Ain’t that poster so beautiful and quirky and symbolic and intriguing?
Yup, that’s pretty much how I’ll describe Japanese Drama in a nutshell. Truth be told, I have a very limited experience in watching Japanese shows in comparison to either Korean or Taiwanese, but I love it all the same. My rare Japanese drama discoveries are so often so addictive and fun to watch; they’re like precious little gems I find and chance upon once in a while.
Japanese Dramas are in average very short, spanning usually no more than fifteen episodes, but that actually has a lot of perks for someone like me who usually get tired after ten episodes running. This also makes for faster pace, which means every scene is direct to the point and every episode has a lot of action and substance. Personally, I like how J-dramas are so concise and compact and how faithful they are to the original premise of a story or plot. No fluff, no fillers, no dragging moments. If ever there are any, they still contribute to the bigger picture and premise. If not, it’s probably because the drama is episodic and is intentionally structured to be such.
Also, J-dramas can be quite extreme in nature. Light, breezy high school dramas are very cheerful, vibrant and at times can border on slapstick comedy, while on the other hand, psychological dramas are so much darker and off-beat, and are usually portrayed by eccentric characters. Like two sides of the same coin, each has their distinct charm and nuances, all of which, I find brilliant and unforgettable.
There are probably gazillions of Japanese high school dramas out there, and I myself have already seen several. It’s the reason why Japanese school uniforms are so popular and trendy, I suppose. I mean, who wouldn’t want to wear those uniforms? Okay, it’s probably just me, but then again, these uniforms pretty much symbolizes how sleek and trendy Japanese schools are, for them to be the backdrop of so many dramas. If I could use a book analogy here, I’d say, the classic charm of the Young Adult genre would best exemplify it. High School—that phase in our lives where we all get so emotional about every freaking thing, the golden age of loving so passionately and recklessly, the generation who would always feel so misunderstood by the whole world. So what’s my favorite pick among the many high school dramas that showcases teenage angst and glory? Yep, you can say that again. Hana Kimi is a classic and unforgettable drama because of its hilarity and bittersweet depiction of young love, its story set on an all-boys’ school, with the heroine masquerading as a boy in pursuit of her love interest. It’s been standard gender-bender comedy from the get-go, but it’s downright fun to watch from beginning to end simply because the characters are so charmingly off-beat plus, buckets and buckets of cute.
THRILLERS/MYSTERY: RYUZEI NO KIZUNA
Japanese dramas will keep you guessing until the very end and I loved that a show can be so intelligent and fun to watch at the same time. Ryuzei no Kizuna is my favorite example of this because it’s a mentally-stimulating show that strikes the balance between fun and smart. The end, OMG! I loved it to bits. Nothing more satisfying than finding something so unexpected before your very eyes, I guess, and Ryuzei no Kizuna did it so well. The central conflict and the climax from episode to episode is so memorable and well-depicted. Plus, that poster above? How many of you are actually thinking, bleh, another love triangle? They’re actually siblings, okay. Ain’t that refreshing?
PSYCHOLOGICAL DRAMAS: LAST FRIENDS (pictured above)
Um, Japan will not be Japan without its quirkiness. This is also inherent in dramas, of course. And if I said in my previous post that nobody does Romantic Comedies like Korea, I believe it’s also arguable to say that nobody does psychological stuff like the Japanese does. Mind games, is what I mean. And has anybody seen Last Friends back in 2008? I have no words for this drama. It is well-acted, richly layered and so brilliant that it’s disturbing. How do you know if a drama is good and effective? If it widens your view of the world in general. I know how shamelessly profound that statement sounds but still. That said, I have to say that I’ve seen lot of the strange world from this drama. So what is it all about, you ask? Abusive relationships, gender identity crisis, fears, and weaknesses and ultimately: love and friendship that transcends all. If you haven’t seen it yet, go watch it, and perhaps you’ll understand.
Up next, I’m blogging about the final installment of this trilogy drama addiction tell-all, in which I list my Taiwanese Drama favorites. What are you guys watching?