bao Bei

Urban Love Drama, 2015, Jiangsu TV.

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This drama has become especially popular because it is about a couple where the wife is very strong, whereas the husband is somewhat weak. The wife Liu Ruonan gets pregnant by accident, and when she gives birth to a baby girl, husband Yuan Xiaofan becomes a full-time stay-at-home dad. Ultimately, My Baby is a story about love, conveying that marriage needs commitment, and that it takes two people to make a relationship work.

8. “The Monster Killer” 无心法师(Wu Xin Fa Shi

Fantasy Drama, 2015, SOHU.

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This drama is set during the Qing dynasty (around 1862-1874), and revolves around the immortal man Wu Xin, who is doomed to eternal poverty. He does not know where he comes from or where he will go, or whether he is human or a demon. He retires to the mountains with his lover, but by the Republican era, his beloved has died, and Wu Xin is so poor that he leaves his mountain and pretends to be a monster-hunting monk in order to survive (source). This show especially popular because it is full of fantasy and mystery.

9. “The Icy And Fiery Youth” 冰与火的青春(Bin Yu Huo De Qing Chun

Youth Inspirational Drama, 2015, Hunan TV.

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Similar to Best Get Going, this drama tells the story of a group of post 1980s generation friends, following them from campus to society. By overcoming many difficulties and frustrations, they become stronger and more mature. Finally they learn how to cherish what they have, and appreciate the happiness in their lives.

10. “Destined to love you” 偏偏喜欢你(Pian Pian Xi Huan Ni

Inspirational Drama, 2015, Hunan TV.

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This show is especially popular because it embody chinese national spirit.
This somewhat nationalistic drama tells the story of a girl called Qian Baobao, who becomes the teacher at a military academy by mistake. She gets involved in confusing situations in terms of love and her own identity. Eventually, she learns to conquer these difficulties and defeat her enemies.

By Manya Koetse

References

– Koetse, Manya [forthcoming]. “From Woman Warrior to Good Wife – Confucian Influences on the Portrayal of Women in China’s Television Drama.” In Stefania Travagnin (ed), Religion and Media in China. New York: Routledge.
– Schneider, Florian. 2012. Visual Political Communication in Popular Chinese Television Series. Leiden and Boston: Koninklijke Brill NV.

©2015 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Busy Bee

    October 22, 2015 at 1:47 pm

    Thanks. I find it so useful as I can’t read Chinese. There are so many dramas that I want to watch but limited as I can’t read or write Chinese.
    Where can I watch them besides you tube?

  2. Yunita

    December 20, 2015 at 9:34 pm

    Thanks! Best get going has a unique story. I have been watching it for the past two days and still watching. Kind of addictive.

  3. Yunita

    December 20, 2015 at 9:35 pm

    I watched it through an application named DRAMOT+

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China Comic & Games

KFC China’s Psyduck Toy is a Viral Hit

As Psyduck goes viral, KFC Children’s Day toys are deemed “too childish for children but just perfect for us adults.”

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American fast-food chain KFC recently introduced three new Pokémon toys to go with its kids’ meals in various regions across China, with one of the toys, in particular, becoming a viral hit: Psyduck (可达鸭).

The new Pokémon toys were introduced on May 21st to celebrate Children’s Day (June 1). As reported by Shanghai Daily, the toys are randomly distributed in Children’s Day meals and will be released in different regions at different times.

Psyduck is a yellow duck-like Pokémon that is known to be confused because it’s bothered by headaches. One of the reasons why the Psyduck toy might be more popular than its fellow (Pikachu) toys, is because it dances, with its arms going up and down, and because of the catchy tune that starts once it starts moving. Psyduck is also a bit more dopey and ‘uncool’ than Pikachu, which makes him all the cooler (remember the Peppa Pig craze?)

Since its release, many people have been going crazy over the KFC toy. Psyduck fans have been hunting for the KFC treasure, and some have even turned it into a side business: they offer their services in getting as many KFC meals as necessary before grabbing the Psyduck toy – you’ll have to pay for their meal – and they’ll send the toy to their ‘customers’ later on.

The #Psyduck hashtag saw the first spike on Weibo on May 21st, the day of its release, when it received nearly 135 million views.

Although the toys were released for Children’s Day, most of these Psyduck fans are not kids at all. In one interview moment that went viral, an older man was asked about the Psyduck while he was standing in line at KFC. “I’m only here because my son wants it,” the man says. When he is asked how old his boy is, he answers: “He’s over thirty years old.”

A popular comment about the craze over the kids’ meal toys said: “This toy is perhaps too childish for children, but it’s just perfect for us adults.” The comment received nearly 20,000 likes.

If you buy a set meal including the toy, you will spend in between 59-109 yuan ($9-$16), but the reselling price of Psyduck has reportedly been as high as US$200 for just the Pokémon figure alone. KFC China has stated that it does not support this kind of reselling.

Illustration about the Psyduck crazy by New Weekly (@新周刊).

Especially among students, it has become popular to stick messages to the arms of the dancing Psyduck with motivational or humorous messages. Some students say the Psyduck keeps them company while they are studying.

Since short funny videos featuring Psyduck are going viral on Weibo and Douyin, a lot of Psyduck’s appeal relates to its social media success and joining in on the hype. People post videos of themselves unboxing their Psyduck, introducing it to their cat, imitating it, or they use the Psyduck in various creative ways.

This is not the first time for KFC toys to become a national craze. Earlier this year, KFC came out with limited edition blind boxes in a collaboration with Chinese toymaker Pop Mart. To get one of the dolls, customers needed to buy a 99 yuan (US$15.5) family set meal.

But the blind box sales also sparked criticism from China’s Consumer Association for promoting over-purchasing of its food and causing food waste. In order to get all of the six collectible dolls, including the rarest ones, customers would start buying many meals just for the dolls. As reported by SCMP at the time, one customer went as far as to spend US$1,650 on a total of 106 meals to collect all six dolls.

KFC is the most popular fast-food chain in China. People outside of China are sometimes surprised to find that KFC is so hugely popular in the mainland.

As explained in the book written about KFC China’s popularity (“Secret Recipe for Success“), its success story goes back to 1987, when the restaurant opened its first doors near Tiananmen Square in Beijing. Some reasons that contributed to KFC’s success in China are the popularity of chicken in China, the chain’s management system, the restaurant’s adaptation to local taste, and its successful marketing campaigns.

Now, Psyduck can be added as one of the ingredients in KFC China’s perhaps not-so-secret recipe for success.

By Manya Koetse

With contributions by Miranda Barnes

Featured image via @Baaaaaaaaal, Weibo.com

Image via Weibo

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China Arts & Entertainment

Chinese Elementary School Textbook Triggers Controversy for Being “Tragically Ugly”

This elementary schoolbook by the People’s Education Press went viral for being ugly.

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The illustrations in a Chinese schoolbook series for children have triggered controversy on social media platform Weibo, where the hashtag “People’s Education Press Math Teaching Material” (#人教版数学教材#) attracted over 860 million views by Thursday afternoon, with the “People’s Education Press Mathbook Illustration Controversy” (#人教版数学教材插图引争议#) garnering over 190 million views.

The illustrations went viral after some netizens spotted that the quality of the design in one math textbook series stood out from other books in how ‘aesthetically displeasing’ it is.

The children depicted in the teaching material have small, droopy eyes and big foreheads. Some commenters think their clothing also looks weird and that the overall design is just strange and “tragically ugly.”

Some images depicting little boys also drew controversy for allegedly showing a bulge in the pants. Adding girls sticking out their tongues, boys grabbing girls, a reversed Chinese flag, and some depictions of children’s clothing in the American flag colors, many people think the books are not just ugly but also have “evil intentions.”

Besides the people who think the design of the textbook series is so ugly that it must have been purposely drawn like this, there are also those who are angry, suggesting China has thousands of talented art students who would welcome a project like this and do it much better.

Some parents are also concerned that such poor quality design will negatively influence the aesthetic appreciation of the children using the books.

Fueling the controversy is the fact that the textbook in question has been published and designed by a team of relatively influential and experienced designers and publishers.

The design was done by, among others, Lu Min (吕旻) and Zheng Wenjuan (郑文娟) of the Beijing Wuyong Design Studio (北京吴勇设计工作室). The book is published by the People’s Education Press.

The People’s Education Press (PEP) is a major publishing house directly under the leadership of the Ministry of Education. Founded in 1950, it is responsible for compiling and publishing all kinds of teaching material for elementary education.

The textbook already caught the attention of some parents in early May. One parent shared photos of the textbook illustration on Q&A site Zhihu.com, writing: “This textbook is so ugly! How did it ever pass the review?”

The ugly textbook design has made many netizens look back on their own childhood textbooks, suggesting that more traditional Chinese design is much better than what is being produced nowadays.

Old textbook design shared online for comparison.

On May 26, the People’s Education Press responded to the controversy on Weibo. In its statement, the publishing house said it would reevaluate its elementary school mathematics textbooks illustrations and improve the quality of the design. In doing so, the publishing house said it would welcome feedback from the public. The statement soon received over 600,000 likes.

Professional graphic design artist Wuheqilin also weighed in on the discussion (read more about Wuheqilin here). In a lengthy Weibo post, Wuheqilin argues it is too easy for people to share their old textbook covers and images to show how much better they used to be, blaming poor design on the quality of illustrators in modern times.

According to Wuheqilin, it is not so much a matter of illustrators who have become worse, but of publishing houses saving more money on illustrations. Publishers do not prioritize design and are still offering the same prices to illustrators as they did a decade ago.

“The market has expanded, illustrators’ prices have gone up, but the philosophy of publishing houses hasn’t kept up with the times. This has led to them not really raising their budgets. When I entered the industry some 12 years ago, publishers could still a good artist for 500-800 RMB [$75-$120] to do a fine cover illustration, but now it would be difficult to find an artist to do it for 8000 RMB [$1188]. Around 2015 I was asked by a publishing house to do the cover of a sci-fi novel series they produced, and the process of our talks all went smoothly, but when I quoted my price they looked displeased and told me that even if they would do their best to give me the highest budget possible, it would still only be one-tenth of my quoted price. The price I quoted was just the normal price for a game poster illustration at the time. I never spoke to that publisher again afterward. And this was 2015, let alone how the situation is nowadays.”

This is not the first time Chinese school textbooks trigger controversy online. In 2017, an elementary school sexual education textbook caused a stir for being “too explicit” (read here).

UPDATE TO THIS STORY HERE.

Read more about (controversial) Chinese children’s books here.

By Manya Koetse

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Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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