13-year-old girl spends more than $100,000 on personalized manga illustrations
Published: Apr 11, 2021 07:10 PM
The personalized manga character. Photo: Sina Weibo

The personalized manga character. Photo: Sina Weibo

The recent news about a 13-year-old girl in China who spent around 700,000 yuan ($106,800) on ordering customized manga illustrations from an online illustrator has sparked hot discussion on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo. While some have seen this as a sign of a new emerging cultural trend, others call it an exploitation of young fans of the comics and animation world. 

The 13-year-old Fufu first contacted illustrator Baiqin in March to place a 70, 000 yuan ($10682) urgent service order for an original illustration of a personalized manga character. Since Fufu claimed to be an adult as well as offered to pay in full, the illustrator accepted the offer and designed a long-haired fairy-like female cartoon character with fair skin, angel wings and blonde curly hair for her new customer. 

Such a large payment did not go unnoticed by the teen's mother, who discovered that in addition to the 70,000 yuan order, the young collector had spent a total of 700,000 yuan commissioning similar works of art. The mother quickly reached out to the illustrator and demanded a refund. 

Fufu's story has gone viral, earning more than 600 million views as of Sunday afternoon. Although Fufu's mother and the illustrator reached an agreement on Wednesday for a 60,000 yuan refund, netizens still called for more rigorous identity checks for online trades as well as an end to what they feel is exploitation of young manga fans. 

Some other netizens were simply baffled, asking what made the comic illustration so high-end. 

This type of order is part of an emerged subculture called "Original Character," or "OC." OC fans hire illustrators to create original 2D characters and even pay for multiple "sessions" to further refine these characters. 

"The figure is not just any random comic book drawing, it is exclusive to me and when people like the figure I designed, it feels like a confirmation of me and my tastes. Having your own OC feels like having a baby or a pet, or playing a pet raising game," Goki, a fan of OC culture who has designed his own 2D character with illustrators, told the Global Times on Sunday. 

Although most netizens felt there is nothing wrong with being dedicated to a hobby, many still were alarmed by Fufu's story and the possible influence this newly emerging cultural trend may have on younger generations, especially when it comes to its negative impact.  

"Similarly to that incident of a minor spending a fortune giving gifts to livestreamers who play with Play-Doh just to attract young fans, this is a gray zone. There are people who see children as a commercial opportunity, we parents really need to be hands on with our children," said a netizen on Sina Weibo. 

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