Burrowing into PLA history

By: XinhuaFrom:English Edition of Xinhua | Updated: 2017-Jul-31 12:31
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NANCHANG, July 30 (Xinhua) -- The People's Liberation Army (PLA) has come a long way since the armed uprising by 20,000 soldiers in the city of Nanchang on August 1, 1927.

Ninety years later, a creative young Chinese animator looking for a new way of telling the stories of modern history has used a cute bunny to represent the world's largest military force, along with eagles, bears, elephants and chicken representing some other countries.

Lin Chao's online animation "The Year, the Bunnies, and the Events" celebrates the upcoming 90th anniversary of the People's Liberation Army on August 1.

"With this cartoon, I want to tell our audience about the growth of our army," said Lin. "As a life-long fan of the military, I can see that our army is really becoming stronger."

Lin Chao, 32, is a member of the Dai ethnic group from southwest China's Yunnan province.

"I grew up reading magazines about the military," he recalled. Lin remembers how, as a student, he read an article in a textbook about the hardships of Chinese soldiers during the Korean War.

Lin began drawing his bunny series online in 2012. In 2014, his comics were adapted into an animation series. Topics include the fall of Qing Dynasty, the Chinese People's War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the Korean War, the Great Leap Forward, the dissolution of the former Soviet Union, the Kosovo War, and the September 11 attack.

He uses different cute animal figures to represent different nations. For instance, the United States is an eagle, the bear for the former Soviet Union, a rooster for France, and camels for the countries in Middle East.

"The Red Army was once called the 'Tubalu'," Lin said. "Tu" means at first the army was not regular units at that time and soldiers were ill-equipped. "'Tu' sounds like bunny, so I drew a bunny to represent China's mainland," he said.

"Bunnies are cute and easily accepted by audiences," said Xu Yuanzheng, a publicity official in Nanchang city. "In Chinese there is a saying 'even a bunny can bite', which could also explain how China rose from extremely harsh conditions."

The place the bunnies protect is called "Home of Horticulture", because in Chinese the word "horticulture" has similar pronunciation as "China."

The cartoon series soon became the most watched military history animation in China in 2014, with more than 500 million hits.

It was so popular that the PLA land forces contacted Lin and they began working on a new series about the founding of PLA.

"Both the army and Nanchang city promised that we have freedom in production," Lin said.

In the animation, a bunny smashes a cup and decides to rise up. He hid his long ears under cap before the first shot was fired.

Lin told Xinhua that the bunny represented Zhu De, one of the pioneers of the PLA who helped organize the Nanchang uprising.

"It was based on real history," Lin said.

Before the uprising, Zhu invited two Kuomintang regimental commanders to dinner and played cards with them, to give the revolutionaries time to ready themselves.

Lin began working on the animation in last September.

The animation does not show any fighting. "Such spectacular scenes are for blockbusters," Lin said. "What I do was just give audiences a rough idea, and if they are interested, they will dig deeper themselves."

Xu Yuanzheng believes the animation is a good way of teaching young people about history.

Web users also expressed their interest.

"My son likes it so much that he keeps talking about the 'Home of Horticulture'," said Weixiaomiandui on Sina Weibo. "He said he will work hard like the bunnies."

Mint_feixingmoshi said: "Telling history in such a humorous way is easy for young people to understand. Can't believe I cried while watching it! So proud!"

Lin Chao is happy with the audience reaction.

"Indeed we should be proud," he said. When he was young, he read the Naval and Merchant Ships magazine and most of the articles were about the advanced foreign warships. "But now I can see more information about the progress of our domestic vessels."

"I truly believe that our army will become stronger," he said.