On August 3, a cinema in Beijing rolled out a “danmu” service to accompany its film screening. The Chinese word “danmu” (or “danmaku” in Japanese) literally means “bullet curtain” and refers to a commentary sharing system in which viewers can plaster comments directly on top of an uploaded video. It was first popularized by Japanese ACG (animation, comic, game) video portal Niconico, which later inspired Chinese ACG websites AcFun and Bilibili . The use of danmu for screening at the Beijing cinema was allegedly the first of its sort in the world.

To start commenting at the danmu screening, audience needed simply connect their smartphones to the cinema’s wifi and they would be directed to an inputting page. Their comments would then scroll across the screen in real time. Comments sometimes got so thick that they resembled a barrage of bullets, aka danmu. 

The app popular among post-1990s Chinese, Jiecao Collection, also recently added a danmu feature to its static content to provide a more interactive user experience. 

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Rita Liao

Telling the uncommon China stories through tech. I can be reached at ritacyliao [at] gmail [dot] com.