Sunday, April 28, 2013

Japanese Dramas

My Latest Introduction into Japanese Dramas

I admit being late to the game! I started watching Korean dramas beginning in June, 2011. My first Japanese drama was not until Rich Man, Poor Woman last year during the summer. Since then, I've watched very few newer ones. However, at the beginning of the year, I came across a website called; To my utter joy and amazement, this website had a large selection of mostly older Japanese dramas. I was in hog heaven! Here are some of the dramas that I've watched there that I though were simply amazing!

Beautiful Life (2000)
Kimura Takuya as Okishima Shuji
Takako Tokiwa  as Machida Kyoko

Beautiful Life-Kyoko and Shuji's romance is just one not to miss because it's not the usual one and for that reason it's worth watching. But be forewarned, it's not your typical drama so don't expect a typical ending but it was still absolutely beautiful one!!

Long Vacation (1996)
 Kimura Takuya as Hidetoshi Sena
Yamaguchi Tomoko  as Hayama Minami

This is definitely the oldest drama I've ever watched but I must say I felt right at home watching it. From the beginning to the end, I just loved the characters and their interactions. I think viewers of a certain age would appreciate this more than others. As I watched, it solidified my fandom with Kimura Takuya, what an actor. Imagine my surprise to see this was Yamaguchi Tomoko's last role. I loved her character's perkiness and willingness to bounce back after her break up. The supporting characters also brought so much to the drama. And thankfully totally devoid of the usual drama cliques!! I loved that the most about this drama!! Again, it's not for everyone. Not one cell phone in the story!! It was great!

Keizoku 2: SPEC (2010)
Toda Erika  as Toma Saya
Kase Ryo as Sebumi Takeru

Only a science fiction fan would love and appreciate this drama! So if you are expecting anything else, stop watching! I absolutely loved this! As a fan of the drama, it had every aspect that us SciFi fans would be looking for; intrigue, lies, freaky characters and a story that you can follow. All is revealed as the episodes are watched. Again, if you are expecting romance, forget this! This was a SciFi fans freaking dream come true! My appreciation and love for Toda Erika has increase ten fold. It started with Liar Game and continues with this series! Kase Ryo as Sebumi-san; you now have a new fan!!

Summer Snow (2000)

Hirosue Ryoko as Katase Yuki
Domoto Tsuyoshi as Shinoda Natsuo

Talk about bittersweet ending? I'm still drying the tears from my eyes. This was a well written and acted story. You could not help but be sucked into it from beginning to end. What I especially liked about this story, it was not a love between two characters of different backgrounds. What it was, was a story about a young man, Natsuo, who effortless brought up his two siblings and continued to run their family bike shop business. Being such a helpful person, it made sense that he would meet Yuki under these circumstances.

The love that Natsuo had not only for his brother and sister but also for his sister's boyfriend is portrayed very well here. The absolute love for Yuki was amazing to watch
as a slowly grew. The diving sequences were also well filmed. This was my first time seeing Domoto Tsuyoshi. Even though he was new to acting at the time this was filmed, his portrayal of Natsuo will be cemented to your mind. Hirosue Ryoko as Yuki was also a treat as I'd seen her before but again both actors did a hell of a job. Last but not least is the surprise of seeing an extremely young Oguri Shun! Such an accomplished actor he was even back then!

If there is one thing I can tell you, make sure you watch through the credits as the story continues and what ever sadness is left after the end, will be wiped away. This is why I feel Japanese dramas do an excellent job in making you feel better even with a sad ending.

Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (2006)
Kamenashi Kazuya as Kanzaki Hiroto
Ayase Haruka  as Tsukioka Nao
Tatta Hitotsu no Koi-A story of pure love between the son of a man who runs a ship repair factory beset with financial troubles and the well-bred daughter of a national jewelry chain store owner. The backdrop of the story is Yokohama. It was a pretty thorough love story from beginning to end. It went really quick. I loved it.

Buzzer Beat (2009)

Yamashita Tomohisa as Kamiya Naoki
Kitagawa Keiko as Shirakawa Riko

There is something about a good sports drama! And this is definitely one!! I loved it from start to finish!! Yamashita Tomohisa has gained a new fan!! Naoki and Riko's love story was so precious! Starting from heartbreak to acknowledging the love each of them had for the other as well as respecting the dreams for their future. Kitagawa Keiko as Riko was a treat. This was the first drama I have seen her in. I must say the more and more that I watch JDramas, the more and more that I like them and how the stories are clean and to the point! The silly season, thankfully lasts for 1/2 of an episode. And a handsome Yamashita Tomohisa sure doesn't hurt!!

Good Luck! (2003)
Kimura Takuya as Shinkai Hajime

A different kind of drama! In total JDrama fashion, this is a different type of drama about people in general and their daily lives. This centers around pilots and attendants of All Nippon Airlines. I love how in all Asian dramas, the terminology is defined for you. I also liked this drama because it focused on different human interest stories...from a man on a flight to save his business to a doctor trying to return to save a child.

The acting of Kimura Takuya as usual was great. I guess I have to say that I am an official fangirl of his!! Even though this is an older drama and it does not focus solely on romance, it is still a really, really great story! Well
worth the 10 hours to watch!!

Friends (2002)
Won Bin as Kim Ji Hoon
Fukada Kyoko as Tomoko

Talk about just four little episodes making a very special and powerful drama! As the first collaboration between Japan/Korea, it was very well done. Very well done. I fell in love with both characters of Ji Hoon and Tomoko. Admittedly, this was not my first experience with the lead actress, Fukada Kyoko. She has a way of embodying her character so fully that you can't help but love her. 

And Woo Bin?!! Finally a drama of his that I could totally love!! His character Ji Hoon was so sweet and kind. Even the brief misunderstandings and interferences were tolerable but then that's the difference between watching JDrama and KDrama, these periods are not drawn out for a ridiculous amount of time. I have to say the chemistry between these two was electric!! And guess what I learned watching this? Lee Dong Gun can SING!!

Hotaru no Hikari series 1, 2 and movie (2010-2012)
Ayase Haruka as Amemiya Hotaru
Fujiki Naohito as Takano Seiichi

Series 1: Overall this was good. It took awhile to really enjoy it. The interaction between the leads was interesting. But what made this different was they must have had intentions to make a second season from the beginning. When you watch it, you'll understand. But here is what I learned...I am a himono-onna. Except for the extreme junkiness that is Amemiya, I don't think I've ever encountered a character like her before. She was fascinating to say the least. Takono was Takono from beginning to end. You start to see his interest in her a lot faster than you will see hers. It's also funny who actually points out that interest. Even though I watched this from beginning to end, I think unless you are a fan of Fujiki Naohito or Ayase Haruka, true fans of both will really enjoy it!

Series 2: I'm probably different than the other reviewers, I LOVED this season!! I though it was funnier, the story was light and funny. Seiichi and Hotaru's interactions were downright hysterical!! There were many times that I laughed senselessly. I got the gist of the min-conflicts that Hotaru had in her insecurities of being Seiichi's future mate; I also understood his also because Hotaru was such a ditz!! I absolutely enjoyed them rolling on the floor! Goro..Goro..Goro will be embedded in my heart forever! I'm going home just so I do can do it too!!

The Movie: My take on the movie? Watch the dramas first and foremost. My complaint on the movie is that they spent too much time on Rio's story. This movie would have been perfect if they blended her story in with Seiichi and Hotaru traveling and seeing the sights with her doing stupid stuff. There were some moments when it really was funny; especially when they went Goro..goro..goro down the stairs (you have to see the dramas to understand). The acting of the leads was still great. I fell in love with Seeichi (Buchon/Boss) even more because he was truly willing to accept her as she was. Talk about oil and water, it is definitely these two but their love for each other is definitely true. Watch the movie only if you've seen the dramas and want to see more; however, be prepared to be a little disappointed. And the ending? C'mon, we deserve to see what happens next!! 

Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake (1998)
Kaneshiro Takeshi as Ishikawa Keigo
Fukada Kyoko as Kano Masaki

A tale for young ones to see what happens after that one misstep in life. Wow! What I love about Japanese drama is the absence of fluff and filler. This was a drama to tell a specific story. A story you don't always see and truthfully, you go in not expecting a happy ending but guess what? As I watch the last moments and the scenes following the credits, I was not sad. This truly was a hell of a love story! And can I say Kaneshiro Takeshi is one handsome man!! Handsome!! I can re-watch just for him! Very good story. True to life.

Star no Koi (2001)
Kusanagi Tsuyoshi as Sosuke Nakata
Fujiwara Norika as Hikaruko Kirishima 

I am happily watching one after another of these early 2000's Japanese dramas! This was truly a unique story and did remind you in some ways Notting Hill but the two lead actors we just wonderful together. I am slowly learning what I have been missing. Even though the romances are very toned down, I think the romance is stronger in just the conversations, the looks and the actors feelings as they portray them. I thoroughly enjoyed this drama from beginning to end. There was a time I wanted to choke Sousuke in his ultimate noble idiocy sacrifice but would this be any different than other dramas? I think not. But with only 11 episodes, it will be a quick but enjoyable watch.

Guilty Akuma to Keiyakushita Onna (2010)
Tamaki Hiroshi as Mashima Takuro
Kanno Miho as Nogami Meiko

What money and power will do to a person! The absolutely depravity of the rich and power was amazingly told in this drama. This is a drama for those who like crime and police type dramas. To see what Meiko endured in losing her family as well as going to prison for killing them was unbelievable. Mashima tried his hardest to protect a woman he knew was guilty but he also recognized that the events were set in motion by a falsehood. 

This was truly an amazing story about revenge. And this was my very first Japanese revenge drama. From start to finish, I was riveted to the story. I couldn't imagine what could possibly be the reason why her family was killed. When you see the reason at the end, you will be shocked. Bittersweet ending but after you watch the 11 episodes, it could not have ended any other way. EXCELLENT!!

This is just some of the many I've watched since discovering this site. Needless to say, my PTW (plan to watch) list is HUGE with the addition of many more Japanese dramas on this website. Many notable mentions I'd like to list as they are unusual for me to watch are: Celeb to Binbo Taro (a comedy, let's just say that),  Pride (another sports drama), and Itoshi Kimi E (a nice but sometimes annoying romance). I must say, if you like Kimura Takuya,  Yamashita Tomohisa, Kamenashi Kazuya, or Ayase Haruka, there is A LOT of their dramas there! A LOT!!

Dramas Still to Watch:
Code Blue
Hana Yori Dango
Hidarime Tantei EYE
Kagi no Kakatta Heya
Kimi wa Petto 
Just to name a few! Yes, my list is LONG!




  1. The Kimura dramas are some of my favourites ( Long Vacation is an annual watch for me). I am more into the family orientated dramas like Mother, and Woman. Summer Nude, though somewhat seemingly predictable, still keeps me entertained.
    Double tone and gekiryu watashi wo oboete imasuka are a great little time fillers worth a peek.

    1. I'll have to look for those. I heard Woman is good and I've seen mentions of Summer Nude. WIll look for the other 2 you mentioned.