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China Comic & Games

Weibo Netizens Captured by Taiwanese Horror Game “Devotion”

The Devoted game is creating a super devoted online fandom.

Boyu Xiao

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Chinese gamers and netizens are captured by the horror game Devotion, that was released earlier this week by Taiwanese game developer Red Candle Games.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Taiwanese ‘Devotion’ Game Taken down in Mainland China amid Discussions over “Hidden Insults”

Since its release on February 19th, Chinese gamers are captured by the first-person atmospheric horror game Devotion (还愿). The popular game has taken social media by storm, triggering discussions all over Weibo; the hashtag #Devotion (#还愿) has received over 120 million views on Weibo at the time of writing.

Devotion is the fourth game that has been developed by Red Candle Games (@赤烛游戏), an independent game studio from Taiwan. Inspired by East Asian folk culture, the game depicts the life of a family shadowed by religious belief. It is already being compared to classic horror games such as Silent Hill 2.

The game design is rather impressive. We’ll give you a brief introduction to the story of the game, followed by an overview of Chinese social media discussions relating to it.

If you prefer to explore the story on your own without any spoilers, skip the first part and move to the second part. Note the game can only be played on Windows system now, available through game distribution platform Steam.

 
Devotion: The Story
 

The story of the Devotion game is set in Taiwan during the 1980s. It revolves around a fictional popular belief in the goddess Cigu Avalokiteshvara (慈姑观音). The game’s protagonist is Du Fengyu (杜丰于). He once was a popular playwright and is now trying to solve the mystery of what happened to his daughter Du Meixin (杜美心), going on an exploration inside the Du family apartment.

Du’s estranged wife is Gong Lifang (龚莉芳). Once a famous singer, she retired from the stage after marrying Du, who objected to her profession. Du, somewhat of a male chauvinist, refused Gong’s proposal to return to the stage, even when the family was suffering from a devastating financial crisis. Not long after the birth of their daughter, violence and hatred started to deeply affect the entire family.

The daughter inherits the gift of singing and performing from her mother. With his own flopped career, bad-tempered Du turns all of his attention towards turning his daughter into a successful singer, like her mother used to be. When the daughter is signed up to perform in a talent show, she fails to succeed and later develops a mysterious illness.

Du Fengyu turns to Teacher He (何老师), who practices the belief in Cigu Avalokiteshvara, to ‘cure’ his daughter. Opposing this practice and unable to change her husband’s mind, mother Gong Lifang runs away from the family home.

What follows is a spiritual journey in which Teacher He leads Du to travel through a ghostly world, where Du sacrifices himself to save his daughter. When Teacher He instructs Du to submerge his daughter in a bathtub full of alcohol, blood, and snakes for seven days, the situation turns extremely grim, as the little girl loses her life, and Teacher He manages to escape.

 
Weibo’s Devoted Fans
 

As the super popular game is trending on Weibo, an entire fandom culture is taking shape, with people discussing all the different features of the game, sharing fan art, and diving deep into its story.

One of the many fan art images devoted to the game.

Many netizens are expressing their fear of playing the horror game. “Whatever gave me the courage to play this game?!” some wonder.

“I just downloaded the game for its excellent atmospheric design. I was alone in the bedroom, with the lights turned off, and within five minutes of playing it I became absolutely terrified,” another player admits.

There are also some online discussions on whether or not protagonist Du is to blame for his little daughter’s misfortune, with some cursing him and others arguing that he deeply cares for his child.

The online fandom to the game is apparent in the many memes and images that are posted in relation to it. One Weibo user remarks that her friend, who is studying to be an architect, became so engrossed in the game that he drew up a map of the Du family home.

Many also appreciate the game’s music, that was produced by Taiwanese rockband No Party For Cao Dong (草东没有派对).

People can follow other players live streaming their Devotion experiences through online platforms such as bilibili.tv, acfun.tv, or twitch.tv.

Amid all discussions, the official Weibo news account of the Chinese Commission of Politics and Law (中国长安网) warn online players against the dangers of cults. Although not all commenters recognize the connection between the game and the “anti-cult” topic, they do point to the game’s ‘Teacher He’ as being the instigator of all the tragic events in the game’s narrative. By now, the hashtag “Teacher He” (#何老师) has even appeared in the Weibo hot search lists.

The success of Devotion represents the potential of the Chinese game industry in the eyes of many, giving Chinese developers a chance to get their game recognized by a global audience. Watch the trailer of the game embedded below:

As for me personally, I appreciate the storyline, the game design and music, but cannot share too much on my experiences of playing the game – I chickened out after the game’s first chapter.

For those who are not easily affected by horror, the game provides a great opportunity to immerse yourself in an eery 1980s Taiwan setting and enticing narrative. Remember to turn on the sound, and get ready for the scare.

By Boyu Xiao

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please email us.

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Boyu Xiao is an MPhil graduate in Asian Studies (Leiden University/Peking University) focused on modern China. She has a strong interest in feminist issues and specializes in the construction of memory in contemporary China.

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China Comic & Games

Chinese Woman Taken Away by Suzhou Police for Wearing Japanese Kimono

The Chinese cosplayer was taken away by police for dressing up as a Japanese manga character: “You are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are Chinese!”

Manya Koetse

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A Chinese female cosplayer who was dressed in a Japanese summer kimono while taking pictures in Suzhou’s ‘Little Tokyo’ area was taken away by local police for ‘provoking trouble.’ The incident has sparked concerns on Chinese social media.

A Chinese woman who was making street pictures of herself while dressed in a kimono was taken away by local Suzhou police for “picking quarrels” and “provoking trouble.”

A video that circulated on Chinese social media this week showed the local policeman talking to the young woman and screaming at her for wearing the Japanese kimono, suggesting she is not allowed to do so as a Chinese person.

“If you would be wearing Hanfu [Chinese traditional clothing], I would never have said this,” the policeman can be heard saying: “But you are wearing a kimono, as a Chinese. You are Chinese!” The video stops when the girl is taken away.

The incident happened on August 10 at Huaihai Street in Suzhou New District. Huaihai Street is also called “Little Tokyo” because the area is home to many Japanese businesses and restaurants.

The girl, who was previously active on Weibo under the nickname ‘Shadow not Self’ (是影子不是本人) is known to be a cosplayer, someone who likes to dress up a as a character from anime, TV show, or other works of fiction.

On the evening of August 10, she dressed up as the character Ushio Kofune from the Japanese manga series Summer Time Rendering, wearing a cotton summer kimono, better known as yukata. After she took some pictures to reenact a scene from the fictional work, she waited for her order at a local takoyaki place when the local officers approached her and eventually took her away.

According to a social media post by ‘Shadow not Self,’ she was released from the police station five hours later after she received some ‘education’ and police investigated the contents of her phone.

The scene from Summer Time Rendering that ‘Shadow not Self’ wanted to reenact while doing cosplay in Suzhou’s Huaihai street.

The incident first started surfaced on Chinese social media on the night of August 14 and then went viral on August 15, which marked the 77th anniversary of Japan’s surrender in World War II.

“Has even cosplay become dangerous now?” some commenters on Weibo wondered, with others calling the actions by the police “scary.”

“It’s just cosplay!” “How did she break the law?” many wondered, with some people calling the officer “incompetent.”

The kimono worn by ‘Shadow not Person’ is sold on Taobao for 158 yuan ($23).

Chinese political commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进) also weighed in on the issue via his social media channel (#胡锡进谈女孩穿和服被带走#). Although emphasizing the legal right Chinese citizens have to wear a kimono in public, Hu also mentioned that at a time of tense Sino-Japanese relations – noting Japan’s cooperation with the U.S. “to contain China” – there is a growing antipathy towards Japan, resulting in different perceptions of what it means to wear a kimono.

Nevertheless, Hu wrote, “a kimono is not a Japanese military uniform, and there is no legal reason why it should be banned.”

Hu also warned: “But when someone wants to wear a kimono, I would advise them to pay attention to their surroundings to prevent causing displeasure to those around them and, more importantly, to try to avoid becoming the center of unnecessary controversy themselves. There’s nothing wrong with respecting the feelings of the majority.”

Later on Monday night, CCTV uncoincidentally promoted a topic (#穿汉服就是回到古代吗#) related to wearing Hanfu or traditional Chinese clothing, writing: “As Chinese national traditional clothing, Hanfu can be fully integrated into modern daily life. (..) Change into Hanfu, let the beautiful culture move forward in a new era!”

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes and Xianyu Wang

 

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China Brands & Marketing

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.”

Manya Koetse

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

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