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“Suicide Rabbit” Cartoon Hugely Popular with Chinese Internet Surfers

The Internet boom in China has fostered the creation of new stars, most recently the author of a cartoon series, "Suicide Rabbit."

To know what young Chinese like or don’t like these days, the best bet is to find the answer on the Internet instead of using a poll. By the end of 2006, there were 843,000 Chinese websites with 140 million people regularly going online, making China’s Internet usage the second largest in the world. What’s more, surfing the Internet has become the No. 1 way for most young Chinese to spend their leisure time.

Recently, a cartoon series called "Suicide Rabbit" has emerged as a new Internet star and become hugely popular among Chinese Internet surfers. Since the first "Suicide Rabbit" cartoon was posted on the forum of the Tianya website (, Tianya is the Chinese word for skyline) on August 17, 2006, it has attracted hundreds of thousands of Chinese Internet viewers and has constantly generated a record volume of new hits.

The idea of "Suicide Rabbit" came from British cartoonist Andy Riley’s popular work "Bunny Suicide." On the Internet, it even uses the Chinese name for "Bunny Suicide." The cartoon portrays a rabbit with sunglasses that always seeks to commit suicide at various spots that have social relevance.

The author is a 35-year-old cartoonist from Beijing. He uses the nickname "Right-Hand-Cartoon" as his signature. All his works are closely related to social news events, with the exception of "politically intolerable topics." Using a satirical and humorous manner, the author successfully reveals social problems of public concern in a way that the character gets people’s sympathy.

For example, one time when the rabbit wanted to commit suicide, he injected himself with xinfei. [Editor’s note: xinfei is the Chinese name for clindamycin, a common antibiotic in clinical use. Due to the manufacturer’s poor quality control, the medicine caused seven accidental deaths. The public was in an uproar, demanding punishment for those creating the fake products that are so rampant in China.]

In another case, the rabbit stands high up on a truck that surpasses the height limit when the truck passes under a bridge. The regulation of transportation is so chaotic in China that many don’t bother to follow the rules, although they are, for the most part, strictly enforced. In another instance, the rabbit lies on the hot ground during last summer’s unprecedented drought in Chongqing, exposing itself to the sun. In another, the rabbit intentionally falls into a manhole. In China, people steal the manhole covers and sell them as used metal for a tiny profit, leaving the holes uncovered, and so on, and so forth.

Every episode draws on the familiarity of real-life situations, and reflects a true social problem that requires serious attention and solution.{mospagebreak}

The cartoon has not only attracted viewers but also invited heated discussion over the satirized topics. Some believe that the popularity of "Suicide Rabbit" on the Internet results from people’s desire to openly criticize the circumstances of today’s modern life in China. Others think it is a reflection of the limited avenues of escape from today’s highly stressful metropolitan life. In the cartoon, they find a way to release the pressure. Still others believe that the cartoon gives a hint that death is a kind of release. If a person already has thoughts of committing suicide, it could be dangerous. So the topic is only suitable for adults, not for adolescents.

As a matter of fact, "Suicide Rabbit" is not the only Internet cartoon that has intrigued Internet surfers. Since last June, many other Internet cartoon themes have come forward, one after another. They have even become a main theme on many Internet forums. A few other topics such as "Modern Embarrassments" and "Wanton Village," topics that describe the trivial stories of ordinary people’s daily lives, have also had tremendous success.

Can Sun is a correspondent for Chinascope.