A giant mecha statue is going up in China. It looks like Gundam — if Gundam was sickly orange and built by men on bamboo poles. Japanese netizens are holding this up as another Chinese rip-off. Is Japan really one to talk?
Back in 2007, the Japanese media did a series of reports during its build up to the 2008 Olympics in which it showed how China copied whatever it could (reports of this nature continue, as evident with its iPed coverage).
Beijing's Shijingshan Amusement Park was held up an example of China at its worst, as it has a Sleeping Beauty Castle as well as characters that resemble not only Disney characters, but also Japanese characters like Hello Kitty and Doraemon. Even when there were claims that the park was illegally copying, for example, Minnie Mouse, the park responded that its character was not a mouse, but a cat with large ears. Here was Chinese piracy in a cute theme park.
Operated by the Shijingshan government, the theme park's slogan was, according to CNN.com, "Disneyland is too far." Odd because there is a Disneyland in Hong Kong, and this park actually has nothing to do with Disney. Shijingshan Amusement Park contested that its characters looked Chinese, while Disney's character looked Western. Regardless, Disney pushed on, and the park apparently began removing characters that violated copyright.
This wasn't the first time Disneyland was ripped off in Asia. Japan beat China to the punch by decades. In 1961, Nara Dreamland opened in the country's ancient capital. The theme park had a Main Street U.S.A. and its own Sleeping Beauty Castle, as well as a Matterhorn-type attraction, a jungle cruise and even a monorail! The park closed in 2006, but its ruins remain.
Disney itself isn't entirely guilt-free when it comes to being "inspired" by others. The Lion King owes a great deal — maybe too much even — to Japanese anime Kimba the White Lion.
In the past, China was lax about intellectual property, but the government is moving forward to change that. Slowly, but surely, the way the country operates will change. Japan in 1961 was a different place than it is today. Stuff that would fly then would not fly now. Still, everyone steals. Everyone. Some not only get more sophisticated at it, but have better lawyers.
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