I started watching Japanese dramas about 3 to 4 years back. Before that, it was just Korean and Taiwanese dramas. Nowadays, I watch less Korean and more Japanese drama. Initially, the 10 episode format(more or less around there) really irritated me. I was used to 16-20 episode format and I figured that Japanese dramas were too short. Eventually I took a leap and started watching my first drama, Tokyo Dogs. I liked it because it had ‘ikemens’, Oguri Shun and Mizushima Hiro. I wouldn’t recommend it for people who are fresh to Jdoramas but if you are an Oguri Shun or Mizushima Hiro fan, by all means, watch it. Now, I’m totally comfortable with the less episodes in Jdoramas because I can finish them in one go faster, haha! But I like it because having less episodes means that things move faster, every episode wouldn’t be a bore and they focus on the main issues such as the lead couple or their occupation only. I find Korean dramas especially those with a super huge family quite tiring because they have too much side stories whereas I want to see more progress on the main story.
Japanese drama also tend to focus on narrower issues and they don’t really deviate from their genre. If you are watching a detective drama, the focus will mainly be on the crime cases and solving it. Romance is non-existent. That can be good, if you love smart brainy dramas that focus on what they are best in, but annoys you to hell when you ship the lead couple and they don’t even hold hands throughout the whole drama. They do tease romantic tensions, but it’s blown off before it’s even started. It’s akin to nipping the bud before it blooms. Rips my heart sometimes. Then again if you LOVE romance and makjang and all sorts of love triangle with angst, you would be watching Korean drama.
Watching Japanese dramas actually widened my horizons. Dramas don’t have to be just about romance and angst. It can be educational (yes, tell your teacher you learned a thing or two from dramas). Japanese detective dramas are surprisingly brilliant and there are quite a few that shows cases that are not so predictable. Japan is saturated with detective dramas though so pick carefully, if not, it will bore you to watch the same genre again and again. A few of the good ones are like BOSS, Galileo, Mr. BRAIN.
BOSS is about a female detective who leads a group of not-so-cool detectives and of course they crack cases together. They do quite a bit of profiling and it’s really witty. Amami Yuki plays the female Boss and she rocks it like no one else can. Definite watch. Has a season 2 as well.
I’ve reviewed Galileo before here . Galileo is about a female rookie detective who teams up with a physics professor to solve uncanny mysteries. The physics really comes into picture so it’s actually educational. 😀
Mr. BRAIN is one of my favourites. It stars Kimura Takuya or KimuTaku as a quirky and eccentric neuroscientist. He often assists the police in cracking the toughest cases by psychology. There’s a lot of interesting facts about the brain that they show us and also some psychology. Everyone episode features popular and famous guest actors so if you watch this drama, you’ll know quite a handful of the best actors already.
If you prefer to start off with comedy or rom-com, there’s a lot of them as well.
If you are wondering why there’s two sets of different cast, it’s because Hana Kimi (Hanazakari no Kimitachi E) has two japanese dramas. The remake is in 2012 featuring Maeda Atsuko or ace of AKB48. The original is still loved by many loyal fans and has Oguri Shun and Horikita Maki in it. Personally I watched both and I loved both. The first one was humorous and hilarious. I find the students’ friendship stand out more than the romance plot. The second one had more romantic tensions.
Rich Man, Poor Woman is the hit in 2012. It launched Oguri Shun back to fame (after his first hit which was Hana Kimi, and no I do not have bias towards Oguri Shun). It’s been commented to be similar to a Korean drama, which I don’t really get but I like the drama anyhow. Has proper story and the leads were awesome. It’s not really a Cinderella story(title is misleading) but yes, the hero is richer than the heroine. I feel like they ran out of ideas for the titles and just went with anything. Doesn’t detract the drama quality though.
This is my favourite rom-com. Hotaru embodies the perfect Himono-onna. If you liked Switch Girl, this is the adult version. BUCHOU!
Nodame Cantabile is about a talented pianist, Nodame, who really lives in a mess of an apartment and falls in love with upcoming conductor, Chiaki. It’s super hilarious and must watch if you love music. Even if you don’t like classical music, it’s still a gem. It has season 2 and a two-part movie filmed in PARIS. Yes, they flew the entire cast and crew to PARIS.
If you are an anime watcher or manga reader and you are starting to graduate from all that, there are a few dramas that will satisfy the otaku in you. I watched anime in my high school-years too but I eventually grew out of it and found new love in dramas. Beware that the following dramas are probably more shoujo than anything.
Atashinchi no Danshi is what you get when you put a girl in a house of six brothers. The brothers are all non-related but it’s about finding and building a family once more. Has a liiitle bit of romance. Just a teeny bit.
Mei-Chan no Shitsuji is the ultimate girl dream where all girls attending St. Lucia has a butler. A poor girl becomes orphaned when her parents are met with accident and find that her grandfather is some rich billionaire who sends her to an elite girl academy. Bring it on, and let the butlers handle that. Super shoujo.
Ouran High School Host Club gets their own live action too! Who doesn’t love Tamaki… It’s still hilarious but the honey-chan CG are quite awkward. Eventually they gave up with CG for Honey-chan. Which is good.
Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge or Wallflower has it’s live action as well.
-Gokusen: A yakuza’s (mob boss) daughter finds herself teaching the delinquents of the school. It helps that her students are drool-worthy
-Liar Game: An innocent girl gets dragged into a game where millions and billions of yen are involved. A con man finds it in him to help her survive the battle of lies.
– Detective Conan 2011: YOU DON’T KNOW DETECTIVE CONAN? It’s like not knowing Doraemon. Or Shin Chan.
-Sprout: Summer fluff where a girl tries to find her first love and when all the problem in the world revolved around which guy to date.
– Hana Yori Dango: 4 rich boys and one poor girl. Nuff’ said.
– Hana Kimi: A girl camouflage as a boy to enter a boy school. It’s such a successful story, Korea and Taiwan had remakes.
– Buzzer Beat: A man and woman finds themselves trying to achieve their dreams and keep their relationship afloat.
– Itazura Na Kiss- Love in Tokyo: Through a twist of fate, a girl finds herself living in the house of her long time crush. Sweet hijinks ensues.
-Trick: A poor female magician and an eccentric physics professor embark on their journey to solve every supernatural or turns-out-not-so-supernatural cases.
You can watch and stream the dramas from Gooddrama.net. That’s where I get my drama fix.
There’s so much more I would like to introduce but that would be putting too much in your hands. Good luck with watching Japanese dramas and have fun!!! One more thing, WELCOME TO J-DORAMA LAND!