Popular Chinese operas spark frenzy among TV viewers in Vietnam

Vietnamese audience have been treated with a film feast this summer with Chinese stars and TV series driving them into a frenzy of excitement.

Vietnamese audience have been treated with a film feast this summer with Chinese stars and TV series driving them into a frenzy of excitement.

On social media, if somebody asks "What are the hottest topics these days?" Vietnamese netizens may not hesitate at all to reply "football," as usual, and "Yanxi Strategy."

In a cafe or at an airport, it is not hard to spot someone watching the Chinese series on their phones. In daily conversations with colleagues, classmates or even in reunion meetings with old friends, many Vietnamese people, including celebrities, talk about "Yanxi Strategy," a 70-episode drama about a quick-witted maid servant investigating the death of her sister amid a group of back-stabbing Qing Dynasty imperial concubines.

Like Chinese, Vietnamese audience love palace intrigues. Due to similarities in culture and history, what makes a Chinese laugh or cry while watching Chinese series, is most likely to have the same effect on a Vietnamese.

"I think Chinese historical dramas are very enjoyable since I understand them immediately. Stories and characters presented in those works are very familiar to Vietnamese people," Ngo Phuong Thao, a 26-year-old Hanoian, told Xinhua on Thursday.

Thao is among the new generation of Vietnamese who regarded Chinese series as part of their childhood. Shows like "Princess Pearl" and "The Journey to the West" have been replayed on TV almost every year for the past decade but still lured huge attention.

"While watching 'Yanxi', people keep referring its characters to ones appearing in previous series, for example Emperor Qianlong and especially his fifth son, who was a main character in Princess Pearl," Thao said passionately.

Numerous debates have heated up surrounding next developments in the intense plot, love lines and fans' feelings towards protagonists and antagonists.

The beautiful cast or impressive costumes have certainly contributed to the success, according to Vietnamese fans.

"Yanxi is artistic in terms of costume, context and character appearance. I really admire the ability of the cast who make the characters lively," said 23-year-old Chau Trong Tai, a fresh graduate from the Movie and Stage University in southern Ho Chi Minh City.

Tai pointed out one more reason why the back-stabbing series can suit tastes of viewers regardless of their gender, age and perspective on life. "It is quite realistic. The female lead is resourceful, cunning and manipulative, unlike pure and innocent ones in traditional series," the young man said.

As a big fan of the show, Tai took a photo album cosplayed the male character Fucha Fuheng, an imperial guard. It has attracted thousands of "likes" and shares on Facebook and Instagram.

Besides "Yanxi," Vietnamese audiences have found other Chinese series for their after-hours entertainment. Among them, "Heavy Sweetness Ash Like Frost," a TV series adopted from a fantasy novel, is also attracting high ratings.

"I have been waiting for its release for the past two years. "Heavy Sweetness Ash-Like Frost" is both romantic and fascinating. It's totally worth watching," said 21-year-old college student Hoang Thu Van, adding that she had read the original novel for dozens of times.

Vietnamese youths' preference for Chinese romantic novels in recently years has formed a large community of audience who are eager for TV adoptions. Earlier, soap operas like "Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms," "Journey of Flower" and "Princess Agents" were hits with local viewers.

According to local agents who work in media copyrights industry, Vietnam's purchases of Chinese films have increased in recent years. Higher entertainment demand amid limited production of local film and television studios makes Chinese TV series and feature films a good choice for them.

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