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First Episode 30: 少年包青天 (Young Justice Bao)


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A part of the Grand First Episode Project -- See this thread for more info.

Overview Emule youku

Language difficulty level: Advanced

Justice Bao was a famous court official during the Song dynasty, and the protagonist of many shows and movies. This one follows his adventures when he was young and before he became the famous investigator.

In many ways, this is similar to our mystic detective Di Renjie (from Tang dynasty), but it is less serious, and more funny. Many thanks to my girlfriend for helping me with this one, any vocab errors are due to misunderstandings from my side.

--- Plot Summary ---

We are following the events in the city of 泸州 during the Song dynasty (which would mean that the capital that keeps getting mentioned should be Kaifeng). The main protagonist is 包拯, a young person with dark complexion and a moon-shaped birthmark on his forehead, who fancies himself a detective. We watch him as he identifies a thief who stole money from the local cake seller. The investigation involves a show where he "interrogates" a large sow, but in the end he finds the thief when he pretends to collect money for his services from the assembled (and amused) crowd -- one of the coins leaves a trace of oil, which can only come from the cake seller.

At the same time, 公孙策 is demonstrating his skills in a very complicated combination of positional go and riddles recited in 对联 couplets and traditional poems that left me scratching my head. He sees the commotion down on the street and scorns 包拯 for doing cheap tricks not suitable for an educated man. 包拯 then visits his mother, a famous doctor who finds out that the dead woman brought to her for examination was murdered, and 包拯 finds the culprit by finding a very expensive handkerchief in the hands of one of the husband's maids. On the way out, they meet 沈良, a family friend who has a policeman-type job in the city, and he teases him about having killed a deer (calling the deer a tiger). 沈良 is also called 沈刀 by others, due to his sword skill.

We also meet 小艾, an orphan girl paying respect to her parents in a cursed forest. Later, we will find out that her mother got rabies while pregnant with her, and then bit her father to death, so 小艾 is universally hated (called wolf-girl) because everyone thinks she also has rabies.

包拯 and 沈良 discuss how weak the Song dynasty is, and the trouble with the Koreans at the north. The trouble doesn't wait long, as a huge Korean group arrives, bringing a princess who is to be married in the Song capital, but the group gets attacked by ninjas on the way. Luckily, 包拯 and 沈良 are there, and they kick their butts. The aftermath is not pretty, as the Koreans insult the Song officials for not being able to protect them and make jokes about them. The officials ask for a couple of days to apprehend the assassins. Later, we find out that the marriage of the princess to some Song court prince is a political move -- the Koreans will be seen as aligned with the Song, and this will offer the Song protection from the Liao dynasty, but it is universally seen as a pretense for Koreans to essentially get protection money from the Song.

Later, the two friends meet a beggar girl who mysteriously helped them during the ninja encounter. Then they meet a fortune-teller from the capital, but after he proves who he is, they let him go. He tells them their fortune, and big things are about to happen.

In the evening, a show/reception is made for the Korean delegation, whose leader insults the Song people again and basically challenges them to a 对联 duel. 公孙策. and 包拯 basically whip his ass, so the Korean prince's bodyguard 崔大人 (who failed to protect him during the ninja assault) proposes a fighting duel. 沈良 volunteers, and so does a Korean general, but the general is not allowed to fight (his rank is way too high) so 崔大人 should fight. The fight ends with 崔大人's sabre almost killing the Korean prince, so he's furious that he's killing him instead of protecting him.

包拯 and 沈良 then save 小艾 from some cruel kids, and 包拯's mother gives her medicine and tells her story (the rabies, etc.)

--- Summary End ---

素闻 sù wén it is said that... / reportedly... / the word is out that...

公子 gōng zi honourable son

棋 qí chess, Go, board games

棋艺 qí yì skill at playing Go

精湛 jīng zhàn consummate / exquisite

以 yǐ to use

梅花易数 méi huā yì shù plum blossom book of techniques

珍珑棋局 zhēn lóng qí jú name of a certain starting position in Go

谜语 mí yǔ riddle

恭敬不如从命 gōng jìng bù rú cóng mìng "obedience is better than courtesy", indicates the willingness to follow somebody's orders

从命 cóng mìng follow orders

对联 duì lián vertical written couplet usually placed along either side of a doorway

上联 下联 the first and the second part of the couplet, resp.

假山 jiǎ shān an artificial decorative hill (e.g. in parks)

鹿 lù deer

木鱼 mù yú a traditional wooden instrument used in temples

生鱼 shēng yú a type of fish (I guess)

血口喷人 xuè kǒu pēn rén venomous slander / malicious attacks

怀疑 huái yí to doubt / to suspect

相貌 xiàng mào appearance

相貌堂堂 xiàng mào táng táng handsome

乃 nǎi to be

大宋 dà Sòng "the great Song dynasty"

法制之邦 fǎ zhì zhī bāng a country with laws

嫌疑 xián yí suspicion

审问 shěn wèn interrogate

辛未 a certain year according to the old Chinese calender (see this and this)

才思敏捷 cái sī mǐn jié quick-witted

才华横溢 cái huá héng yì brimming over with talent

黑炭 hēi tàn (black) coal

嚣张 xiāo zhāng arrogant, aggressive

放肆 fàng sì wanton

冥玩不化 míng wán bù huà unwilling to change one's mind under any circumstances

招 zhāo to confess

文 wén a small unit of money (a cent)

未必 wèi bì not necessarily

大雅之堂 dà yǎ zhī táng elegant hall

猴耍把戏 hóu shuǎ bǎ xì "juggling monkey trick", refers to people doing cheap tricks on the streets for money, something not befitting of educated people

窒息 zhì xī to suffocate

生前 shēng qián before death / while still alive

虚弱 xū ruò weak / in poor health

躯体 qū tǐ the body

凭据 píng jù evidence

患 huàn to contract (a disease) / to catch (illness)

越俎代庖 yuè zǔ dài páo (fig.) to exceed one's place and meddle in other people's affairs

凶手 xiōng shǒu murderer

墓碑 mù bēi gravestone / tombstone

辽 liáo Liao or Khitan dynasty (907-1125)

高丽 Gāo lí the Korean Koryo or Georyo dynasty (935-1392)

勒索 lè suǒ to blackmail / to extort

滋阴壮阳 zī yīn zhuàng yáng medicine for improving qi, good for both men and women (yes, that's the best translation I can muster :mrgreen:)

成亲 chéng qīn to get married

饭桶 fàn tǒng someone who is utterly useless (lit. rice bucket)

泸州 Lú zhōu Luzhou prefecture level city in Sichuan

起驾 qǐ jià "pick up the carriage and go", an order for the noble(wo)mn's escorts to get going

客死异乡 kè sǐ yì xiāng to die far away from home

乐不思蜀 lè bù sī Shǔ indulge in pleasure and forget home and duty

矜贵 jīn guì conceited, self-important

驻扎 zhù zhā to station (troops)

刺客 cì kè assassin / murderer

镖 biāo a throwing weapon, dart

主张 zhǔ zhāng to advocate / to stand for

顾忌 gù jì scruple

宁枉勿纵 níng wǎng wù zòng rather accuse someone falsely than let the perpetrator free

乌纱 wū shā black hat worn by officials, fig. one's position

乞丐 qǐ gài beggar

顺便 shùn biàn conveniently / in passing / without much extra effort

得罪 dé zuì to offend sb

蝙蝠 biān fú bat

文牒 wén dié official document

相士 xiàng shì fortune-teller who uses the subject's face for his prognostication

人才 rén cái a person's talent / talented person

辈出 bèi chū come forth in large numbers

Language-wise, this was one of those pesky shows that switches between very simple conversation that's really easy to follow and old-skool classical poetry battles in 文言 interspersed with chengyu trains and archaic vocabulary. I was thinking of rating it upper intermediate because it's possible to follow the story without grasping the intricacies of the dui lian riddles, but after looking at just how many words here are not exactly stuff you'd be using in a modern-day city, I think it's fair to rate it advanced. More experienced people shouldn't be afraid to give it a go, though, as much of the story can be followed relatively easily.

As I wrote at the beginning, there are parallels to Di Renjie, a previous show we have looked at. As Di Renjie was very popular and of a similar difficulty level, this could be a very interesting show for many people.

I quite enjoyed it. The intro sequence promised lots of cheese, but it was quite an entertaining ride, which sets up the story for the next few episodes and introduces some of the main characters. I guess everybody knows by now that I like fun shows over depressing ones, and this one had a nice balance between some intrigue and some humour. While not taking itself too seriously, it also manages not to be completely stupid in the process.

So, if you can live with some older vocabulary and chengyu, I can recommend this one.


Edited by renzhe
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