|NHK's Morning Drama serials are a national institution. The first, Daughter and I, began in 1961 and the current series, Kokoro, is the 68th. Audience ratings first took off in a big way with Ohanahan, and reached a peak with Oshin. Focusing on the lives of women, these programs maintain their popularity even today.|
TV drama serials: a paean to contemporary women of courage
NHK's first Morning Drama serial, Daughter
and I (created by Shishi Bunroku), began in April 1961 and ran
for a year. Each episode lasted 20 minutes and went out Monday to Friday
at 8:40 a.m. From the second serial, Tomorrow's
Wind, the running time was changed to fifteen minutes, aired
from 8:15 a.m., Monday to Saturday. This time slot continues to the
present day. At first, only about 1.5% of women in their 30's watched
television in the morning, but this grew to 20% by 1965 and 26.2% by
1970. The morning dramas clearly contributed to a major shift in morning
| The most successful
morning drama of all was the 31st serial, Oshin,
which began in April 1983. Viewers were immediately captivated by the
poignant story line and the convincing performance of the lead actress,
Kobayashi Ayako, who played the protagonist as a child. Later, as Oshin
grew up and matured, she was portrayed by Tanaka Yuko and finally by Otowa
Nobuko. The top audience share for an individual episode was 62.9%, and
the annual average was 52.6%. The story depicts a girl, Oshin, born into
a poor family, who overcomes various challenges with an indomitable spirit
and hard work, and finally achieves success as the owner of a supermarket.
The story made a powerful impact on viewers of every age group, touching
the hearts of many.
Kokoro, launched in the first half of 2003, is the 68th serial. Over the years, numerous female protagonists with unique, individual characters have been featured. Many different walks of life have also been represented: a pilot in Carpet of Clouds, a comic book writer in Sister Ma, Japan's first pop star in First Evening Star, a pioneering female journalist in Hanekonma, a staff member at a stable for sumo wrestlers in Hirari, an American citizen in Sakura, and an aspiring astronaut in Manten.