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article imageWorrying Form of Black Magic Captivates Chinese Youth

By Carolyn E. Price     May 21, 2007 in World
China moves to ban a notebook that follows what an animated series says where if you write a persons name on the inside the notebook, a curse will be placed on that person that will lead to misfortune and even their death.
Last May, Chinese authorities were forced to ban Thai "voodoo dolls" after many complaints from parents, and now, a new kind of "black magic" is becoming ever more popular amongst young people. It is called the "Death Note" and it is based on a Japanese animated movie series. The notebook is said to bring misfortune and curses on a person if their name is written inside it. Chinese authorities are set to order the confiscation of the book across the nation after a flood of complaints were received from concerned parents and teachers.
At first the Death Note, which ranges in price from 15 to 50 yuan ($2 to $6 dollars), was marketed in China as a kind of stationery. It was reportedly very popular amongst primary and high school students.
In reality, the Death Note is a brazen counterfeit of a key element in the popular Japanese comic of the same name. In this story, the Death Note will cause the death of anyone who has his or her name written inside it. Thus, the main character Light Yagami, also known as "Kira", takes revenge on criminals who escape the hand of the law, but failing to realize that in so doing he has become a serial killer.
The Death Note was a comic strip hit in the Weekly Shonen Jump magazine for three years in 2003 to 2006 and then it was adapted into live-action films and an anime series in 2006.
Law-enforcement authorities in the cities of Beijing, Chengdu, Fuzhou, Shaoxing, Shenzhen, Wuhan, Nanning and other areas have declared a concerted and nationwide campaign against this illegal publication after the high volume of complaints.
Students are dismissing the furor over the notebook saying it's not that big of a deal: "We are under huge pressure to study. This is just a fun way to blow off steam. We don't take it seriously," said one high school student.
High school students in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province also attributed the notebook's popularity to peer pressure and saw it as a fad: "If anybody makes you angry, you can write his name on the notebook and cast deadly curse," said one student, adding the notebook would not really cause any deaths. "We don't care that the deaths will not come true. It's just a game, we do not want our friends, parents and teachers to die. We write their names in the book as a joke."
However, parents and educators are not in agreement with their children's easy dismissal of the effects of finding out that their names have been included in one of these notebook. They have lambasted the very idea as potentially deforming children's morals with psychologists and sociologists alike saying any children enjoying the game must suffer from some mental problem brought on by an overly strenuous school environment.
"First we witnessed the popularity of voodoo dolls, now the Death Note, which combine to show that children today lack normal channels through which to convey their negative emotions and alleviate their feelings of pressure," said Dr. Tian Yuanxiu, an education psychological expert with Capital Normal University. She continued to say that any approach sought to relieve depression should not involve or embrace destructive tendencies, thus rendering the notebook utterly evil.
The doctor said that schools should be offering more after-school activities that would enable them to get rid of some stress and enjoy the company of their peers.
Back in April, the State General Administration of Press and Publication's Department of Anti-Pornography and Illegal Publications issued a notice ordering the confiscation of Death Note and seven other illegal horror-story publications. To date, tens of hundreds of copies of Death Notes have been seized, according to various Chinese media.
More about Black magic, Chinese youth, Death note
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