Getting started with Japanese dramas….

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.

Honourable mention:

-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 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!


31 thoughts on “Getting started with Japanese dramas….

  1. heisui says:

    Looks like you love a lot of live-actions! Thumbs up for BOSS and TOKYO DOGS! I loved Tokyo Dogs, OMG. Sou is my favorite character of Oguri Shun’s, HEHEHE. I really wish they could have a second season of Tokyo Dogs. I even felt like they left the ending open-ended to make room for a second season but..there has been none. 😥 Anyways did you know Mizushima Hiro stopped acting after Tokyo Dogs??? DARN IT!

    • dramamochi says:

      Yeah, Tokyo dogs did seem quite open ended. If they did continue, it would be a hit. I actually quite like Mizushima Hiro. Watched zettai kareshi with him in it too. I like everything with him in it… Haha! Too bad he isn’t in anything anymore.. But I never thought of it that he stopped after Tokyo dogs maybe because I watched Tokyo dogs first then all his previous dramas. Darn.

    • ice cube :) says:

      isn’t he going to play in black butler the live action? maybe I am confused but I could have sworn that was him and that comes out this year. im pretty sure its not out yet though. (:

      • ice cube :) says:

        I just searched it up and I was right! YA-TA! haha hiro mizushima is not retired. he is playing sebastion (the butler). I think he just took a long break.

  2. cherrycola says:

    Hi dramamochi! Cherry from jdramareviews here 🙂 I agree on almost everything on this list, especially since you mentioned the top detective dramas out there hehe. Sometimes I still replay BOSS, just for its comedy, well more like for Takenouchi Yutaka lol. I also find Jikou Keisatsu very entertaining if you enjoy detective-comedy too 😀
    Fyi, Mizushima Hiro is making a comeback woohoo!! You can read about it here:

    • dramamochi says:

      Omg, I read it. I had an inkling about the kuroshitsuji thing but totally forgot until you mentioned it!!! I watched kuroshisuji the anime as well sooo I hope he can play sebastian well! Another butler gig for him.. hahaha 😀
      I rewatched BOSS again too and amami yuki kicks ass. I love takenouchi yutaka in it too. He’s just epic!

  3. Sakshi says:

    seeing that you are into japanese drama, I guess you could really help me. can you plz suggest some good romantic japanese dramas like rich man poor woman or buzzer beat, it’s very rare to find romantic japanese dramas. can you plz suggest a few?

    • dramamochi says:

      I actually had a hard time trying to think of some that match the genre you watch because you have to admit, Japan is not hot on pure romance drama. If you insist, I would recommend the whole Nodame series itself. Unless you despise classical music and humour, Nodame would be a good one. Tatta Hitotsu no Koi is acclaimed as one of the best (albeit sad) as well. For more humour, you could try Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge and Mei-Chan no Shitsuji. For more mature plots maybe Hotaru no Hikari, Proposal Daisakusen and Taisetsu no Koto Oshiete Kureta. I think romance isn’t exactly Japan’s strongest genre but once you find a gem, it shines the brightest. That’s why it’s rather hard to find one good drama purely concentrated on romance. Hope I helped out! ^^

    • Nadhira says:

      Hi, i’m just one of reader and want to give my opinion ^^
      It’s actually rare to see romance jdrama, but if u like buzzerbeat and richmanpoorwoman, i suggest you to also watch these :
      – proposal daisakusen
      – summer nude
      – koizora
      – taiyou no uta
      – densha otoko

      • dramamochi says:

        I think proposaldaisakusen and buzzer beat rmy fav among nadhirah’s recommendations. But i think rich man poor woman would be a good transition drama for those used to watching korean dramas…

    • iviiixxiii says:

      Other than the ones they have mentioned, you can check out
      – Itazura na Kiss-Love in Tokyo
      – Hana Yori Dango
      – Love Shuffle
      – One Litre of Tears
      – Last Cinderella
      – Hachimitsu to Clover
      – Shitsuren Chocolatier (aka Heartbroken Chocolatier) – I personally haven’t watch it though

      Many other dramas are not purely romance but have the romance element in it. Too many to list >< This is all I can come up with for now.

  4. Gita says:

    I’m a Japanese drama rookie having cut my teeth on K dramas. But I genuinely relish the ones I’ve started. It’s so cool to have found your reviews. Being very much into detective dramas, I’ve now got a selection to dip into. I also love their medical dramas like Gyne

      • Gita says:

        In fact, my husband and I are now officially addicted. We began simultaneously watching Gallileo, Mr. Brain, Gokusen and 13 Sai Hello No Work. For the moment we’re sticking to the last two. Thanks again!

      • dramamochi says:

        I’ve never watched 13 Sai no Hello Work but Gokusen is great!!! They have like a few seasons right and I know that their male lead students often go on to become main leads in doramas. They practically graduate from Gokusen haha. If you love Nakama Yuki, you MUST watch Trick. Trick has a few seasons as well and it’s about how she (poor magician) and Abe Hiroshi (physicist) solve unnatural phenomenas (mostly where people claim supernatural powers to deceive for money). They are so hilarious there, I nearly finished all seasons! It’s a little old-ish maybe a bit older than Gokusen in terms of year of production but the jokes there are those that make me drop dead. I wished I knew Japanese better to understand some of their puns but they are hilarious all the same.

      • Gita says:

        Arigato once again: I shall bookmark Trick. And you’ve confirmed something I’ve sensed-Japanese dramas must be harder to subtitle than K dramas-there is more emphasis on the word play.

      • dramamochi says:

        They do have more puns and their language is somehow easily lost in translation. The same way I feel when I watch Chinese dramas (especially period costume ones). English does not do justice to them but it’s our walking stick. Better to understand some than none? Haha

  5. shuhaidah salehin (@eda911) says:

    Hi! I’m totally recommend these;
    1. Take Five
    2. One Pound Gospel (romcom)
    3. Hanayome to Papa (romcom)
    4. Legal High
    5. Zenkai Girl (romcom)
    6. Unubore Deka/ Unubore Keiji
    7. My Boss My Hero
    8. Zettai Kareshi (romcom)
    9. Yamada-kun to Nananin no Majo
    10. Switch Girl (romcom)
    11. Runaway- Aisuru kimi no tame ni

    My fav genre is comedy. >.<

  6. iviiixxiii says:

    Anyone who is reading this might wanna check out the latest drama From 5 to 9, featuring Ishihara Satomi (my fav actress) and Yamapi. O.O Yuki from Itazura na Kiss is in it too.

    • dramamochi says:

      I’m actually watching it right now! I might have carried a little too much expectation when I watched it though with the cast it has. I don’t think it’s their best performance together but it’s a lot of eye candy!!

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