Japanese drama Chugakusei Nikki (trans. Junior High School Diary) premiered on TBS on October 9 and immediately caused a big controversy in Japan. The drama premiered with an average rating of 6.0%, which is considered disastrous since the previous drama in the TBS Tuesday timeslot premiered with 11.5%.
It is based on the manga of the same name by Junko Kawakami, and the story follows a 14-year-old junior high school student Kuroiwa Akira (played by a 19-year-old newbie Okada Kenshi) who falls in love with his 25-year-old homeroom teacher Suenaga Hijiri (Arimura Kasumi).
It is still unclear to what extent his feelings will be reciprocated because the manga is new and ongoing, but it is implied that they at least become close friends over the course of several years. The Japanese are known for loving and exploring the theme of forbidden love between teachers and students, for more info please check out my article Forbidden Love Stories in Dramas: School Edition.
However, judging by the ratings and negative feedback on social media, the Japanese disliked the huge age gap and the fact that the student is still in junior high school aka middle school, branding it as "unacceptable," "disgusting", and many more. The feedback on MDL has been rather negative, too. Arimura Kasumi is famous for her main role in the asadora (morning drama) Hiyokko, but rumor has it that she is unable to pick a good role in general, since most of her dramas are low rated, except Hiyokko which was a huge success. Will this role in Chugakusei Niiki tarnish her reputation even more?
There are also many who believe that there is a double standard regarding dramas and films in which the teacher is male and the roles are reversed, such as the film Close Range Love, which held the number one spot in the Japanese box office for three weeks, the drama Kou Kou Kyoushi 2003, which premiered with a rating of 14.9%, and the drama You Taught Me All The Precious Things with 12.1%.
The famous 1999 drama Majo no Jouken about a 17-year-old student and 26-year-old teacher had average viewership ratings of 21.5% (considered amazing). It even won the Best Drama Award at the 21st Television Drama Academy Awards.
Having in mind that it is still unclear in what direction their relationship will go, what are your thoughts on the plot? And what are your thoughts in general regarding this theme of student/teacher forbidden love and big age gaps? Let me know in the comments below and thanks for reading!