Such a dorama queen!
April 21, 2010 8:58 AM   Subscribe

Awesome Japanese TV recommendations?

The Boyfriend (nondescript white American) and I (Japanese-American) have taken to watching Japanese TV shows, partly as cultural education, but mostly just for fun. We're looking for more on the dorama side, but we're not opposed to anime either, although English subtitles are a necessity.

Usually our taste runs a bit, er, intellectual?, but I've found that our tolerance of cheesy melodrama and silly humor goes way up when we're watching dorama. For example, we both really enjoyed Yasuko to Kenji and Boys Over Flowers, but we're open to all kinds of genres.

We're fairly geeky, so we're familiar with some of the more popular anime, and I've been to Jdorama, but it's a little intimidating over there, so I'd rather turn to the fabulous folks of AskMe!

All recommendations are much appreciated, so thank you in advance!
posted by Diagonalize to Media & Arts (22 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I admittedly haven't seen too many, but one I liked was Bara no nai Hanaya.

Were you able to find a copy of the Boys over Flowers movie with English subtitles?
posted by casaubon at 9:09 AM on April 21, 2010

My friend just recommended:

1 Litre no Namida
Proposal Daisakusen
posted by casaubon at 9:13 AM on April 21, 2010

Finally, my expertise in dorama pays off!

Watch the Japanese Hana Kimi (There's also a Taiwanese(?) one. It's not as good).

If you're up for kdrama as well, try Coffee Prince.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:18 AM on April 21, 2010

Or if you're looking for more general, less rom-com, there are a couple seasons of Trick, and 2 movies. Gokusen is funny as well.
posted by specialagentwebb at 9:22 AM on April 21, 2010

Ergo Proxy
posted by mhuckaba at 9:47 AM on April 21, 2010

Response by poster: Haven't yet found a copy of the Boys Over Flowers movie, but then again, I haven't been looking very hard.

Started watching 1 Litre no Namida awhile back, but we'd just come off of Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi, and we weren't quite ready for another complete emotional wringer, but we'll have to revisit that one.

I've seen Hana Kimi, though he hasn't. I really enjoyed it, so maybe I'll sit through it with him a second time, but we're definitely not solely interested in rom coms. In fact, it's weird that we even like them, since we're not usually very keen on them in English, so non-romantic and darker fare is totally welcome.
posted by Diagonalize at 9:53 AM on April 21, 2010

my boss my hero!!!! so silly.
but my faves of all time are my little chef and nodame cantabile
posted by raw sugar at 9:57 AM on April 21, 2010

I don't know any of the other titles mentioned here, so I can't say if it would fit your tastes, but I found Wagahai wa Shufu de aru an entertaining (and very silly) daytime show when I was sick.
posted by caaaaaam at 10:11 AM on April 21, 2010

seconding nodame cantabile -- you can't go wrong with the live action or the anime.
posted by somanyamys at 10:21 AM on April 21, 2010

Gokusen, seasons 1 and 2 (comedy)
Absolute Boyfriend (comedy)
Ikebukuro West Gate Park(comedy/drama, lots of WTF, I really love it)
Ryuusei No Kizuna(drama/comedy)
Liar Game(drama)
Last Friends(drama drama drama)
Maou(drama, inadvertent hilarity, Ikuta Toma from HanaKimi is in it, he yells a lot)
posted by betweenthebars at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Not sure how far back, time-wise, your Anime experience goes, but, I heartily recommend:

Tenchi Muyo!

Ranma 1/2


posted by Hanuman1960 at 10:42 AM on April 21, 2010

OMG, I second or third these favorites: Nodame Cantabile, My Boss My Hero, Ikebukuro West Gate Park...

And add two previously unmentioned: Kimi wa Pet and Nobuta wo Produce.

The danger with all of these is ending up a Johnny's fan, of course.
posted by xo at 10:58 AM on April 21, 2010

If you like IWGP then you may enjoy タイガー&ドラゴン (Tiger & Dragon). This may be my favorite drama ever (and IWGP is up there too, I love it). I also like 木更津キャッツアイ (Kisarazu Cat's Eye), but it gets pretty silly. I think one of these has the same writer as IWGP, and one has the same director...but I forget which is which.

I'm also fond of ガリレオ, which is about a strange professor type (who all the ladies swoon over, of course) and the spunky (and hot, of course) female detective who gets his help solving unexplainable cases. Hilarity ensues. Although it's more of a drama I guess...I just find it really funny and ridiculous. Every episode has this "Eureka!" moment where there is a bizarre and silly montage inside of Prof. Yugawa's brain, and then he has to scramble to find something to write with, and on, and he always makes the most absurd choice possible, of course. My favorite may be the one where he is in his own lab standing right next to the chalk board but for some reason just has to push everything off his (gigantic) desk in one swoop so he can write on that. Hilarious.

Also there is トリック (Trick) which specialagentwebb mentioned, and which has a lot of similarities with Galileo but it's almost backwards: the strange professor guy needs the spunky magician girl's help to solve strange cases. It's definitely funny and meant to be. I think it takes itself less seriously than ガリレオ which is a good thing...

I've yet to watch Gokusen which a few folks also mentioned, (ごくせん) but it's recommended by many people.

Um, I honestly have no idea if you can get any of the above with English subtitles, but a lot of Japanese DVDs have them (er, and many do not). If you can get them I personally think they are the best of Japanese TV. For a better understanding of my tastes, I tried watching both "Liar Game" and "My Hero My Boss" and couldn't take either of them, too overwrought (Liar Game) and it felt like Tomoya Nagase was phoning it in for MHMB...that said, I enjoy ギラギラ and 曲げられない女 so I can't really talk about overwrought.

I'm sure there's more I'm forgetting. Here's a tip: go onto, turn your language to Japanese (日本語), and search on drama (ドラマ) I've found a lot of fun random stuff that way, and many of the dramas in this thread may be found there too. If you download them directly rather than watching them in your browser, often they are pretty high quality too. Sometimes they are fan-subbed, sometimes not.

Good luck!
posted by dubitable at 11:46 AM on April 21, 2010

A bit of a tangent, but you can watch a lot of these dramas streaming from Crunchyroll (with ads). MySoju has a good collection as well, although they don't host their own videos, they just link to other streaming sites. D-Addicts is a good place to find torrents, but not everything there is subbed.
posted by specialagentwebb at 11:53 AM on April 21, 2010

dubitable is right about Detective Galileo, it is pretty funny. Detective Galileo and Ryuusei no Kizuna are both based on novels by Keigo Higashino, but the serious/funny mix is handled better in Detective Galileo.

xo, since you mentioned Nobuta wo Produce, it gives me an excuse to link to this. And Yamapi 2009.
posted by betweenthebars at 12:18 PM on April 21, 2010

Here's a few you SHOULD NOT MISS (I've included a few repeats just for emphasis):

Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
My Boss My Hero
Stand Up!!
Kisarazu Cat's Eye
Nodame Cantabile

Those are the ones I normally recommend to guys (but I'm a girl and they're some of my favorites too). A few other awesome ones:

Manhattan Love Story
Room of King
Brother Beat
Tiger & Dragon
Love Shuffle

And be sure to check out some of the classics, like
Long Vacation
Love Generation

I also have watched 60+ jdramas, and blog about reviews (including some of the shows I've mentioned here). My blog is linked in my profile, and I'd be happy to help if you message me anytime about "I want another show like _____". Best of luck, and 楽しんでください!
posted by mokudekiru at 1:14 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, and I almost forgot HERO, which I'm very fond of, although I'm kind of a sucker for Takuya Kimura, that lovable scamp.
posted by dubitable at 2:59 PM on April 21, 2010

Late to the thread, great recommendations! I agree with dubitable wholeheartedly about Tiger & Dragon. If I had to make a list of all-time favorite/best Japanese TV dramas, that would be No. 1, no question about it.

Kankuro Kudo, the writer of this and many other series mentioned above (IWGP, Kisarazu Cat's Eye, Manhattan Love Story, Boku no Mahotsukai, Wagahai wa Shufu de aru, Mirai Kyoshi Meguru, Ryusei no Kizuna: I've seen all of these and they are all great), is an absolute genius. He has written the screenplay for movies, too, such as GO (awesome adaptation of an awesome book by Kazuki Kaneshiro, Yosuke Kubozuka gives an amazing performance) and Ping Pong (awesome adaptation of an entertaining manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, Yosuke Kubozuka gives an amazing performance). He did a terrible job as a director, though (in my opinion), so stay far away from that one.

One popular series that hasn't been mentioned so far is the Odoru Daisosasen oeuvre. It's entertaining and there are also some movies and spinoffs out as well, so it should keep you busy for a while.

SP is another series that was good. A movie's coming out this fall.

I was also wondering if you're able to get a hold of dramas broadcast by NHK. The morning drama from a couple of years back called Chiritotechin was absolutely fantastic. It's a story about rakugo, like Tiger & Dragon, and there are similarities such as the way the characters enact stories from rakugo in costume, but very different in a good way. The current "taiga drama" Ryomaden is good so far, too. It's about Ryoma Sakamoto, starring Masaharu Fukuyama, aka "Jitsu ni omoshiroi!" Professor Galileo.

To nth some of the recommendations above, I thought Proposal Daisakusen was well done, and it's notable because it was a completely original story and not based on a novel or manga, which is becoming the norm these days. Whenever it's broadcast in the afternoon as a rerun, I seem to end up watching Yama-p trying to salvage his relationship with Masami Nagasawa by going back and forth in time. Keisuke Kuwata's ending song always gets me every time!

Trick is definitely fun. The pattern gets old in the second season and the movies, but the first season was a hoot.

Oh, and mokudekiru mentioned Long Vacation. That one is a classic must-see. Actually, I suddenly had the urge to see it again recently and sat through every episode. I'm not sure if it's aged very well since it was made towards the end of the "bubble economy" times, so I can't say how it would look to someone who didn't catch it back when it first aired... But Takuya Kimura as Sena is absolutely to die for in this work, and this is coming from someone who doesn't care much for him at all otherwise. "Maware maaaaware merry go-round..."
posted by misozaki at 7:21 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Wow, you guys are great! There's a lot of stuff in here, and if I can manage to find subs of all of these, it's going to be a dorama extravaganza in my living room. Thanks so much everyone!
posted by Diagonalize at 10:11 PM on April 21, 2010

The jdramas community on livejournal probably has most of the dramas people have listed here with English subs.

As far as recommendations go, I think most of mine have already been mentioned, but some of my favorite dramas are Tiger & Dragon, Maou, Nobuta wo Produce, Stand Up!!, Akihabara @ DEEP, Kimi wa Petto, and Yamada Tarou Monogatari.
posted by you zombitch at 10:39 PM on April 21, 2010

Kankuro Kudo, the writer of this and many other series mentioned above (IWGP, Kisarazu Cat's Eye, Manhattan Love Story, Boku no Mahotsukai, Wagahai wa Shufu de aru, Mirai Kyoshi Meguru, Ryusei no Kizuna: I've seen all of these and they are all great), is an absolute genius.

Ah, thanks for clearing that up misozaki. I'll have to check out more of his stuff. I also saw Ping Pong and thought it was a lot of fun, I didn't realize it was his but now it makes sense.

And mokudekiru, I never had heard of a lot of those, but I'm very excited to watch Kekkon Dekinai Otoko (結婚できない男) now, since I'm fond of both Hiroshi Abe (阿部寛) and Takashi Tsukamoto (塚本高史). I'll have to check out your blog regularly now! Great thread folks!
posted by dubitable at 9:13 AM on April 23, 2010

Second recommendation for Jin. Like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, the protagonist bumps his head and wakes up in the past. He's a brain surgeon, so it make for a fun premise: so much modern knowledge paired with primitive technology. What are the ramifications of creating penicillin 100 years early (and if you decide to make it, how would you go about it)?

Production value is high as well (watch in HD if you can). I'm a little more than halfway through and I'm pacing myself through the last few episodes. Give the first episode a try!
posted by lucidprose at 6:35 PM on May 7, 2010

« Older Who WAS that group, and how did they wind up on...   |   DebateFilter: Arguments *for* the federal Real ID... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.