Tale of two trains: 'Copy and paste' from a Japanese TV series?

Updated: 2011-07-27 11:03

By Zhang Zhao (China Daily)

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The animated TV series Train Hero scheduled to be shown on more than 100 TV channels in China beginning next month has been ironically termed "a miracle" by Internet users who have watched its online trailer.

They said the work is remarkable not because of its quality, but due to its striking similarities to the Japanese animated TV series Hikarian: Great Railroad Protector that was aired in Japan more than a decade ago.

Both Train Hero and Hikarian feature trains that can transform into robots to fight an evil army.

Train Hero depicts the recently opened Beijing-Shanghai high-speed train, while Hikarian uses Japan's Shinkansen high-speed train.

A recent video comparing the six-minute trailer for Train Hero and the first episode of Hikarian was a big hit on the Internet - because it showed that the characters, plots, and even the content and length, of every scene in the two works are almost the same in every detail.

Both have a digital display in the carriage that shows the current speed of the train as 270 kilometers an hour.

In another scene of Train Hero, a railway chart in the control center looks like a map of Japan as depicted in the same sequence in Hikarian.

The biggest difference might be that the landmark Mount Fuji in Hikarian does not show up in Train Hero.

The easily identified similarities soon aroused strong suspicions of plagiarism among Internet users.

"It is no more than a copy-and-paste work, a waste of money and time," said a Web user called EVA01020304 who posted on Baidu Tieba, the largest online Chinese discussion platform.

"The Chinese animation industry started late. That is only a technical problem," said another tagged 2552Jiang. "But when it comes to plagiarism, that is a matter of dignity."

Under heavy fire from questioning voices, the maker of the Chinese animation, Shenyang-based Extraordinary Creative Animation Co (ECA), insists that it has applied for a copyright on the work and registered a trademark for the project.

A spokesman for ECA surnamed Sui claimed that Train Hero is a "unique project" since "there is not another animation about China's high-speed railway".

He also noted that the video clip on the Internet is "only a demo version made last year".

"When the animation series officially comes out, you will find it's a totally different thing - from the images of trains and human characters to the plot settings," he said.

According to an advertising poster for Train Hero, the 160-episode animation was produced by a team of 400 who made 60 minutes of it a day.

There are also reports that the government gives subsidies to animation makers that produce at least 2,000 minutes a year, so companies "simply copy foreign works to increase their production".

But ECA President Gong Changsheng said "that was what things were like two or three years ago".

Now all animation companies must compete with each other with mature market operations rather than depending on the government's support, he said.


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