The Blue Lotus (originally titled Tintin in the Orient) is the fifth book in The Adventures of Tintin series and sequel to Cigars of the Pharaoh written and illustrated by Hergé. This time Tintin goes to China.
In Cigars of the Pharaoh, Tintin pursued an international group of drug distributors through the Middle East and India. He managed to capture most of the drug cartel members, but not the mysterious leader, who fell down a ravine in the mountains. Some time after these events, his body has still not been found. Tintin though is shown to be enjoying a vacation with the Maharaja of Gaipajama. A Fakir tells him that an enemy who he thinks is dead plans revenge and someone with yellow skin, black hair and glasses wants to kill him. Later that day a Chinese man comes to meet him but he is hit by a dart dipped in a poison which causes madness (Rajaijah Juice). He just had the time to tell him that someone going by the name of Mitsuhirato wants to meet him in Shanghai.
Tintin travels to Shanghai, China, where he is awaited by the assassins of the opium consortium.However, two attempts on Tintin's life are foiled by a young Chinese stranger who arranges to meet Tintin in a secluded area. Once Tintin arrives for their rendezvous, he discovers that the young man has been struck by Rajaijah juice, the poison of madness, used by the drug cartel against their enemies.Tintin also defends a young Chinese rickshaw driver from a Western businessman and racist bully, Gibbons, a friend of Dawson, the corrupt police chief of the Shanghai International Settlement. Incensed, Gibbons and Dawson set about making life difficult for Tintin. Meanwhile in Shanghai, Tintin meets Mitsuhirato, a Japanese businessman, who urges him to return to India as soon as he can and protect his friend the Maharajah of Gaipajama.Having been persuaded by Mitsuhirato, Tintin is on his way back to India by ship when he is knocked unconscious and taken ashore along with Snowy. He wakes up outside Shanghai, in the home of Wang Chen-Yee, the leader of a resistance movement called The Sons of the Dragon, dedicated to the fight against opium and Japanese intervention in China. Wang's son, Didi, is the young man who helped save him from the two assassinations, but is now insane from Rajaijah poisoning. He goes about threatening to cut people's heads off with a sword (thinking it will "show them the way") and only his father's stern authority can keep him in check.Mr. Wang also reveals that Mitsuhirato is their chief opponent: a Japanese secret agent and drug smuggler.
Tintin manages to track down Mitsuhirato and witnesses him blowing up a railway line (this is based on the real-life Mukden Incident). No one is killed and damage is minor, but the event is successfully portrayed by the Japanese government as a major Chinese terrorist incident and used as an excuse for a Japanese invasion of Manchuria. Tintin is captured by Mitsuhirato and is to be injected the Rajaijah poison, but had a near escape when he was aided by one of the members from "The Sons of the Dragon," who had infiltrated Mitsuhirato's house earlier and switched the poison for colored water. Having obtained the poison of madness with the help of the member, Tintin returns to Shanghai, which has now been occupied by the Japanese Army, and tries to make contact with Doctor Fang Hsi-ying, an expert on insanity, who may be able to cure Wang's son. However, Doctor Fang has been kidnapped by the drug cartel, presumably to prevent him developing an antidote to the poison. A note left by the kidnappers demands ransom money which must be paid at an old temple in the city of Hukow.After a brief period of imprisonment in Shanghai by the Japanese Army, Tintin escapes and rides a train to Hukow to visit the temple where the ransom is to be paid, but a flood washes the tracks, and all the passengers must disembark. He then rescues a young boy, Chang Chong-Chen, from drowning in the Yangtze River. They become good friends, and Chang rescues Tintin from the Thompsons who had reluctantly arrested him under orders from Dawson, who is collaborating with Mitsuhirato to capture Tintin. They later travel to the area where the ransom money is to be left, and are able to confirm that Professor Fang Hsi-ying has been kidnapped on Mitsuhirato's orders.
Tintin and Chang return to Shanghai, but not before Wang and his family are kidnapped by Mitsuhirato. In order to find them, Tintin travels to the Shanghai docks and hides in one of the barrels being unloaded from an opium ship. But it turns out that he was seen, and when he emerges he is confronted by Mitsuhirato armed with a gun, and soon finds himself a prisoner alongside Wang and his family. Then the boss of the opium cartel is revealed to be the film producer Rastapopoulos. Tintin is appalled that a man he had thought to be a friend could be the gang leader until Rastapopoulos reveals the tattoo of Kih-Oskh on his forearm. Fortunately, before the cartel could kill Tintin and Wang, the Sons of the Dragon, who had previously overpowered Mitsuhirato's thugs and had hidden in the other barrels, reveal themselves, and force Mitsuhirato and Rastapopoulos to surrender.
With Rastapopoulos arrested, the cartel is finally brought down, and Mitsuhirato commits hara-kiri (suicide). Fang Hsi-ying finds an antidote to the poison of madness and Wang's son is cured (it is not mentioned whether the other victims of the poison are also cured). The ensuing political fallout over Tintin's involvement with the cartel and Japanese espionage leads to Japan's withdrawal from the League of Nations. The story ends with Chang being adopted by the Wang family as they bid farewell to Tintin as he heads back to Europe.
- The comic book continued the story that began in "Cigars of the Pharaoh", involving the conspiracy of Rastapopoulos's drug cartel.
- The Maharaja of Gaipajama and the Crown Prince of Gaipajama, who were previously seen in "Cigars of the Pharaoh", returned in this book. However, the Maharaja's son was only seen in half, due to the limitations of the vignette.
- Snowy seems to have mania to the fakirs, probably after knowing The Fakir, who confronted him and Tintin in "Cigars of the Pharaoh". Also, this comic book reveals that he escaped form prison.
- A trailer of the movie that Roberto Rastapopoulos was filming in "Cigars of the Pharaoh" is seen in this comic book.
- Rastapopoulos, who was presented in "Cigars of the Pharaoh", returns in this adventure. He later returns in "The Red Sea Sharks" and in "Flight 714".
- J.M. Dawson subsequently returns in "The Red Sea Sharks" as a plane smuggler, implying that he likely lost his job as the British Chief of Police in Shangai. He was apparently supposed to return again in the unfinished "Tintin and Alph-Art", but the comic book was never finished.
- W.R. Gibbons later returns in the unfinished "Tintin and Alph-Art". He appears as an important guest during the party of Endaddine Akass.
- Chang Chong-Chen subsequently returns in "Tintin in Tibet". Also, Professor Wang Chen-Yee is mentioned in that comic book, but he doesn't appear.
- Thompson and Thomson
- Maharaja of Gaipajama
- Crown Prince of Gaipajama
- The Fakir (Mentioned)
- W.R. Gibbons
- J.M. Dawson
- Wang Chen-Yee
- Mrs. Wang
- Mr. Lee
- General Haranochi
- Professor Fang Hsi-ying
- Liu Ju-lin
- Roberto Rastapopoulos
- Detective Richards
- Chang Chong-Chen
- The Consul of Poldavia
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