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Controversial TV drama on orphanages goes ahead without sponsors

41 Comments

A Japanese drama about children living in an orphanage that has been attacked for stereotyping was broadcast as intended, a TV station said Wednesday, despite being abandoned by all of its sponsors.

Rights groups have complained that "Ashita Mama Ga Inai" (Mamma won't be here tomorrow) depicts youngsters as if they were "animals in a pet shop" and say it could reinforce negative views of children living in care.

The program shows young people "being controlled and coerced by violence and fear", said an association representing workers in children's homes.

"We are concerned that the drama will reinforce stereotypes and discrimination against children's homes," they said in a statement.

The furor erupted after the Jan 15 broadcast of the pilot, which showed children in the fictional "House of Small Ducks" being punished for bad behavior by being forced to hold buckets full of water.

The show details characters' quests to find a foster home, missions that end in failure with the child returning to the bosom of friendship among fellow orphans.

It has also attracted criticism because one of its characters, played by child actor Mana Ashida, who appeared in the 2013 U.S. sci-fi film Pacific Rim, is called "Post".

The name is apparently inspired by the Japanese word for "baby hatch" (akachan posuto), a place where parents can anonymously leave unwanted infants in the care of a hospital.

The public outcry over the program has led to all eight corporate sponsors, including Fuji Heavy Industries and Mitsubishi Estate, withdrawing their commercials from the prime-time offering, the Asahi Shimbun and other media have reported.

Undaunted, broadcaster NTV aired the program as scheduled at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Vehement audience reaction is relatively unusual in Japan, where often-formulaic dramas tend to shy away from controversial topics.

A typical series sees a cast of stock characters move artlessly through tried-and-tested plots revolving around romance or criminal investigations.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

41 Comments
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It seems that a lot of people here haven't seen the drama, but are yet commenting on it.

I've seen the first 3 episodes, and so far, I can say that it's clearly full of clichés. Someone was suggesting to broadcast Oliver Twist instead, but that's exactly what this drama is: a "modern Oliver Twist". Now I'll list some of the prejudices portrayed in this drama:

Orphanage staff are heartless abusers all the children are called by a nickname related to the way they were abandoned (I should say a "bullied" name, that they give to each other, to always "remember where they come from") Foster parents are abusers: furthermore, all the foster mothers are bat-shit crazy with huge psychological disorders, and most foster dads are totally spineless. (blame it on the mother! all women are hysterical, right?) the only time so far that there was a nice couple, the girl decided by herself, that she preferred not being adopted because it was "too much happiness", so she decided to go back to the orphanage... (see how it's logical!) every single child leads their adoption process to failure because, they don't want to be separate from their orphanage mates one of the children only wants to be adopted by "Joripi" i.e. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, and pray everyday in front of their picture the girl with a patch on an eye that couldn't fail to the gloomy background atmosphere, the young guy who never speaks and always looks at his shoes, and so on, and so on...

I don't know how something can be more "Oliver Twist" and cliché than that. People who think that it could ever "depict the reality of orphanages in Japan", are obviously seriously prejudiced. Since it started airing, there have been reports that some orphans have been trough increased bullying at school and that some on them self injured themselves because of the harmful image that it gives of them. Is that acceptable?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The program shows young people “being controlled and coerced by violence and fear”, said an association representing workers in children’s homes.

“We are concerned that the drama will reinforce stereotypes and discrimination against children’s homes,”

So instead of showing the program, they should have shown a production of "Oliver Twist."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Maybe I'm missing the point here though, I don't understand that the hospital which filed a complaint against the program has such a 'baby post' for abandoned children. Although I partially see their point that they want to save the precious life, I feel like the system has been providing with an escape route for parents and could increase the number of those abandoned children. I can't really imagine how the parents or parent feel when they leave thier kids there, or maybe that is the last option they could think of but it should never be one of their options to avoid responsibility.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Don't know if others know, but it was announced today that the show caved in and is now talking comprises in the ways it portrays orphanages in Japan. To me, this is a real shame. I actually thought there might continue a drama worth watching.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

billyhelpher-33: Their marriage isn't doing so well and they hardly talk. I think the adoption would bring the family much more closer.

I like your sentiment about adopting but really don't think that a couple going through a rough patch where they aren't talking should be considering adoption but rather other options, such as counseling. Having a child is not a panacea to whatever is causing trouble between them and bringing a child into an unhappy house could all too easily cause more tension and friction, especially if the child isn't as perfect as they'd have hoped. Adopt or have a baby when things are going well and you want to share your love and happiness. Do not adopt or have a baby when things are going badly and you want someone to make you happy or fix things between you and your spouse.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

@Billyhelper_33

While I don't agree that an adopted child should be brought into a marriage involving a couple having serious issues, I do think it's very sad that people would worry more about what others would think rather than help a child in need. Also, what kind of person would look down on somebody else for adopting a child, for giving them a chance at a better life? People who would act in such a way make me ashamed to be human.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I don't know what it is, they just don't like adopting here…never mind, come to think of it, i do know what it is. Its sad because A LOT of families can't have children. I met a couple out here who said they couldn't have children. I told them in japanese how about adopting? They said they would have negative reactions from the neighbours and his colleagues. Their marriage isn't doing so well and they hardly talk. I think the adoption would bring the family much more closer. I think adopting is a wonderful thing. Hell, I personally thought about adopting. I would do it. A lot of people just can't have children. But yet, they can. A lot of children need parents and they are out there. But their society is so jacked up. A lot of great people were adopted. Or miraculously came from broken families.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Whoever wrote this woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.

I would say that whoever wrote that had their head screwed on straight when they woke up that morning.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I read that the orphanages in Japan are under Staffed & under Funded...

NPO makes a difference for orphans by providing mentors

http://www.japantoday.com/category/lifestyle/view/npo-makes-a-difference-for-orphans-by-providing-mentors

0 ( +0 / -0 )

To my knowledge 1000's of awful orphanage reports, 100's of book and 10's of movies have been done in France, Switzerland, UK, … many many years ago. That was really shocking.

Even though I have not seen this Japanese movie, it seems that Japan still does not want to recognize this inhuman issue.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I found it to be very sad. I can imagine its very uncomfortable to watch for many people, Japanese or not. No - one likes to think about kids beaten and bullied, which is sadly common in Japanese group homes like the one on this drama.

I read in the Japanese press the reason for many of the complaints was that the real members of these group homes were facing teasing and bullying at school because of this drama - other kids saying things like " Your mommas not going to come tomorrow either" and from that perspective I Completely understand the complaints.

I hope that more awareness is given to these children, and that the rights of the parents are able to be cut, in order to give the real orphans of Japan (most of whom DO have a family, just that don't want them) a family who will love them as they should be loved.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Undaunted, broadcaster NTV aired the program as scheduled at 10 p.m. Wednesday.

Nice to see a Japanese company that has the courage of its convictions. And the kerfluffle probably boosted the program's ratings too!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Raising issue is always a good thing to do. I've never seen the episode, but I'm gonna try this.

“We are concerned that the drama will reinforce stereotypes and discrimination against children’s homes”

So they are only concerned about their image, and not the children or raising discussions. What they're effectively saying is that "let us, and only us, handle this shit. Public attention is unwanted". Well those rights group can go screw themselves.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I haven't seen it & while I know orphans have few offered of adoption in Japan, cant comment on if this is realistic or not.

But then most of J-tv is fantasy with little reality tossed in & brutally formulaic

The show would have to be pretty awful to warrant pulling it or have spineless sponsors pull ads.

Here is a guess, it just shows things in a bad light........THAT enough will get many Japanese to get upset, even if its very accurate info!

I have long ago learned what topics to avoid with the wife because she will not like to hear views that criticize Japan, EVEN if she is in 150% agreement with me............ I am sure many guys married here can relate. When it starts I to the washroom to wait it out or in the evening grab a drink & head to a different part of the house till it passes.

Would be nice if you could have REAL discussions with more Japanese , but sadly you cant most tend to be easy offended, unable to analyze things, debate etc........

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Daito, I think by "rights groups" this article means "human rights/orphans' rights/children's rights"-type groups who most likely do not advocate violence against anyone. I'm sure you're thinking of certain black-bus-driving "rightist groups" (who no doubt would be infuriated by a negative portrayal of anything Japan-related in the media...)

As for the drama itself, haven't seen it, can't comment except to say yes, if Japanese subjected themselves to the same critical scrutiny they regularly put on other peoples/countries/societies, then of course in the end the ensuing shock would do them a world of good!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Rights groups have complained that “Ashita Mama Ga Inai” (Mamma won’t be here tomorrow) depicts youngsters as if they were “animals in a pet shop” and say it could reinforce negative views of children living in care.

Rights groups in Japan suddenly caring about the well being of people? The same ones who regularly call for mass murdering of a specific group of foreigners living in Japan. Hummm.

The reality is that this is the usual attack from those groups and similar other types of people in Japan who can't support that anything negative is said about Japan. No debate is possible with these people, the image of Japan must appear as perfect as possible (while they continue to do their dirty business backdoor). Hence the totally stupid, mass creating of idiots that the Japanese TV is.

This show is not making any stereotype of anything, please grow up people. This shows is just trying (something very rare in this country) to show the reality of certain orphanages in Japan, not all of course but it wants to show that what it describes does exist in Japan. It's just trying to open a debate and make people aware that the world is not Walt Disney.

A lot of people in this country must learn once and for good that any criticism toward Japan is not stereotyping Japan, Japanese or anything else.

0 ( +4 / -4 )

@Timbo

AC is not a company. It stands for Ad Council, I think. It is a bunch of public service announcements that various stations air. Again, I am not sure, but broadcasters probably have to air a certain number of PSAs per month or year (it may be a self imposed industry agreement, or a govt imposed one).

After the Tohoko earthquake, all of the stations had NO ads to air, and were only left with AC PSAs to fill the air time. Same with this show. The show is probably only 40 mins long, so they need to fill the time. It is a good chance for NTV to hit their PSA quota for the month.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

ebisenJan. 30, 2014 - 02:47PM JST >The show is potentially harmful to children living in orphanages and foster care and puts them at further risk of becoming victims of bullying at school and society. This. There are other ways of improving the life of children in orphanages than this show. If it can do more harm than good (and we all know how extreme bullying in Japan can be), it should be banned. How about doing a documentary in order to raise awareness?

How could what they describe of the show possibly lead to this? It seems it just hit a few peoples nerves because it didn't have enough of a rose tint and the sponsors promptly folded. If it's going to be gritty on japanese tv, it needs to be fiction and that's the end of it.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

>The show is potentially harmful to children living in orphanages and foster care and puts them at further risk of becoming victims of bullying at school and society.

This. There are other ways of improving the life of children in orphanages than this show. If it can do more harm than good (and we all know how extreme bullying in Japan can be), it should be banned. How about doing a documentary in order to raise awareness?

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Ah, so writers release something original & daring and sponsors jump. Yet, they'll flock to "(insert generic love catch phrase)" starring "(insert any johnny's jimusho member)" and "(insert cute 'it' girl at the moment)! it all makes sense!

/sarcasm

1 ( +3 / -2 )

If anyone wants to see it, just type it on youtube and they have a video of the whole thing, but it will most likely get taken down soon so you better download it

0 ( +1 / -1 )

So, if reality is so different, show it. Last I heard about orphanages here the show seems to be pretty much correct in its depiction.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

If Japanese television is not about food then its not a good TV show or drama they dont want to show the truth they rather laugh at it like some of the sick worthless comedy that is show there. Thats why its so hard for the people of Japan to deal with reality they rather look the other way as if the event never happened. Wake up Japan its not a dream!

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The problem is not that the orphanages are being portrayed as terrible places but that the orphans are being portrayed as conniving and wretched.

Public perception of orphanages and foster care have always been negative, and I'm sure if the drama had simply regurgitated that age old bias but portrayed the children as angels then the orphanage and foster parents associations would have taken the whole thing in stride. Dozens of novels, drama's, movies, and even anime have depicted orphanages and orphans, all in their own way, and most have depicted orphanages negatively. Unfortunately, the depiction of the children in Ashita Mama ga Inai is disparaging.

The show is potentially harmful to children living in orphanages and foster care and puts them at further risk of becoming victims of bullying at school and society.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What I hate is that a prominent clinic offered to put their ads on since the sponsors had withdrawn their ads due to the program's bashing.But these very same sponsors blocked the clinic's ads even though they pulled theirs off.How pathetic and childish.If we won't show,you can't either.Weak as...

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Japanese dramas always portray society as idealistic, perfect versions of what they really are. We need more shows that show the true state of things

4 ( +8 / -4 )

@Pandabelle

They're just stating what's 100% true.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

I only think that, if some people and organizations feel that they are being damage by this program, it may because, there is some truth in there that they don't want it to go public?

If there is nothing to hide, there is nothing to fear.... unfortunately these people fear so much of this drama...

9 ( +9 / -0 )

"A typical series sees a cast of stock characters move artlessly through tried-and-tested plots revolving around romance or criminal investigations. "

Whoever wrote this woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning.

-1 ( +6 / -7 )

I watched the third instalment, and found it to be anything but heartless or even exploiting stereotypes. If anything, it could wake people up to the alarming reality that--Yes!--Japan has orphans! Surprise! I personally thought it was good, and will continue to watch it. AC have bravely stepped in to provide advertising, and after the wonderful work they did post Touhoku earthquake, bringing messages of hope to a country facing its worst disaster since the Hanshin earthquake, and their messages were far preferable to the vacuous promises of products that will 'change your life and make you beautiful'. Most advertisements lack even a shred of soul, but the AC messages were good--reminding people of their mobile phone use bad manners and how harmful it can be to others, addressing AIDS in Japan, and bringing commentary on serious environmental issues to the fore. I hope the programme, and AC, can keep the show afloat to the end.

If we took the same worries to everything in the world of art and literature, there is quite a real possibility that children might never read Oliver Twist, Dickens' uplifting story of an orphan boy in 19th century Britain, or Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, which at no point shies away from the issues of racial inequality in America at the time of its writing.

All stories are fair to be told. If they can enlighten us to understand the woes and sadness so prevalent in this world, they can move us to be more human.

21 ( +21 / -0 )

Yes very good for NTV to show something controversial -- and creating some conversation on this topic. The first step to making changes is public conversation.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

There is a change.org petition on this I read the other day, and it listed out the big complaints, the primary one being that it's an affront to orphanage and children's homes employees and workers for belittling their industry and demanding an apology by the producer of the show to orphanage and children's homes workers, etc.

The claims are silly though, and the show should go on. Good on NTV for continuing to broadcast.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

A drawback to this kind of portrayal of an orphanage is that many people in Japan refrain from putting their kids in one when having a child they can't or don't want to care for.

We've all read about countless murder-suicides here on JT to know that many would rather have their kids die than be put into an orphanage.

I really don't want this stereotype of orphanages to further exacerbate this problem.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Japanese TV dramas and the media NEVER stereotype. For example, all gays are effeminate and swivel their hips in public. All gaijins have big noses and speak American English. And not one single foster child in Japan has had a good experience.

Vehement audience reaction is relatively unusual in Japan, where often-formulaic dramas tend to shy away from controversial topics. A typical series sees a cast of stock characters move artlessly through tried-and-tested plots revolving around romance or criminal investigations.

And anything more would be too much for me too handle. I don't need new plots.

0 ( +5 / -6 )

This program might or not be spot on but never the less Japanese avoid self-criticism and probably don't want to know or can't accept the possibility that an orphanage like this exists in their country.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

We should hope we get more testimonials from those who have lived through the experience in Japan such as japantodaykenji above. Then we may better be able to judge whether the corporations withdrawing sponsorship were using good judgment or joining in the cover-up of an important social issue..

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Stigmatizing is never good, and in a country where the population can sometimes be easily led by what they see at first glance (e.g. a TV drama), perhaps this furor is warranted. I think the folks in the care industry probably have their finger more on the pulse than a scriptwriter on this one - though I have to say I haven't seen the episodes.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

young people “being controlled and coerced by violence and fear”

Yup, that about sums orphanages up. To portray a Japanese orphanage as having these attributes is hardly challenging the national conscience.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

I lived in an orphanage as a child and don't mind the stereotyping of orphans as "animals in a pet shop ... being controlled and coerced by violence and fear”, because that's largely what it was like. I didn't see the show, but wonder if maybe it's better for orphanages to be stereotyped and visible than for society to pretend or imagine that orphans are being well cared for and abundantly loved. That is ridiculous because it is almost always never the case.

46 ( +47 / -1 )

Lame, unimaginative, stereotypical J-drama #2,465,881 and only now the sponsors are jumping ship?

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Good idea: cover up and ignore the problem. Then hopefully it'll magically go away, right?

5 ( +12 / -7 )

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