A reminder to all that if you want to send some words to Mo Bao Fei Bao, please, please do so by clicking here into the separate post that was set up a couple of weeks ago. I will be giving reminders every now and then until the end of the month, but better sooner than later so you don’t forget, right? It honestly doesn’t have to be long. Even a hello and telling her that you’re reading her stuff from whatever country you’re in will be wonderful! (My apologies if you have posted and I just haven’t gotten to approving it yet. It will happen, I promise. I’ve been taking a little break from blog duties, getting ready for this translation.)
I’m sure it comes as no surprise that my next translation project is another Mo Bao Fei Bao novel. 🙂 Post contains a little description of what the story is about in Hoju’s words, my thoughts and views on the novel, the posting schedule for this project, and finally, chapter 1.
Translation Project in a Nutshell
Novel: 一厘米的阳光 The Healing Sunshine
Author: Mo Bao Fei Bao
Start date: Today!
Translation schedule based on N. American time: From March 13 to April 20 (tentative), inclusive, Monday, Tuesday, and Friday evenings. Thereafter, Tuesday and Friday evenings.
Anticipated end date: end of October to early November 2018
Novel Summary (by Hoju)
On the outside, Jǐ Yi’s life should be enviable: she comes from a prestigious military family, lives on a military compound in Beijing, and lacks nothing, having all the best resources, including education, available to her. But those who truly know her know that she lacks one very important thing: familial love and care. The story opens in the late ’90s, when we meet eleven-year-old Jǐ Yi. To describe Jǐ Yi as a latchkey kid would be a huge understatement. Not only is she frequently left alone to fend for herself, no one in her family even wants to offer the love and care one would expect from family and what most people take for granted. She chases after her parents’ footsteps, hoping only to get a smile in exchange. Despite this, she has somehow managed to point herself in the right direction up to this point in her life and has not strayed on to any path of rebellion or misdeeds.
It is at this point that Jì Chengyang comes into her life. Jì Chengyang, uncle of Jǐ Yi’s best friend and neighbour, a twenty-year-old man filled with his own dreams and ideals, who at this age has already seen so many ugly things on an international context but which have only solidified those dreams in him. His heart is filled with compassion for this little lady who, at so young, is already so mature. As it says much later in the book (and I paraphrase based on memory as I have not translated it yet), this man, Jì Chengyang, “gives her selfless care and protection, without asking for anything in return.” He becomes her motivation, her aspiration, and the one little bit of sunshine in her life that not only illuminates the straight and narrow path for her but brings her warmth and purpose.
Hoju’s Thoughts and Ramblings about the Story
The Healing Sunshine takes place over a period of eleven years, from age 11 to 22 for Jǐ Yi and age 20 to 31 for Jì Chengyang. I’ll quote myself from SSB: “The Healing Sunshine documents the growing up process of Jǐ Yi. We learn about her background, significant events in her life, friendships, heartbreaks, and the relationship that evolved between her and Jì Chengyang, how he came from being Little Uncle Jì to the person she admired and aspired to be like to the one man she would ever love.”
This novel is part of the author’s 至此 series, to which Together Forever also belongs. My own take on this series is that it is a salute to unsung heroes of everyday life—Gu Pingsheng in Together Forever, the doctor who put himself on the front lines during the SARS epidemic to save people, and Jì Chengyang, the war journalist who puts himself in the most dangerous of situations to ensure that the truth is told. This series is not like the “One Life, One Incarnation” series (includes Beautiful Bones and Life: A Black and White Film), which allows our imaginations to fall into what seems like another world, but rather, the events very much feel within a world that we, the readers, are living in.
The Healing Sunshine is a little different from Together Forever for me. For Together Forever, there were moments where I felt like the author had ported my thoughts and emotions and used them to describe Tong Yan. But regarding The Healing Sunshine, as someone who grew up in North America, my childhood was vastly different from Jǐ Yi’s, who grows up in a military compound in Beijing. However, despite not necessarily relating to her exact experiences, the author has skillfully captured the subtleties of a someone who had no strong parental figure to attach to as a child, and I can love and sympathize with her. Also, the author has cleverly interwoven many world events into the timeline of this story, as well as other “markers” that you can put on a timeline, such as movie releases, music, etc. that cause you unconsciously to reach back into your own memory and recall what you were doing at that particular time. And somehow, even if you live on the other side of the world from Jǐ Yi, you feel drawn closer to her, that you live on the same world map as her and do have something in common with her.
And Jì Chengyang’s character is very worthy of admiration. He is NOT perfect (despite seeming so at the beginning), and as you get to know him, you can even argue that at times, he makes selfish choices. But that is what makes him real and inspirational for people who have a dream that they wish to pursue.
Mo Bao Fei Bao is an ’80s child of a military compound herself. She has said before that there are shadows of her childhood within this story, the school in the military compound that is mentioned having been modelled after her own childhood school. I remember when I first read this story, I felt like the way the scenes played out and linked together was very cinematic. Later, I learned that Mo Bao Fei Bao, who is also a screenwriter, wrote this story like she would the script of a movie. So, let’s see if you can get that same sense as you read. 🙂
Now, let’s talk schedule. You may have noticed up above that for about 5 weeks, I am tentatively proposing to break away from my 2x/week schedule and move to 3x/week for this translation. (What?! Holy smokes! LOL)
I am aware that there was another translation of this novel that has since stopped. Despite that, I will not be continuing from where it left off and will be starting from the beginning. This has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of the other translation, as I’m sure the other translator must have worked very hard. ❤ ❤ There are several reasons for this decision, the main one affecting you, as readers, being consistency. This is not just consistency in naming conventions, translated terminology, etc. but also writing style. I have not read the other translation, but even if I did, I would never be able to have a consistent style with that one as every person has her own unique way of writing… and that would drive me crazy! LOL.
However, I also realize that readers who read the story up to the point the other translation stopped will be anxious to know what happens next. Hence, the instant I received approval from the author to translate this, I have been head down and working like a beaver. The plan was to build up inventory so that I can post 3x/week to get to that point faster, and then once we reach that point, I would return to my usual 2x/week postings. (With my real-life schedule, 3x a week just isn’t sustainable for me. This is just my way of trying to help out.)
Unfortunately, it seems plans really are made to be foiled. I just found out yesterday that I may potentially be away somewhere that does not have regular internet access for up to the entire first half of April. Therefore, if I really do need to go away, there is a good chance the schedule will change. I will do my best to avoid that or minimize the impact, and will let you know if I need to do a schedule modification.
(For those who are curious, I haven’t figured out yet where Don’t Be So Proud is going to fit in. Aaaaah! But it will get worked in there, too. Someone tap me up to some Starbucks chai… I’m going to need lots for the next month or so. Haha.)
Okay, that’s all I have. Let’s move on to the story!
Chapter 1 — The Very Beginning of the Beginning
This story was translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. All forms of reproduction, redistribution, or reposting are not authorized. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the copy is unauthorized and has been taken without consent of the translator.
That day, she was flusteredly spinning about [paternal] Grandfather’s study.
When she woke up that morning, she had felt that her throat was sore and her head was dizzy. She was already accustomed to the fact that, day in and day out, there was no one at home during the day. This was especially so during the winter and summer breaks, when she was even more so used to relying on herself to solve any problems.
The problem now was, she felt she was sick and needed to take some medicine.
But it had been a long time since she had last been sick, and she had already forgotten where the medicine chest was.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
After rummaging through seven or eight drawers, she finally found the box containing the medicine.
Two tablets of anti-inflammatory medicine, two tablets of cold medicine… Should she take a bezoar detox tablet, too? It seemed, last year when she had a fever, Mama had given one to her to take. Okay, then, she’d have one tablet of those, too.
From the flat foil packages, she dug out each pill, one at a time. After she had poured herself some water, she heard the doorbell.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Setting the medications onto a napkin, she ran up to the front door and, stretching up on her tiptoes, peered out the peephole.
The midsummer sun pierced through the glass and spilled into every corner of the corridor, practically leaving no shadows behind. And it was in this glaring sunshine that she saw Jì Chengyang.
It was only later that he told her this was actually their second meeting.
But right then, to her, he was simply a stranger whom she had never seen before. Through the peephole, she saw a young, tall and slender man whose age would make him like a big brother to her. At this moment, his head was bowed as he smoked a cigarette. He did not look like those students of Grandfather who all wore military uniforms. He was garbed only in black, knee-length athletic shorts and a white, short-sleeved t-shirt…
Because he was looking downward, his short locks fell somewhat dishevelled over his forehead and concealed his eyes.
She did not utter a sound. As if watching a slow motion scene in a movie, she saw him, with one hand propped against the snow-white walls, press the cigarette butt that he held in his other hand onto the metal garbage receptacle in the corridor. The most amusing part was, after he stubbed it out, he even deliberately used the remaining cigarette butt in his hand to wipe away that little gray spot before tossing the butt into the receptacle from the side.
Then, he tilted his head upwards. A pair of lucid, black eyes looked in her direction. Seemingly because no sound could be heard from inside of the door, his brows creased together slightly.
And then, the doorbell rang again.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
She finally remembered that she had come to open the door. Through the door, she queried, “May I ask who you are?”
For this military compound, in order to get into the military families and dependents’ residence area, one would have to pass through at least two sets of soldiers on guard, and this particular building was also secured by password. Therefore, no outsiders at all would be able to get in. The military dependents’ residence area consisted entirely of four-storey buildings with one household per floor, and everyone could not be any more familiar with one another. But this person here was very much a stranger to her. He should be a big brother from one of the other families who was studying in a school elsewhere?
“Jǐ Yi, I’m Jì Chengyang.”<>Please support the original translation, which is at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
His voice was aloof, but very gentle as it told her who he was.
Oh, Jì Chengyang… She remembered now that he was from Grandpa Jì’s family, the Little Uncle Jì who had agreed to take her to the reporting performance this afternoon.
Jì Nuannuan’s youngest uncle.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
This was a name that had a high frequency of showing up.
Jì Chengyang. At six years old, he began learning the piano, which was a later age than his peers, but by eight years old, he was already giving piano performances on stage. In primary school, he had jumped two grades, completing all of primary school in only four years. At age sixteen, he had gone to study in the University of Pennsylvania… These were words that the one who had grown up with her, Jì Nuannuan, would often ramble on with.
He was someone who studied in the United States, you know, American imperialism and stuff like that… so he was often muttered about by Jǐ Yi’s grandfather as well. She remembered, when she was very young, simply wearing a pair of red leather shoes had already drawn Grandfather’s joking remark of “Little leather shoes, squeak, squeak, squeak. Capitalist ideologies that reek, reek, reek.” Hence, Grandfather even more so would frequently harp on about this little uncle of the Jì family, who in university had already gone over to a capitalist country. He would say things such as, there were so many good domestic universities, but yet the boy would not just be good and stay within the country to contribute to it and he just had to go abroad to study, etc., etc.…
But it seemed things were much better now. The mutters were less than before.
Jǐ Yi opened the door. Lifting her head to look at this person who only one second earlier had been irked with impatience, she addressed him, “Little Uncle Jì.” Then, opening the shoe cabinet, she found a pair of slippers for him. Before this guest had even stepped through the door, she ran into the kitchen and washed her hands.
When Jì Chengyang had changed shoes and walked inside, he saw she was in the middle of picking up a transparent-green pitcher of cool water. She poured some water into a glass and then, grimacing, popped five pills into her mouth at once.
So bitter.<>this UNAUTHORIZED copy was taken from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com
Gulping down several mouthfuls of water, she was at last able to swallow the biggest pill, that bezoar detoxification tablet. However, because the medicine had stayed in her mouth for so long, her mouth teemed with a terribly bitter taste. She wanted to say something, but the bitterness first caused her brows to twist together, and she guzzled more water again. And then, she discovered that Little Uncle Jì had walked up to her and bent down into a half-crouch.
Allowing his eyes to be on the same level as hers, he tried as much as possible to make his voice gentle and kindly. “What are you eating?”
“Medicine,” she replied quietly, before touching her hand to her forehead. “I have a fever, and my throat is sore.”
She tried swallowing some saliva—it hurt a lot.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
There was a flash of surprise in his deep-black eyes. “Why did you take so many?”
“They don’t work if you take only a few.” In well-practiced theory, she told him, “My body loves having fevers. I used to get better after only taking half a pill. Later, I needed one whole pill. Now, I have to take two.”
With a frown, he stretched out a hand and set it on her forehead. “You haven’t checked your temperature?”
His hand carried a light scent of tobacco on it, and his palm was also slightly cool.
She stood there, very well-behaved, feeling quite puzzled over why his body temperature was so low even in the summer. “No… thermometer.”
The thermometer was broken from last time, when she dropped it. She had not even dared to tell Grandfather about it… At the time, she had been especially silly and had tried to pick up those little silver beads with her hands. No matter how she grabbed at them, though, she had not been able to catch them, so she had taken a stack of napkins and wiped them all away. The next day, when she was telling her deskmate, Zhao Xiaoying, about this, Zhao Xiaoying had even scared her by saying that stuff was poisonous… and it was a good thing she had not eaten anything immediately after wiping it up.
While she was still rejoicing to herself that she had not been poisoned in the past because of a thermometer, the person in front of her had already straightened back up, very quickly tossed out the instructions, “Don’t take any more medication. Just wait for me while I go back upstairs and grab a thermometer,” and then left. Before three minutes had even passed, this Little Uncle Jì really did come back down with a thermometer in hand. He had her sit down on the couch, and he brought the thermometer up beside her lips. “Here, open your mouth.”<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
It was only after her lips were closed around the thermometer that she remembered something. Quietly, she murmured, “Don’t the hospitals all wipe these clean with alcohol first?”
She had not even finished her mumbling before the thermometer in her mouth was being yanked back out. Startled, she stared at him. Chagrin had already clearly appeared on the side view of the latter’s fair-skinned face. After wiping the thermometer clean with a napkin, he handed it to her once again. “Squeeze this under your armpit.”
She gave an “mm” in answer. As someone who had learned very early to get signals from people’s words and read their facial expressions, she discovered that this Little Uncle Jì really had made a mistake… It was probably good not to expose him, though.
But… she had held that thermometer in her mouth just now. Her illness wasn’t going to get worse, was it?
Squeezing the thermometer between her arm and body, she picked up the remote control and turned on the television.
Right now happened to be the time slot for Slam Dunk.
But… She furtively stole a peek at Jì Chengyang from the corner of her eye. Was it really bad if she made the guest watch anime with her? So, putting on a solemn manner, she began changing the channel. Her heart was struggling within itself as she allowed the television to come to a stop on the CCTV news program, Xinwen Lianbo, but still running through her mind were Kaede Rukawa and Hanamichi Sakuragi… However, it was apparent Jì Chengyang did not need to watch this stuff, either. When he went earlier to fetch the thermometer, he had brought a book from upstairs back down with him, and now he was leafing through it casually, seeming very patient as he kept her, the little child, company.
Jǐ Yi pondered for a moment, then quietly switched the television back to Slam Dunk.
<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
That night, he first drove her to the McDonald’s on Wangfujing to get some food.
This was the first McDonald’s in Beijing. Shortly after its opening, many of her schoolmates had gone and had a stroll through it. Although most of the people came back saying there really was nothing great about the taste, she still felt envious. She remembered Jì Nuannuan had even complained before that it did not taste as good as the ones she had eaten at outside of the country. Sadly for Jǐ Yi, she could only share in other people’s experiences of whether the food tasted good or not, for no one had time to bring her there to eat.
In the beginning, she had held some hope, but later, she was not really fixated on it.
She had not expected that, several years later, on this night, Jì Chengyang would bring her here. However, because taking medication and having her temperature checked had delayed them by quite a bit of time, Jì Chengyang merely bought the French fries and hamburger to bring back into the car, and then he watched her eat while he drove.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
That day was actually the Fine Arts Ensemble’s reporting performance. The parts on the program performed by the children’s group that she participated in were simply to add to the liveliness, or perhaps it was better said, to allow those older folks in the audience, who had all performed meritous deeds of some sort, to watch the children of their own families and have some happy enjoyment. Because the people of the Jǐ family were so busy that not even a glimpse of their shadows could be caught anywhere, they had last-minute asked their longtime friend’s son, the one who for the time being was idle at home but was planning to go abroad again to continue pursuing his studies—Jì Chengyang—to bring her to participate in the performance.
“Do not be nervous,” Jì Chengyang softly told her, crouching down.
After saying this, he gave a light pat to her back.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
He, as a twenty-year-old man, did not have much experience comforting children.
This was not her first time going on stage, but it was the first time she had someone along the lines of “family” accompanying her. Originally, she had actually not been nervous, but now, as a result of those four light, clear words, nervousness rose up in her. It was such that by the time she stood behind the crimson stage curtain, her heart was beating so rapidly she could not even see the way in front of her.
It was only natural, then, that she ended up making a mistake.
This program was a Tibetan dance that she and another boy were supposed to perform together. Due to her fever, her head already been feeling heavy and dizzy, so when she arched herself into a backbend, her hair adornment suddenly slipped down from her hair and dropped to the stage floor with a thunk. This situation was one she had never encountered before. For a moment, there was only blankness in her mind. Out of instinct, she stooped over, picked the hair accessory back up, and then lifted her head.
In that instant, she was thoroughly stupefied.<>Please read this at hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com instead
Beneath the brilliance of the spotlight, she could not make out at all the faces of those who were off stage and could only see layer upon layer of people in darkness.
She had truly gotten stage fright. All she felt was that her legs were limp, and there was only one thought in her mind—she was not ever going to dance again. In the end, she really did whip around and run off the stage, not completing this performance that had less than twenty seconds remaining and leaving only that other boy to stand stunned and alone on the stage…<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Much later, when people mentioned this little girl of the Jǐ family, they would still talk about this incident.
Most merely gave a harmless laugh, saying the little lady was very shy and likely had just been terribly frightened.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
That night, Jì Chengyang also thought she had been terribly frightened. Unable to come up with any way to comfort her, he could only drive her once more to the doors of that McDonald’s, which was about to close up for the night. Getting out of the car, he bought her a sundae—strawberry flavoured. When he was back inside the vehicle, he handed her the plastic cup that was wrapped with a napkin. “It’s okay. Next time, you’ll be experienced.”
Jǐ Yi took the cup from him, opened it, and ate a bite. So tasty.
She suddenly felt that this Little Uncle Jì, who had not really smiled or talked much the entire time, was actually pretty nice.
“I think… there won’t be a next time…” She ate two or three more bites of the ice cream. What she actually wanted to say was that she did not want to dance anymore, but she did not dare let the words come out.
“You danced really well. Just now in the audience, I heard a lot of people praising you.”
She held the white, plastic spoon in her mouth. As she blinked her eyes, her eyelashes would flutter slightly. Unexpectedly, she quietly asked Jì Chengyang, “Little Uncle Jì… are you especially trying to comfort me?”
A cigarette was clamped between his teeth, but he had not had the chance to light it yet. Giving a barely audible “mm-hmm,” he asked, “What else do you want to eat?”
Jǐ Yi shook her head, her smile curving her eyes upwards as she carried on eating her ice cream, bite by bite. When she had consumed half of it, though, she seemed to suddenly think of something. She swallowed some saliva. Her throat was so sore it felt as if it did not belong to her. Tilting her face up, she asked Jì Chengyang, “Little Uncle Jì, is it, I’m sick right now and shouldn’t be eating ice cream?”
He stared for a while at the ice cream that she held. Finally, the corners of his lips turned up slightly in a somewhat rueful smile.
He had made two rudimentary mistakes within one day. That was not expected.
A trace of gentleness finally made an appearance in that smile, the first of this period from the entire afternoon all the way until night. And then, he swiftly stepped out of the car again and bought a cup of warm milk for this little girl.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
Streetlamp after streetlamp gave off a dim, but warm colour. The hour was too late now, and the two secondary gates that vehicles could pass through were both already shut. The car could only drive through the main gates. When the gun-carrying soldier had jumped down from the platform where he stood guard and was checking the entry badge for the car, Jì Chengyang discovered, however, that the little girl was already asleep. In her arms, she was hugging the cup of milk that she had not yet finished. The plastic bag was tied already with a nonslip knot, seemingly to prevent the milk from splashing out…
Such a very meticulous and careful little girl.<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
The guard gave a salute, allowing them to pass.
Reaching his hand over, he touched it to her forehead. She really was running a high fever.
So… the first time he took her out, he had caused her to have a high fever?<>Copyright of Fanatical, hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. Translated with the express permission of the author for hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com. If you are not reading this from hui3r[dot]wordpress[dot]com, the translation has been taken without consent of the translator.
 牛黄解毒片 “niu huang jie du pian.” 牛黄 “niu huang” literally means “cow/ox gold,” but it is actually referring to bezoars that are found in a cow or ox’s gall bladder. (A bezoar is a partially digested or undigested mass trapped in an animal’s gastrointestinal system.) Niu huang is a valuable herb of traditional Chinese medicine and is believed to remove toxins from the body. In TCM, its uses include treating fevers, sore throats, headaches, acne, etc.
 大院 “da yuan.” The “da yuan” or “military compound” is a very unique part of China. It is a walled-off space created specifically for military households and is separated from and strictly forbidden to the public. Guards stand at the gates to ensure that only those with authorization are allowed to enter. In addition to barracks and training grounds, the compounds consist of storied buildings that are the homes to military households and, as we will read in the story, also their own schools, nurseries, medical centers, cinemas, etc. only for military personnel and their families. Therefore, a compound is like its own large community. Belonging to a military compound, to this day, is still viewed as a symbol of status.
 汇报演出. A “reporting” performance is a full performance given to the higher authorities, managers, etc. of a performance group to show either final accomplishment or progress to date. At times, it is also done like a full dress rehearsal prior to an official performance to solicit higher authorities’ review and feedback.
 小皮鞋嘎嘎响，资本主义臭思想. This little singsong line (and similar variations) was often recited in the 70s and 80s in China to mock capitalist ideas. The idea is that an expensive leather shoe may not be better with all its squeaking, but regardless, capitalists value money and these “expensive” things.
Slam Dunk started out as a manga series that was adapted later to anime, which premiered in 1993 and ended in 1996.
 新闻联播. This daily news program produced by China Central News Television (CCTV) actually uses the pinyin name, Xinwen Lianbo (which means “joint news broadcast” or “news simulcast”), as its English name on its title screen. There is no official English translation of the name.
 Wangfujing, or its full name Wangfujing Da Jie (which means, Prince’s Manor Well Avenue) nowadays is a famous, busy commercial street in Beijing for pedestrians only. In the 90s, though, when this scene is taking place, this street still had not been converted to a pedestrian street and was congested with traffic, including trollies and busses. The McDonald’s on the corner of Wangfujing and Chang’an Jie opened in April 1992 and was the first McDonald’s in Beijing and also the world’s largest McDonald’s at the time, with 700 seats. It closed only a few years later in December 1996 and was demolished to make way for the construction of the Oriental Plaza. A new McDonald’s on Wangfujing went in only 150 metres away from the original one. According to the dates of the story (which will become more clear later), Jǐ Yi and Jì Chengyang went to the replacement location. (Here is an interesting article on the opening and subsequent closing of that very first McDonald’s location in Beijing, if you are interested.)
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You may notice I included the tones on the surnames of Ji Yi and Ji Chengyang. They are homophonic, so that means, though their surnames are written similarly in pinyin form, they are actually different characters. 纪忆 Ji Yi’s surname 纪 should be properly pronounced with the third tone in Mandarin, so with the tonal notation, it would be written in pinyin as Jǐ. 季成阳 Ji Chengyang’s surname is 季 and is spoken with the fourth tone in Mandarin, so in pinyin with tonal notation, it would be written as Jì. To prevent confusion (for example, when “Ji family” is mentioned), I will make the distinction clear between the two by always putting the tonal notation for these two surnames.
1 of 69 Chapter segments
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