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J-Dramas

Japanese Drama Reviews

This is my list of watched Japanese dramas (“J-dramas”). Most J-dramas are about 45 minutes long, with 11 episodes. The production quality is usually fantastic; I can hardly think of any I’ve seen that have made me go “wtf” at the visuals. One thing I love about these dramas is the fact that once you see a few, you will spot all sorts of actors (big and small) in all the rest of them. I am a freak about that kind of thing. I also adore how many of these shows take manga or anime (or both lol) and turn them into live-actions. IDK, I am rambling a ton because I honestly don’t have much to say, other than these things are awesome. If you haven’t watched any yet, you really ought to.

I am very subjective with my reviewing. I have been trying to be good about explain the strengths and weaknesses of everything I watch, so I hope that is helpful to you. I am careful about keeping spoilers out of the reviews, but I normally reveal certain things about the show, so if you are a spoiler nazi… watch out. Seriously, how can you give a decent review without delving into some of the material? It’s crazy hard. That’s why I don’t do it lol.

“Quality” rating = my feeling about the overall flow of the show, the production quality, the acting, and so on.
“Lovability” rating = my personal feeling about the show; despite any faults, I came away with “this much” love for it.

Note: Because I used D-AddictsDramaWiki a lot, there are some errors, especially in the synopsises. I didn’t feel like editing them, so I apologize for that.

Japanese Drama ListKorean Drama ListTaiwanese Drama List

Japanese Dramas Watched: (click to go directly to the review)

1 Litre of Tears
1 Pound no Fukuin
Akihabara@DEEP
Atashinchi no Danshi (images coming soon)
Densha Otoko
Dragon Zakura
Egao no Hosoku
Gokusen
Gokusen 2
Hana Yori Dango
Hana Yori Dango 2
Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
Honey and Clover
Kimi wa Petto
Kurosagi
LIAR GAME
Love Shuffle
Nobuta wo Produce
Nodame Cantabile
Orange Days
Ohitorisama (images coming soon)
Papa to Musume no Nanokakan (coming soon)
Pride
Proposal Daisakusen
Stand Up!!
Yamada Taro Monogatari
Zettai Kareshi


1 Litre of Tears or “Ichhi Rittoru no Namida”
Genre: School, romance, family, human
Episodes: 11 + SP
Aired: 2005
Watched: 05/09
Quality: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Sawajiri Erika, Nishikido Ryo, Narumi Riko, Yakushimaru Hiroko, Jinnai Takanori
J-drama: 1 Litre of Tears J-drama: 1 Litre of Tears J-drama: 1 Litre of Tears J-drama: 1 Litre of Tears

Synopsis: 15-year-old Ikeuchi Aya was an ordinary girl, the daughter of a family who works at a tofu shop, and a soon-to-be high schooler. However, odd things have been happening to Aya lately. She has been falling down often and walks strange. Her mother, Shioka, takes Aya to see the doctor, and he informs Shioka that Aya has spinocerebellar degeneration – a terrible disease where the cerebellum of the brain gradually deteriorates to the point where the victim cannot walk, speak, write, or eat. A cruel disease, as it does not affect the mind in the least. How will Aya react when told about her disease? And how will Aya live from now on?

DramaWiki

Opinion: 1 Litre of Tears is one of those really touching dramas that you can’t easily forget. Even though people recommended this drama to me for over two years, I didn’t feel I was in the mood for it until recently. I think you have to be in the right state of mind for a drama that’s definitely going to be sad, so I’m glad I waited.

There is something so completely heartbreaking about the disease that the main character, Aya, has. From the get-go, we learn that she is inflicted with a disease that will take control of her body away from her, little by little, while leaving her mind intact. As hard as it is to watch someone go through such pain, it’s what makes this drama what it is. When humans are faced with the prospect of death, what do they do? Some undoubtedly give up, but not Aya. Aya put forth every effort to stay alive, and it is a complete inspiration.

A huge element of this drama is how the disease of one person can affect friends and family. Even though this drama does focus a lot on Aya and her struggles with her illness, there is definitely attention paid to how her parents, siblings, and friends get through it. I really appreciated this, because whenever when a person is struggling with hardship such as Aya, loved ones share some of the pain.

There is a touch of romance to 1 Litre of Tears, and I loved that. I don’t know if I’m crazy, but I have a special place in my heart for subtle romance that you only get wisps of now and then. It’s somehow more poignant that way. “Asou-kun,” played by Nishikido Ryo, was a really great character in my opinion. I think the drama would have been okay without him, but he made it special all the same. I’m not belittling the romance; It was very present, but it wasn’t in-your-face.

When it comes down to it, I find it rather difficult to put into words how I feel about this drama. It really made me think a lot about life and living. It was a very touching show that I know I will think about years from now. Even though there were moments when it had me crying, I felt so connected with the drama and the characters; it was a good kind of cry. I’m really happy that the real Aya lived the way she did and wrote what she wrote. People–years after her death, and across the world–are moved by her life and what she did with it in spite of her obstacles. That is amazing to me, and perhaps what touched me most of all.

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1 Pound no Fukuin or “One Pound Gospel”
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 9
Aired: 2008
Watched: 01/08, 07/08
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability: 4/54/54/54/5
Starring: Kamenashi Kazuya, Kuroki Meisa, Kobayashi Satomi, Okada Yoshinori, Yamada Ryosuke, Minamisawa Nao, Takahashi Issei
1 Pound no Fukuin/One Pound Gospel 1 Pound no Fukuin/One Pound Gospel 1 Pound no Fukuin/One Pound Gospel 1 Pound no Fukuin/One Pound Gospel

Synopsis: Kosaku Hatanaka is a skilled boxer who turned pro at the age of 19, but he finds himself facing a string of defeats due to his inability to control his appetite, which always puts him in a heavier weight class. One day, due to excessive work out he collapses where he is found by Sister Angela, a naive fledgling nun and he immediately finds himself interested in her.

DramaWiki

Opinion: 1 Pound no Fukuin can best be described as EXTREMELY kawaii! SOOO CUTE! I actually started it right when it came out, but forgot how cracktastic and awesome it was, so I stopped watching for a few months. When I started it up again, I wanted to hit myself because it’s a really fun show… and I can’t believe I couldn’t remember that! It’s not a very deep show, but it does have little lessons here and there. Nothing annoying; I hate it when you get a “moral-of-the-story” every episode. I am not the biggest fan of Kuroki Meisa, but she was great as a nun, surprisingly. I hecka love Kamenashi Kazuka, and he is INSANE in this. I don’t know if he’s been in a more fitting role… somehow. His character, Hatanaka Kosaku, is one of my new favorite fictional people. You really have to watch to find out why. Basically… this is a show that will make you laugh more than anything else. It’s pretty enjoyable. My incoherent-ness about it should be enough to convince you, actually.

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Akihabara@DEEP
Genre: Action, comedy
Episodes: 11 + SP
Aired: 2006
Watched: 01/08
Quality: 3/53/53/5
Lovability:3/53/53/5
Starring: Kazama Shunsuke, Ikuta Toma, Himura Yuki, Hoshino Gen, Kosaka Yuka, Matsushima Hatsune, Honjo Manami

Synopsis: Akihabara is a Tokyo district full of mangas, anime, electronics, video games, figurines, etc. It is a place that gathers fanatics of such themes, people who are commonly referred to as otaku. Page, Box, Akira, Taiko, Daruma, and Izumu are six otaku each with his/her own troubles and sought relief through a website called “Yui’s Lifeguard.” When site owner Yui died of a mysterious death, the six who are each experts in their own fields gathered to form “Akihabara@DEEP”, a “trouble shooter” group that vows to protect Akihabara and solve the problems of its inhabitants.

DramaWiki

Opinion: This show… can only be described as absolutely ECCENTRIC. I feel it was pretty middle-of-the-road is most aspects, but it was fun to watch. The characters are SO cute with all of their geeky nuisances! Well, most of them are (Daruma is not cute by any stretch of the imagination). There isn’t really a “main” character, and there is next to no romance. However, it doesn’t seem to affect the quality of the drama; that’s just how it is. Because each episode is a new “search,” or solving of a mystery, it tends to be rather formulaic. There were certain things about this show that were a bit weird, but I do think it was intentional because of the subject matter. I want to note that the show aired late, so I can’t say it’s for all audiences. Overall, I guess Akihabara@DEEP was entertaining, but don’t expect it to blow your mind. It was sometimes touching, sometimes disturbing. I generally feel very neutral about it because of this. Still, watch it if you’re interested, because it’s worth a shot.

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Atashinchi no Danshi
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2009
Watched: 01/10
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability: 4/54/54/54/5
Starring: Horikita Maki, Mukai Osamu, Kaname Jun, Okada Yoshinori, Yamato Yusuke, Seto Koji
Images coming soon.

Synopsis: These days, the term “homeless” has taken on new meaning. There are youths referred to as “net cafe refugees,” who have neither a job nor a place to live, but who find themselves hopping around internet cafes. One such refugee is a 20-year-old girl named Chisato, who lost her mother at a young age due to sickness. She spent her youth trying to escape from the huge debt her father left her, and her battle with the repossessors unfolded every night. However, her life changed after meeting one man named Shinzo, changing her views on the meaning of “family.” Shinzo comes from a rich family tracing back to the Edo period, and he adopted six good-looking sons with the hope of one becoming his successor, but all of them have strange personalities. Shinzo promises to free Chisato from her debt if she marries him and becomes the mother of his sons. However, a life with these six guys under one roof will not go smoothly…

DramaWiki

Opinion: This drama was such a blur for me! I watched it in about 24 hours. That’s always a mark of an entertaining drama for me. Looking back, almost all I can think of is how strange this drama was, despite it being incredibly fun. The premise is so OUT THERE! The further you get into the show, the more you will find the story to be full of strangeness. That being said, it was addicting as heck. I love Horikita Maki and adflsjdflj Mukai Osamu as Sho is amazing (he solidified my love back when he was playing one of my favorite anime characters of all time, Mayama from Honey & Clover. Even if the drama was a bust I still have giant fuzzy feelings of love and adoration for him trying). Actually, all of the brothers/sons were beyond adorable and they made Atashinchi no Danshi bright and multifaceted. There is mystery and intrigue the entire drama, so that was one huge incentive to come back for more. However, the main reason I kept watching was because Atashinchi no Danshi is made of the right stuff. It may have a wild and crazy plot, but it also has talented and amusing actors that carry you through the ups and downs. I honestly believe that it’s nearly impossible to express anything about this drama properly, so I recommend watching instead of reading any longer! Of course, this drama won’t change your life, but it might entertain you and make you think a little differently about the concept of family.

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Densha Otoko
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 11 + SP
Aired: 2005
Watched: 03/08
Quality: 3/53/53/5
Lovability: 3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Starring: Ito Misaki, Ito Atsushi, Shiraishi Miho, Sato Eriko, Sudo Risa, Hayami Mokomichi
(also: Oguri Shun, Horikita Maki)

Synopsis: A true love story turned to bestselling novel, created from the Internet BBS, 2channel to blockbuster hit movie. Ito Misaki plays Aoyama Saori, working as an office lady at a MNC, gets into trouble with a drunkard on a train. She’s saved by Yamada Tsuyoshi, played by Ito Atsushi. As a form of appreciation, she sends him Hermes teacups. Having no experience with the opposite sex, Tsuyoshi decides to ask for help on the Aladdin Channel BBS on how to interact with Saori.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Densha Otoko takes a close look at the life of a young guy actually finding his footing and becoming a man. When the story begins, our protagonist, Yamada Tsuyoshi, is nerdy, weak, and unable to show any courage at all (he’s a complete otaku to boot). Once he makes the decision to save beautiful Aoyama Saori, his life starts changing quite fast. Motivated by his love/attraction to Aoyama, Yamada enlists the help of an incredibly supportive forum in order to help him, essentially, become a stronger person. Yamada, known online as “Densha Otoko” (“Train Man”), can be so painful at times. However, it is amazing to simply watch him grow as a person. The forum members are such characters, but they are lovable and warm all the same (as an internet junkie, I can relate). While Aoyama can seem perfect from afar, she really has her troubles too. Events in her life have caused her to be wary of all men, so it is interesting to see how that affects her as a character and how it affects the story. The romance is such awkward love, but it is very moving (especially considering that this is based on a true story). It’s hard to really explain the show in a nutshell, but it is very cute and lovable.

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Dragon Zakura
Genre: School, drama, comedy
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2005
Watched: 05/08
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability: 4/54/54/54/5
Starring: Abe Hiroshi, Yamashita Tomohisa, Nagasawa Masami, Koike Teppei, Aragaki Yui,
Nakao Akiyoshi, Saeko, Hasegawa Kyoko, Nogiwa Yoko
Dragon Zakura Dragon Zakura Dragon Zakura Dragon Zakura

Synopsis: Sakuragi Kenji is a destitute lawyer and one-time member of a motorcyle gang trying to guide failing high school students with an average score of 36 into Japan’s most prestigious educational institution, Tokyo University (Toudai).
“If you want to change your life, get into Toudai!”
For no other reason than Sakuragi’s personal ambition, he has advertised his intention to produce 5 successful Toudai applicants from the students of a nearly bankrupt failure of a school.
“If you want to change your life, get into Toudai!” He will get them from this lowest of all schools into Japan’s number one!!
Our protagonist, Sakuragi Kenji, played by Abe Hiroshi in his first role as a high school teacher, is a must see in this summer’s new show. This third rate lawyer soon becomes the homeroom teacher for the special advanced class aiming for Toudai University entrance. Hasegawa Kyouko costars as english teacher and Sakuragi’s opponent, and Yamashita Tomohisa from NEWS and Nagasawa Masami also appear in the role of students. This awaited original work and fascinating world view is brought to you from the popular serialized comic in Shuukan Morning (Kodansha) and has even been updated!
In addition to revealing essential test taking techniques for everyone who wants to know how to get into Toudai, Dragon Zakura will also teach the essentials of living one’s life.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I found Dragon Zakura to be fairly entertaining. It’s really fun to watch while you’re in the middle of a school semester, because all of the studying will make you want to study more. I thought so, at least. They also offer some great study advice too, most of which you will hear throughout your life (don’t cram, eat breakfast, take breaks), but maybe you will get some new tips as well.

The story wasn’t incredibly deep, but it wasn’t boring. It was interesting to see every new event would happen along the way. Near the end the focus is taken off of school, and put on the characters. I think by the close of the drama, they passed on an important message about school in its relation to one’s future. Shall I spoil it for you? I shan’t. I just wanted to use the word “shan’t,” mostly LOL. Just watch and see! The cast is relatively star-studded, in retrospect. Abe Hiroshi, Yamashita Tomohisa, Nagasawa Masami, and Koike Teppei are all actors I was delighted to see in this drama. They really make this show fun to watch. So, I guess you could say that Dragon Zakura is not the most life-impacting watch, but it’s very enjoyable. WATCH NAO.

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Egao no Hosoku
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 12
Aired: 2003
Watched: 01/08
Quality: 3/53/53/5
Lovability:4/54/54/54/5
Starring: Takeuchi Yuko, Abe Hiroshi, Nishijima Hidetoshi, Nogiwa Yoko, Jinnai Takanori

Synopsis: Yumi (performed by Yuko Takeuchi) is a 23-year-old office worker, unexpectedly fired from her job. While rushing to an interview for part-time work at a publishing company, she wanders into a conference room where she encounters pop comic book artist Reijiro Sakurai (performed by Hiroshi Abe). He is planning to lock himself away at a hot spring for the next three months to concentrate on his next project.

Together with Reijiro’s editing staff, Yumi decides to work as a caretaker for Reijiro at the hot spring. There she meets the proprietress of the hot spring who keeps up the values of “full-hearted hospitality” and “old time Japanese virtue”. Dealing with many conflicts life can bring on, this story is about Yumi maturing as a woman and as a human being.

USN

Opinion: This was a very cute and (no other word for it!) heart-warming drama. I downloaded it for the heck of it and wound up being very pleasantly surprised. While there is a touch of romance, the focus of the story is growing as a person. This “maturing” is shown most in main female character, Yumi, but we see it in a lot of other characters too (such as Sakurai). Egao no Hosoku isn’t quite love at first sight; it’s more of a gradual love, and a sudden… “OH MY GOSH. I LOVE THIS.” I’m not an expert on acting, but I felt that it was really good. Watch it if you get a chance!

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Gokusen
Genre: Comedy, School
Episodes: 12 + SP
Aired: 2002
Watched: 09/07
Quality: 3/53/53/5
Lovability: 3/53/53/5
Starring: Nakama Yukie, Utsui Ken, Matsumoto Jun, Oguri Shun, Narimiya Hiroki, Ishigaki Yuma, Waki Tomohiro,
Ito Misaki

Synopsis: The story of a young, idealistic teacher who enters Shirokin Gakuen with hopes of making a difference in the students’ lives. However, Yamaguchi Kumiko (Nakama Yukie) is in for a rude awakening when she finds that she will be the homeroom teacher of 3-D, the hardest class to maintain in the school. The students have multi-colored hair, sloppy uniforms, and show absolutely no respect to her. The leader of the class, Sawada Shin (Matsumoto Jun) is lazy but bright and shows some interest in Yamaguchi when he notices that she is very different from other teachers. The students try to bully her to make her quit, but their attempts don’t get them very far.

What the class and the rest of the school does not know is that Yamaguchi Kumiko is actually the 4th generation heir to the Ooedo Group, a notorious yakuza clan. Even though her family would like her to take the title of Ojou when her grandfather dies, they have accepted the fact that Yamaguchi would rather be a teacher.

Eventually, the students learn to respect their quirky teacher because of her devotion to them, and even give her a nickname: Yankumi.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Alright, Gokusen is not the best drama out there, but it almost seems like one that should be watched no matter the quality. I am not a big fan of really formulaic dramas, ones that need to resolve something every single episode. In Gokusen, “Yankumi” changes from her hardworking teacher persona to a “hiyahhh kick-butt” granddaughter of a yakuza leader. Every episode. Rain or shine. But how can it not become endearing? Yankumi is constantly trying to prove herself to her doubtful superiors, while maintaining some level of order among her less-than-ideal group of students. I think this drama is jam-packed with cliches and such, but it’s still very lovable. I would consider it to fall into the group of classic, must-see dramas, even I didn’t love it. I feel very nostalgic about this show, and I think I ultimately enjoyed seeing all of the over-played antics. Honestly, I’m not being sarcastic. (Oh, and who doesn’t love a good student-with-a-crush-on-the-teacher? Probably one of the cutest things in this drama to me)

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Gokusen 2
Genre: Comedy, School
Episodes: 10
Aired: 2005
Watched: 09/07
Quality: 3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Lovability: 3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Starring: Nakama Yukie, Utsui Ken, Kamenashi Kazuya, Akanishi Jin, Hayami Mokomich, Koike Teppei,
Koide Keisuke

Synopsis: Half a year has passed and Shirokin Gakuen has closed down. Yamaguchi Kumiko (Nakama Yukie) finds herself a teacher of a few young kids who don’t really benefit much from her style of teaching. Through some twist of fate, she is offered a job as a teacher in Kurogin Gakuen.

She becomes the teacher of a delinquent 3D class which make her previous students look like angels. In order to protect her job, she must again hide her true identity — the fact that she is the 4th generation of the Oedo Family, a prominent yakuza group.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I don’t know if it was because I was already used to the “formula” by the time I got to this second season, but Gokusen 2 was even better to me than the first. The first was cute, but it seemed like there was more character growth this time around. Hardly any of the school kids from the first Gokusen are in this one; there is a whole new group of misfits. And I digress. They are a cute group. They are very lively and they have lots of issues with each other. So much good material. Something that surprised me about this drama was how the stories so closely followed the first ones… without boring me to death. It was almost (but not quite) like deja vu; there was a sense of familiarity, but everything was new at the same time. It’s very Gokusen-esque (as expected), so if you hated the first you will still probably be annoyed with this one (and the third one too, because undoubtedly it will be a carbon copy of the first two), but I liked it.

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Hana Yori Dango
Genre: Romance
Episodes: 9
Aired: 2005
Watched: 07/07
Quality: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Lovability: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Starring: Inoue Mao, Matsumoto Jun, Oguri Shun, Matsuda Shota, Abe Tsuyoshi

Synopsis: Makino Tsukushi is the only poor student at Eitoku Gakuen, the school of the ridiculously rich and privileged that is ruled by Flower 4 or F4, a group of four boys who come from extremely powerful families: Domyoji Tsukasa, the leader and heir of the Domyoji World Finance Group; Hanazawa Rui, the introverted son of a large company; Nishikado Sojiro, a player who is the heir of a tea ceremony school; and Mimasaka Akira, a madam killer with ties to the underground. If a student gets on the F4’s bad side, he/she gets a red notice and is bullied and driven out of school.

Makino hopes to pass her days quietly– without drawing any attention to herself– but one day, she stands up to Domyoji in defense of her friend. The next day, Makino gets the dreaded red notice. Even though she is harassed, Makino decides to keep going to school because she is a “tough weed”. She declares war right back on the F4. Her resolve gets the attention of her crush Hanazawa Rui and oddly enough, rouses romantic feelings in her worst enemy, Domyoji Tsukasa.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Hana Yori Dango is a must-see in my opinion. The story isn’t perfect; in fact, if this was based on real events, I would be horrified. But it stands that this is absolute fiction, so everything that passes is fine in my book. There is a distinctly anime feel about this drama, which some may or may not like. I liked it. It’s both wild and touching, something I feel you can normally find only in the world of animation. The acting was superb in my opinion; in fact, I have been chasing after the subsequent dramas of all these actors simply because they won me over. The characters are crazy and wonderful. I found Makino is a great character because she deviates from that common-drama weak, flighty, “innocent” female we see just everywhere. The F4 are amazing. Doumyouji is a butthead. But you get to love him. Hanazawa Rui is a freaking prince. All of them are wonderful, even though they are generally pretty despicable in the beginning. I honestly fell in love with this show, so I have a hard time seeing its faults. However, I have heard that a lot of people disagree with certain elements in this show. To me, it’s something to look past because it IS fiction. I really recommend this show, even if you are wary. It’s very fast-paced and addicting, and you’ll regret it if you never try it. Believe me.

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Hana Yori Dango 2
Genre: Romance
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2007
Watched: 07/07
Quality: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Inoue Mao, Matsumoto Jun, Oguri Shun, Matsuda Shota, Abe Tsuyoshi
(also: Ikuta Toma, Toda Erika)

Synopsis: This second season of Hana Yori Dango picks up right after Domyoji leaves for New York. After confessing to Domyoji, Makino has not spoken to him for a year. Rui and the other members of F4 try and help Makino meet Domyoji again by going to New York for the Christmas holidays. Though F4 and Makino meet Domyoji again, he has become a completely different person, and so they leave for Japan.

Some time later, Domyoji’s mother announces that they will be returning to Japan. There, they hold a giant super-rich and classy birthday party for Domyoji and announce something very important. Domyoji, like in the first season, is engaged to a rich girl and heir. The only difference is that they are to be wed soon. What will Makino do?

On the side, Rui begins to fall in love with Makino… will this become a love… square?

DramaWiki

Opinion: If you didn’t adore the first Hana Yori Dango, you will probably have even more issues with the second one. But since I loved the first, I loved the second doubly. They turn up the drama about twenty notches, but I am a cheese-cake, so I obviously ate it all up. I have to admit some of the ploys they could be lame, irritating, or both. I just felt like this second season was full of emotional turmoil, character growth, and even a little “oh my gosh, did they actually just make that cheesy plotline work?” And I love that stuff. As second seasons go, this one really won my heart just as much as the first, so I consequently recommend it to anyone who can relate. Even if you don’t want to watch this, download the songs, by golly. It made me fall in love with Utada Hikaru.

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Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
Genre: High school, romance, comedy
Episodes: 12
Aired: 2007
Watched: 09-10/07
Quality: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, Ikuta Toma, and many others

Synopsis: The drama is based on the popular manga of the same name by Nakajo Hisaya, which has already been dramatized in Taiwan. Horikita plays the protagonist Ashiya Mizuki, a Japanese girl in the U.S. who one day sees the young athlete Sano Izumi (Oguri) compete in the high jump on television. She begins to idolize him, and decides to move to Japan to attend the same school as him. However, Izumi goes to an all-boys school, so Mizuki disguises herself as a boy to achieve her dream of being with her idol

DramaWiki

Opinion: This show was really well done. I just was. From top to bottom. There was a fantastic balance between crazy and serious. I think some shows try to achieve that but miss the mark, sometimes being so silly that they are unbelievable, or so serious that you’re needlessly weighted down. Hanazakari no Kimitachi e had a great quality to it that reached beyond aesthetics (though it was definitely aesthetically pleasing!). I think all of the actors of this show simply blew MINDS; they blew my mind despite the fact that I had seen most of their exemplary talents before in previous dramas. I especially liked the acting of Horikita Maki. For a girl to play a boy so well… well, a girl pretending to be a boy. I did think it was a bit of a stretch that no one suspected her of being a girl because everything about her is so darn feminine, but she played the part so well that you really didn’t care. I felt that Ikuta Toma as Nakatsu was amazing. I kind of want to see everything he’s in now. I don’t even know if I need to mention how much I liked Oguri Shun’s performance as Sano. I frickin’ love this guy. The whole cast was really and truly phenomenal.
As for the story, WOW. I was a bit apprehensive before I started it. I have to admit it. The plot sounds a bit unbelievable really. However, it really worked out well and rendered me into a pile of “omg I love this so much” way too often. A+!
I would like to add that I think this drama has one of the prettiest/awesomest soundtracks ever. Sometimes the background music of shows can be really bland and they don’t seem very well thought-out, but this soundtrack has a range of musical pieces that are either fun or gorgeous or BOTH. It’s interesting. I am also a fan of both the opening theme by Orange Range (“Ikenai Taiyou”) and the ending theme by Otsuka Ai (“Peach”). Love them.

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Honey and Clover or “Hachimitsu to Clover/Kuroba”
Genre: Romance, friendship
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2008
Watched: 01-04/08
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability: 3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Starring: Narumi Riko, Ikuta Toma, Harada Natsuki, Mukai Osamu, Narimiya Hiroki, Kashiwabara Takashi
Honey and CloverHoney and Clover Honey and Clover Honey and Clover

Synopsis: Honey and Clover follows the lives of five college students and their love triangles.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Warning: HUGE review ahead.

I have rather strong feelings about this show because I watched the anime awhile ago and I loved it. Great anime. Even though I tried to rid myself of expectations for the drama, they were there anyway. If you have watched the anime, the drama with never compare. Sorry, it’s the cold, hard truth. I have seen too many lovers of the anime bash the drama to smithereens (and I rarely use that word).

But, being the determined person I am, with the ability to lower my standards… I loved this drama lol. It took me some time, because I found the first four episodes to be rather slow and the fact that they deviated from the original story so much was frustrating. However, I persevered and was so happy with the end. I don’t want the opinions of others to taint this; I have seen so many people call the drama cheesy, pathetic, etc. It’s not! The producers had to condense it, and they tried their best to translate it into live action. Maybe it’s not the kind of show that can be put into 11 short episodes. I personally think the story is too big for such a miniscule amount of time.

To go into the actual show (trying my best to see it objectively), the story is slow but it’s good. I think it takes a bit of time for the actors to fully get into their characters, which is hard, but if you can last… they are amazing at the end. Because the Honey and Clover story is rather complex, it was necessary for the drama to water things down slightly, and rush plot lines. I think it made it a little harder to get into, but I have to tell you that I was really into the last half of the drama (even though I knew what was going to happen).

Honey and Clover just has a great feeling to it. There is nothing like watching characters grow into who they need to become. I think young people (and even not-young people) struggle a lot with the fact that they need to make firm decisions, decide on which path to take, be courageous in all matters of life, and know when to to move forward or hold back. These things all show up in this drama, and that is something that will always make me love it.

Romance is pushed a little more in the drama, but in this case I was able to swallow it. It was okay. They smoothed out a lot of the rough patches of romance in the anime (probably due to time constraints), so it works out rather well. And need I say the sets and cinematography both equal amazing? And the soundtrack? They are right on par with the anime, in my opinion.

I guess I can’t easily separate my opinion of the anime from the drama, but I don’t know if that’s entirely bad. I felt that the drama did do a good job portraying the heart of the anime. Maybe a sliver of the soul was gone (especially with humor reduced to almost nothing), but it was okay without it. I don’t know why people expect adaptions to be so perfect. I thought it was worth my time.

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Kimi wa Petto or “You’re my Pet”
Episodes: 10
Aired: 2003
Watched: 09/07
Quality: 3/53/53/5
Lovability: 4/54/54/54/5
Starring: Koyuki, Matsumoto Jun, Tanabe Seiichi, Suzuki Sarina, Eita

Synopsis: After a terrible day at work and a bad break up, Iwaya Sumire played by Koyuki returns home sad, depressed, and most of all lonely. However, at the front of the apartment she finds an unconscious young man lying in a cardboard box. Feeling sorry for him, she takes him into her home and nurses him back to health. As the young man, played by Matsumoto Jun, gets better he begins to like her place and resolves not to leave her. In fact, he even professes that he’ll do anything she wanted if she allowed him to stay. Sumire looks over at a picture of the golden retriever that she had when she was a child and jokingly says to him, “You can stay if you become my pet.”

To her surprise, he agrees. She names him Momo.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Kimi wa Petto was a strangling, but it was very cute. The plot even sounds weird, and it definitely is in reality. But the idea is that Iwaya keeps looking for love when what she really needs is a deep friendship. She seems to struggle in human relationships, so when Momo comes into her life as a “dog,” she really can accept him as such. I think Momo needs the same kind of love as Iwaya, so the strange relationship winds up working. Trouble comes into to play often times because “Momo” is not a dog. He has human emotions no matter what they try to pretend. Things become even more complicated when their loves starts becoming redefined… Great drama though. It’s such a wild concept to me, but it’s done quite well. Very heartfelt. If you can get past the “weirdness,” I have a feeling you’ll like it. Extra props to this show for keeping me guessing about how it was going to end.

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Kurosagi
Genre: Action, crime investigation, romance
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2006
Watched: 11/07
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability:2.5/52.5/52.5/5
Starring: Yamashita Tomohisa, Horikita Maki, Ichikawa Yui, Kato Koji, Yamazaki Tsutomu

Synopsis: Yamashita Tomohisa plays Kurosaki, a young man whose family was destroyed by swindlers. Despite that, Kurosaki grows up to become a con artist known as Kurosagi. As Kurosagi, he swindles other con artists and returns the money to the original victim. He works with the master swindler Katsuragi Toshio (Yamazaki Tsutomu) even though Toshio had a hand in the destruction of Kurosaki’s family.

Kurosaki’s life begins to change when he meets Yoshikawa Tsurara (Horikita Maki), a young law student who disapproves of his disrespect of the law. Can she persuade Kurosaki to give up swindling and his quest for revenge?

DramaWiki

Opinion: Kurosagi seemed a little incomplete to me. Aside from the extremely open-ending of this drama, it was really quite enjoyable. It’s kind of a wannabe romance, because romance is there but it never comes to maturity. Spoiler? Who cares, romance isn’t even a strong element anyway. Even though there are other characters in the show, Kurosagi is the main focus. There is always something wonderful about the fictional con man I keep seeing in J-dramas: young, handsome, jaded. DO PEOPLE LIKE THIS REALLY EXIST? He is definitely a Robin-hood figure, though he may be a little more selfish in his pursuits. I really feel Horikita Maki’s character only serves as a balance for Kurosagi. She is an upright law student with a hatred for any kind of conning. But of course… Kurosagi sparks her interest, and she pesters him so often that I think he starts seeing his “business” in a new light. There is a new con each story, so it does feel a little formulaic, but it’s not too bad. It’s very fast paced; I felt at times it was hard to understand what was going on. However, it’s very intriguing, and there is nothing better than watching Yamashita Tomohisa dress up as a million different characters in one show. Enjoyable watch overall, but it really feels like it’s missing something.

Amendment: Before I saw the Kurosagi movie, I had hopes that it would explain something about the drama. After I saw the Kurosagi movie, I felt bewildered about the entire series. I guess I could say both the drama and the movie have entertainment value, but it’s not enough to satisfy someone like me, who needs questions answered. I recommend spending your time on something less disappointing, to be honest. I can’t say watching it was a total waste, but…

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LIAR GAME
Genre: Psychological thriller
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2007
Watched: 01/08
Quality: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Toda Erika, Matsuda Shota, and many others

Synopsis: Based on the manga series of the same name, Toda Erika plays an honest college student, Kanzaki Nao, who receives a hundred million yen one day, along with a card saying she has been chosen to take part in the “Liar Game”. The aim of the game is to trick the other players out of their hundred million dollars. At the end, the winner gets the hundred million and the loser is a hundred million yen in debt. The next day, she receives notification that her opponent is her former teacher, Fujisawa Kazuo. She goes to him, seeking help, but ends up getting tricked into handing her money over. Desperate, she approaches the police for help, but they are unable to do anything. However, she is told of a mastermind swindler, Akiyama Shinichi, who is to be released from jail the next day. Desperate, she goes to him for help.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I planned to watch LIAR GAME at a nice, even pace. But you know what they say about the best laid plans! I actually finished this one in about twenty-four hours (despite school!). Mmm… what’s so good about it? Well, I found it absolutely great that it wasn’t your usual: a) sappy love story, or b) mystery-per-episode snooze. I felt like every episode was intriguing, and I always felt surprised when one would end. I could go on and on about the cinematography, clothing, sets, and what have you. From beginning to end, it was drop-dead gorgeous to watch. I really loved the music as well; it was distinct enough to capture my attention, but at the same time, it didn’t overpower the show. DSFKLdslfj. I can only smash keys. You won’t find any clearly defined romance, but I think any one seeking a little won’t be disappointed. I have to admit that it isn’t perfect. The main character (Nao) is very honest, trusting, and “pure,” but I think it this is ultimately used as a metaphor for something else. Her personality is vital to the story though, so I never minded (but some might). In my best attempt to explain what I really feel about this show: It was really worthwhile; I enjoyed every aspect (story, aesthetics, etc.), and felt it was a refreshingly interesting drama. RECOMMENDED!!!

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Love Shuffle
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 10
Aired: 2009
Watched: 06/09
Quality: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Tamaki Hiroshi, Karina, Matsuda Shota, DAIGO, Yoshitaka Yuriko, Kojima Hijiri, Kanjiya Shihori, Tanihara Shosuke
J-drama: Love Shuffle J-drama: Love Shuffle J-drama: Love Shuffle J-drama: Love Shuffle

Synopsis: Usami Kei is a salaryman who has risen in status due to his engagement with Mei, the wealthy daughter of his company’s president. Shortly after she breaks off the engagement, a power failure leaves him stuck in the elevator of his apartment building. Trapped with him are three others living on the same floor – Airu, a trilingual interpreter, Ojiro, a model photographer, and Masato, a psychiatrist. While waiting, their conversation hits upon their love lives and the question of whether there is truly only one fated partner for everyone. As a result, they decide to try “shuffling” their relationships with each other.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I got a ton of recommendations for this drama, and when I found out who was cast in it… well, I pretty much had to watch it. I love Tamaki Hiroshi and Matsuda Shota exponential amounts. Now that I’m done, I can safely say that everyone else who acted in this drama is just as worthy of my love.

Love Shuffle isn’t the kind of drama that will take over your life, but you’ll probably be thinking about it all the time when you’re not watching it. It’s different from most dramas somehow… It has a pace that is both fast and slow, and is usually witty and laugh-out-loud funny. Honestly, there were a few scenes that had me (later) audibly laughing to myself while like, making a sandwich. On top of all this funniness, there are a lot of issues brought up that make you think about real-life perceptions and misconceptions. Furthermore, there is a touch of mystery underlying everything, which takes it from being only a cute and amusing drama to something deeper and more intriguing.

As much as I loved the drama, I can see some people not liking it. I can’t even put my finger on why. I don’t have any real complaints about it for myself, but I guess it could be perceived as slightly boring if you don’t fall for the characters early on. Although, when it comes to the characters, I found them to be so incredibly lovable. It was also really fun to have the huge romance theme without it being too mushy and emotional. Additionally, I felt it wasn’t clear who would end up with who; this is one of my favorite things, because unpredictability is so much fun.

All I have left to say is… yay panda!

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Nobuta wo Produce
Genre: School drama
Episodes: 10
Aired: 2005
Watched: 08/07
Quality: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Lovability: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Starring: Kamenashi Kazuya, Yamashita Tomohisa, Horikita Maki, Toda Erika

Synopsis: Kiritani Shuji is the popular guy who gets along with everyone, from the jerks to the nerds to the just plain weird. The one person Shuji cannot stand is Kusano Akira. To Shuji, Akira is just plain annoying. He laughs, talks and acts funny. Things heat up when a new student comes to school. Her name is Kotani Nobuko, a girl who has no self confidence at all and is content at being made fun of and bullied in school. Shuji and Akira come to an accord that in order to make use of their “youth” they will “produce” Nobuko as the next popular girl. One of the conditions, however, is that nobody should find out that they are working together as a team to make this concept possible. Unveiled here is the story of true friendship between three unlikely candidates who would not have been friends if not given the special circumstances.

DramaWiki

Opinion: This show is one you cannot miss. It is one of the most touching, wonderful stories in the J-drama realm. I ate this gem up in just two days. It isn’t quite a romance, even though they don’t leave that element out. It’s a drama that is mostly about friendship, something that can never be looked at enough. Kiritani Shuji is the guy with it “all.” He has extreme popularity. But he hates it. Kusano Akira is a very weird guy that can’t seem to make any friends, even though he gives the impression that he doesn’t notice or care. Kotani Nobuko is a new girl in school that doesn’t have an ounce of self-confidence, and no friends at all. So essentially, none of them have any friends. They come together under the pretense of “producing” Kotani, making her a popular girl, but they wind up forming close bonds. I don’t think any of them really knew what they were missing until they met each other. All of their personality “issues” bring trouble to the group, but it also brings growth to each character. I can’t tell you how much I love this drama. It’s one that I think of and just feel happy. You really should watch it.

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Nodame Cantabile
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Episodes: 11 + 2 SP
Aired: 2006
Watched: 06/07
Quality: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Ueno Juri, Tamaki Hiroshi, Eita, Koide Keisuke, Mizukawa Asami, and many others

Synopsis: Based on the hit comic book by Tomoko Ninomiya, this is a fun-filled quirky romantic story of two very opposite people.

Megumi Noda, or “Nodame” is a piano student at Momogaoka College of Music. An extremely talented pianist who wants to be a kindergarten teacher, she prefers playing by ear rather than reading the music score. She is messy and disorganized, takes baths several days apart and loves to eat, sometimes stealing her friend’s lunchbox when it is filled with delicacies.

Shinichi Chiaki, is Momogaoka’s top student. Born into a musical family, he is talented in piano and violin and has secret ambitions to become a conductor. An arrogant multi-lingual perfectionist who once lived abroad in the music capitals of the world as a young boy, he feels mired in Japan because of a childhood phobia.

They meet by accident. Nodame quickly falls in love, but it takes much longer for Chiaki to even begin to appreciate Nodame’s unusual qualities. Their relationship causes them both to develop and grow. Because of Nodame, Chiaki transfers into the Conductor Division, leads a student orchestra and begins to have a broader appreciation of people’s musical abilities. Because of Chiaki, Nodame faces her fears and enters a piano competition. Opportunities open up as both begin taking risks, stretching themselves far more than they ever thought possible.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Nodame Cantabile is live-action anime in the truest sense of the word. I have actually seen most of the anime, and I think the drama out anime-es the anime. This show definitely ranks as one of the absolute funniest I have ever had the pleasure of watching. There are so many moment of hilarity, I cannot even begin to describe them to you. At the same time, there are just as many serious moments, moments that are very human and relatable. The balance between these two elements is perfect. In a similar sense, the main characters, Nodame and Chiaki do the same for each other. Nodame is crazy, rather ditzy, but full of heart. Chiaki is intelligent, extremely cocky, and doesn’t relate to people well. The two of them together make such a perfect duo, really. Still, the main focus of this drama didn’t really seems like romance to me. It’s about growing-up, finding your own path, overcoming your struggles. It’s so gorgeous in every aspect. The music is beautiful, the cinematography is amazing, the acting is freaking amazing. I love this drama so much. It was actually the first show that I rewatched. I so recommend it.

Ah, and the specials? You cannot skip them. They are to die for. Absolute extensions of the drama. They complete it and… are wonderful.

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Ohitorisama
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 10
Aired: 2009
Watched: 10/09-01/10
Quality: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Lovability: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Starring: Mizuki Alisa, Koike Teppei, Matsushita Nao, Tachibana Keita (w-inds.), Maya Miki
Images coming soon.

Synopsis: Akiyama Satori is a strong, confident woman in her thirties who loves being single. According to her, she could be married, she could keep a clean house, and she could have friends over–if she wanted to… But she doesn’t. She is happy with her life, and she is especially happy with her job as a teacher of Japanese history at an all-girls school. Things get interesting when the school has a need for a substitute teacher, and twenty-three year-old Kamisaka Shinichi takes the job as simply a way to earn some money. The other female teachers (as well as the students) are thrilled to have a young guy in their midst, but Akiyama struggles with the bumbling, half-heartedness of Kamisaka. The principal seems to have a special interest in Kamisaka, and asks Akiyama to be his mentor. Their relationship is a pretty rough one, as Akiyama is strict and demanding,and Kamisaka is a timid person who has hardly gotten out of the student mindset himself. However, certain events take place and the two characters begin to sympathize with each other little by little and learn some new things along the way.

Also see the DramaWiki for more information. This synopsis is by me.

Opinion: The thing that got me interested in this drama was Big Bang’s song, “Ko Wo Kikasete.” This song is the opening for Ohitorisama and it’s honestly one of Big Bang’s best Japanese releases to date. But I digress! I loved the song so much that I got curious about the drama, and even though it seemed kind of boring I wanted to give it a shot. By the end of the first episode I was HOOKED. Although Ohitorisama seems like your run-of-the-mill school drama, it is a little more than that. The character of Akiyama is amazing; she is flawed, but she is so lovable. Kamisaka tends to be a little annoying, but you can’t help but adore him at the end of the day. I was very happy with most of the series, and only felt disappointed in the last episode or so. If this drama had a few more episodes I believe things would have ended less sillily/cliche-ly/awkwardly. I honestly could have stopped a few minutes before the end of episode 9 and been happy as a clam (and I might even recommend it)! However, episode 10 was tolerable and the way they finally wrapped things up was acceptable. When it comes right down to it, I simply loved this drama and looked forward to every episode as it came out. The characters were mostly believable, the story-lines weren’t too over-done, and the chemistry was good.

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Papa to Musume no Nanokakan
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 7
Aired: 2007
Watched: 05/10
Quality: 3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Lovability: 3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Starring: Tachi Hiroshi, Aragaki Yui, Kato Shigeaki, Morita Ayaka
Images coming soon.

Synopsis: This home comedy tells the story of Kyoichiro (Tachi Hiroshi) and his teenage daughter Koume (Aragaki Yui). One day, the two ride a train together after visiting Kyoichiro’s mother-in-law. He sees it as a chance to get to know his daughter better, but he ends up getting more than that – by some mysterious force, both Kyoichiro and Koume end up with their mind in the other’s body! Unfortunately, they have no choice but to swap lives, pretending to be each other at school and work.

DramaWiki

Opinion: Coming soon.

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Pride
Genre: Sports, human drama
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2004
Watched: 01-07/10
Quality: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Kimura Takuya, Takeuchi Yuko, Sakaguchi Kenji, Ichikawa Somegoro

Synopsis: Halu (Kimura Takuya) is the captain and star player of an ice hockey team, who is greatly respected by his teammates. For him, hockey is serious business that fully occupies his mind, while he treats romance as if it were a game.
Aki (Takeuchi Yuko) is a typical OL (office lady), and is waiting for her boyfriend to return from studying architecture abroad. At this point in time however, he shows no sign of coming back. One day, Aki’s friends who are determined to find her a new boyfriend, invite her to watch an ice hockey game. There she sees Halu for the first time.
After the game, Aki and her friends join the players for a party celebrating their victory. Aki, however, is not so excited to be there. When she leaves the party, she bumps into Halu, who was slightly injured from a fight. They exchange e-mail addresses and part.
The sparks of mutual attraction are ignited in a second encounter between Aki and Halu, arranged with the help of her friends shortly after a party…
DramaWiki

Opinion: A lot of people recommended Pride to me as a “must-watch” drama. Even if you don’t like sports (I don’t), fear not! This show won’t bore you to death. Hockey is an important part of the drama, but everything flows easily in and around it. I actually liked the hockey scenes because they provided so many great things for the plot. Anddd the plot is amazing. The characters are amazing…

I can now say I know why Kimura Takuya is so famous: he’s the best! He is an incredible actor and adorable to boot. I already knew Takeuchi Yuko was a fantastic actress from seeing her in other things, so I was delighted to watch her again. These two actors have amazing chemistry together, which is is something I find so important (as most people probably do). I wasn’t disappointed in the least by Pride‘s casting choices. Everyone was wonderful, which made the drama all the better. But guh, the main couple had my heart. Even the way they looked at each other was enough to make me happy forever.

I took a long break on this drama, but the reason is really pathetic. About halfway through things made me so happy. I knew there had to be trouble ahead so my course of action was avoidance. I really shouldn’t have done that because the drama doesn’t ever dip in quality. Sure, the viewers emotions are put on an insane roller coaster, but it’s worth it.

If you haven’t seen Pride yet, I strongly recommend you do. There is something almost perfect about it (episode six might just kill you–in a good way). No characters ever fart unicorns and no episode has rainbow explosions, but it leaves you feeling so good. I even cried a few times (it’s that kind of drama–in a good way). Loved this so much!

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Orange Days
Genre: Romance
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2004
Watched: 09/08
Quality: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Lovability: 5/55/55/55/55/5
Starring: Tsumabuki Satoshi, Shibasaki Kou, Narimiya Hiroki, Shiraishi Miho, Eita
Orange Days Orange Days Orange Days Orange Days

Synopsis: Kai Yuuki (Tsumabuki Satoshi) is in his senior year at university studying social welfare psychology. At present, he is in the middle of job-hunting season. He is finding it difficult with no job offers so far. One day, he meets a girl who is playing violin in the campus. She is Sae Hagio (Shibasaki Kou). In marked contrast to her beautiful tone and attractive looks, her personality is somewhat impertinent. And to top it off, she communicates through very vulgar sign language. Four years ago, she lost the most important thing for a violinist – her hearing. As a result Sae closed off her inner self from the outside world. Kai finds himself on a date with Sae, in place of his best friend. Unexpectedly, he comes into contact with Sae’s private side. Love, job-hunting, friendship… Setting a campus in spring as a dorama’s backdrop, it’s the start of a glittering youth drama.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I feel like Orange Days was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time. WOW. Every episode is extremely poignant–every moment. And I can say that with complete earnestness. I actually feel pretty sad right now that I am finished with it. But I’m incredibly satisfied with the end. If I had to describe this drama with just three adjectives, I’d say: beautiful, bittersweet, and touching.
I downloaded this drama after I saw Narimiya Hiroki in Gokusen, which was a year before I started watching it; I guess the synopsis didn’t grab me enough. I even watched half of the first episode at some point, but just didn’t find it very interesting. As soon as I got past the halfway point of that episode (forever later), I started kicking myself for not watching it sooner. By episode two, I was head over heels in love with Orange Days.

So what makes this show so good? I have come to realize that good acting is very important to me. And Orange Days… oh my gosh. The acting is amazing. First of all, nearly every character uses sign language at some point or another. I think the fact that they have to talk in sign language so much makes a huge impact. It’s like talking with your whole body, which heightens every emotion. To skillfully use sign language requires some expert acting, in my opinion. But even aside from the sign language aspect, there are so many subtle acting choices that made the characters come alive. I love that. And the actual characters were completely human; likable, but never perfect.

It’s also important to note that every episode felt fresh, yet continuous. It was one, consistent series, but never got old or boring. The issues the characters dealt with never felt trite or outrageous. I’m a sap for growing-up kind of themes, and Orange Days never hesitated giving me what I wanted. But… you know what? None of the subjects felt like beaten horses by the end. There were no, “Oh brother, this again?” moments.

It’s really hard for me to properly explain how much I liked this drama. I think there was a moment in which I had to take a deep breath because it wasn’t turning out to be a fairy-tale, but I was almost grateful for that. Even though Orange Days employed some drama cliches, it wasn’t enough to make me change my opinion of it. I really really really really really recommend this. It might be a little slow for action lovers, but it has the kind of story that makes you look at life differently. In a good way. And I am grateful for that. I know this is long enough as it is, but I thought I would add that people who like shows/stories like Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover might be interested in this. There’s less comedy, but the essence is the same.

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Proposal Daisakusen
Episodes: 11 + SP
Aired: 2007
Watched: 08/07
Quality: 3/53/53/5
Lovability:2/52/5
Starring: Yamashita Tomohisa, Nagasawa Masami, Fujiki Naohito, Eikura Nana, Hiraoka Yuta, Hamada Gaku

Synopsis: Yamashita Tomohisa and Nagasawa Masami play a young man and woman who have been friends since elementary school. Yamashita’s character, Iwase Ken, is obstinate and unskilled in love, but he fell long ago for the lively and cheerful woman, Yoshida Rei, played by Nagasawa. But Rei is about to get married to another man. While Ken and other friends from high-school attend the wedding ceremony, a fairy appears and sends Ken back in time, giving him a second chance to win the girl he loves.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I didn’t really like Proposal Daisakusen… the drama. Whenever there is a definite “wrap-up” feeling at the end of every episode, the show is already at a disadvantage in my book. I just felt there was a lot of potential for this show because the plot sounds so intriguing, but there were a lot of disappointing elements as well. I did appreciate one particular aspect of this show, however: I enjoyed the way they explored regrets, and showed that even if you could go back and change all that you disliked about your life, you would still have regrets. The fact that Ken got to revisit all his “worst” moments was one of the coolest things to me. Don’t we all have “what-ifs”? So, props for that.

However, watching the special for this show changed my mind considerably. If I was to re-rate this show after seeing the special, I would give it… three and a half hearts? It was really cute. I still stand by my original rating of the drama, but I have to mention that the special makes all the difference. It doesn’t take away what the drama already establishes, but my opinion of it has raised to the point of “like,” which is great. The acting is better in the special, the story is wrapped up in a fantastic way, and there is finality. If you intend to watch the special directly after the drama, then I wouldn’t stop you from trying this one out.

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Stand Up!!
Genre: Love, human drama
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2003
Watched: 03/08
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability:4/54/54/54/5
Starring: Ninomiya Kazunari, Yamashita Tomohisa, Suzuki Anne, Narimiya Hiroki, Oguri Shun

Synopsis: Four schoolboys find themselves the last virgins left at school. During the summer holidays, a girl they knew as children 11 years ago, moves back to the neighborhood. Despite their childhood attraction to her, they realize she is a mere shadow of the “princess” they all thought they knew. This story of summer – love, friendship, school, family, the hypocrisy of adults, complications of life, experience and failure is set in an everyday shopping district and shows the clumsiness of children who have developed a little later than their peers. It’s a bright romantic comedy that both young and old can appreciate

DramaWiki

Opinion: One of the main themes of Stand Up!! is… well, sex. Not that anything is ever shown, but it’s really the core of the show. Most of the show focuses on the four small-town(ish) seventeen-year-old boys struggling with the fact that they are the only virgins around. The idea is rather far-fetched, but it brings up a lot of different scenarios (sometimes funny, sometimes awkward, sometimes touching). I think one really interesting thing about Stand Up!! is definitely the fact that they take on such a big subject, view it from the standpoint of teenage boys (and girl!), and reap lessons from it. What is love? Why is sex so taboo? Throughout the show there is a mad-rush to “grow-up,” and I think many of the characters learn that there really isn’t a need to rush. For the characters in Stand Up!!, I feel the gift of friendship is realized, the importance of love becomes clearer, and the subject of “friendship vs. romance” is explored. If you think it’s just a show about horny boys, please think again. I thought it might be like that, but I’m glad to stand corrected. Stand Up!! looks at SEX, which really is everywhere (you can’t ignore it, really), and examines the ideas surrounding it under a light. I found that part of it to be quite redeeming of all the “horny boy” moments (and there are lots of them). Quite watchable.

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Yamada Taro Monogatari
Genre: Comedy
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2007
Watched: 12/07-01/08
Quality: 4/54/54/54/5
Lovability:3.5/53.5/53.5/53.5/5
Starring: Ninomiya Kazunari, Sakurai Sho, Tabe Mikako, Oshinari Shugo, Otsuka Chihiro, Fukiishi Kazue,
Yoshizawa Hisashi

Synopsis: Arashi members Ninomiya Kazunari and Sakurai Sho star in this comedy series based on “Yamada Taro Monogatari” by mangaka Ai Morinaga. Ninomiya plays the title character, Taro Yamada, whose family lives in extreme poverty. But because of his looks, intelligence, and athleticism, others mistakenly believe that Taro comes from a prosperous family. In contrast, Sakurai plays Taro’s best friend Takuya, who really is from a successful family and who often helps out Taro in various ways.

DramaWiki

Opinion: I swear Ninomiya Kazunari never ages. He one wicked awesome actor though; he completely carries the show. Unfortunately, I found many of the other actors to be rather weak. The story, however, was still cute enough to overcome the faults of the cast. It’s your classic resolution-per-episode style, which I tend to dislike. Whatever, the show was very heartwarming and adorable. I think one of the main “morals” of this story is that money can’t buy happiness. Yamada Taro is one of the most cheerful, happy guys ever even though his family is living in some serious poverty. The other characters either HAVE wealth or desperately want it, and I think by the end of the story everyone knows that love is more precious than any sort of comfort financial stability brings. And gosh, the kids in this show are the cutest in the universe. No lies. You should watch for them, if for nothing else. It might not be the best drama out there, but it was full of good qualities, and a really fun watch. The main girl never completely won me over, but she was pretty good. There was just so much funny all over this drama. I cannot tell you how many laugh-out-loud moments I had while watching it. Veeery adorable, so please watch if you can, babes.

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Zettai Kareshi or “Absolute Boyfriend”
Genre: Romance, comedy
Episodes: 11
Aired: 2008
Watched: 08/08
Quality: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Lovability: 4.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/54.5/5
Starring: Hayami Mokomichi, Mizushima Hiro, Aibu Saki, Ueno Natsuhi, Satoi Kenta, Sasaki Kuranosuke, Maya Miki
Zettai Kareshi/Absolute Boyfriend Zettai Kareshi/Absolute Boyfriend Zettai Kareshi/Absolute Boyfriend Zettai Kareshi/Absolute Boyfriend

Synopsis: Robot maker, Kronos Heaven, finally develops “Night Tenjo”, the perfect male humanoid programmed to be devoted and completely loyal to his lover. The company chooses temp worker Izawa Riko to take part in a 5-day free trial. At first, Riko only sees Night as a household appliance. But when she finds out how deep Night’s devotion to herself is, Riko finds herself falling in love with him. Joining the love triangle is Asamoto Soshi, a distinguished young executive at her company who has feelings for her.

DramaWiki

Opinion: This is the first drama in a while to actually leave me crying! I loved Zettai Kareshi to absolute pieces, so I guess it’s not that surprising. I’ve heard a lot of people had issues with it (and many didn’t finish the series), but I’d value it as something worth sticking with. I didn’t have any expectations for this drama, although I was hoping for something light-hearted and fun. I would definitely say that Zettai Kareshi could be like that, but it’s also one of those shows that surprises you with the stuff it makes you think about.

I thought Hayami Mokomichi did an amazing job as Night/Nighto. I love how he seemed like such a robot, and it was intentional. If you haven’t seen him anything else, I can tell you that he’s not always like that lol. Actually, I liked the whole cast pretty well. Aibu Saki was very likable in my opinion, and her character Riiko reminded me a little bit of a more down-to-earth Nodame of Nodame Cantabile. It could have been the hair, though… lol. It was also great to see Mizushima Hiro in a more front in center performance (last thing I saw him in was Hanazakari no Kimitachi e), and I think he made a good Soshi.

I started it on vacation, and finished it within two or three days. I would recommend watching it in a short period of time for the full effect; I think it would be easy to lose interest if you blink. The plot is probably as crazy and laugh-enducing as it sounds, if not more. Still, there are a lot of (what I would consider) minor annoyances that might make you forget the general goodness of the show if you aren’t careful. I think what I loved most about this drama was watching the characters grow and learn; I know that sounds lame, but if you watch, I have a feeling you’ll know what I’m talking about. I think I’m the only one who was left guessing about the end (which I wasn’t disappointed in), but I appreciated even that. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it as much as I did, but I would beg you to give it a chance and try to stick with it.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    July 20, 2009 1:25 am

    this movies look wonderful =)

  2. Kenji permalink
    January 3, 2010 8:46 am

    Hi, I stumbled upon your site while I was looking for dramas to watch, I think you should try watching Hotaru no Hikari. Its a great show, check it out if you can.

  3. January 3, 2010 2:33 pm

    Okay thanks!

  4. nasyirah permalink
    August 4, 2010 1:14 am

    Hey, I recommend you to watch Bloody Monday and Code Blue and Kurosagi and Buzzer Beat.
    To me, these dramas are wonderful. (:
    Happy watching, if u have the time.

  5. venetta permalink
    October 5, 2010 12:19 am

    Your blog was in one of the must-read blog list from another blog that I was following. I like this page especially because lately there are not many J-Dramas reviews (a good one) blog that I could find. I’m into K-Pop but not really the dramas cause I find them to be a little too draggy. I recommend you to watch dramas that Yamada Takayuki acted in like Midnight Sun Journey, he’s a great actor!

  6. December 1, 2010 6:30 am

    of the few dramas that i have seen that you have reviewed, i must say, we seem to have the same taste in dramas. i decided to drop you a message ‘coz it seems that you have not yet seen a drama that i have just watched and reviewed myself. it is a beautiful drama that stars The, Kimutaku, its entitled ENGINE and i recommend that you watch it. regards!

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