Long-running TV drama series ‘Kimpachi Sensei’ comes to an end: Popular series ran intermittently for 32 years

TOKYO (Kyodo) — The TV drama series “Sannen B-gumi Kimpachi Sensei,” which deals with timely social issues through the lives of a public junior high school teacher and his students, will conclude this spring after airing intermittently for 32 years.

In the final episode, expected to be aired in late March, the main character, Kimpachi Sakamoto, will leave Sakura Junior High School as he reaches the mandatory retirement age of 60.

“I feel sadness and a sense of relief of taking a load off my mind at the same time,” said Tetsuya Takeda, the 61-year-old actor who plays the role of Kimpachi.

The Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. drama series started in October 1979, featuring then up-and-coming teen idols Masahiko Kondo, Toshihiko Tahara, and other young actors and actresses.

The stories based on scripts written by Mieko Osanai have sparked debate in Japanese society, raising issues such as teenage pregnancy, school violence, bullying and gender identity disorder among others.

The final episode of the first series aired in March 1980 secured an audience rating of 39.9 percent in the Kanto region including Tokyo, but the long-running series has also been criticized for having fallen into a rut.

Takeda said there were times he felt battered and lost but he was able to continue because of the cheerfulness of the children who played the role of his students.

“It’s a miracle (for Kimpachi) to reach the goal. I would like to conclude his career with words of appreciation,” said Takeda.

The final episode in March is expected to focus on the last several months of Kimpachi’s career and the school life of his students who are nervous ahead of taking high school entrance exams.

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