The fascinating world of Japanese drama

I’d like to take the time out to describe the world of Japanese drama. It’s a horrible generalisation but I think a lot of British drama is boring, but Japanese drama offers quite a refreshing change! I think there’s a lot more creativity in terms of the story lines and themes which are present in Japanese drama. Right now on Japanese TV there is a drama about a young scriptwriter and an old company executive challenging each other to win the affection of the same woman, and another drama about a robot designed to be the perfect boyfriend and lastly there’s another drama about a simple down-to-earth teacher who somehow finds himself becoming the Prime Minister of Japan. The latter is Change, a Fuji TV drama which has received quite a lot of success (it features one of my favourite actors, Abe Hiroshi). To be fair I’ve noticed a lot of Japanese dramas can be a bit too whimsical and goody-goody, and in some of the dramas the comedy is a bit too silly, but whichever way you look at it there will probably be something about the drama which you’ll find entertaining! It’s also worth mentioning that whilst western drama tends to be long-term in format, Japanese drama is quite short in comparison, a lot of drama here in Japan only lasts for around 12 episodes! Unfortunately I haven’t seen much in terms of Japanese drama but here are my recommendations:

Change

Change is definitely not award-winning material but it’s still worth checking out anyway. I’ve been watching it on Fuji TV obviously without English subtitles so I only had my limited Japanese knowledge to rely on but I think I’m managing to understand what is going on lol. The series is quite light-hearted and Abe Hiroshi does a fantastic job of keeping the comedy going.

At Home Dad

At Home Dad is quite simply brilliant, really, it is! The storyline revolves around a successful commercial director played by Abe Hiroshi. Unfortunately things start to turn sour very quickly as Kazayuki, Abe’s character, is transferred to another division of the company, but that division goes bust and he’s not able to get back his original job!! Kazayuki is an old fashioned guy who thinks that the man should provide for the family whilst the mother is placed in charge of taking care of the household chores and looking after the children, but unfortunately he has to give in and, unable to find another job, he decides to become a stay at home dad until he can get another job, whilst his wife starts working to bring in the money. Kazayuki soon starts getting support from Yusuke, his neighbour who happens to be a stay at home dad also! As you would expect there’s a lot of good comedy and a lot of light-hearted moments in this series, Abe Hiroshi does a brilliant job of playing the typical salaryman who actually has no practical experience of doing things such as the household chores, but the rest of the actors also deserve a lot of credit!

Kekkon Dekinai Otoko

This is another entertaining drama with Abe Hiroshi playing the lead. The title means the man who can’t get married, roughly translated. The following is a summary from drama wikipedia:

Shinsuke Kuwano, a successful architect at 40, enjoys living by himself. He doesn’t like people but somehow is able to design wonderful houses for them.

He has a routine of making himself a delicious dinner and then relaxing to classical music in his easy chair while pretending he is the conductor. One night, he plays the music loud enough to make his next door neighbor, Michiru Tamara knock on his door to complain. When Kuwano answers the door, he suffers a terrible stomach pain and collapses to the floor. Lucky for him, Michiru is nice enough to accompany him to the hospital, where he is treated by Dr. Natsumi Hayasake. He is really rude to Natsumi, but she is still determined to treat him.

Afterwards, Michiru and Natsumi become part of Kuwano’s life. They make friends with Kuwano’s colleagues Eiji and Maya Sawazaki. They all enjoy talking about how strange and eccentric Kuwano is. Is it possible that someone would ever want to marry him?

Unfortunately I haven’t seen all of the series, and again I was watching it on actual Japanese TV so it was tough understanding the language at times. Nonetheless it’s a very good drama and worth checking out!

Last Friends

Last Friends is hands-down THE best drama on Japanese TV today. The last episode is going to air on TV next week, and I can’t wait! The story addresses issues which exist in modern society – Michiru is a young woman who starts getting bullied at work, but unfortunately after she decides to move into her boyfriend’s apartment she also becomes the victim of domestic violence. Ruka is Michiru’s friend since high school, but Ruka starts to become worried about her parents finding out about the truth of her sexuality as feelings for Michiru grow stronger. Takeru is also a friend of Ruka’s, however he also has stronger feelings for her but he has a phobia of sex as a result of a past trauma. The 3 eventually end up living together but how will their friendships end up? What I like about Last Friends is that it is a really good change from the silly dramas that are shown on Japanese TV, hopefully Last Friends will help to increase awareness about such issues and the actual people who might have problems similar to those in the drama might be able to get better support. Anyway, if you can, be sure to check it out for yourself!

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10 thoughts on “The fascinating world of Japanese drama

  1. It seems like alot of Japanese dramas are really, really sad. Although it seems not has many as a few years ago. Seemed like there were alot more tragic dramas 4 or 5 years ago.

  2. Are you referring to 1 Litre of Tears? It’s one of the most touching dramas I’ve ever seen — life-altering, even. I highly recommend that you watch it with a box of Kleenex. Yes, it’s that heart-wrenching. (>.<)

  3. I haven’t heard of 1 Litre of Tears, will have to find info on it from Jdorama 🙂 I didn’t think Japanese drama was that sad though, maybe I missed all the sad ones when they’re on TV lol!

  4. there is a drama about a young scriptwriter and an old company executive challenging each other to win the affection of the same woman

    Oh, this sounds very familiar…do you remember the title of this drama? Thank you in advance!

  5. I have seen 9 episodes of At Home Dad and I enjoyed every one of them!!!!! Two thumbs up. I recommend it to everyone.

  6. I believe the drama is Muri na Renai [無理な恋愛]. I got the storyline a little wrong in the post above because I was just writing from what I was assuming using my limited Japanese when I was watching the drama on TV! Here is a link for more information though: http://www.jdorama.com/drama.1275.htm
    Hope that helps 🙂

  7. About the series about a robot designed to be the perfect lover, that’s Zettai Kareshi (絶対彼氏), and it’s based on a comic book (targetted to teenage girls).

    I don’t this count as showing the originality of Japanese TV because it is an adaptation of a previous work. Many TV dramas nowadays are adaptations of comic books or novels. TV stations prefer to adapt a well to moderately known existant 作品 than to risk making an unknown project from scratch. That’s not original, that’s a fear of innovation, like how Hollywood relies on remakes and sequels.

    As for how Japanese dramas can be too goody goody, well naysayers complain that it is because they are mostly aimed at demographics thought to be stupid by the TV stations, namely young women, children and the elderly. On 2ch many (male)posters say they only watch foreign dramas (mainly US) and that Japanese dramas is mostly for スイーツ(笑い) (net lingo for young women who are easily swayed by media trends).

  8. Ah right, I wasn’t aware of that. Although anyway, I only commented on creativity in Japanese drama, not originality. British drama in my opinion is much more generic and formulaic. Thanks for the info though, I’ve seen a lot more drama since I wrote this and I’m going to write another list of my favourite drama soon!

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