Danmaku Commenting: A New Interaction Experience on China's Video Streaming Sites

Yuanyuan Chen, Rebecca Crawford

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


“Bullet screen”, also known as Danmaku, is an emerging function on video streaming sites that allows the audience to share time-synchronised comments across the screen when they are watching videos. Originating from a Japanese ACG (animation, comic and game) website niconico, it was firstly introduced to China by two online video sites AcFun and bilibili, and soon becomes an increasingly popular feature launched in most China’s video streaming websites. As an effective way to engage the audience, bullet screen changes the traditional experience of online video watching to a virtual socialisation by accommodating and encouraging interaction among the audience.

Through the case studies on two Chinese ACG-focused video streaming sites AcFun and bilibili, this essay will analyse bullet screen as a new media phenomenon from three standpoints. Firstly, it contributes to the participatory culture. Thomas Elsaesser has stated that the new generation of cinephilia is keen to to re-create, re-master and re-purpose moments, subtexts and references with their own discourse. Empowered by bullet screen commenting, the audience actively and creatively shape and reshape the meaning of original text, and act as consumer and contributor in the meanwhile. Secondly, by allowing interaction among the audience, bullet screen supports a temporary virtual community. Similar to being in an online chat room—with bullet screen the comments from individuals scrolling on the top or at the bottom of the video—a real-time discussion is carried out amongst the audience crossing the geographical boundary. Thirdly, bullet screen offers a carnivalesque experience to Chinese otaku. Mikhail Bakhtin believed that carnival is the moment of freedom that everything is permitted, and everyone is equal. As a grey area that has not drawn much attention from China’s media censorship, the content of anonymous bullet screen comments ranges from humorous titbits, otaku’s fantasies, to political jokes.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Cinema On Demand
Subtitle of host publicationGlobal Film Cultures in the Era of Online Distribution
EditorsStefano Baschiera , Alexander Fisher
Place of PublicationLondon & New York
PublisherBloomsbury Academic
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)1501348590, 978-1501348594
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Jun 2022

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  • Danmaku
  • Chinese streaming service
  • ACG
  • interaction
  • virtual community
  • Real time commenting


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