Letters from the dorm: How Detective Conan can help repair Sino-Japanese relations

Letters from the dorm: How Detective Conan can help repair Sino-Japanese relations

I have been a big fan of the Japanese anime series Detective Conan (Case Closed) for 10 years, and it continues to be addictive. Whether it is for a study break during a stressful time of the academic year, or a holiday treat, the series - which comprises some 800 episodes - always excites me. Yet, instead of talking about why I like it so much, I will explain how it reflects the Japanese culture.

I started watching Detective Conan as a kindergarten student on the mainland, where it has often been ranked as the most popular anime series. As mainland students learn about the cruelty of the war between China and Japan 70 years ago, their knowledge of Japan is enhanced by anime series like Detective Conan, which displays Japan's "soft power".

These "soft" cultural aspects might not change the "hard" political feelings that still exist, but they help provide a more objective view of our neighbour.

Learning about the literature, art, music, and food of a foreign country helps us get to know more about its culture.

Detective Conan introduces us to both the artistic culture, and the daily life of Japan.

There may be many similarities in the Chinese and Japanese cultures, but we can immediately see the differences in people's day-to-day behaviour.

By following how the characters interact, the words they use with people of different social groups, their movements and actions, we can use the series to study another culture more deeply. This theory is not perfect - there are many exceptions besides Detective Conan, but it did make me think.

Combined with other personal experiences, it gave me a new perspective on Japanese culture and traditions.

Recently, China celebrated the 70th anniversary of the victory over Japan during the second world war.

While I believe that we should not forget history, we should also try to improve our relations with our neighbours through "softer" means.

Detective Conan offers young people on the mainland a magnifying glass as to how they want to view Japan: from the negative impressions of the Japanese from history classes, or what they personally observe in the anime series.

This article appeared in the Young Post print edition as
Finding peace through anime


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