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Chinese version of ‘Midnight Diner’ fails to win over audiences

By Jiang Jie (People's Daily Online)    16:28, June 14, 2017

(Poster of Chinese version of 'Midnight Diner')

The classic Japanese TV series “Shinya Shokudo,” or “Midnight Diner,” debuted its Chinese version on June 12. Unfortunately, the series was roundly mocked by audiences, and ultimately received the lowest-ever rating for a television show.

The original series debuted in 2009 and tells the story of a late-night diner that opens from midnight to dawn. In 2015, it was also adapted into a South Korean TV series.

(Snapshot of Japanese TV series 'Midnight Diner')

On Chinese media review site Douban, the South Korean version scored 6.8 out of 10 points, while the Chinese version, four episodes in, only has a 2.3 out of 10. This is reportedly the lowest-ever rating for any Chinese television series. Some 90.5 percent of viewers only gave it a 1, and many noted that they would have scored it 0 if the rating system allowed it.

Meanwhile, the original Japanese series received a high score of 9.2 for its first season. The following four seasons were rated slightly lower score, but the latest season in 2016 was still rated 8.6 out of 10.

While the show was reportedly required to adhere to the original storyline, many audiences expressed discontent with the lack of Chinese elements. Some pointed out that a midnight diner in China would not be an izakaya with one solemn-looking cook, as in Japan. Rather, Chinese people tend to eat late-night snacks at outdoor food stands, choosing noodles, kebabs and grilled seafood. Usually those snacks are served alongside beer.

(File photo)

The TV series’s rigid adaptation triggered unease among some viewers. In one episode, the series tried to replace ochazuke, a Japanese dish, with something more Chinese. However, the show's creators chose instant noodles – a snack more commonly consumed at home. Many also complained about the cast’s acting skills. Instead of striking a chord with audiences, some of the actors and actresses performed for comedic effect in a TV series intended to be warm and comforting.

The Chinese version of “Midnight Diner” features a number of famous actors and actresses from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. Its director, Tsai Yueh-hsun, is known for several TV series adapted from Japanese manga, such as "Meteor Garden."

Even as the copyrights of more Japanese TV series are being purchased for production in China, a number of adaptions seem to be missing the mark, proving unsatisfying for Chinese audiences. The intention of boosting the domestic TV market has backfired after a series of copycats failed to fully embrace the theme and spirit of their predecessors. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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