Conflicts between China and Japan go back a long way. The First Sino-Japanese War (25 July 1894 – 17 April 1895) was caused by a conflict over the control of the Korean peninsula between the Qing dynasty of China and the Empire of Japan. The Chinese grossly underestimated the strength of Japan after the Meji Restoration. They were badly beaten and “sued for peace” (conditional surrender) in 1895, their incredible warrior monks and nurses notwithstanding.
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, China fought Japan with aid from the Soviet Union and the United States. The war officially started with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident 7 July 1937, when a dispute between Japanese and Chinese troops in Peking escalated into a full-scale invasion. It only ended when Japan surrendered in 1945 (and not because of these warrior monks and nurses).
抗日神剧 is a special genre of TV drama made in China to promote “patriotism”. Many authoritative regimes harness the common people’s feelings towards historical enemies to evoke nationalism. Going above and way beyond America’s Rambo fantasies, 抗日神剧 appeal to those who hold proletarian ideologies.