Nippon TV Scripts Emotional Dramas

Sayako Aoki, manager of sales and licensing for the international business development unit at Nippon TV, on some of the company’s scripted formats that are resonating worldwide.

At Nippon TV, the scripted formats that are resonating best with viewers around the world are two of its emotional drama titles: Mother and Woman -My Life for My Children-. Both series have at the center of the action a female character who, despite the trials and tribulations that life throws her way, perseveres. “Universal themes with a human touch are working well for us,” says Sayako Aoki, manager of sales and licensing for the international business development unit at Nippon TV. These are titles that have “elements or angles that are totally original but somehow so relevant to you,” says Aoki. “To find a perfect balance between these two criteria has always been a challenge.”

Meeting the challenge, in addition to Mother and Woman, Nippon TV has in its scripted-formats slate the long-running drama I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper, which follows a mysterious housekeeper who will do anything that is asked of her, for better or worse. Nippon TV’s most recent format, A Girl of 35, tells the story of a woman who awakes from a 25-year-long coma, with a 35-year-old body but a 10-year-old mind. “Although the settings might seem unusual at first in both titles, viewers can actually sympathize with the story of each family as the episodes unfold while reflecting on how they got to where they are right now,” says Aoki. “We believe this can be appealing to global viewers.”

In the international media industry today, “buyers are always looking for good stories worth telling, but I feel the methods and schemes of how to deliver such stories to viewers is diversifying,” explains Aoki. “We have started to see an increasing number of international projects across territories and platforms, or collaborations involving brands, advertisers and non-traditional players.” And as COVID-19 continues to affect the world, Aoki expects that 2021 will see this trend continue. 

The new year will also see protocols that were put in place amid the first waves of the global pandemic continue to be implemented. Nippon TV established a team with medical personnel, who are tasked with checking and clearing the safety of each production before it can proceed, with detailed recording rules to ensure everyone’s safety. “The maximum number of people who can enter the studio at the same time is decided according to the size, all the members including casts have to wear masks and face shields all the time during rehearsals, the shooting has to be paused every hour for appropriate ventilation and disinfection, and so on,” says Aoki. “In the meantime, as seen in our title Double Booking, we have been announcing new types of dramas under this ongoing pandemic, using remote recording, virtual effects or CG-editing while maintaining the interesting storylines.”

Even before the pandemic, which gave a boost to the use of streaming platforms, such services were becoming a bigger part of the scripted-formats industry. According to Aoki, original series that are launched on OTT platforms help to enrich the overall storytelling in the space. “In terms of business, we are not necessarily considering traditional broadcasters and streamers separately anymore,” she notes. “We always try to find the best outlet to make the most of our content, and providing the best stories with suitable platforms across the world would be essential.”

In the months and years ahead, Nippon TV is determined to keep apace of new players springing up in the industry and the new territories that are gaining greater global traction, ever evaluating where it can boost its own efficiency and effectiveness. “As a Japanese broadcaster and production powerhouse, we are hoping to expand more Japanese narratives to global markets, as we believe our good stories can travel regardless of the region,” says Aoki.