Story of Yanxi Palace, Typhoon Mangkhut, and Anyone: Google reveals what Hongkongers searched for in 2018

What do these four things have in common with each other: (from top left, clockwise) The Story of Yanxi Palace, ‘Anyone’, Joe Hisaishi, and Typhoon Mangkhut. Photos via YouTube and Facebook.
What do these four things have in common with each other: (from top left, clockwise) The Story of Yanxi Palace, ‘Anyone’, Joe Hisaishi, and Typhoon Mangkhut. Photos via YouTube and Facebook.

TV shows, super typhoons, politicians, the world cup, and a blue-suited man were among the most-searched items in Google’s list of trending topics in Hong Kong for 2018, the search engine/tech company announced yesterday.

The results show Hong Kong’s got quite a love for the big and little screens. Of the city’s top 10 searches, six were for TV shows or films.

The most searched?

Popular mainland TV show Story of Yanxi Palace, a historical drama set in the Qing dynasty about a maidservant who wants to avenge her sister’s death.

Throw in a few vengeful concubines and  palace intrigue, and you have a hit show that rivals Frank Underwood’s antics.

According to Inkstone, the SCMP‘s China-focused website, more than 530 million people tuned into China’s version of Netflix, iQiyi, at one point to watch the show, and the show has attracted a cumulative 5.6 billion views, or an average of 130 million views per episode.

To put that into perspective, the season seven finale of Game of Thrones had 16.5 million views on the night it was released, while the second season of Stranger Things recorded 79.2 million views over the first three days.

Story of Yanxi Palace even garnered more searches than the city-battering typhoon Mangkhut, the superstorm that hit Hong Kong in September and prompted the Hong Kong Observatory (HKO) to hoist the highest typhoon warning.

The storm — which left a trail of destruction, many unhappy Hongkongers (after the chief executive declined to give people the next day off), and some super funny memes and trailers (see below) — was, however, the most searched news item on the list.

The next most searched stories were about major and controversial infrastructure projects completed this year: the Hong Kong-Zhuhai Macau Bridge and the Express Rail.

The Fire Services Department also featured in the top 10 of most-searched local news thanks to their mascot ‘Anyone’, a faceless, blue-suited man in black shorts who was ridiculed by many netizens for just being, well, plain weird.

It was, in fact, the online popularity of ‘Anyone’ that saved him from the chopping block, with authorities backtracking on plans to scrap him after a backlash from netizens.

The results also reflected the city’s embrace of arts and culture.

Among popular search terms were Tai Kwun, the arts and heritage center that opened this year, which got international attention for the wrong reasons after management u-turned on a decision not to host an exiled Chinese writer as part of the Hong Kong International Literary Festival.

Martial arts novelist Louis Cha, who passed away this year, was also high in the rankings.

Popular performers also featured on the list, including several whose concerts were targeted by scalpers such as Japanese composer Joe Hisaishi, standup comedian Dayo Wong, and Cantopop star and entertainer Andy Lau.

Politicians and activists were also prominent among most-searched people by Hongkongers on Google.

Lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung — whose phone-snatching antics landed him in hot water earlier this year — and Justice Secretary Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah , who faced criticism for having illegal structures in her home, were high on the list.

Others featured in the results included Edward Leung Tin-kei –a localist activist jailed for role in the Mong Kok riots, known as the Fishball Revolution — Demosisto member Agnes Chow, who was blocked from running for the Legislative Council over her political stance; and Hong Kong National Party Chairman Andy Chan, whose pro-independence group was outlawed by the government in September.

University of Hong Kong professor Cheung Kie-chung — who was charged with murder after police found his wife’s body in a suitcase in his office on campus — also drew enough netizen attention to make the most searched people list.

Anyways, here are the full results. Happy searching, Coconauts.

Top 10 searches
1) Story of Yanxi Palace (Mainland TV drama)
2) World Cup
3) WhatsApp Sticker
4) Typhoon Mangkhut
5) 2018 Book Fair
6) Life on the Line (Hong Kong TV drama)
7) Royal Love in the Palace (Mainland TV drama)
8) Along with the Gods (South Korean movie)
9) Flying Tiger (Hong Kong TV drama)
10) Daddy Cool (Hong Kong TV drama)

Top 10 local figures
1) Louis Cha
2) Ted Hui Chi-fung
3) Teresa Cheng Yeuk-wah
4) Eliza Lee Man-ching (Permanent Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development)
5) Edward Leung Tin-kei
6) Au Nok-hin
7) Cheung Kie-chung
8) Agnes Chow
9) Andy Chan Ho-tin
10) Rebecca Chan Hoi-yan

Local news
1) Mangkhut
2) Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge
3) Fast Payment Service (FPS)
4) Express rail
5) ‘Anyone’
6) Dengue fever
7) The 2018-2019 Budget
8) Tai Kwun
9) Yutu
10) Home Ownership Scheme (HOS)

Sports
1) World Cup
2) Australian Open
3) Wimbledon
4) NBA Finals
5) 2018 UEFA Champions League Final
6) 2018 Asian Games
7) French Open
8) US Open
9) UEFA Champions League
10) PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games

International Figures
1) Stephen Hawking
2) Meghan Markle
3) Lionel Messi
4) Cristiano Ronaldo
5) Yuzuru Hanyu (Japanese figure skater)
6) Neymar
7) Han Kuo-yu (Taiwanese politician)
8) Joe Hisaishi
9) Kylian Mbappé
10) Liu Qiangdong (Chinese entrepreneur and founder of e-commerce site JD.com)

International News
1) World Cup
2) US Mid-term elections
3) Osaka Earthquake
4) 2018 China–United States trade dispute
5) Thailand’s Wild Boar Soccer team rescue
6) Measles
7) UK Royal Wedding
8) Taiwan Earthquake
9) Hokkaido Earthquake
10) Hualien Earthquake

Activities
1) Book Fair
2) SOGO Thankful Week
3) HKTDC Food Expo
4) Dayo Wong standup show
5) Lunar New Year Fair
6) Standard Chartered Marathon
7) Flower Fair
8) YATA Sale
9) Hins Cheung concert
10) Andy Lau concert

Gaming
1) Travelling Frog
2) Monster Hunter: World
3) Langrisser
4) Text to Speech
5) PUBG
6) Overcooked 2
7) Pokémon: Let’s Go
8) Red Dead Redemption 2
9) TSM
10) Dynasty Warriors 9

Travel
1) Kaohsiung
2) Taichung
3) Seoul
4) Hualien
5) Taipei
6) Zhuhai
7) Nagoya
8) Fukuoka
9) Osaka
10) Bangkok

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