Fans worldwide assemble for school dramas
SCHOOL dramas, a familiar genre in Japanese television, have gained a big fan base overseas. Their typical theme - the joys and sorrows of being a teenager - seems to have no national boundaries.
The boom started in 2013, when Fuji TV's serial drama Mischievous Kiss: Love In Tokyo was shown in China through Internet streaming.
Prompted by its popularity, Fuji started streaming its new serial drama, Good Morning Call, this February. The show was streamed simultaneously with the drama's domestic broadcast.
In the story, Nao (played by Haruka Fukuhara), a kind, endearing and somewhat clumsy high-school girl, by a twist of fate comes to live together with Hisashi (Shunya Shiraishi), a smart, stylish boy attending the same school. Their relationship develops into a romance.
The 17-episode series was also streamed internationally - through a partnership with Netflix - in about 30 countries and territories, mainly in Asia, including Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.
Fuji TV intends to make the programme available in more than 170 countries and territories by the end of this year.
Mayuko Okamoto, a producer involved in the drama, says there are two factors in creating a successful school drama.
First, the original story must be a popular manga centred on romance. Secondly, the drama must be a faithful reproduction of the original story.
For instance, Fuji made sure to choose actors who would completely match the images of the characters depicted in the manga when they made Mischievous Kiss in 2013.
It seems to have worked: The drama and its sequel were viewed almost 500 million times in China.
Meanwhile, actor Yuki Furukawa is now regarded as a heart-throb among women in Chinese-speaking regions, thanks to his suave role in Mischievous Kiss.
Makoto Yamaguchi, senior executive director of content creation at Fuji TV, said the dramas' popularity can be attributed to the original manga, which is highly acclaimed in Japan and overseas.
"Young people across the world are attracted to love comedies and school dramas, regardless of culture, ethnic background and language. They commonly empathise with the themes of these works."
THE YOMIURI SHIMBUN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK