26 July 2011 | ebiros2
Seminal Season For One of Japan's Most Famous TV Drama Series
This is the first season of one of the most successful TV series in Japanese history that spanned over 3 decades with 8 seasons, and 20 special episodes.
Sakamoto Kinpachi (Tetsuya Takeda) is a newly assigned middle school teacher teaching Japanese at Sakura Middle School. He's in charge of class B in the 9th grade. His class of 32 students are experiencing growth pains, and pains of having to prepare for the high school entrance exam. Kinpachi with his uniquely personable style wins the hearts of each student and changes their lives for the better.
Back in the '70s when this program started, teachers in Japanese school had almost totalitarian control over their students. Their only measure of evaluating students were how well they've done in academics. Students were at bay because unless they received good evaluation from their teacher, they would not be able to enter high ranking school for their high school, and college. The students who didn't fit in were deemed to be rejects, and were receiving sub human treatment from their school. The main character of this program was created to be the great antithesis to this trend. Kinpachi sensei (teacher) champions the well being of each student and befriends them no matter what their problems may be.
This series that spanned between 10/26/79 - 3/28/80 with total of 23 episodes started with Tokyo Broadcasting Station production staff's desire to create a winning TV series for the Friday's 8 O'clock slot which never had a hit program throughout the station's history. Producer for this series Mitsuru Sakurai was recommended to use Mieko Osanai as its writer, but Osanai at the time already was writing for NHK and couldn't take on a new project. But she made a recommendation that she can write a story if it's about middle school students because she had a son that just entered high school and can write on the basis of her own experience. Hence the theme of this series was agreed between the staff, and a relative new comer Tetsuya Takeda was selected for the lead role. The name of the title character Kinpachi comes from abbreviation Kinyo (Friday) Hachi (eight) hinting that it's a Friday 8 o'clock time slot's character, and from a real person named Kingo that the giver of the name for this series Kiichi Iwasaki knew as a neighbor.
The series created many new child star who are still enjoying a long career after this series has ended such as Masahiko Kondo, and Junko Mihara. Kaoru Sugita, and Shingo Tsurumi who were already a child star then were recruited to play the central characters Yukino Asai, and Tamotsu Miyazawa who became parents at a tender age of 15. The series also created new child stars such as Kaori Tsuchiya, Toshihiko Tahara, and Yoshio Nomura who also went on to enjoy successful careers.
The series that TBS staff have created to boost their ratings gained high rating averaging 24.4%, and the final episode received a whopping 39.9% which is a record that still stands today. Kinpachi became an unparalleled success for TBS and many sequels followed. This is a program that you can have an inside look at how middle school students spends their life in Japan. The drama is vivid, and fresh, with views of each youngsters high lighted in each episode. One of the best TV series to come out of Japan, subtitled versions can be seen from time to time at a Japanese broadcasting stations around the world. Take an inside look at the Japanese culture by watching this series.