This pandemic took us through a long road of watching endless seasons of American series, but if your heart needs some light with a good storyline Japanese dramas can be a good substitute. Japanese dramas are short, crispy, and allow viewers a glimpse into the (slightly exaggerated) lifestyle and culture in Japan.
Here are the best 10 Japanese dramas you should binge-watch.
1. Hana Yori Dango
In 2005, when this drama was released, it captured the hearts of many romantics and even inspired the Korean and Chinese adaptations ‘Boys over Flowers’ and ‘Meteor Garden. A sequel, Hana Yori Dango Returns, aired in 2007 and a film adaptation, Hana Yori Dango Final, was released in 2008.
It stars four handsome students who are sons of Japan’s wealthiest and most powerful tycoons, bully fellow students out of boredom or malevolence until they are expelled or quit. Enter their latest victim, an ordinary girl, Makino who has a strong yet humble personality, who clashes with the leader, and her long-lived wish to remain invisible in school to avoid trouble dies as it takes a beautiful romantic turn.
The casts are well selected. They all play significant roles and the selection wasn’t just focused on the looks. Whether it’s the chemistry between the actors or the cinematography, everything is perfect! Worth watching.
2. Absolute Boyfriend (2008)
It is a drama about Riiko, a single woman who has a hard time finding love. Having given up on relationships, a mysterious man presents her with the perfect boyfriend. Just when she catches the attention of her wealthy, playboy boss, she finds that she has the perfect million-dollar boyfriend – a robot made to her precise specifications! After being caught up in a love triangle, Riiko’s life takes a turn as she tries to fulfil her dream of becoming a world-class pastry chef.
3. Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo (2018)
Although it’s the fifth remake of the original anime, it’s just as good as all of them. It created its own path and evolved into a comedic classic. Based on the life of Kotoko Aihara, it follows her struggles with her looks and her inability to get A-grades in school. However, she is deeply in love with handsome, super smart, and ever-so-popular Naoki Irie. The story goes around coincidences resulting in Kotoko living with Irie’s family, Irie’s mother helps Kotoko in pursuing him, the drama holds funny episodes of Kotoko’s clumsiness and childish attempts in order to make Irie like her too. It is simply a cute drama full of heartwarming scenes.
4. Million Yen Women (2017)
It’s probably because of this show’s unique storyline that many people were hooked on it. There is a story about a failing author who accepts help paying for his house from five women. As part of their agreement, he does not have to ask them any questions about their lifestyle or how they got their money, these five beautiful but mysterious women move in with shin in a murder mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. They’re so many twists and turns in the story that you find yourself pausing the show with your jaw on the floor with what you just saw.
5. For You in Full Blossom – Ikemen Paradise
Mizuki (a girl raised in California) applies to a boy high school to attend Sakurazaki Academy, an all-male boarding school. This is all to meet with high jumper Izumi Sano, who had to stop after being injured. With her short hair, flattened chest, and lowered voice, she starts sharing the same room with Sano. Think of awkward encounters, mishaps, almost-reveals, and confusing emotions this play portraits in a hilarious outline.
6. An incurable case of love
Romantic Japanese dramas can be a perfect substitute to Wattpad love stories they move at a fast pace and don’t bore the viewer, this can be another cute drama on your list if you like watching romantic shows.
This drama is about a girl Sakura Nanase (Mone Kamishiraishi) who witnesses a handsome young doctor step in at the last minute to save a stranger’s life. She could not resist falling in love with him as much because of his charm as for his professional skill. As she searched for a way to meet this heroic doctor again, Sakura quickly concluded that the only way to do so would be to enter the medical field. Sakura, now twenty-two, has just taken her first job at a local hospital where she discovers a rather cold side of her doctor crush.
He is commonly referred to as the “Devil” at work. He is a level-headed perfectionist and often makes biting remarks to doctors and nurses. Nanase Sakura works hard to receive recognition from Kairi Tendo and she also expresses her feelings honestly to him. Due to her persistence, Nanase Sakura becomes well known at the hospital and she picks up the nickname of the “Warrior.” Meanwhile, Kairi Tendo becomes attracted to Nanase Sakura.
This drama is a manga adaptation, you can watch it on Viki Rakuten for free.
7. One Litre of Tears (2005)
“1 Litre of Tears” (also known as “A Diary with Tears” or “A Diary of Tears”) is a 2005 Japanese television drama for Fuji Television. About a girl named Aya Kitō, who suffered from degenerative disease and died at the age of 25.
Aya was an ordinary girl about to start high school and the daughter of a family that works at a tofu shop. However, as time passes, Aya begins to experience strange occurrences. Aya starts falling frequently and walking strangely. Aya’s mother Shioka takes her to the doctor, and he informs Shioka that Aya has spinocerebellar degeneration.
Cerebellar atrophy causes the victim to lose the ability to talk, walk, write, or eat due to the gradual death of the cerebellum in their brain. A cruel disease because it does not affect their minds. Aya’s diary, which she wrote until she could no longer hold a pen, inspired the script. The diary is later published as One Litre of Tears, which has sold over 1.1 million copies in Japan.
When she died at 25, her family decided to donate her body for medical research. This drama follows Aya’s friend Haruto after she died, as well as her younger sister. Aya’s younger sister, Rinka, just started high school. Haruto is taking care of a 14-year-old female patient, Mizuki, who was bullied in school because she has the same disease as Aya.
Boxes of tissues are recommended because this drama is sure to tug at your heartstrings in many ways.
8. Code blue (2008)
Drama fans will enjoy this classic Japanese drama. Cod Blue was among the first of its kind to air on Fuji TV. It was inspired by the ‘Doctor Helicopter’ system, in which a small team of medical professionals flies all over the country to treat patients. At the beginning of their fellowship, they experience traumatic medical situations, grapple with personal ambitions, witness the fragility of life, and grow personally and professionally. Dramatists depict the lives of sincere doctors while dealing with the difficulties and dilemmas in their personal lives.
The drama followed the adventures of four newly assigned young physicians as they experienced drama, tension, and excitement. In addition to the three seasons, there is also a movie adaptation of the series.
9. In house marriage honey
This is again a romantic drama on the list, this 7 episode drama based on a manga, really does the work for romantic drama lovers, it is comical, feels good, and super cute.
Itagaki’s character (Mizuki Manatsu) finds himself in a quandary: his mother is sick, and he believes remarrying will bring some cheer to her – and help her recover. Unfortunately, he doesn’t have a girlfriend. Thus, he downloads a dating app and starts looking for potential partners.
As another app user, Haruta Ami (Matsui Airi) discovers that her ex has been cheating on her. To forget about her ex, Haruta decides to begin a new relationship to forget him. They meet online and decide to get married in a hastily arranged ceremony, barely knowing anything about each other and later founds out they work in different departments of the same company, they try to hide their relationship from their co-workers resulting in laughter and fun.
This drama starts on a happy note and ends on a happy note. The story doesn’t take any turns, the plot is pretty simple. So, if you are not a fan of troublesome romantic shows, surely give this one a try.
10. Midnight Diner – Tokyo Series (2016)
Japanese dramas like this are not the kind you see every day. Meishiya, a chef who works until the wee hours of the morning at a diner, is the star of the story, but there is no main plotline. Whether it’s for real estate agents, taxi drivers, comedians, or lawyers, he comes in handy for everyone. Every time they ask for a dish he does not have on the menu, he is happy to oblige as long as he has ingredients with him. Each episode includes a story, which describes the experiences of different visitors.
He begins his working day when people hurry home at the end of the day. The diner is open between midnight and seven in the morning. Locals call it “Midnight Diner”. It is one of those dramas that you can watch any episode at any time and it will still make sense. They’re not interconnected, per se, and each patron’s stories are very unique in their way. This is a great drama to unwind to after a long day.
As you can see from this extensive list, Japanese dramas are seriously in a league of their own. Your heart will flutter as you fall in love with their rom-com leads, cheer for the underdogs, and sit on the edge of your seat as you watch their thrillers. There will be glaring indications of the unique characteristics of the Japanese people in some dramas, causing you to miss Japan all the more. Whether you are looking for a hobby or to try something new, be ready because it is very easy to fall in love with Japanese dramas.
After watching the entire list, we guarantee that you’ll be itching for more! So here is more about Japan art and culture.