Koala Discusses Two Decades Worth of Notable J-doramas

Some of my all-time fave dramas are Japanese doramas. I’ve been watching J-doramas since the early 90s, when I was a wee lass (okay, not so wee, but definitely still a lass), and following this bandwagon has been a bumpy ride. When its good, the ride was exhilarating. When its been blergh, it feels like an interminable period of uninteresting dreck. Folks have asked me to add Taiwan and Japan dramas to my ratings list, and I certainly have watched enough to render opinions on quite a few works. Rather than rating the ones I’ve watched and care to even talk about, I thought it more productive to write about them in a comprehensive post. This list contains a handful of J-doramas I’ve watched over the years, it’s not comprehensive or all-inclusive, but should be a good starting point for newbies to dive in. I think J-doramas are so intrinsically different than K-dramas and TW-dramas that the first key to watching them is to throw away preconceived notions and open the mind up to new experiences. If you hit on one that you love, it might just became an all-time favorite.

Koala’s Collection of Japanese Dramas:

GokusenNakama Yukie plays the daughter of a Yakuza boss turned high school teacher, whipping delinquents into shape and inspiring them to embrace education and achievement. Contains a who’s who of the current crop of leading actors and actresses from when they were just starting out. Season 1 had Matsumoto Jun, Oguri Shun, and Narimiya Hiroki. Season 2 had Kamenashi Kazuya, Akanishi Jin, Hayami Mokomichi, and Mizushima Hiro, while Season 3 had Miura Haruma and Takaki Yuya. Episodic and formulaic, but a solid and entertaining motivational story.

Ichi Ritoru no Namida (One Litre of Tears) – When that title, I suggest you hydrate yourself before starting this dorama. Starring Sawajiri Erika and Nishikido Ryo, its billed as an uplifting real life story about a girl suffering from spinocerebellar degeneration. This drama rocketed Erika to stardom and was really a very moving albeit maudlin little cryfest.

Hana Yori Dango – Super rich pretty boys at an exclusive private school gets their bullying petards handed to them by spunky poor girl with attitude. The story has been remade all around Asia, but this is all-around favorite version. Matsumoto Jun and Inoue Mao were magical together, turning two very polarizing character tropes into made-for-each-other shippiness.

Nobuta wo Produce – The high school friendship drama that all high school friendship dramas should take a page from. Yamashita Tomohisa (Yamapi) will always be my Akira until the day I die, this spacy little alien who flits around being weird and awesome. The trip of Pi, Kame, and Horikita Maki is hard to top in terms of a friendship/love triangle that isn’t really about ownership of the other but inclusion of everyone.

Long Vacation – A classic and spoken about in reverent tones. This is the dorama that made KimuTaku the onscreen leading man he has been for the past fifteen years. For some reason I just never loved it the way others have. Maybe I was too young since I watched it when it aired and never quite got that melancholy magic that went with it. I love it for introducing me to the hotness that was Takenouchi Yutaka.

Bloody Monday – Teenage cyber genius Miura Haruma (playing Falcon, prodigy hacker) saves Tokyo with the help of his real life BFF Sato Takeru. Sorta like a 24 but without the clock and Jack Bauer. Full of the requisite twists, turns, double-crosses, and moles necessary for tense nailbiting thrillers. Decent and worth watching for Haruma and Takeru.

Hitotsu Yane no Shita (Under One Roof): Season 1 and 2  – The quintessential J-family drama, about a family of 7 kids who are split up when their parents die and subsequently find their way back together years later. It even has fauxcest in it since the eldest sister was adopted and gets in a love triangle with the eldest and the second brother. Started me on my Fukyama Masaharu love, and cemented Sakai Noriko‘s imagine as a pure as snow leading lady with a heart of gold. Her character in the drama was even named Koyuki (little snow), which now seems so ironic. I loved this drama to pieces when I first watched it, and I think it holds up reasonably well with age.

Oishii Kankei (Delicious Relationship) – A prickly chef and a down-in-her-luck food connoisseur, Karasawa Toshiaki and Nakayama Miho were PERFECT together. A wonderful romance drama with lots of foodie goodness, this is an oldie that probably can’t be tracked down anymore. What a shame.

Yamato Nadeshiko (Perfect Woman) – Matsushima Nanako at the height of her leading lady days as the poor girl determined to marry a rich man. Of course she falls in love with the poor guy, and gets a chance to be with the rich guy. Which one does she choose? Fast-paced and addicting old-school J-dorama, and the work that made Matsushima Nanako a household name in Japan.

With Love – One of my most favorite J-doramas of all time. Probably a tad too slow for the modern audiences, but I loved the moody slowness of it all. Takenouchi Yukata went from just a hottie to a sex god here, Tanaka Misako really nailed the ugly duckling bit, plus bonus points for having Fujiwara Norika at her most bombshell phase.

Beautiful Life Kimura Takuya (KimuTaku) and Tokiwa Takako in the handicapped in person but not in spirit love story. This sucker was a ratings monster and with good reason. Good but not my personal faves.

Meguri Ai – I love this drama! Tokiwa Takako had way better chemistry here with Fukuyama Masaharu than she did in Beautiful Life with KimuTaku. This is Japan’s version of Comrades, A Love Story and they pulled it off masterfully. A pair of lovers split up and cross paths multiple times in multiple places over the years. Will they end up together or take it as a sign they are not meant to be?

Pride – Perfect sports romance story. Period. Even a slightly wobbly fourth quarter with the return of the douchebag ex-boyfriend doesn’t mar this dorama. KimuTaku at his liony leading man best, with Takeuchi Yuko as his beloved girl who is straddling an MIA boyfriend and the new guy in her life.

Nodame Cantabile – I’m not a musician so music dramas don’t necessarily hook me, but this one is the crème de la crème of the music genre of dramas. Based on a manga, it’s alternatively silly and serious, taking a stab at the intensity and single-minded dedication budding musicians devote to the craft. All set in a wacky music academy. Leads Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi are wonderful, individually and together.

Anego (Anego is the Japanese language equivalent of Noona) – Office dorama plus older woman-young man love story. Decent but forgettable. Watch it for the sublime Shinohara Ryoko and Akanishi Jin in a non-sleazy and decent performance as her subordinate and love interest.

Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (Hana Kimi 2008) – Cross-dressing girl in an all boys boarding school. Extremely silly but endearing. Oguri Shun basically sleep walked through his role, while Horikita Maki was girlier here than she was in NwP, but it was Ikuta Toma that stole the show and everyone’s hearts. Also good for more who’s who of the up-and-coming young male actors in J-ent – Mizhushima Hiro, Yamamoto Yusuke, Okada Masaki, Mizobata Junpei, et. al.

H2: Kimi to Itahibi – A sweet and sincere baseball-themed coming of age story. Those of you who are familiar with Mitsuru Adachi’s mangas know this story trope is his speciality (baseball, first love, girl next door, rivalry). For me H2 feels like a pale imitation of his seminal earlier work Touch, but the drama stands well enough on its own. Leads Yamada Takayuki and Ishihara Satomi are darling together.

Zoku Hoshi no Kinka (Heaven’s Coins) – Korea remade this as Spring Days. The J-version has Sakai Noriko as a deaf and mute girl who falls in love with a doctor (Osawa Takao) when he comes to Hokkaido. He promises to marry her but then loses his memory in an accident when he returns to Tokyo. She goes to find the doctor and his rascally playboy younger brother falls for her as well. Love triangle and enough emo melodrama to fill an Olympic sized pool ensues. A sequel was made that doubled down on the pain and agony for everyone involved. I watched only for Takenouchi Yutaka as the aforementioned playboy younger brother, and he was the only character I didn’t want to bean with an over-sized frying pan. Later on I’m pretty sure K-dramas use this one as a template for all their makjang.

Kou Kou Kyoushi (High School Teacher) – When Japan does a high school teacher-student love story, they go all out and way dark. None of the cuteness K-dramas insert to remove the ick factor. I watched the plodding 1993 original, and thought to myself “why do I need to repeat the torture ten years later?”. The answer is Fujuki Naohito. The man is like a perfect acting god to me, and he proved it here by making a really annoying character sympathetic. Narimiya Hiroki also turns in an outstanding performance as a male host that wants to climb to the top using any means possible. The illicit love story is all emotional and the machinations all psychological, but its worth watching if you want to see something twisty and slightly uncomfortable.

Tsuki no Koibito (The Moon Lovers) – Quite possibly the worst KimuTaku drama I’ve ever watched. Mind numblingly bad in terms of story and acting. Lin Chi Ling is gorgeous but can’t even act when she’s speaking Chinese, much less Japanese. The ratings tanked so bad that the drama was rewritten on the fly to make for an ending bringing KimuTaku and Shinohara Ryoko together, but those two can’t stand each other in real life so that result was just weird. Matsuda Shota glowered his way through this one and Kitagawa Keiko was wasted as a flower vase.

Love Shuffle – An engaging and frank look at modern relationships, as a group of condo neighbors decide to shuffle/exchange their significant others to discern what binds couples together. Tamaki Hiroshi, Matsuda Shota, and Karina lead a cast of fantastic young actors in finding love despite differences, psychological wounds, and uncertain expectations.

Zettai Kareshi – Not my cup of tea, the story of a woman who orders a love robot online and proceeds to fall in love with it as said robot loves her back. One of the three times leads Aibu Saki and Hayami Mokomichi have worked together, but even their great chemistry couldn’t make this story palatable for me. There has only ever been one Watase Yuu manga I’ve liked, and Zettai Kareshi is definitely not the one in question. The only character I liked was Mizushima Hiro‘s Soshi.

Ouran High School Host Club – So cute it can give you cavities, at times so funny it’ll split your sides. Best girl cross-dressing as a boy drama I’ve ever watched, with lead Kawaguchi Haruna so pitch perfect as Haruhi that I wanted to adopt her. Even better is watching real life good friends Yamamoto Yusuke and Daito Shunsuke bring their bromance to the screen. A simple little story about teenagers looking to belong and find contentment with who they are.

Last Friends – Very good, but very dark story about a group of dysfunctional friends and the broken side of relationships. An all-star cast of Ueno Juri, Nagasawa Masami, Eita, and Nishikido Ryo, this is not a drama for the faint of heart or those looking for fun times.

Zenkai Girl – Marks the returns of Nishikido Ryo to romantic leading man status, and transforms Aragaki Yui into an eye catching leading lady with verve. Story is heartwarming and motivational with a side of cute kids to liven up the joint. She’s a top-flight young lawyer aiming to bath in money, he’s a homey chef with lots of affection to go around. They go together as well as water and oil, which of course means they are made for each other.

Proposal Daisakusen (Operation Proposal) – On paper Yamapi and Nagasawa Masami are a match made in Heaven. But onscreen their chemistry was like a wet paper towel. The story itself was like a bad case of déjà vu, and each time a new episode came on I asked myself why I can’t just stop watching now. Oh yes, because of my Yamapi love.

Tatta Hitotsu no Koi (Only One Love) – So swoony and dreamy and romantic. Easily my favorite romance drama by famed screenwriter Kitagawa Eriko (she did Beautiful Life, Long Vacation, Orange Days, but her best work was probably the despairing Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi). Filmed mostly in Yokohama, the cinematography is breathtaking and the chemistry between leads Ayase Haruka and Kamenishi Kazuya is gasp worthy. She’s the sheltered rich girl, he’s the poor boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Theirs is just a pure untainted love story.

Kurosagi – Painfully dull and stupid. Remains memorable for a kick ass theme song, reuniting Maki and Yamapi and letting them not do anything with each other, and cosplaying Yamapi in various costumes in each episode. This drama swindled me out of brain cells and hours of my life.

Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake (God, please give me more time) – Oldie but goodie, starring half-Japanese half-Taiwanese actor Kaneshiro Takeshi and a young and fresh-faced Fukada Kyoko in a moral tale about not prostituting oneself to get concert tickets. Because you can get HIV. But you might also get the man of your dreams as well.

Hotaru ni Hikari – A pleasure to watch anytime, the story of a himono onna (a dried up squid woman) who is perfectly put together at work but turns into a mess at home, and her funny love story with her boss and roommate. Just be warned that the sequel is to be to avoided at all costs. This is the dorama that got me back to loving beer after turning towards cosmos post-Sex in the City phase and wine after the Sideways period.

Buzzer Beat Yamapi and Kitagawa Keiko make magic together on the plyaground and the hardcourt in this basketball and violin themed Summer time dorama. Read my review here for a more in-depth discussion of why this drama is the perfect Summer treat.

Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi (One Thousand Stars Falling From the Sky/The Smile has Left Your Eyes) – KimuTaku in what might be his best performance in his career (followup would be his turn in Karei naru Ichizoku – The Grand Family). Dark and twisty, saying anymore might be giving away too much already. It’s the cat and mouse game between a detective and the man he suspects may have committed a crime, but the truth is more than anyone can handle.

Byakuyakou (Journey Under the Midnight Sun) – Even darker and twistier than Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi in terms of how deep the story goes into the point of no return, and then keeps walking further. Leads Ayase Haruka and Yamada Takayuki are exceptional in their roles as the cold and calculating victim-turned-schemer and her silent protector. My heart bled itself dry at the end.

101 Kaime no Puropozu (101 Proposals) – A seminal classic beauty and the dork story where Takeda Tatsuya is an ordinary unattractive salaryman who has gone on 99 matchmaking dates without a single success, and then his 100th date is with the gorgeous cellist played by elegant Asano Atsuko. I consider this drama, which aired in 1991, to have kick started a decade-long Japanese romance drama wave. I thought the story was sweet but rather derpy, and to this day I remember this drama more for the theme song “Say Yes” by Chage & Aska. Those are who familiar with J-ent will know that the duo proceeded to drop hit after theme song hit for dramas after they made it big with this song.

Dragon Zakura – Studying is good. The end. Okay, if you must know, Abe Hiroshi does a pitch perfect turn as a teacher tasked with turning a few bottom dwelling students into the top of the heap and shove them into Todai. Young Yamapi, Masami, and Gakki all add to the teenage contingent and make this a worthwhile and entertaining drama to watch. Korea remade this as God of Study.

SPECToka Erika turns in a career changing performance as a socially dense genius police detective. One of the better detective genre doramas, which is really a genre I only occasionally dabble in. This marks the first time I liked Toda Erika in a leading performance.

Atashinchi no Danshi (My Boys) – Horikita Maki is a poor girl avoiding debt collectors who somehow becomes a step-mother to a group of guys played by Kaname Jun, Mukai Osamu, and Yamamoto Yusuke, among others. What follows is a weird road for the oddballs to create a real family to lean on.

Bijo ka Yajuu (Beauty and the Beast) – Fukuyama Masaharu is the prickly and temperamental television producer and Matsushima Nanako is the top-notch television anchor forced to work together. She’s the level headed by-the-books beauty, he’s the cut-the-corners whatever beast. Together sparks fly in the best of ways.

Imouto wo (My Sister/Tokyo Cinderella Story) – One of the oldest dramas in this group, it aired in 1994 and is the reason I’ve been a fan of Karasawa Toshiaki for nearly 2 decades now. The granddaddy of the modern drama Cinderella story. An average office girl falls for a rich businessman, and they might actually have a chance of working out. This drama is also easy to remember for the ridiculously catchy Chage & Aska theme song “Meguri Ai” (to meet again).

Nazotoki wa Dinner no Ato de (Let’s sleuth after dinner) – Kitagawa Keiko is a rich heiress turned sleuthing cop and Sakurai Sho plays her whip-smart butler. They discuss her cases after dinner and he inevitably solves it for her. Much more interesting in execution than in concept. While the cases are easy to predict, the chemistry between the leads is adorable. No romance but lots of cuteness and entertaining banter.

Taiyo no Uta (Song of the Sun) – Sawajiri Erika continues her streak of playing illness-stricken leading ladies by playing a talented budding musician who cannot be under the sun due to a genetic condition. Yamada Takayuki is her devoted boyfriend and their love story is of course 99.9% doomed.

Code Blue: Season 1 and 2 – Do not watch. Bad. Very very bad helicopter medical drama that turned Yamapi, Toda Erika, and Gakki into walking zombies. Watching it gave me a Code Red.

Yankee Kun to Megane Chan – Cuteness galore. Narimiya Hiroki as the delinquent yankee and Naka Riisa as the glasses wearing former delinquent-turned-earnest student make this a wacky and sweet high school story. It’s like a plate of marshmallows.

Tokyo DogsOguri Shun and Mizushima Hiro, reuniting after doing Hana Kimi, in an opposites compliment each other buddy cop story. That’s all you need to know. Must watch because this dorama will turn out to be Mizushima Hiro’s television swan song, as he quit acting definitely after this to become a novelist. He’s hella smart since he attend Keio University and only became an actor because he’s so good looking he was scouted to be a model. After marrying singer Ayaka, who was revealed to have Grave’s disease, Hiro decided become a novelist full time, since he loved writing more than acting and it allowed him to spend more time with her.

Otomen – Okada Masaki as the tough kendo champion who is secretly hiding his love of all things girly and shoujo. He’s as cute as a six-week old puppy here, thought unfortunately his acting is about at the same level. Kaho plays a pretty and powerful martial artists who knows nothing about the female arts. They are clearly mean to be. The story is fluffier than a blanket of clouds but entertaining enough.

Jin – It’s a shame that this amazing story will now forever have the association of the K-drama version alongside the magnificent J-dorama version starring Osawa Takao and Ayase Haruka. A story of a modern brain surgeon who time travels back to the Edo period, the drama was equal parts pathos and history lesson, blending exciting narrative with gripping emotional stakes. A fantastic drama to cut your teeth on to learn a bit more about Japanese history of the Edo period prior to the modernization brought on by the Meiji period.

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Comments

Koala Discusses Two Decades Worth of Notable J-doramas — 119 Comments

  1. Hmmm, I was expecting to see You are my pet.

    Good job Mrs. K, I’ve seen the most of newer doramas. I would add some more, but this is goooood as well 😉

    • Soredemo, Ikite Yuku
      Manhattan Love story
      Kimi to Ita Mirai no Tame ni
      Long Love Letter
      The Liar Game
      Great Teacher Onizuka
      Utahime

  2. Thanks for sharing your Japanese Drama Collections. I’ve already watched most of these Japanese dramas you mentioned but so far, I only liked few of them. For me, my favorite Japanese dramas are Hana Yori Dango Season 1 & 2, One thousand Stars Falling from the Sky, Iryu Medical Team Dragon (10x better than Code Blue), One Liter of Tears, Pure, Gokousen Season 1 and Kimi Wa Petto.

  3. I love Hana Yori Dango, Long Vacation and Buzzer Beat. The last 2 I can watch over and over. LV turned me into a KimuTaku fan and Buzzer Beat did the same for Yamapi.

  4. My all times J-dorama favorites:

    Long Vacation
    Love Generation
    Slow Dance
    Orange Days
    Tokyo Love Story
    Nodame Cantabile
    Imoto Yo
    Boku Dake no Madonna
    Kimi wa Petto
    Anego
    Suppli (Sappuri)
    Hotaru no Hikari
    Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
    Brother Beat
    Buzzer Beat
    Kazoku
    Hito ni Yashashiku

  5. Thanks for your insights. Somehow I feel that japanese dramas in 90s had such a different mood in comparison to the newer ones. I would be grateful if people could tell me where can i watch the older dramas mentioned in this list like Imouto wo (My Sister/Tokyo Cinderella Story)

    • That one is unfortunately really difficult to find, I’ve been trying to find it as well since I’d love to rewatch it, but to no avail. There have been about one or two loose episodes posted on youtube, but that’s it. I wish someone would upload it online…

    • Good choice… this was THE Cinderella Story for me.
      Love it so much that I even bought the drama VCD (back when there was no such thing as DVD!!!). Till now, I will still watch some choice scenes of the drama.

  6. This may or may not be the first time I’ll de-lurk here but I love it when you talk about J-doramas. Haha, I don’t really know why. I loved the list! All descriptions are so true~ (I literally loled at Code Blue description btw. HAHAHA!)I COMPLETELY agree with Kurosagi. GAH. They reunite Yamapi and Maki yet they…didn’t…really…do…anything. It’s like, Maki just visited Yamapi’s drama lol. Oh, why not let them do another drama again, this will always remain a mystery for me. Why japan? WHY?

    • I watched 14:03 seconds of Kurosagi before bailing and I was going to go back for the love of Akira and Nobuta.
      I am so glad you all told me they didn’t actually reunite.
      First of all, WHAT?! I am angry and I didn’t even watch it.
      Second of all, WHY?! I should think that was the point of casting them again. Third of all, WHAT and WHY?

  7. Dear Mrs Koala, you are indeed a mind reader, I have been scouting for good J-doramas to watch and suddenly you came out with this list, thank you so much, I have not watched 80% of what you mentioned, so, I have along long way to catch up, thank you once again for sharing.

  8. Crying out Love, in the Center of the World (Sekai no Chuushin de, Ai wo Sakebu) is also among my all-time favorite J-dorama. It stars Ayase Haruka and Yamada Takayuki. And most of dramas on the list I’ve enjoyed one way or another. Thanks for the compilations!^^

  9. Koala,

    I watched several on this list… including the older ones, which just goes to show that we are probably from the same generation… LOL.
    My very first J-dorama was O-shin, which I remember watching with my mom.
    Then it was 01 Kaime no Puropozu, Imouto wo, Hitotsu Yane no Shita, Zoku Hoshi no Kinka etc…

    I was first and foremost a J-dorama fan, before K-drama took over (though I was an occasional HK and TW drama fan too). With this list, all the J-dorama memories came flooding back to me. Such nostalgia…

    Some J-dorama which I love that weren’t on your list:
    Great Teacher Onizuka (the drama that made me love Matsushima Nanako)
    Love Revolution (this was the show that really got me hooked in Fujiki Naohito)
    Itoshi Kimi e (I love Fujiki in this,such bittersweet story)

    I watched several KimuTaku dramas and liked a lot of them (including those insanely popular ones like Love Generation, Long Vacation etc), but for some reason, there wasn’t any of his drama which I can put in my favourite J-dorama list… I wonder why.

    I can’t remember the last J-dorama which I had watched, seems like such a long time ago, I think it could be KimuTaku’s Change or Nodame Cantabile (which is one of my favourites!).

    I was just thinking of going back to J-dorama but never did for at least 2 years. But with your glowing recaps of Rich Man Poor Woman, I hope this will be the drama that will get me back into the J-dorama mood again.

    • hahaha..Oshin was the first J-drama for me. And GTO, Love Revolution and Itoshi Kimi e were among my favourite. Itoshi Kimi e introduced me to the best poem ever 🙂

    • Wow, your mention of Oshin brings back such memories. I watched it in Poland as a girl, before coming to the US. I was really into Japan back then, I guess that hasn’t changed. I love the list and am now watching Long Vacation. I noticed the absence of Kimi wa Petto on the list, my favorite dorama.

  10. Lol. I may have been the only one who found Code Blue to be extremely awesome. Though I’ve only watched it once during my preteen years so if I watch it again… I may not like it as much. 😉

    I started watching Jdramas first before Kdramas. Hah. Used to think Japanese men were Gods, and Korean guys looked old. XD oh my weird Povs when I was widdle.

    I’m still waiting on a Gokusen 4 – I hope they shall make. I just love it when Yankumi busts into some warehouse to save the boys, while flinging off her glasses and letting her hair down. It was done so repeatedly but everytime I can’t help but think it was epic. She was just so badass.

    As much jdramas I’ve watched equals to how many I’ve dropped. For jdramas the good parts start past ep 4. Sadly I quit a bunch on this list because I just found the first episodes too slow. Seems like Lucky Seven wasn’t on here. Dropped? Hah I couldn’t watch it no matter how hard I tried.

  11. I love j-dorama! I would add these to the list:
    (1) Love Generation and Hero(KimuTaku, Matsu Takako – my fav pairing)
    (2) Liar Game
    (3) Iryu: Team Medical Dragon

    • mine too! it is sadly very hard to get hold of nowadays 🙁 i still remember how pleasantly surprised i was when i found out that “hot guy in matsushima nanako’s poster in GTO” was playing lead in this (thank the heavens for takenouchi yutaka indeed!)

      thanks ms koala for this wonderful compilation which prompted me to delurk after following your blog for almost two years! i just realized how much of a jdrama nut i am, considering that i have watched almost all the listed works there *embarrassed blush*

  12. I love this list, Koala! Thank you. Would love to see more of your posts/thoughts on j-doramas.

    From the list, I’ve seen just a handful, and I agree 200% with your description of Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. Ugh, how I’ve been wishing for another dorama like it to come along.

  13. GOKUSEN ♥ HANA YORI DANGO ♥ NODAME CANTABILE ♥ HANA KIMI ♥ OURAN HIGH SCHOOL ♥ PRIDE ♥ NOBUTA WA PRODUCE ♥ HERO ♥ LOVE GENERATION ♥ HOTARU NO HIKARI —- i love these dramas~!

    reading through your list is so nostalgic it makes me want to watch them again. will try watching Tokyo Dogs.

  14. Thanks OcKoala for the interesting list. Some I’ve seen others not. I was basically going through the alphabet on Dramacrazy based on my interest level.

    I wholeheartedly agree with what you wrote about Jin. LOL

    Can you provide a list for C/Tdramas also?

  15. Mrs Koala,

    This list could not have come at a better time. It’s been very useful for a couple of friends who were eagerly looking for that kind of list. Thank you for your input on what’s to watch and what’s to avoid.

    I’m being greedy, I know, but I look forward to reading the same kind of article on TW-dramas as well. ^^

  16. Thank you so much for this – definitely bookmarking it! And I’m so thrilled that you loved Tatta Hitotsu no Koi as well — I’ve read a lot of lukewarm things about it even though I thought it was really well done.

    A list for TW/C-dramas would be totally awesome when you have the time!

  17. I will rename this post: What will be in Jomo’s brain for the foreseeable future.

    I neeeeeeeeded this soooooo bad!
    Thanks thanks thanks thanks

    My brief stay in J-dorama land has been really lovely; I think I will stay a while.

    • Oh no. Now my suffering will begins as search to watch some of these dramas and won’t be able to find them with complete subs or complete episodes.

      And even when I found has no one to seed it for me. *cries*

      Someone know where I can find good/old doramas ?

  18. I’ve just watched Zettai Kareshi, Gokusen, Hana Kimi and Jin. I feel sorry for Jin too. The Jin K-drama….I can’t describe it.

    Anyways, Ms. Koala, you seem so good with Korean, Japanese and Chinese languages. I envy you. I’m still struggling with my Korean. I hope to do Japanese next…because of my love with Rich Man Poor Woman!

  19. LOL when I read your comments on Code Blue. I must be a glutton for punishment cos I finished season 1 and 2 (watched every single episode) just to oggle at Yamapi, oblivious that he sleepwalked thru two seasons. Clearly I was rather frivolous.

    I am a Tarasawa Toshiaki fan too! I remembered him back in Ai to iu Nano Moto ni.

  20. Thanks for this list. I watched 12 out of the ones you listed here.
    I like Akanishi Jin and Kamenishi Kazuya so so much. I watched Gokusen more than five times with the kids in the house,entertaining piece.

  21. THANK YOU. I am falling HARD for jdramas now that I’ve been hooked on Rich Man, Poor Woman, and it’s great to have a list like this so I know where to start. (As if I needed a new drama obsession).

  22. WHERE IS ORANGE DAYSS??? Or did I just miss that?
    Even though I love korean dramas to bits, I still think that japanese dramas do it better in all aspects. Yes even the romance bits. I like my stories and plots simple yet subtle, something that korean dramas can’t seem to do very well. But korean dramas are strange in that it can be so crappy yet addicting at the same time.

  23. You are right when you say this about Japanese dramas – “If you hit on one that you love, it might just became an all-time favorite”

    I haven’t kept up with Jdramas lately but surprisingly I’ve seen or heard about most of the titles that you mentioned (a good chunk of those are Yamapi dramas though. Boy, was I obsessed with him. Yes, I even watched Stand Up for him!) Most jdramas don’t leave a big impression on me some I love to death. My favorite jdramas are Tatta Hitotsu No Koi, Nobuta Wo Produce, Love Shuffle and Utahime. Have you watched Utahime? It’s all kinds of awesome.

  24. I think these handful of great dramas should be on the list:-

    1. Narita Rikkon (Narita Divorce) with an exceptionally earnest and funny performance by Kusanagi Tsuyoshi. I can’t stop laughing watching this drama and it’s really good, in fact.

    2. News No Onna (The Anchorwoman). Suzuki Honami is really great in here. Her character is selfish, blunt yet very loveable and I love her chemistry with all the three leading men.

    3. Majo No Joken. I think this drama is translated in Korean version as Romance featuring Kim Ha Neul and Kim Jae Won. Despite the height gap between lovely Matsushima Nanako with Hideaki Takizawa, I think their chemistry is really fierce.

    4. Gallileo. My handsome man Fukuyama is in it and he is great. Enough said.

    5. Tokyo Love Story. This is a classic favourite starring Suzuki Honami and Oda Yuji.

  25. Mrs. Koala,

    Have you seen MOTHER? It is the most amazing J-drama I’ve ever watched. It is less like television that one long amazing movie with award worthy storytelling, directing, acting and cinematography. I’ve only seen the series once. My heart and tear ducts couldn’t survive a second watching. The lack of sentimentality was the element that made the series so heartbreaking.

    Mana Ashida’s work on the series was awe-inspiring. There were times I feared what the director might I have doing on set to get such an amazing performance from that child.

    • OMG I LOVED Mother! totally agree, it is the most amazing drama I’ve ever watched. Every aspect of the series was terrific, the story to the acting. The connection btw the characters and the portrayal of all different types of mothers was simply amazing writing. It also is jaw dropping the performance Ashida Mana gave at the ripe old age of 5. She simply is an acting prodigy. I cried A LOT too, I would love to rewatch it but I don’t think my heart could handle it either. LOL.

      The series absolutely deserved all the awards it swept up.

  26. I throw out some of my favorites (in no particular order):

    001. Orange Days
    002. Boku dake no Madonna
    003. Egao no Hosoku
    004. Trick (the entire trilogy + movies)
    005. Bara no nai Hanaya
    006. Hero (not a fan of the Movie)
    007. At Home Dad
    008. Yama Onna Kabe Onna
    009. Mukodono!
    010. Lunch no Joou
    011. Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
    012. Moto Kare
    013. Summer Snow
    014. Densha Otoko
    015. MR. BRAIN
    016. Wedding Planner
    017. Taiho Shichauzo
    018. Maison Ikkoku
    019. Slow Dance
    020. Suppli
    021. Galileo
    022. Last Christmas

    Yes, I’m a BIG fan of Abe Hiroshi, Hirosue Ryoko, Ito Misaki, & Takeuchi Yuko

    • As another flag flying member of the Abe Hiroshi fanclub, let me add Shinzanmono – the series, special and movie; and Antique. And also give extra applause to Trick and Kekkon Dekinai Otoko.

      To Koala’s list, I think I can only add Orange Days, Nagareboshi and Honjitsu mo Hare, Ijo Nashi. Yankee-kun just tickles my every dorama happy spot, but Nagareboshi and HmHIN are smaller and quieter little gems.

      • Hi momosan! 🙂

        I saw last year “Honjitsu mo Hare, Ijo Nashi” and liked it too.
        It was a heart-warming story of a community helping each other led by an outsider-policeman, isn’t it?

        I’ve not yet seen “Orange Days” or, “Nagareboshi”. Maybe I’ll give them a try this year. Thanks for sharing your Jdorama love! 🙂

  27. I have seen almost all of these! However, this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone list ‘With Love’…and liked it! I love that dorama! One of my favorites! Takenouchi is my favorite J-actor.
    I’m not liking his pairing with Wakui Emi in his most recent fair, Mou Ichido Kimi ni, Propose. No chemistry. I loved Wakui Emi in Virgin Road though. For me, that is one of the classics. Loved it!
    Thanks for the reviews…it brought back some great memories. 🙂

  28. I’ve seen only half of these but my two absolute faves are Nobuta wo Produce and Tatta Hitotsu no Koi. NwP was just brilliant and so poignant. I didn’t watch a drama for at least 2 months since I was so affected by it.

    And, THnK….omgahhhhh!! Who would’ve thought skinny Kame would make swoon so hard!! Hiroto and Nao were just too beautiful and the OST was sublime!! LOVE Kame SOOOO much!! <333

  29. Quite a list there. I do think certain 90’s doraman are better then the ones today, sure they had idols involved but not as much as today.
    My first Takenouchi dorama was dekichatta kekkon with Hirosue Ryoko (boy sleeps with girl, girl ends up preggers)
    HYD shall forever have a special place in my heart along with hanakimi which was my summer addiction in 2008.
    Tokiwa Takako was fantastic with Toyokawa Etsushi in Aishiteiru to Ittekure, there is some steamy kissing there as well as a catchy op song.
    I loved Bijo ka Yajuu, Nanako and Masaharu were adorable and had chemistry. And speaking of Nanako who could forget her in GTO with her hubby.
    Jin is amazing, I’m forever sad about the crappy Korean adaptation.
    NwP, it’s a dorama that I hope never ever will be made into a kdrama.
    Hotaru no Hikari, well I’m such a himono onna myself so I need my own buchou to take care of me. The second series was weaker but I’m looking forward to the movie.
    Nodame Cantabile had me laughing so much, Juri was amazing as was Hiroshi.

  30. Thank you for this, Ms. Koala! Jdramas are not as widely talked-about as kdramas, so I have a hard time finding good recommendations. Your list of J-actors was great too; are you considering an intro to J-actresses? I’d love to read your opinions.

  31. my faves J-Drama: News No Oona, Strawberry on Shortcake, Antique Cake Story, Iitazura Na Kiss, Long Vacation, and My Hero, My Teacher 🙂

  32. Oh, I love this list! I’ve seen about 15 of these. I must say, while K-dramas are addicting, most of the time I wouldn’t even touch them again with a 10-ft pole, its almost like a temporary intense obsession and then I ant bear watching them again.

    On the other hand, J-doramas that I loved have stood the test of time for me. And I’m not left scratching my head why I loves them in the first place. Tatta Hitotsu, Nobuta wa Produce, Nodame Cantabile, Hotaru no Hikari, 1 liter of tears, Bloody Monday, Jin…I can still remember how I felt when I wagged these. And LOL on your comment about beer and HH. I was the same way! It totally got me into drinking beer and stacked my fridge with canned Asahi and Sapporo after watching it. 😉

  33. omg,u r like my other-half, miss koala. i really love Hitotsu Yane no Shita and personally think that it is one of the best j-drama bout family. i watched season 1 of the drama faithfully but somehow, season 2 is a rare species to find. perhaps u can recommend any website to watch or purchase season 2

  34. Aw, I liked Kurosagi, although I wish they would have had at least a bit of a romance.

    I didn’t know that about Hiro – how sad and sweet! There’s a few you recommended that I haven’t seen and will have to check out. Did you see Kaseifu no Mita? I heard it was a real ratings monster, too.

  35. If I may add, Kyoushitsu no Jyoou (The Queen’s Classroom) is also a fine watch. Gives a lot to think about the education system.

    My Boss My Hero is also really hilarious.

  36. Thanks to you, I now want to watch Sora Kara Furu Ichioku no Hoshi and Spec. Always love some good detective and dark/twisted stories. <3

  37. WOW awesome list. Definitely going to go through some of the dramas. Gokusen is amazing, I went through all seasons, and I thought I would get bored because of the format but surprisingly it’s entertaining. I haven’t gotten around to trying Bloody Monday, is it actually really good? My friends says yes, but the back story is meh to me, so I don’t know if I should watch…

    great post! 🙂

  38. What, no love for Mei-chan no Shitsuji? That was THE Jdrama for me, the crack that made me addicted for life. The beginning of my illicit love affairs with Asian actors who don’t know I exist. It was because of Mizushima Hiro that I found Hana Kimi and Zettai Kareshi, both of which I dearly love. And then I fell in love with Oguri Shun in Hana Kimi, which led to Hana Yori Dango…which led to love for Matsumoto Jun which led to Kimi wa Petto…..These dramas, along with Pride, hold a special place in my heart and will forever be my favorite Jdramas. Since I discovered them between 3-4 years ago, I haven’t found another one that makes me warm and fuzzy and hysterically happy as these did – until now, with Rich Man, Poor Woman. I’m finally loving a Jdrama again!!!

  39. Oh no. Now my suffering will begins as search to watch some of these dramas and won’t be able to find them with complete subs or complete episodes.
    And even when I found has no one to seed it for me. *cries*
    Someone know where I can find good/old doramas ?

    🙁

    • The only place I’ve been able to find *all* of these dramas on this list for free is aznv.tv (a streaming site which streams directly to VLC or Windows Media Player). If you can’t register, just comment below with your e-mail address and I’ll see if I can send you an invite. Meguri Ai is under another name (Refrain). You can also find Oishii Kankei and all older j-dramas which have been subbed on there too!

  40. My first jdrama was LONG VACATION starring KimuTaku and Takenouchi Yutaka. Totally fell in love with Takenouchi’s character so I watched BEACH BOYS in which I discovered Sorimachi Takashi and his drama GTO. So with my first 3 dramas being Long Vacation, Beach Boys and GTO, I was understandably a goner for jdrama lol.

    But my favorites and I swear by these, are:
    ORANGE DAYS- so so happy that other drama watchers agree with me. Amazing coming of age stories with great character development.
    NODAME CANTABILE- No introduction needed.
    UTAHIME- no one’s heard of this drama but it’s a wonderful story about fate, love, duty and family. It’s absolutely hilarious with a cast chock full of great chemistry. I never cry in dramas but this one was heart-wrenching (in a good way, of course).
    GTO- hilarious. and Sorimachi Takashi. enough said
    LIAR GAME- no idea how to describe it except as mind-bending. aboslutely addicting in my opinion

  41. Thanks for this! I’ve been looking to check out some J-doramas but I had no idea where to start. Now I just need more time… 🙂 🙂

  42. Hi I love that you’re taking Jdrama to light.

    Have you seen Long Love Letter, (one of my most fave Jdramas)? A truly wonderful and fascinating drama.

  43. Thank you for this list. While I am not uninitiated, this delves deeper into the well of J-doramas. It always helps to know where current dramas are being birthed from. I thought I had done well by watching the original GTO, but no I only scratched the surface.

  44. mrs. koala, would love a post from you describing the differences between kdramas, tw-dramas, c-dramas and j-doramas. i’ve watched mostly only kdramas with a couple of tw-dramas thrown in (thanks to you). have yet to see a c-drama or j-dorama.

  45. Thanks much Ms. Koala for this terrific post!

    I too am a Jdorama fan and have seen many of the dramas you highlighted above. I love Jdorama first before K-dramas.

    Please add me to the list of Emi Wakui fans for her portrayal in Pure and Virgin Road. I just have not found yet the site to watch “Imouto Yo”. I’m dying to see it!

    I didn’t know that “Spring days” is K-drama remake of “Hoshi no Kinka”. I might check it out one of these days. I wish they do another remake of “Hoshi no Kinka” and have Moon Geung Young be the lead on it.

    Thanks again for introducing me to “Nobuta wa Produce” and “Nodame Cantabile” last year. I enjoyed both very much. This year, I saw the Nodame Cantabile Movie version. Love the chemistry between Ueno and Tamaki.

    I wish to add 4 of my old-time favorites- “Furuhata Ninzaburo” starring Tamura Masakazu, “For You” starring Miho Nakayama, “Okane ga nai” starring Oda Yuji, and “Suzuran” starring Hiiragi Rumi as the little Moe. Btw, Rumi was in “Nobuta wo Produce” too.

    For a more current one, I recommend “Soredemo Ikite Yuku” starring “Eita”. It is a suspense thriller with lots of heart and excellent acting.

    This year, I tried to watch “Rich Man, Poor Woman” before your first post about it. Unfortunately, after only a few minutes of the first episode, I dropped it. Maybe one of these days I might try it again because of your good reviews and positive fan reactions to it.

    Instead, I’m following “Beautiful Rain” starring Toyokawa Etsushi. It is a heartwarming story of a father with early signs of Alzheimer disease and his 8 year old daughter.

    Thanks again Ms. Koala for sharing your Jdorama love! 🙂

  46. Anyone watched ‘Soredemo, ikite yuku’?
    The story is so heartbreaking… But so well portrayed and told! The main leads break your heart 20 times every episode (and the others maybe 10 times per episode?).
    I loved Eita before, but after this I simply adore him. Mitsushima Hikari was perfect in her role.
    This show was painfully perfect.

  47. wow, such a list – half I’ve watch and half have not . . . and might add some more favorites:
    Kimi wa Petto
    Natsu no Koi
    Lucky Seven
    Densha Otoko
    Detective Conan 1 & 2
    Love Generation – my first KimuTaku
    Hero
    Strawberry on the Shortcake
    Yamada Taro
    Crying out Love, in the Center of the World – a cryfest drama and ranked 2nd (for me) after Ichi Rittoru no Namida for a heartwrenching jdorama
    Kaseifu no Mita
    Meichan no Shitsuji – Sato Takeru before Kenshin ;D
    Kekkon Dekinai Otoko – this is best Abe Hiroshi jdorama for me 😉
    Mukodono
    Boss 1 and 2
    GTO and Hotman – love Sorimachi in these dramas

  48. I love JDrama…JDrama’s theme is not all about love and I think that make me more love JDrama…
    I love Ninomiya Kazunari and Yamada Takayuki’s acting…
    Freeter, ie o kau; orange days; Antique; Marumo no Okite; Drama SP (Door to Door, Marathon); water boys; kagi no kakatta heya; Ataru; Jin; News no Onna; Majo no Jouken; Haikei, Chichiue-sama ; Ryusei no Kizuna; Yasashi Jikan; etc (I have so many favorites JDrama:D)

  49. I love JDrama…JDrama’s theme is not all about love between man and woman, and I think that make me more love JDrama…
    I love Ninomiya Kazunari and Yamada Takayuki’s acting…
    Freeter, ie o kau; orange days; Antique; Marumo no Okite; Drama SP (Door to Door, Marathon); water boys; kagi no kakatta heya; Ataru; Jin; News no Onna; Majo no Jouken; Haikei, Chichiue-sama ; Ryusei no Kizuna; Yasashi Jikan; etc (I have so many favorites JDrama:D)

  50. Aishteru to Ittekure is one of my favorite doramas followed by Orange Days. I’m not deaf-mute but both stories were touching. I also like Love Generation, another Kimu Taku drama.

    Akai Ito is probably the dorama I think has the most soul.

    Japanese melodramas are better than Korean ones but Korean rom-coms are the best.

  51. My fave jdorama is Ordinary People, each time I listening to the soundtrack it always bring me back sweet memories. Also few dramas which you have listed above, especially with kimutaku & Takeshi kaneshiro.

    • Ordinary people: yeahh!! I watched it when i was still so young, in my elementary days. Doesnyt really understand what’s going on in the story, but woah, the Theme song will always be in my heart.

      • Yah, agree with you the soundtrack so damn good keep on going in my head even after decades…

  52. Auntie K

    Love what you’ve done with the place. Me gusta. ^.^

    So for these Jdoramas, all I have to say is that I like to follow actors in their careers and I tend to watch almost any thing that they decide to be in.
    Yamapi( he kills with his acting, love it), Oguri Shun( makes me have inappropriate thoughts about a married man),Yamamoto Yusuke and Daito Shunsuke( both so freaking hawt) and Kamenishi Kazuya ( he is so dreamy) are some of my favorite male actors and I will watch almost anything that they are in.
    Erika Toda( my go to godess, love her to pieces),Horikita Maki( she nails it every time) and Aragaki Yui.I don’t have as many favorite female ones but those three are the ones that I enjoy watching the most.

    I love Jdoramas almost as much as Kdramas. They just bring something new and fun to my viewing pleasure. And they have some of the best soundtracks ever. Kick a** OSTs that haunt you.

    I am so thankful that the content for viewers is so much better there than in the States. Love my Kdramas, Jdoramas, and Tdramas, they feed my addiction ^.^

  53. My first jdrama was also Long Vacation. But with all the hype, I just wasn’t that into it. I don’t really think I started liking jdramas until 2000. I actually have seen 95% of the dramas on this list. I haven’t seen the oldest one and Code Blue (haha, cause I’m not missing anything). The funny thing is Love Revolution with Fujuki Naohito was the drama that changed me to a more favorable look on Jdramas, even though the drama itself was crappy. It was a time and place thing.

    Pride is my favorite Jdrama still.

    Others that I liked were, Mukadono, NwP, Mr Brain, Galileo (these 2 b/c I am a US crime drama buff), HYD, Byakuyakou and one liter to name a few. Gag me on TnK. That was a WTH drama with a WTH ending.

  54. I would like to make a special mention to Densha Otoko, that was the drama that took me out of the area “just watch dramas starring pretty boys,” I was so stupid before seeing this drama, one of the best dramas I’ve seen in my life but my favorite will always be Hana Yori Dango, to me there is no other live action of the manga, the Japanese version will always be the best

  55. All this talk of Japanese dramas makes me want to rewatch HYD (the drama that introduced to me the awesomeness of MatsuJun and Oguri Shun) but I feel like it’s such a pain to download the entire series.

    Hmm, maybe I should go download Pride instead? I haven’t really watched any KimuTaku dramas…

    I wanted to watch Soredemo after reading the recaps from withsubsplease but I dare not do so. It has the same effect as Que Sera Sera and Story of a Man and Crucible (the movie) for me. From recaps and reviews alone, am convinced of it’s awesomeness but I am afraid to watch it with fear that I might come out of it emotionally broken..

  56. Our tastes in Kdrama transfers to jdoramas!! Anyway, love shuffle was one refreshing showoin a long while, and brought me back to the jdorama landscape…

  57. Seems like some other KimuTaku drama are missing here..Love Generation, Good Luck, Hero, Engine, Change, Mr Brain. I like his paring with Takako Matsu and Hiroshi Abe.

  58. Wow, what a long list of memories. Altough my first Jdrama is Oshin, it defenitely didn’t made me hooked up to dorama. My fist one that got me wanting more maybe ‘nodame’, it just is hilarious!! U should watch ‘my bos my hero’, super silly and funy, its over the top, but me love it, another one is “One pound gospel” staring Kame san as boxer who loves to eat he fell in love with a nun, its still silly and too comic like for some people, but I think that is what differ Jdrama with TW or K.

  59. Thank You so much for this post. I have recently gotten into JDramas, after going through heavily recommended K-Dramas & TW-dramas through some of the popular sites =). I love the JDrama format and the story-telling – seriously – you can do a lot with 9-11/45 min episodes. I find that skinship is at a minimum, although my American mind use to wtf it at the beginning, now I’m used to it. I swear!! I watched a movie (LOL with Myley Cyrus) after I don’t know how many months of straight watching foreign dramas and was appalled at how much skinship is in an American movie (with the target market being teenagers, where has the world gone to.) Any who, thanks for the list, I will run through this immediately and btw Thanks for recommending aznv.tv a good site is always hard to find =).

  60. HELP! Please recommend website/s I can watch all these J-Drama.
    Possibly, website/s I can visit here in the States.
    These recommendations are all interesting.
    Thank you in advance to anyone who will help this poor soul look for
    a way to watch these JDrama. Cheers!

  61. 101 Proposals, Love Generation, Long Vacation for nostalgia.
    Tonkatsu for something underrated.
    Galileo, Mr Brain for some detective mystery.
    All the Taiga doramas, for some history.

  62. Wow,it’s feel long time ago since first time a watch Hana Yori Dango which made Taiwanese F4 into their stardom when they made the remake. But personally my most memorable Jdrama is Oshin. thank you ms K.

  63. It is amazing to me that I have seen these and many more. I obviously have watched too much television over the years. I didn’t finish a lot of these though…due to the sheer torture of the acting or story LOL

    Several of the manga adaptations were awesome though like Megane-chan, Ouran, HanaDan, and Nodame. I LOVE Nakama Yukie so I have seen so much of her stuff. Her and Abe in Trick remain faves. I have never liked ANY Hana Kimi adaption but the kdrama one is giving me hope since Sulli is rocking the previews.

  64. I was looking to watch some Japanese dramas and I remembered seeing a list here.. and here it is! Thanks! I will try out some from here. I have watched only a few j doramas.. Other than the typical family dramas, I think Japan does good police/thriller type dramas and less so with the romance (or rom-com genre that I usually like to watch). Sometimes you are left forever waiting for the romance that never comes (i.e. Hana Kimi and Megane-chan).

    My favorite is Tatta Hitotsu No Koi. I think it’s really very sweet romance story and I adored the lead pair (and the ost!). I recently finished Love Shuffle which was quite good. And I also watched Moon Lovers because KimuTaku in Mr. Brain (which I liked) was not really a romantic lead role that I wanted to see him in.. it was such a mistake..

  65. I’ll add Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, Kinpachi Sensei (Season 6 only), My Boss My Hero, GTO, Osama no Restaurant, Lunch Queen, and Suzuki Sensei on the list

  66. OMG! I cannot believe Dr. Jin was a remake of a J-dorama! NOoooo! I avoided it like the plague because I heard nothing good about it. I want to see the original now!

  67. I know you don’t go in for detective ones as much, but I highly recommend BOSS, if only for Amami Yuki. Oh, and Takenouchi Yutaka plays a role, too, though it’s a bit minor.

    Most of my favorites are here! Yankee-kun to Megane-chan was so much fun. Oh wait- another one I liked was Yasuko to Kenji. It’s an older brother writing shoujo manga under a pseudonym (obviously) and his sister who thinks he’s SO UNCOOL. The twist is that he used to be the leader of a motorcycle gang, so he’s always coming to her rescue. Of course the guy she meets and crushes on is the brother of this sweet lady, who turns out to be a past motorcycle gang leader herself… It’s adorable, over-the-top fun, with the same music people and general tone as Gokusen.

    Another sibling one: Seigi no Mikata, with Shida Mirai playing put-upon younger sister to spoiled, vain Yamada Yu. Hilarious and adorable, if a bit skewed towards a younger audience.

    One more for real: Mei-chan no Shitsuji has Mizushima Hiro as a taciturn butler in this zany boarding school where all the girls have butlers that they CAN’T FALL IN LOVE WITH, DO YOU HEAR ME, ABSOLUTELY NOT. Sato Takeru plays the heroine’s childhood best friend and he is magnificent, and Mukai Osamu is there as the creepy villainous butler to Yamadu Yu’s character. I was about to stop watching about halfway through episode 1, but I kept going, and it became addictive and nutty and adorable. Sort of like Ouran in tone, although almost nothing can top that one for me.

  68. Hi there! Trying to track down a drama – probably early 2000’s — 2 girls lived together – one was well put together/successful – the other a hot mess. The hot mess one, went to work for a small new company (design firm?) and has a crush on the boss. I remember that the mess of a girl drank a lot of wine at night to her roommate’s dismay. Definitely a romance. I know I watched the whole series – but it was easily 8 years ago or more.

    Thanks in advance!~!

  69. One of my firsts j-dorama was News No Onna or Anchor Woman, starring Suzuki Honami and Hideaki Takizawa.

    Hero and Good Luck are my all-time Kimataku’s dramas.
    and also Attention Please! — I dod love aviation-based dramas.

  70. My favorite are Imouto Yo, Long Vacation, Hitotsu Yane No Shita and Hoshi No Kinka. Yes, I agree Imouto Yo is the reason why I become a fan of Karasawa Toshiaki. Have you watched The Great White Tower? Karasawa was great in performing Zaizen character. Somehow, I still the prefer the Japanese version over Korea remade.

  71. Dear Ms. Koala, how are you?. Love your comments in Drama Beans. I know I am bumping this thread, but I wanted all readers to know that I was able to see Oishii Kankei in DramaGalaxy. Video quality is subpar (bad VHS rip) but thankfully existent. A sweet Drama about noble people united by their love of food. Recommended.

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  75. Hi Koala, If you feel inspired, how about an update of this post for Japanese dramas that have aired since you wrote this blog post? Maybe not immediately, but this might be something you consider in a future post. Thanks!

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