Chemistry organization’s video is full of heartache and drama, really short on science.

You wouldn’t ask a romance novelist to be able to skillfully explain complex scientific principles, right? So by that same logic, perhaps it was inevitable that when the Chemical Society of Japan decided to dabble in crafting a love story, it was going to fall on its face.

In April, the union of chemistry scholars posted a promotional video to its official website. The fictionalized tale follows Yuna, a college student who’s aiming to become a member of the Chemical Society, with a significant reason for that ambition being that she’s fallen in love with her chemistry professor.

▼ The video’s first part

Opening like so many cliched romance anime, we first see Yuna running late for class and running to her campus, with a piece of partially eaten bread dangling from her mouth. She then bumps into the considerably older Professor Hino, and, further following the standard storytelling scenario, falls in love with him, with the onscreen text declaring “It was a sudden chemical reaction…”

Later, Yuna’s friend tells her about the Chemical Society of Japan, excitedly gushing over the organization’s research achievements and education programs. She also lets Yuna know that her “beloved Professor Hino” is a member, which really gets her interest.

Yuna then throws herself into her studies, hoping to one day make a presentation at one of the society’s conferences. However, there’s a shocking plot twist in the second half of the video.

Over a plaintive ballad, we watch as Yuna hears a rumor that Professor Hino is dating one of his students! The idea that he has eyes for someone else sends Yuna into a deep depression, and she angrily declares that she no longer cares about science at all. Her friend tries to snap her out of her funk, asking if her interest in science is really so shallow, but even this well-intentioned berating fails to restore her academic fervor. It’s only once she discovers, quite by chance, that the young woman Professor Hino has been seen with is actually his daughter that Yuna’s commitment to studying returns (oh, and Professor Hino also gets hit by a car, because crossing the street without sustaining serious injury is always a difficult thing to do in bittersweet Japanese love stories).

As the video comes to a close, Yuna and Professor Hino reunite at a Chemical Society conference, with the professor now sporting a surprisingly dashing eyepatch. It’s unclear whether Yuna is there to make a presentation on her research or not; while that would tie up all the story’s loose ends, she doesn’t appear to be carrying any research materials with her, and the trendy choker-style dress she’s wearing, while stylish, is a little on the flashy side for a scientific conference in Japan.

If you’re thinking the story sounds like it has only the faintest connection to chemistry, you’re not the only one. Since being posted by the Chemical Society, the video has drawn complaints for failing to show the actual allure of scientific research, as well as for implying that Yuna is primarily choosing her educational/career path because she has the hots for her teacher, as opposed to a personal affinity for the subject or appreciation of its value to society.

As a result, on June 11 the video was removed from the society’s website, followed by a statement from newly appointed president Maki Kawai, who began her term at the end of May:

“Our intent was to encourage young people to pursue studies in the field of chemistry, but the video has made people who watched it uncomfortable. We will be more careful about such matters in the future.”

So for anyone who was perhaps hoping for a follow-up video providing a more concrete ending regarding Yuna’s affection for Professor Hino, you’re out of luck. But for those who’d prefer the Chemical Society of Japan’s promotional videos be about chemistry, you can probably look forward to its future offerings.

Source: Asahi Shimbun Digital via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Pakutaso