Top Japanese Dramas To Watch

Japanese television drama  also called dorama, are a staple of Japanese television and are broadcast daily. All major TV networks in Japan produce a variety of drama series including romance, comedy, detective stories, horror, and many others. Japanese drama series are broadcast in three-month seasons, with new dramas airing each season.

Japan has four television seasons: Winter (January–March), Spring (April–June), Summer (July–September), and Autumn or Fall (October–December). Some series may start in another month though it may still be counted as a series of a specific season. One characteristic of Japanese drama that differentiates it is that each episode is usually shot only a few (two to three) weeks before it is actually aired. Many fans have been able to visit their idols shooting scenes even as the show is still airing.

My love of Japanese drama started slowly,  from a few Korean drama and Taiwanese dramas based on Japanese Manga and based on other drama lover’s recommendations. Many of the Japanese drama are based on Manga and high school based where teacher is trying to make difference to life of students. Some of the Japanese drama are down right funny.


Zenkai Girl:

Devoted to becoming an international lawyer, Ayukawa Wakaba is full of ambition. Her hard work pays off when she lands a job at an international law firm, but to her disappointment, the first prestigious assignment that is given to her is to babysit the boss’ 5 year old daughter, Hinata. Wakaba loathes kids and nursing, but unwillingly takes on the job as she is fixated on wealth and success.

One day when she goes to a preschool to pick up Hinata, she meets a man named Yamada Sota. Sota is a man without higher education, wealth, or a future goal, someone that Wakaba absolutely cannot stand, the complete opposite of her ideals. Once again, contrary to her will, she ends up looking after Hinata and a few other kids along with Sota. Despite being exhausted from all the first-time experiences in child care, Wakaba begins to realize what is truly important to her. A heart-warming comedy about work, relationships and love.

Click here to get and see Zenkai Girl with English subtitle



Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend):

Riiko is a girl unlucky in love. One day a strange-looking salesman gives her a business card for a website that sells “love figures” (androids designed for love-making). On the spur of the moment and without really understanding the implications, Riiko orders one for a 3-day free trial.

She forgets to return him before the deadline, and must then work out some way to return the one million debt she now owes without anyone discovering about this embarrassing secret. Meanwhile, robot boy also develops real feeling of love for Rikko. Love between a Robot and human can be possible? Watch it in Japanese Manga, which will make you root for Robot!

Click here to get Absolute Boyfriend with English Subtitles



Hana Yori Dango

This is a 2005 Japanese TV series based on manga Hana Yori Dango was serialized in Shueisha’s bi-weekly Margaret magazine from October 1992 to September 2003. This manga has been remade in Korean (Boys Over Flowers), Taiwan ( Meteor Garden and Meteor Garden II) , Japan (Hana Yori Dango Retruns 2007) and bad US version ( Boys before Friends). Story is about Makino Tsukushi who is a tough, hard-working, middle-class student at the prestigious escalator school Eitoku Gakuen. The elite school is ruled by the F4 or Flower Four, composed of playboys Nishikado Soujiro and Mimasaka Akira, introverted Hanazawa Rui and violent and bratty Domyouji Tsukasa. The F4, sons of Japan’s wealthiest and most powerful tycoons, bully fellow students out of boredom or malevolence until they are expelled or quit. The courtship between Tsukasa and Tsukushi is the main theme throughout the series. Various challenges threaten their blossoming relationship including Tsukushi’s wavering feelings for Rui, the envy of fellow Eitoku students, an obsessed childhood classmate, their differences in social class, Tsukasa’s brash and possessive nature, and the animosity of Domyouji Kaede, Tsukasa’s mother.

Click here to learn more about Hana Yori Dango


Majo no Jōken:

This drama aired in 1999. It revolves around Michi, a 26 years old high school teacher and 17 years old Hikaru and their love.  As their relationship grows they realize that they both feel that they have lost themselves to the pressures of those around them, and it is this common bond that draws them dangerously close. What follows is a heart-wrenching story of forbidden love where Michi must face society’s judgement for corrupting a minor, abandoning her fiance, and disappointing her parents and co-workers. It was an interesting and forbidden love theme for 1999 time.

Click here for more information on Majo no Jōken


Orange Days:

This 2004 Japanese drama just popped up in search when I was watching another Japanese drama in youtube. When I searched the plot line, it looked interesting so I watched it. Yuuki Kai (Tsumabuki) is a senior at a university studying social welfare psychology and trying to find a job. One day, he encounters a girl, Hagio Sae (Shibasaki), playing the violin, and becomes intrigued. He eventually discovers that she has lost her hearing, and can now only communicate using Japanese Sign Language. Before they reveal what they think about each other, Sae and Kai must overcome a lot of barriers. They both become stronger along the way, finding their goals.

Click here to find out more about Orange Days


Proposal Daisakusen (Operation: Love)

Ken Iwase is at his friend, Rei Yoshida’s, marriage ceremony. However, he still loves her and regrets not having confessed his feelings towards her. A fairy helps him and  lets him travel back in time and try one more time to get Rei’s heart. The lead protagonist of this drama. Ken’s biggest regret is never being able to confess his feelings to his Rei. Rei calls him Ken-Zou as a term of endearment. He was on the baseball team in high school and is currently a salesperson for electronic whiteboards. During Rei’s wedding, he is given the chance to relive key moments of his life by entering into different photos in one of the presentations. He is extremely kind-hearted, even helping Tetsuya Tada knowing that in the future, Tada will be his main rival for Rei’s affection

In each episode, Ken travels to each photo that will appear in the slideshow that Mikio made, so that he can correct his regrets in each photo. Will he be able to change the past? Does time wait for anyone?

Click here to get: Operation: Love With English Subtiles


Hana Kimi:

The drama is based on the popular comic of the same name by Nakajo Hisaya. I had seen the Korean Version of drama called “To Beautiful You” first even though Japanese manga and series came first. So, I had to check out the original version of the drama and I was not disappointed to watch this series with funny moments and made me a fan of Japanese drama.

Horikita plays the protagonist Ashiya Mizuki, a Japanese girl in the United States who one day sees the young athlete Sano Izumi compete in the high jump on television. She begins to idolize him. Sano gets injured one day in America while trying to help Mizuki escape from some gangsters. He stops high jumping ever since. Mizuki blames herself for the incident and decides to go to Japan and help Sano find his love for high jumping.

Click here to get  Hana Kimi with English Subtitles



GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka:

Eikichi Onizuka is in his early twenties, never had girl friend or relationship and ex gang member.One day he meets a girl, who agrees to gi out with him and later to hotel with him. Onizuka fails to sleep with her when her older boyfriend and teacher shows up and she leaps from window to leave with that teacher. Onizuka, upon seeing this display of a teacher’s power over girls, decides to become a teacher himself. While he is earning his teaching degree, he learns he has a conscience and morals so he won’t be able to take an advantage of innocent and impressionable school girls but good looking moms to those schoolgirls are different matters. He enjoys teaching and, most of the time, he teaches life lessons rather than the routine schoolwork.

He sets out to become the greatest teacher ever, using his own brand of philosophy and the ability to do nearly anything when under enough pressure. He is hired as a long-shot teacher by a privately operated school, in Kichijōji, to tame a class. He embarks on a mission of self-discovery by breaking through to each student one-by-one, and helping each student to overcome their problems and learn to genuinely enjoy life.

Click here for more information on Great Teacher Onizuka



Rich Man, Poor Woman:

It is a modern Cinderella Story take between a rich guy and poor girl, a staple for many Asian Drama. Oguri Shun plays Hyuga Toru, an affluent CEO of an IT company whose personality with many flaws. A A woman who meets Toru and eventually becomes attracted to him is Sawaki Chihiro, played by Ishihara Satomi. Chihiro is a hardworking college student at Tokyo University who is looking for a job. Upon meeting Toru, she begins to unravel a genuine pureness inside him and solitude resulting from such pureness, which eventually draws her closer to him. The two repeatedly conflict each other, but little by little learn about one another to grow and develop together.

Click here for more information on Rich Man Poor Woman Japanese Drama


ourandramaOuran High School Host Club:

In the story, high school freshman Haruhi pretends to be a boy so that she can take part in the wealthy school’s Host Club, to which she owes a large debt.

Scholarship student Haruhi Fujioka has made the grade for the super-elite Ouran High School. Looking for a quiet place to study, Haruhi runs into the six member Host Club – filthy rich young men with too much time on their hands who entertain filthy rich young women who also have too much time on their hands. Unfortunately, Haruhi accidentally breaks a very expensive vase they were going to use to raise money – and has to pay it off by joining the club. The catch? Haruhi is a girl. So begins her crossdressing adventures with Tamaki Suoh, the loud and overdramatic fearless leader; Kyoya Ohtori, the calculating veep who’s the most normal of the group; Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, the mischievous, funloving twins whose world is turned upside down when Haruhi becomes the first person who can tell them apart.

Click here to get Ouran High School Host Club

meinchanMei-chan No Shitsuji:

The plot seems like a typical and ordinary story however the drama actually is beautiful and has many comedic scenes. Only thing I would that English subtitles were translated bit poor, even non-native speaker would find. The story revolves around a young woman named Mei, who was rescued as a young girl by someone calling himself her “butler.” With only a vague memory, though, the experience seems like just a dream.

But one day, after her parents’ accidental death, he appears: Rihito comes from a line of outstanding butlers, and he has been appointed to serve her! Now her ordinary life has completely flipped, as she discovers that she’s actually the heiress to a fortune, and is forced to transfer to St. Lucia Girls’ Academy, where all the students have butlers! As a result, her childhood friend Kento decides to enroll in a butler school so that he can stay close to her.

Click here to get Mei-chan No Shitsuji With English Subtitles


Pet Lover / Kimi wa Petto:

Smart, successful and good-looking Iwaya Sumire works for a big newspaper. However, her boss asks her to leave for being too “perfect” a woman. Feeling angry and dejected Iwaya returns home depressed, and most of all lonely.

However, when she finds an unconscious young man lying in a box out the front of her home and takes him in. He looks like a dog she used to own called Momo. She dubs him Momo and decides to “keep him as a pet.” It’s the start of an unexpected life together as they overcome obstacles and become quite attached to one another. But can love like this exist?

The plot sounds corny to me, but when I watched it, this was a very fun and sweet romantic comedy that should appeal to many people.

Click here to get Pet Lover / Kimi wa Petto With English Subtitles




An inconspicuous body guard Namiki Kohei (Nishijima Hidetoshi) is assigned to be a body guard to a mega Korean super star, Han Yuna (Kim Tae Hee). Kohei is less than ordinary, a single man almost 40 in age working part time at a security company. Despite his kind and attractive looks, he is surrounded by people who boss him around with unreasonable demands.He keeps a dream to himself, a desire to someday become an astronomer and find his very own star. He justifies not being able to fulfill this dream to lack of funds and issues with his family.

Han Yuna, on the other hand, while having a perfect face and body, loves to eat junk food. She also has a kind heart for helping others in need. While every aspect of her life may seem like a girl’s dream come true, she feels a certain solitude being in the entertainment industry. As Kohei and Han Yuna come closer and closer to each other, they become an inseparable couple, discovering true love. Where will the couple end up after the contracted 99 days? A heart-warming love comedy that will make you realize once again how precious love can be

Click here to get BOKU TO STAR NO 99 NICHI With English Subtitles



Trick Japanese Drama:

This 2000 Japanese TV series based on novelizations and meta-fiction novels about a failed magician and an arrogant physicist who debunks fraudulent spiritualists. It stars Hiroshi Abe and Yukie Nakama. 23-year-old Naoko Yamada (Yukie Nakama) considers herself a talented magician, she is continuously fired and broke. Before firing her, her manager shows Yamada an ad for a physics professor, Jiro Ueda (Hiroshi Abe), a non-believer of all things magical, offering money to anyone who can prove to him that magic is real. Desperately needing the money, Naoko accepts the challenge, which is how she comes to meet Professor Ueda. Falling prey to her simple magic tricks, Ueda is impressed, and enlists the reluctant Naoko to help him uncover the tricks behind a local cult. Soon, they are debunking spiritualists. Eventually Ueda develops a reputation for solving supernatural cases, but his secret weapon is Yamada, who hates the work but needs the money.

Click here for more information on Trick Japanese Drama


Liar Game:

Liar game is interesting and intelligent drama about a few people chosen to play game, where they can lose or win big. At the start of the manga, a scrupulously honest college student named Nao Kanzaki – receives a package containing 100 million yen (about 1 million dollars) and a note that she is now a contestant in the Liar Game Tournament. In this fictional tournament, contestants are encouraged to cheat and lie to obtain other contestants’ money; those who lose have to bear a tremendous debt. When Nao’s first opponent – a trusted former teacher – steals her money, she seeks assistance from a con man named Shinichi Akiyama. Though they manage to defeat him, Nao and Akiyama decide to buy out his debt and advance through different rounds of the Liar Game Tournament against merciless contestants, while at the same time attempting to free their opponents from debt and to defeat the Liar Game organization from within.

Click here for more information on Liar Game

Surely I see more Korean Dramas but there are many good Japanese, Hong Kong, Taiwanese and Chinese Dramas that are fun to watch.  If I find right dramas and with good English Subtitles I am going to try to see more good dramas.  Which Japanese dramas you have seen that you like?

If you want to know more Japanese dramas to watch click here: Japanese Drama with English Subtitles

Comments are closed.