dramarama mama

Somehow, despite movies taking overall less time than series do, I am far more likely to finish a series than I am a movie. Go figure. If you’re curious to know what I’ve finished and what I think of it, take a look. Perhaps you’ll find something to distract you from that oh-so-important project you have to work on. You know the one. But it’s probably worth it.

Last updated: May 17, 2013 – Since I was updating the list of dramas I was currently watching, I figured I may as well update this list as well.

4 Shimai Tantei-dan Kaho’s first major role in a drama is a bit endearing, but mostly silly. As a high school girl who solves crimes even when the police detective tells her not to, she’s no different from many a girl-detective heroine. But then she has an aunt and three sisters, and apparently all of their senses have flown out the window, so come for the mystery, stay for the family hijinks. ♥♥♥

AKIHABARA@DEEP Based on the first episode alone, it’s far too easy to dismiss this. If you didn’t know better you could call it one of those low-budget ikemen dramas except it has Johnny’s juniors (and comedians) in it. At least reach the third episode, though, because that’s where it starts to get good. You’ll grow to love these otaku like Japan loved Densha Otoko. In fact, you could arguably skip the first and last two episodes altogether if you could care less about the Yui’s morals vs. Nakagomi Takeshi’s money story. (But don’t, because Kitamura Kazuki as an otaku villain who knows he’s an otaku villain is possibly the best thing ever.) ♥♥♥♥

Atashinchi no Danshi

Attention Please + 2 Specials

Bambi~no!

BLOODY MONDAY

BOSS

DEATH GAME PARK I’m not even sure if this is the right page to put this on, because it’s much easier to watch this in one go. Heck, I only downloaded it for the curiosity of seeing Mano Erina act. DEATH GAME PARK was a cell phone drama, meaning it ran in episodes of about 10 minutes each. The idea is apparently a mishmash between Battle Royale and Kaiji, and at first it looks like it’ll be good. Then everyone else starts speaking, things get more dramatic, the acting gets worse (then again, tokusatsu and idol do not necessarily a good cast of actors make), Manoeri’s character fluctuates so much you want to punch her for being inconsistent, and I think my favorite part of the entire series was Aibu Saki’s special appearance. Because it wasn’t so over-the-top. Unless you’re a masochist or a fan, you could do much better. ♥

Dragon Zakura

Fugoh Keiji 1+2 Two seasons. Two seasons of this mystery drama as decorated as an age-jou’s cell phone and I’m going to warn you right now – even if you absolutely adore Fukada Kyoko, you are going to grow to hate the end of each episode. Not because it’s the end, but because Fukada’s character is the ultimate example of KY and it’s almost physically painful to watch it. Natsuyagi Isao as the maniacal grandfather and the various scheming fellow policemen (including Suzuki Kazuma, Terajima Susumu, and a lot of Hey It’s That Guy! faces when you share my taste in dramas) in her unit are endearing in their own ways, at least. Oh, and look, as of this writing season 3 is going to come along. ♥♥♥

Gachi Baka!

Gakeppuchi no Eri

GIRAGIRA There are a LOT of ways to view the world of hosts and hostesses. GIRAGIRA is the very optimistic way. In Sasaki Kuranosuke’s first starring role, he gets to play a former top host who tries to get back into the world of hosting while hiding it from his wife, on pain of Bad Things Happening. Seriously, in what universe does an image-focused industry accept a 36-year-old average-looking ex-salaryman and actually let him rise to the top? That said, it’s still a heartwarming story that makes the idealism believable. And as the title promises, there are lots of shiny faces to be had, like Maya Miki, recently-popular Sato Tomohito, Miura Shohei who gets lost amongst the D-BOYS, Igarashi Shunji who is surprisingly a D-BOY, Abe Tsuyoshi, Ashina Sei, Yuuki Jutta, Hara Sachie, and Tanaka Yoji. Well, I think Tanaka Yoji is shiny. ♥♥♥♥

Gokusen + Gokusen 2 + Gokusen 3 Okay, this is sort of cheating. Actually, there are a bunch of series in here under the “sort of cheating” category, but this is one of the few times I’ll admit it. When I cheat on a series, that pretty much means I downloaded it, my sister watched it, and I basically looked up from my DS and over her shoulder at the screen every so often. But let’s be honest here, you don’t actually have to pay attention to Gokusen after the first season. Or even the first three episodes of that first season. It’s all the same formula, where the constants are Yankumi, Namase Katsuhisa, Waki Tomohiro, and our beloved sloppy yakuza. But hey, some people never get tired of Johnny’s. ♥♥♥

Do note that I didn’t watch the specials attached to each series (though my sister did), which is why they aren’t listed. I’m sure they’re not much different, either.

Great Teacher Onizuka + Special

Hana Yori Dango + Hana Yori Dango Returns Like Gokusen, I basically cheated on this one. Frankly, I don’t think I even really have to watch this, because one of the major things this is is Jun-bait. Or if you’re my sister, Abe Tsuyoshi-bait. Maybe Matsuda Shota-bait. I’m not as sure about Oguri Shun, I’m pretty certain he’d have his own following without the help of this series. It undeniably shot Inoue Mao’s adorable mug to fame, and I’m sure if you watched it, you’ll probably like it. You wouldn’t have watched it if you didn’t think you’d like it, after all. ♥♥♥

Hanazakari no Kimitachi he + Special

Hanchou Japan supposedly does not have a lot of respect for its police force. (This would explain all the dramas where the police get help from outside sources or crazy people within. Or they’re the bad guys themselves. Believe me, I’ve seen a lot of those. At least 12 of them are on this list, at last count.) Which is a damn shame, because if all police teams were like the Azumi unit of Jinnan-cho, respect would probably skyrocket. If you enjoy character- driven things focusing on people who are actually human (Okay, maybe not. Some of them are too saintly.), no matter how episodic, you’ll love this show. ♥♥♥♥♥

Himitsu no Hanazono

IWGP Short for Ikebukuro West Gate Park, chances are high that you’re going to be watching this for either Nagase Tomoya, Yamashita Tomohisa (who rather deserved the Best Supporting Actor award he won for this), Watanabe Ken, or Kubozuka Yosuke. Which isn’t exactly a bad reason, but tougher to stick it out for. The show starts off seemingly silly, takes a nosedive in to darkness by the end of the first episode, and never fully recovers. An early plot thread is also dropped for about half the series, and Kato Ai may become really really annoying to you. (She gets better. And hotter. Mostly hotter.) So yeah, you’re most likely to stick around for the pretty. ♥♥♥

Kiina

Kimi Hannin Janai yo ne? Possibly the first starring role for both Kaname Jun and Kanjiya Shihori, at times this drama reaches levels of stupidity that may hurt those looking for a mystery that makes them think. (No surprise there, since you clearly know that if Udagawa falls in love with a girl she’s the criminal.) But if you just want to enjoy the hijinks of the pretty and the prettier, and particularly if you love Kanamen like I do you’re going to enjoy this. ♥♥♥♥

Kimi wa PETTO

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 3

Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo 2005 Special

Kisarazu Cat’s Eye

Kuitan + Special

Kuitan 2

KUROSAGI

LIAR GAME When this first came out, you really wouldn’t know what to expect. It ran in a late-night timeslot. It was only half an hour instead of the full hour allotted to dramas aiming to make a mark. Its stars weren’t especially known. And then it blew your mind away with the compelling plot, the smart directing, the interesting characters. And it got so popular it got a sequel. Then there’s the electronic soundtrack from Nakata Yasutaka (probably best known as producer of Perfume), and the beautiful Kichise Michiko. There is suspense, trickery, human nature, and that hero formula all wrapped up in one dark, sexy package. You won’t be disappointed. ♥♥♥♥♥

LIAR GAME 2 Oh, LIAR GAME 2. You are a very special breed of different compared to your predecessor. The producers knew they had a great thing going on, even despite the sequel being produced two years after the original. The problem comes when you don’t actually know how to extend the great thing into a full hour and repeat everything in triplicate. Even scenes that aren’t as shocking. And then there’s the hinting of characters who really are supposed to be there (Yokoya and his lovely lovely white hair) according to the manga but get swapped out so they can mess with the original story in the manga. And lastly, Matsuda Shota has ugly hair that does not distract from his overacting. It’s still a good run, but Suzuki Kosuke and Kikuchi Rinko undeniably steal the scene. ♥♥♥♥

Love Shuffle The great shame about Matsuda Shota is that in many things I’ve seen him in, he’s basically the same person. Brooding, not really snotty, but generally in it for himself. He does not break that self-serving pattern here. He is, however, much happier. Then there’s Tamaki Hiroshi trying to be an everyman, Karina being her usual hot-bitch-in-charge, Tanihara Shosuke enigmatically melting the hearts of all women and gay men, Kanjiya Shihori being adorable, DAIGO one-upping Kanjiya on that front, Kojima Hijiri being everyone’s MILF, and Yoshitaka Yuriko being the quiet psycho. There is plenty of pretty to go around, folks. But come for the pretty, and stay because you’ll get seriously involved with these characters. ♥♥♥♥♥

Magerarenai Onna Kanno Miho, Kanno Miho, Kanno Miho. You’ve been playing seemingly similar characters, but make quite a mark with them individually. “Magerarenai Onna” means “unbending woman,” and Kanno plays just that – someone who refuses to compromise, even if it ends up compromising her lifestyle. It’s not hard to get drawn into her world and struggle, and Nagasaku Hiromi and Tanihara Shosuke make the ride ever more fun. ♥♥♥♥♥

Majo Saiban

Maou

Mei-chan no Shitsuji

Meitantei Conan A special one-shot drama, this is considered an official prequel to the series, showing the case that led to Shinichi promising Ran a date at the amusement park where he shrunk into Conan. It had the potential but even as a Meitantei Conan fan, there were times it got really hard to wade through. I guess if you’re an Oguri Shun fan you’ll be happy. ♥♥

Meitantei Conan 2 Like the first one above, this is a special instead of a running drama. Unlike the first one, this is supposed to take place after Shinichi has already become Conan, so it gets special mention because the kid who plays Conan is ugly and begs to be bullied. The mystery itself is a bit simplistic, but it’s the suspense of dealing with the Black Organization that makes this work. Kashii Yu as grown Miyano Shiho is gorgeous – to say nothing of Sasaki Kuranosuke in long silver hair as Gin. ♥♥♥♥

MOP GIRL

MR. BRAIN

MY BOSS MY HERO

Ninkyo HELPER Warning. If you have, are related, or know children under the age of 10 – they just won’t be as cute after you watch this drama. Kusanagi Tsuyoshi’s comeback after his naked incident has him cast as a yakuza stuck helping old people. It strikes all the genres in its portrayal of human nature but doesn’t go over the top with any one bit. Then you have his co-stars, including the smoking Kuroki Meisa. And most importantly, the far too adorable Kato Seishirou is going to turn you into a pedophile. I’m speaking from experience. ♥♥♥♥♥

Nobuta wo PRODUCE.

Nodame Cantabile

Osen

OTOMEN

PRICELESS

Remote

Ryusei no Kizuna

Seigi no Mikata

Shibatora + Special

Shinzanmono If there is one role Abe Hiroshi does well, it is being a magnificent bastard. Not merely a bastard – a magnificent one. In Shinzanmono, there can be no doubt that he is a magnificent bastard. In fact, you might even pity Mizobata Junpei for having to work with him, because he clearly had a lot of fun with this role. It’s a definite Higashino Keigo mystery with its twists and turns, but it’s quaintly slice-of-life of for those of you wanting the suspense and not the gore. ♥♥♥♥

SP + Special

Sunao ni Narenakute A lot of people watched this drama. Some of them were Eita fans, some of them were Ueno Juri fans, some of them were Eita x Ueno Juri coupling fans. Oh, and some of them were Jaejoong fans. And then there were the ones who watched it because Twitter was supposed to be a major part. Boy, were they ever let down. Now if you ignore the Twitter part, it’s a decent romantic drama, but you’ll undoubtedly have seen some of what’s coming by the time it arrives. ♥♥♥

Sushi Oji!

Tantei Gakuen Q Oh, Kamiki Ryunosuke. When this came out you were poised to be a star. People were talking about how you’d be the next hot thing. 3 years later, you still haven’t done all that much. Especially not in comparison to your co-stars, Shida Mirai, Kaname Jun, and Yamada Ryosuke. (Well I guess we’ll forgive you the Yamada Ryosuke. He’s a Johnny’s.) In fact the only reason you’re not at the absolute bottom of the pack is because Wakaba Katsumi basically disappeared. Lamenting over child stars aside, this is a very fun drama that keeps both the dark mystery and the kid-friendly cute of the source material. Yamamoto Taro and Suzuki Kazuma also pull some amazing acting here, adding to the large cast of characters that will no doubt grow on you. ♥♥♥♥

Tantei Gakuen Q Special This gets a separate mention because it came out a year before the series and one of the main characters is played by a different actor, and changes quite a bit from special to series. The special is basically how Q class met and were assembled, and doesn’t entirely do justice to the main series. It’s good for backstory, though. ♥♥♥

The Quiz Show When this first came out, you really wouldn’t know what to expect. It ran in a late-night timeslot. It was only half an hour instead of the full hour allotted to dramas aiming to make a mark. Its stars weren’t especially known. And then it blew your mind away with the compelling plot, the smart directing, the interesting characters. And it got so popular it got a sequel. Where it differs from LIAR GAME is that the stars were shunted aside for Johnny’s in the sequel, and there’s no main “beauty” in the show. There’s many a person who probably won’t watch this because Katagiri Jin and Totsugi Shigeyuki aren’t of the popular young actor set. Give it a try nonetheless, and if you’re lucky Totsugi’s got his own bit of fanservice to share. ♥♥♥♥♥

The Quiz Show 2 I admit it. I didn’t even watch The Quiz Show until it was announced that one Sakurai Sho and one Yokoyama Yu would be starring in the sequel. This is because I didn’t even know the first series existed until then. So on that front, I’m grateful. I’m also grateful because Yoko is a hot mess in this show. And Sho’s a… well, he’s a mess, but he still looks pretty good. Unfortunately that’s about it because if you watched the first series, this one doesn’t nearly hold up as well in intensity. In fact, they even refer in-show to it being a clone of the first. But if you really won’t watch the first because it doesn’t have pretty, this’ll pass. ♥♥♥♥

Tobo Bengoshi As I’m writing this, I’m not even done with this series. I just can’t stop watching it. Kamiji Yusuke apparently gets off easy with this role because he’s supposedly a really really REALLY nice person already, and his acting as someone who basically can’t resist helping people in need despite being a fugitive goes over smoothly. But the drama. Oh, the drama. The only reason I can stop watching this is because I have to wait for the next episode. If you enjoyed UNFAIR, you will definitely enjoy this. You just need to give it a try. ♥♥♥♥♥

Tokyo Dogs

Tsuki no Koibito I was worried. For all his fame and prowess at the genre, I had never watched – could never bring myself to watch – Kimura Takuya as a romantic lead. Knowing that my heart actually jumped during SMAPxSMAP Tokimeki Meter segments did not help. Luckily, Kimura’s no ladykiller here – it’s actually surprising at first that the three female leads want him so much, even. But he grows on you, they grow on you (well, Shinohara Ryoko doesn’t need to grow, you just love her from the start), and while it’s not all it was hyped to be, it’s not bad to pass the time with. ♥♥♥♥

UNFAIR + Special

UNFAIR the Special ~ Double Meaning Nijuu Teigi

Untouchable For a while I considered getting my degree in journalism, so despite the title being the name of a tabloid it was interesting. (Kanamen’s presence greatly helped.) If you’re planning to watch this, don’t go in thinking of it as a mystery drama or you’ll be disappointed. It starts off simplistic and reaches UNFAIR-levels of twisted suspense, because as you’ll find out during the first episode, there’s a giant conspiracy going on. Then again, Nakama Yukie as a tactless arasa (around 30) reporter lightens things up a lot. ♥♥♥, becomes a ♥♥♥♥

Unubore Deka You’ll read the drama synopsis and immediately think of Kimi Hannin Janai yo ne?, especially with Kaname Jun’s face appearing in both shows. Unubore takes it one step further – not only does he propose marriage to the criminals, he knows they’re criminals. And the supporting Unubore 5 all get involved – very deeply involved. Nagase plays the large ham to a T, and while there’s some level of mystery (not whodunit, but howdunit), this is a show played mostly for kicks. ♥♥♥♥

Uta no Onii-san

VOICE

Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu

Yamada Taro Monogatari Okay, I feel like this one deserves a warning. Many of the Arashi fangirls I came across in my early days in the fandom were not Jun-baited by Gokusen/Kimi wa PETTO/Hana Yori Dango, but YamaTaroGari-baited. Its theme song, Happiness, is up there with Love so sweet and the A-RA-SHI chorus for songs universally known by Arashi fangirls. And like the manga it’s based off of, it’s adorable and comedic in the right ways – just make sure you don’t become an Arashi fan in the process of watching. ♥♥♥♥♥

YANKEE Bokou ni Kaeru Special

Yaoh

Yukan Club This mystery drama about bored rich/privileged high schoolers with nothing better to do than solve crimes got a lot of flak when it aired. The main actors (comprised of Johnny’s and models) couldn’t act, the cases were uninspired if not an excuse for silliness, the characters were uninteresting, etc. Considering it was based off a manga, perhaps it shouldn’t have been held to such high standards – but it’s good for mindless entertainment. And for seeing Johnny’s crossdress. ♥♥♥

Zeni Geba

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