Copied from Japanese anime? Social media users accuse the Chinese TV show of plagiarism

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The opening theme of China’s state television spectacle welcoming the Year of the Rabbit has sparked online outrage after game fans posted video clips suggesting it was plagiarized from a Japanese anime video game.

CCTV’s Spring Festival gala, a long-running feature of China’s Lunar New Year celebrations, opened with a star-studded cast singing an upbeat song titled “Flowers bloom in our homeland.”

Posts soon appeared on social media, both at home and abroad, noting the similarity between the song, which was said to have been written especially for the gala event, and the song titled “Peaceful * Champuru” set during the closing credits of Japanese anime video game Princess Connect! Again: diving.

“This is total plagiarism and totally unsurprising!” read a comment from user @Wangxiang_guest under a story about the issue posted on overseas-based Chinese-language site Wenxue City. Plagiarism has been a common practice since the Qing dynasty.

“The problem is that the plagiarized version isn’t as good as the original,” @Underpants_Superman agreed, while @Shakuras2000’s response was a bit more jaded: “Get used to it. There are so many Chinese songs that were copied from Japan.”

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“So a daring thief has dared to plagiarize an anime number from the Great Kingdom of Japan!” joked @Beijing_Rice_Bucket.

“Where’s the homegrown talent?”

Users on mainland China-based social media platform Weibo were a little more cautious, responding under a post of mock outrage over the plagiarism of “rumor-mongering.”

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“Obviously they are very similar,” @VegNo9_with_eggs wrote, while @Diligent_Brother commented, “China has so many conservatories, so what happened to all that homegrown talent?”

Others responded with laughing or crying emojis, while @Even_dregs_need_designing joked, “Actually, the flowers are blooming in Japan!”

Meanwhile, @Keep_a_low_profile had a suggestion for China’s internet censorship: “It’s not hard to deal with – just block the original version,” the user wrote with a cackling emoji.

Japanese Twitter user @linsbar described the opening song’s melody as a “ripoff” of the anime tune, while Twitter user @Canadasheep0121 wondered where all the online supporters of the ruling Chinese Communist Party were.

“The Little Pinks seem extremely quiet about this,” the user tweeted.

The state-sponsored English-language tabloid the Worldwide times quoted several as describing the gala performance as brimming with “amazing creativity with a message that is too good to be true”.

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“A culturally influential modern nation should have its representative modern cultural products, including the Spring Festival gala that crystallizes the spirit and creativity of the Chinese people,” the paper said in an editorial Monday.

Royalty? No problem.

American current affairs commentator Wang Jian said he was not surprised at the similarity between the two songs.

“China doesn’t pay much attention to copyright issues,” Wang said. “It is quite possible that this person simply copied [the song].”

“They could have just said: we want to buy the rights [to use the song] — how much would that cost?’ Does CCTV have no money?” he said.

He said the gala should have been canceled out of respect for the large numbers of people at the moment dying from COVID-19 in China.

“Millions of families have lost loved ones this year…do they really want to have a happy celebration?”

Translated by Luisetta Mudie. Edited by Malcolm Foster.

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