The story of Ying Zheng, the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC), has been adapted time and again for both screen and stage. In the last interpretation, this controversial figure is singing Western opera.
Now a three-dimensional cartoon series is profiling a young and handsome ruler.
The Bright Moon of Qin: A Crack Sword, a production of the cartoon-making Xuanji Science and Technology Company will hit the TV screen during the Spring Festival. "People still show a great interest in that period of time, because the reign of Ying Zheng has left profound influence on our life, like the unification of Chinese characters, currencies and measurements," said Shen Leping, the director.
The Bright Moon of Qin will offer a different perspective with the help of advanced computer technology, said the 34-year-old veteran producer of computer games.
The 20-part cartoon features a blend of martial arts and heroic legends of the Qin Dynasty and centers on the fate of Jin Tianming, a 10-year-old orphan.
To escape the murder commanded by the First Emperor, Ge Nie, a top swordsman, embarked on a dangerous adventure with Jin Tianming, the only son of his old friend. Li Si, the prime minister, persuaded Wei Zhuang, Ge's ambitious and treacherous fellow disciple, to kill the two fugitives and the fight between the righteous and the evil unfolds.
The plot is derived from the idea of Sayling Wen, late Taipei-based entrepreneur and writer. An enthusiast of the wuxia (martial arts) literature since childhood, Wen spent his past few years writing the historical-and-martial art series The Bright Moon of Qin.
He had only completed the first part The Episode of Jin Ke before he died in 2004. But he had the scenario of the rest settled through discussions with other writers and critics.
A Crack Sword is the second part of the series based on that cooperation.
The Bright Moon of Qin series chronicles the rising and the abrupt fall of Qin Dynasty in a span of 30 years.
Important historical events, such as constructing the Great Wall and burying Confucian scholars alive and burning their books, are trailed through the adventure of the hero, Jin Tianming. Tales of swordsmen and hermits and various schools of thought also share the stage. As Jin matures into a real hero, his mysterious identity is gradually unveiled.
Shen believes his creative team have tried their best to present the grandiosity and splendor of ancient China. They hope such a grand visual treat could arrest the sharp eyes of the target audiences between 12 and 24.
Shen mentioned that most of the domestic cartoons are for children under 12, which is affected by a stereotype that cartoons do not suit the older students and grown-ups. But the popularity of high quality cartoons from abroad among teenagers and adults has proven that wrong.
"The Bright Moon of Qin is not a textbook. The plot is adherent to basic historical facts. But meanwhile, we have employed appropriate imaginations in enriching the scenes and characters that were not detailed in historical records," he explained.
Fashion and humor are the other keywords of the production. The main roles, resembling those in fantastic computer games, appear with a perfect face and body curve, cool attitudes and imaginary costumes. Such entertaining elements are believed to compensate the seriousness of the theme.
Another highlight is Hu Yanbin, a pop idol still in his early 20s who wrote the theme song. Moonlight, the theme melody, continues Hu's exploration into the blend of classic and modern musical essence.
At least six television stations across the nation will start to broadcast the cartoon on February 18, the first day of the Spring Festival.
The Bright Moon of Qin characters at a news briefing to promote the cartoon about the First Emperor of the Qin Dynasty which will hit the small screen this month.
(China Daily February 6, 2007)