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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Weekend
Remake of 'Midnight Diner' tasteless
    2017-June-23  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

THE much-anticipated star-studded Chinese TV adaptation of Japanese TV drama “Midnight Diner” earned extremely poor reviews after it debuted on TV and online June 12.

Currently, the 40-episode show has an unprecedented low rating of 2.6/10 from over 80,000 viewers on Chinese media review site Douban.

The original Japanese TV drama, an adaptation of the “Midnight Diner” manga series by Yaro Abe, enjoys acclaim in China for its mouthwatering Japanese food and heartwarming stories.

The drama follows a lone and mysterious chef and his restaurant which only opens from midnight to dawn. There are no fixed items on his menu, but the chef will take orders from any customer and cook whatever they ask for. As the chef cooks, his patrons tell him their life stories.

The original’s first two seasons were rated 9.1/10 on Douban, while the third and fourth seasons clocked in at 8.6/10. Even the South Korean version of the drama earned a lukewarm 6.8/10 on Douban.

When news broke out that a Chinese version was in the works, starring dozens of veteran actors and young idols, such as Huang Lei and Mark Chao, Chinese audiences celebrated. But now the remake is being widely criticized as boring and fake, failing to weave real Chinese life into Chinese food.

The poor all-star performance, the unnatural setting of the restaurant and unrealistic characters and stories have made audience members feel detached. They reject the clumsy mimicking of the Japanese production, from the chef’s attire to the food and the izakaya — a typical Japanese restaurant layout but rarely seen in China.

Weaving heartwarming stories into a culinary journey is certainly a challenge. The Japanese drama presents the slow-burning sentiments felt by the people living on the margins of a glimmering metropolis. “It seems the Chinese producers were not diligent enough in devising ‘moderations’ for Chinese audiences,” a netizen wrote.

Aware of the criticisms of the show, director Tsai Yueh-Hsun said it was the manga copyright owner’s decision to retain the Japanese characteristics. He also argued that the Chinese version does in fact include local cultural elements in some of its stories.

The heavy use of product placement is also an unpalatable part of the Chinese remake. Brands of cooking oil, facial masks, hamburgers, beers and an online real-estate platform are commonly seen in the first two episodes.

A story of three girls building their friendship by ordering the same brand of an instant noodle irritated the Chinese audience the most. “In a nation with diverse cuisines, who would go to a restaurant at midnight for instant noodles? The chef and the diners in the TV series all praise it as a delicacy, which is totally unrealistic and an insult to audience members,” said a viewer.

Admitting the TV drama has too much product placement, Tsai said he had protested with the producers during shooting but compromised under pressure.

“I was not even allowed to delete them during the post-production stage,” he said, adding that he now often mocks himself that he has fulfilled his early dream of becoming a commercial director.

From barbecue skewers, Lanzhou beef noodles, stir-fried rice to Cantonese desserts, disappointed Internet users have offered solutions on how to make the Chinese version more appealing. “China has such a robust culture around late-night food that every province could come out with its own variation of ‘Midnight Diner,’” a netizen wrote.

Some shared their own experiences at roadside food stalls online. “Someone complained to a classmate about a boss; someone boasting to his friend about his connections to an influential person; someone having their last meal before bidding farewell to the city,” wrote a social media user, painting the scene of a midnight diner that might resonate more with a Chinese audience.(SD-Agencies)

 

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