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Recap: Tintin The Blue Lotus
The Blue Lotus
picks up right where Cigars of the Pharaoh
left off, with Tintin
still staying as a guest of the Maharajah of Gaipajama. The story begins when Tintin is visited by an unknown Chinese man wanting to discuss matters of great importance with him. However, the man is hit by a dart containing the madness serum from the previous album and before losing his grip on reality only manages to tell Tintin that
he must go to Shanghai
and seek a man named Mitsuhirato.
Once in Shanghai, Tintin quickly becomes involved in a struggle between another branch of the opium-smuggling operation from the previous book, led by Mitsuhirato, and a resistance movement called the Sons of the Dragon, led by the benevolent Wang Chen-Yee.The Blue Lotus
is notable for being the first album for which Hergé actually did a degree of research, being aided by a Chinese art student named Zhang Chongren, with whom he formed a close friendship and based one of the characters in the story on. As such, it is generally considered the point at which the series fully grew its beard
- Affably Evil: Mitsuhirato.
- All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The opium ring ambushes the headquarters of the Sons of the Dragon near the end.
- As You Know: Usually the exposition throughout the series is at least a little more subtle, but during Dawson's first appearance, he tells a gathering of his friends "Since I'm Chief of Police of the Shanghai International Settlement, that shouldn't be difficult".
- Axe Crazy: Mr. Wang's son. It's not his fault, though, as he's been infected with the Rajaijah juice.
- Big Bad: Mitsuhirato is actually subservant to Rastapopoulos.
- Bigger Bad: Mitsuhirato's Japanese superior, seen conversing with him on the phone several times.
- Big Good: Wang Chen-Yee.
- Black Blood: When Tintin gets shot in the shoulder.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: A Chinese businessman is hit by a dart dipped in Rajaijah, the poison of madness. Later in the story Didi has also turned insane after being poisoned with Rajaijah. Tintin is injected with the stuff too by Mitsuhirato, but his butler changed it with water.
- Corrupt Cop: Mr. Dawson, the Chief of Police of the International Settlement, being influenced by Gibbons and bribed by Mitsuhirato to persecute Tintin.
- Deus ex Machina: This book is not nearly as bad about this as some of the earlier ones, but an agent of the Sons of the Dragon having replaced the insanity serum and tinkered with Mitsuhirato's gun and knife just when Tintin is captured is pretty darn convenient.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Gibbons and Dawson become firm enemies of Tintin after he called out Gibbons about his racist and brutal behaviour.
- Eagleland: Gibbons is a typical flavour 2.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Mitsuhirato uses alliterative curses (such as "seventy-seven suffering samurais!") before Captain Haddock made it famous.
- Emergency Impersonation: Tintin as a fat Japanese general.
- Evil All Along: Rastapopoulos.
- Evil Brit: Dawson, the head of the International Concession police. See Corrupt Cop above.
- Find the Cure: Part of the story revolves around finding the scientist who could develop the antidote to the Rajaijah juice.
- General Ripper: Tintin pretends to be this when he impersonates a Japanese general—it gives him an excuse to be The Voiceless as he doesn't speak Japanese.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: How he gets away with his act, he holds up a number of fingers equal to the number of days of punishment for various offenseslike not shaving (four days) or a piece of paper blowing in the wind ("Four days? But general, it's just a piece of-eight days!? I- yes, general! Thank you, general!").
- George Lucas Altered Version: The story was redrawn and colorized later, but much of it remained unaltered. The only major alteration was a scene where Tintin is threatened by three English guards in his prison cell. Under pressure of British publishers this was changed into three Sikhs.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar and Public Secret Message: Hergé's friend, a Chinese foreign exchange student named Zhang Chong Ren, told him a lot about Chinese culture and society, including the then current situation in Asia, where Japan had military occupied China. He also wrote all the Chinese signs, billboards, ideograms and texts seen in the backgrounds. As a Bilingual Bonus only Chinese people could read these. This also might explain why the book wasn't censored from the start because many of these texts are anti-Japanese slogans, like for instance: Boycot Japanese products, Abolish unfair treaties and Down with Imperialism. Upon realising the anti-Japanese tone of the story, Japan's diplomats stationed in Belgium issued an official complaint and threatened to take their complaint to the Permanent Court of International Justice at The Hague. Zhang congratulated Hergé, stating that it would only further expose the actions of Japan in China to further international scrutiny and would make Hergé "world-famous".
- Goldfish Poop Gang: Tintin and Chang easily escape Thompson and Thomson every time they meet.
- Happily Adopted: Chang torwards the end.
- The Heavy: Mitsuhirato is the main villain, but he's working for the Japanese government and Rastapopoulos.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Zhang Zhong Ren, who wrote the Chinese texts in the story, signed his name twice - in Chinese- on two billboards.
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: There's the Thom(p)sons, of course, but also, one of the Japanese military officials looks almost identical to Mitsuhirato, just with a more hooked nose.
- Inspector Javert: Thomson and Thompson have to chase Tintin again, though in fairness, they're really Just Following Orders. They themselves claim at the end that they didn't really believe Tintin was guilty.
- Insane Equals Violent: After being averted in Cigars of the Pharaoh, it's played with here.. Poison darts drive people insane, and the resultant madmen are childlike, silly and harmless...except for that one guy who develops a fixation with decapitation.
- Instant Messenger Pigeon
- Karma Houdini: The Fakir from the previous album becomes this in the redrawn version, escaping offpage, firing a dart filled with the insanity serum at Tintin's Chinese visitor and then never being mentioned again. In the original serial version, he is offhandedly mentioned as having been recaptured soon after.
- Kidnapped Scientist: The bad guys kidnap the only scientist who could develop a cure to the insanity serum.
- Kidnapped by an Ally: Wang Chen-Yee has his men kidnap Tintin while the latter is enroute to India because he needs Tintin's assisstance.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Tintin defends a rickshaw driver from an abusive racist bully. Later, when the Japanese put a price on his head, he manages to escape the town with the help of the driver's brother.
- The Man Behind the Man: Rastapopoulos to Mitsuhirato.
- Mysterious Protector: Mr. Wang's son, Didi, briefly acts as this to Tintin, but then he's poisoned with the insanity serum...
- National Stereotypes: Subverted. The story pokes fun at the Europeans' perception of the Chinese, debunking many clichés. Similarly Tchang Tchong Yen asks Tintin why he saved him, because he always heard that all white people are evil and racist. On the other hand the story is very anti-Japanese. Hergé balanced this by introducing a Japanese man, Mr. Kuraki, in The Crab With The Golden Claws, who is shown as a good character.
- Obfuscating Insanity: Tintin pulls this to get away from his captors after they inject him with an insanity-inducing serum called "Rajaijah juice" (which had actually been replaced with harmless colored water). Notably, Tintin himself had no idea the serum had been substituted at the time, only perceiving that he didn't feel any different, which makes his loony routine a gesture of supreme quick thinking.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Three big and muscular cops are planning to beat Tintin up while he's safely in jail. We only see the aftermath; three cops in a hospital, covered in bruises and bandages.
- Off with His Head!: Mr. Wang's crazy son is obsessed with doing this.
- Outdated Outfit: In the first and arguably the funniest instance of the Thom(p)sons doing this, they show up wearing 17th-century Qing-dynasty era robes, confident that they will blend right into a Chinese town. They then fail to notice an entire town parading behind them and laughing.
- Opium Den: The titular Blue Lotus.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Gibbons.
- Psycho for Hire: Mitsuhirato.
- Psycho Serum: Rajaijah juice, the 'Poison of Madness'.
- Ripped from the Headlines: The books depicts Mitsuhirato as staging the Mukden Incident, thereby paving the way for Japan's occupation of Shanghai.
- And at the end it shows the fallout at the League of Nations, and Japan's delegates walking out.
- Red Herring: The Fakir at the beginning of the story warns Tintin to watch out for a dark-haired Asian man with glasses, whom Tintin briefly suspects may be his Chinese visitor. But no, that guy loses his mind as soon as he appears. Funnily enough, Tintin isn't at all suspicious when he first meets Mitsuhirato, who also matches the description.
- The joke is that the warning is almost completely useless, because practically everyone Tintin meets in China is a dark-haired yellow-skinned man with glasses...
- Seppuku: Mitsuhirato commits it after being captured. As was usual for the time in western sources, this is instead called 'hara-kiri'.
- Hergé was so grateful for Zhang Chongren's help that he named the character Chang Chong-chen after him, (it's a different transliteration scheme).
- In the Urbanus story De Tenor van Tollembeek Urbanus performs in China. One of the background characters is Tintin in his Blue Lotus outfit travelling by riskha.
- Shown Their Work: This album is often called Hergé's first real masterpiece. Compared to the previous albums it's well documented and researched, a strong and logical plot, beautifully illustrated and also takes the opportunity to debunk some inaccurate western stereotypes about China.
- Tagalong Kid: Chang.
- Time Marches On: The allusions to the Japanese occupation of China and Tintin watching the news in a film theater are elements that make the story out-dated in these respects.
- Villain Has a Point: When Dawson turns Tintin over to the Japanese, Tintin protests that he is on neutral ground. Dawson then makes the perfectly legitimate point that since Tintin does not have papers allowing him to be in the settlement, Dawson has every right to throw him out - evil, yes, but he is correct.
- Wig, Dress, Accent: Subverted. At one point, a man with a large, bushy beard and wearing sunglasses and a coat enters the bad guys' opium den and is immediately recognized by them as Tintin in disguise. Only when they beat him up, it turns out it isn't Tintin, just a man who happens to look like him with a large beard.