What is "三大民工漫”? Why do young Chinese keep talking about it?

May 22, 2021

Just like many people around the world, Chinese people also love Japanese anime. But among the huge variety of anime movies and series there are three which are so popular, that even civilians and workers (who are usually very busy in daily life) know them and find time to watch. These 3 series even received a special name "三大民工漫” [sān dà míngōng màn]: 

"三大" - means top-3;

"民工" - means workers; 

"漫" - means anime. 

Those series are so long (not to tell endless), that even a joke appeared saying "my dream is to watch the ending of 名侦探柯南(one of the top-3)before I die". 

So what are the Chinese top-3 民工漫?Let's have a look.

1. One Piece (海贼王 - hǎi zéi wáng)

    Released in 1997, this pirate-themed anime has attracted lots of Chinese youngsters in the early 2000's. The series focuses on a young man named "Monkey.D.Luffy", who got inspired by his childhood hero - Pirate "Red-Haired" Shank - and set up a "pirate" journey with a bunch of his friends. Today in Shanghai many Japanese restaurants are decorated with One Piece elements, and it is true to say that for many Chinese people One Piece remains a "symbol" of Japanese anime.

2. Naruto (火影忍者 - huǒ yǐng rěn zhě)

Naruto is the name of a young ninja who seeks recognition from his peers and dreams of becoming a Hokage (火影) - the leader of the village. In the early times, his best friend Uchiha Sasuke betrayed the village to seek for revenge, and the whole story tells about how Naruto is trying to bring Sasuke back to the village. It is a classic story for many Chinese anime lovers, however, some people argue that Naruto should not be listed as the "三大民工漫" anymore, because in 2014 the ending was finally published. In Shanghai there is a ramen store, which is designed exactly like Ramen Ichiraku (一乐拉面), Naruto's favourite Ramen place and an important site in the series. If you are a loyal fan of Naruto, you should give it a try.

3. Case Closed (名侦探柯南 - míng zhēn tàn kē nán)

    Case Closed is a story about a high school student Jimmy Kudo(工藤新一)who sometimes work with police and solves cases for them, and indeed he was given the title "名侦探” (a famous detective). Unfortunately in the very first episode Kudo gets poisoned by an evil organization while investigating them, and this poison transformed him into a primary school kid. Although his appearance changed, he continues helping police to solve cases and in the meantime keeps searching for the evil organization, as well as for the antidote which would transform his appearance back to normal.

Written by Francesco Peng for IMCPI