Thunderbolt Fantasy: anime-esque action with puppets

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How odd - the names are all Chinese but this is in Japanese.


I don’t know what this specifically comes from, but a lot of the fanbase for this style is in Japan and Taiwan. When I was in Taipei I could always find it on the hotel TV or being played in malls. From what the locals I know say, the televised puppet shows like this originate in Taiwan… but it’s hard to know how true that is.


I think I might have mild automatonophobia…

The glove puppetry and production is done at a studio in Taiwan.

It’s written by a Japanese screenwriter who worked on several anime previously.

The story sounds like it’s set in a kind of fantasy-ancient-China, à la Crouching Tiger.

Episodes are being released in 3 different languages at once: Japanese, Taiwanese, and Chinese.


I was thinking that it seems more wuxia-esque than anime-esque.


That was fun!!

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Except even more strangely, when the Dark Lord appears he’s speaking (what I think is) Chinese. Before he appears he says 「その通り、次はない」 “Precisely, there won’t be a next time”, but after that everything he says while descending from the heavens is in a stilted, formal-sounding (what I assume to be) Chinese. I don’t speak Chinese so I can’t be sure, but it’s certainly not Japanese anymore, and the Chinese characters that appear when he starts speaking, 「萬物之生死七之序」 isn’t normal Japanese at all but looks like 古文 (kobun), archaic classical Japanese written in the style of classical Chinese. I’ve never studied kobun before, but I know enough Japanese to interpret it as 「万物の命は七死をつぐ」, or literally “all life is a preface to the seven deaths”, and I suppose that 七死 or ’seven deaths’ is some kind of Buddhist terminology for ‘death through many cycles of rebirth’ or ‘final death’ or something like that.

Also the names that the characters use when speaking definitely don’t match the pinyin alphabet soup that is showing up in the subtitles.

A quick wikipedia search reveals that it’s a joint Japan-Taiwan production, and simultaneously produced in Japanese, native Taiwan Minnan, and Mandarin Chinese.


That is what grinds me, not that they are speaking in Japanese, but that the voice actors use the Japanese lecture of the characters’ names but the subtitles show the Chinese lecture of the same names, which is absolutely confusing!

I understand basic Chinese mandarin and was utterly baffled that the actors never pronounced any Chinese name.

If characters say “Hey, there is Phil!” don’t subtitle it “Hey, there is Felipe!”.

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Interesting. I know they like to load up on English words, I guess Chinese would make sense.

I think the name discrepancy is due to them using the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters for the character names. This is a common and established way of dealing with Chinese proper nouns in Japanese: Mao Tse Tong becomes Mou Tokuto, Beijing becomes Pekin, etc. Even native Chinese that live in Japan will use the Japanese pronunciation of their name when living in Japan. It’s similar to if my name were William and I were living in France, I would probably introduce myself as Guillaume.

However when making English subtitles for the speech, the translators would use the conventions for translating Chinese directly to English. That means using pinyin, not translating the Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese names.

There’s a Taiwanese/Chinese release? I need this.

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