Chinese Otaku in OUR SHINING DAYS

from left: Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei– instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute), Xu Lu as Chen Jing instrument Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer) and Han Zhongyu as Tata -instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Delicate, your voice is my music.

Written by

Jude Thaddeus L. Bautista

Chen Jing (Xu Lu) pauses by the dreaded door of dorm room 502 and sees the sign: HUMANS STAY OUT. She knocks on the door and introduces herself, no one answers. A string curtain made of pink stars and plastic beads rattle to announce her presence. On a top bunk bed, someone whose face is hidden under a blue hoodie glares at her and immediately texts on her smartphone “Don’t speak to me!” and shows the screen. Chen tries to explain why she’s there. Just then she sees two girls hunched over two laptops playing a game. One has blonde hair the other blue. One of them says, “That’s Sakura, she doesn’t speak. I’m Bei bei and this is Tata.” Chen tries to explain her need to form a band. A hand from a dark curtain grabs Chen’s flyer and a threatening voice, “Do you want to exit through the door or the window?”

Li Nuo as Sakura – instrument Er-hu (two stringed fiddle); Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

You can watch OUR SHINING DAYS and many other award winning Chinese films for free on a first come first served basis. OUR SHINING DAYS is part of the Spring Film Festival organized by the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies from February 13-18, 2018 at the Shang Cineplex, Shangri La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City.

Apart from the film festival there are a number of activities celebrating Chinese New Year that are open to the public and are free (also on a first come first served basis). This year the Chinese Painting Exhibit is at the Grand Atrium. On February 25, the Philippine Ling Nam Athletic Federation will hold an exciting and elaborate lion dance exhibition in the same venue. The Oodles of Noodles food fest will run from February 16 – 28, featuring special noodle dishes with special discounts from participating restaurants.

from right: FDCP Festival Dev. Lead Officer Jo Andrew Torlao, Dr. Rosita Leong, Ricardo Dy Leong co founders of the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, ADMU Pres. Fr. Jett Villarin, Shangri La Plaza EVP & Gen Mgr Lala Fojas Ricardo Leong Center Board Member Myrna Yao and Flexo Manufacturing Director Pet Bautista. Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

OUR SHINING DAYS celebrates Chinese traditional music injected with young cosplay inventiveness. Lesser-known aspects of ancient Chinese history, culture and traditional music are highlighted, while the struggles of this generation are dealt with. This gives viewers the best of both worlds. It’s for anyone or any group who has felt the need for acceptance.

300 Lanterns glowed for the Spring Film Festival 2018 at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall. Catch free Chinese movies and other free activities as part of the Chinese New Year Celebration this month of Februrary. Photo by Jude Bautista

PRINCESS JELLYFISH influence

OUR SHINING DAYS is an unlikely combination of the Japanese hit movie PRINCESS JELLYFISH and AMERCAN PIE, PITCH PERFECT with shades of GLEE. PRINCESS JELLYFISH is a successful Japanese manga (comic serial) that was so popular it was turned into an animated series that was then turned into a feature film. Its about a group of reclusive women trying to save the house they live in. They fall into a broad category called Otaku roughly translated to nerd or geek. What used to be a derogatory term is now more acceptable.

In China, at least according to this movie, they use the acronym ACG: Anime, Comics and games. These are some of the interests that are related to Otaku, but can be wider, interests can be photography, cars, hence the term, movie geek etc. The movie itself is live action and is combined with animated portions just like PRINCESS JELLYFISH. The connection with AMERICAN PIE is the term ‘band geek’ while the competitive side of music is from PITCH PERFECT or GLEE.

3rd and 4th from left: Shang Plaza Mall GM & EVP Lala Fojas and Ricardo Leong Center Spring Film Festival Director Jubilee Ong with Chinese Opera – Kaoka performers from Ateneo De Manila University faculty and students during the opening of the Spring Film Festival 2018 at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall, February 13, 2018. Photo by Jude Bautista

Kim Chiu and Enchong Dee

The main character here is Chen Jing played by Xu Lu. She looks like a nerdy version of Filipina actress Kim Chiu on a consistently bad hair day (at least for this role). There are a number of Filipino actors of Chinese descent like Kim Chiu and Enchong Dee who are very popular. I’ve compared a number of Chinese mainland actresses to Kim Chiu because she has those almond eyes, soft jawline, dainty lips that are attractive Asian features.

Kim Chiu and Enchong Dee are popular Filipino Stars of Chinese descent. Photos from: https://www.facebook.com/KimChiufnpage/ and https://www.facebook.com/DeeEnchong/

The Goal

Chen Jing falls for Wang Wen (Luo Mingjie) a classical piano prodigy, the star of the Zhong Xian Music Academy who already draws fans through concerts as a junior. Chen Jing excitedly volunteered as his page-turner (one who turns the pages for the sheet music during performance).

from right: Xu Lu as Chen Jing instrument Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer) and Luo Mingjie as Wang Wen. Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

After the concert was over she tells him how she truly feels. “I like you. I play the Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer).” A visibly irritated Wang Wen replies, “I have no time for anything else other than my music. The Yang-qin, what is that??? Is that even a real instrument?”

Luo Mingjie as Wang Wen; Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

So Chen Jing together with best pal, the klutzy, Li You (Peng Yuchang), set out to show her prowess in the instrument Wang knows nothing about. The goal is to make him fall in love with her through her music. To do this they need a band of several traditional Chinese instruments to back her up. The problem is their genré is no longer as popular. The only remaining students left to recruit are a group of reclusive freshmen who are into ACG and are considered Otaku.

from left: Li Nuo as Sakura – instrument Er-hu (two stringed fiddle), Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges), Han Zhongyu as Tata -instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute),
Peng Yuchang as Li You – (drums), Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei– instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute) and Xu Lu as Chen Jing instrument Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Instruments

The musical instruments are part and parcel of who they are and why they play them.   The leader of the newly formed traditional Chinese music band called 2.5 Dimension is Xiao Mai acted by Liu Yongxi who is tall, cropped hair, wearing dark robes.

Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Her instrument: the Gu Zheng, is the Chinese zither with movable bridges, and is plucked using fingers. The Gu Zheng has also figured prominently in KUNG FU HUSTLE. It was used by one of the assassins to fire invisible blades and needles while he played it.

A Lucky Pagoda was constructed at the ground floor of Shang Plaza Mall, where you can read your Chinese Horoscope prospects in this year of the Dog at the foot of the tower. Photo by Jude Bautista

Lead star Xu Lu as Chen Jing uses the Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer), which is also a stringed instrument but is struck with two sticks made of bamboo. The sound is in between a piano and a harp.

Xu Lu as Chen Jing instrument Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Indication of changing times

The storyline of the movie is also a good indication of how things are changing in China. For the longest time there has always been a strong anti-Japanese sentiment there because of atrocities committed during the Second World War. As late as 2005 when Hollywood produced MEMOIRS OF A GEISHA with Chinese superstar Zhang Zhi Yi, it was met with an uproar of protests and criticism. The public then didn’t want to see a Chinese actress portray a Japanese geisha.

from left: ADMU VP for Univ.& Global Relations Fr. Joey Cruz, ADMU Pres. Fr. Jett Villarin, Ricardo Dy Leong, Dr. Rosita Leong co founders of the Ricardo Leong Center for Chinese Studies, Xavier School Pres. Fr. Aristotle Dy. Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

These days there’s a strong following for Japanese animation, comics and games or Otaku culture among the Chinese youth. The freshmen attended an ACG Convention showing their popularity.

Legitimacy

The theme of legitimacy and acceptance is one that keeps cropping up. The norm in their school is to gain high enough grades and proficiency in their instrument that they qualify for scholarships abroad like Juliard and so on. This works for classical instruments like the piano, violin, cello etc.

While those in the program strictly concentrating on Chinese traditional instruments don’t have that ‘future’ or possibility of progressing abroad. So the classical music majors look down on students like Chen. That’s why there’s this ongoing war between the students of the two programs. In a way traditional Chinese music is fighting for its own legitimacy, as a dying art. (If the story of the movie is to be believed)

from left: Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei– instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute) and Han Zhongyu as Tata -instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

The ACG freshmen on the other hand are into cosplay and are reclusive group who have their own need for acceptance. As students they walk around with weird hair and costumes. People around them pressure them to conform. This is the overall theme of the movie that just because something is different or doesn’t conform, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be accepted.

from left: Li Nuo as Sakura – instrument Er-hu (two stringed fiddle), Han Zhongyu as Tata -instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute), Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges) and Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei– instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

History and Culture

They are rejected because of the way they look and their devotion to this lost ancient art of music. But for them the mastery of the instruments is not an end in itself. They immerse themselves in ancient history together with poetry and literature along with the music. For example, “The Chinese Zither or guqin often referred to as the instrument of sages for the purpose of enriching the heart and elevating human spirit. Confucius (around 600 BC) was a master of this instrument.” From: http://www.philmultic.com/home/instruments/

Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Maybe in the real world, the youth of today will see how invaluable history and culture is not just in China but in all nations.

Flowers blossom on Mount Nanshan. Moss grows on the fence.

Flowers blossom across the mountains every spring.

The grass on the faraway plains, catkins dance in the wind.

The grass grows on the path every year.

I’ve finally waited for spring to arrive when the grass are green.

I’ve finally waited for the red flower to blossom.

With the flowering of your beauty the river of years flow past.

—From the Chinese traditional song: The Grassy Path, adapted from

“Romantic Dream In A Garden” in Peony Pavilion.

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300 Lanterns glowed for the Spring Film Festival 2018 at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall. Catch free Chinese movies and other free activities as part of the Chinese New Year Celebration this month of Februrary. Photo by Jude Bautista

Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Painting by Pablo Ong Jr on Fan entitled Flowers In Bloom. A Chinese Painting Exhibit at the Grand Atrium of Shang Plaza Mall will run from Feb 13-18, 2018. Organized by the Ateneo Confucius Institute, the exhibit will culminate with a free Chinese Painting Workshop – Specifically on Jeans (Feb 18).

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Eason Chan as Inspection Director; Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Chinese Opera – Kaoka performance by Ateneo De Manila University faculty and students enlivened the opening of the Spring Film Festival 2018 at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall, February 13, 2018. Photo by Jude Bautista

flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14686025@N00/

(Feb 16)- Special mall wide Dragon Dance walkthrough, (Feb 25) 2pm there will be a cultural show entitled Philippine Ling Nam Dragon and Lion Exhibition at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Photo by Jude Bautista

Han Zhongyu as Tata -instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute) and Peng Yuchang as Li You – (drums). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

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Luo Mingjie as Wang Wen; Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Chinese Opera – Kaoka performance by Ateneo De Manila University faculty and students enlivened the opening of the Spring Film Festival 2018 at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall, February 13, 2018. Photo by Jude Bautista

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http://judebsports.wordpress.com/ , http://judebfood.wordpress.com/ , https://judebphoto.wordpress.com/ , http://judebgallery.wordpress.com/ , http://judebautista.wordpress.com/

from left: Han Zhongyu as Tata -instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute), Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute), Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges), Peng Yuchang as Li You – (drums)Xu Lu as Chen Jing instrument Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer) and Li Nuo as Sakura – instrument Er-hu (two stringed fiddle). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Luo Mingjie as Wang Wen; Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

WordPress:

http://judebsports.wordpress.com/ , http://judebfood.wordpress.com/ , https://judebphoto.wordpress.com/ , http://judebgallery.wordpress.com/ , http://judebautista.wordpress.com/

from left: Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei– instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute), Li Nuo as Sakura instrument Er-hu (two stringed fiddle), Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges) and Han Zhongyu as Tata instrument Pipa (pear shaped four stringed lute). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

(Feb 16)- Special mall wide Dragon Dance walkthrough, (Feb 25) 2pm there will be a cultural show entitled Philippine Ling Nam Dragon and Lion Exhibition at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall, Mandaluyong City. Photo by Jude Bautista

Lu Zhaohua as Bei bei– instrument Ruan (moon shaped lute). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

tumblr:

http://judebautista.tumblr.com/

center: Peng Yuchang as Li You – (drums); Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

Xu Lu as Chen Jing instrument Yang-qin (Chinese Dulcimer). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

flickr:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14686025@N00/

Liu Yongxi as Xiao Mai instrument Guzheng (Chinese zither with movable bridges). Watch OUR SHINING DAYS and other movies for free in the Spring Film Fest running at Shang Cineplex, Shang Plaza Mall from Feb 13-18, 2018.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/14686025@N00/

http://judebautista.tumblr.com/

300 Lanterns glowed for the Spring Film Festival 2018 at the Grand Atrium of Shangri La Plaza Mall. Catch free Chinese movies and other free activities as part of the Chinese New Year Celebration this month of Februrary. Photo by Jude Bautista

WordPress:

http://judebsports.wordpress.com/ , http://judebfood.wordpress.com/ , https://judebphoto.wordpress.com/ , http://judebgallery.wordpress.com/ , http://judebautista.wordpress.com/

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