Japanese TV
  • I'd quite like to find more Japanese TV programmes to watch, but I'm a bit fussy. I've been watching Cowboy Bebop recently which is quite watchable and better than anything I see when I randomly switch on. I'd settle for something as good as that, but I'd like to think there's a series out there which I might like as much as I've liked some English language TV. I really liked The Wire, but I can't imagine there's anything like that on Japanese TV. At the moment I also like the IT Crowd.

    Well, anyway even if you don't think I'd like it, what Japanese TV series have you enjoyed? Live action or anime is OK.

    Oh I just remembered I also watched the 踊る大捜査線 series on video some years back, which was not so bad.
  • I think the best drama I've seen (I haven't seen many) is Liar Game. I'd recommend it to pretty much anyone.
  • Yeah, I liked 踊る大捜査線 too. I think they've been putting it on TV recently because they're going to start (or have already) a spin-off. The IT Crowd was great. Is it still going on? How do you watch it in Japan?

    I don't know what The Wire or Cowboy Bebop are, so bear that in mind while reading my comments.

    Are you looking for things that are currently airing or not? Mostly I watch お笑い. Out of these, I like the ones 志村けん does best. The ones I've seen are all sitcoms/skits unlike most お笑い. NHK is also running a show now called NEOサラリーマン (or something like that) which I think is a bunch of skits, but I've only seen about half an episode. よしもと theater can also be good.

    For older drama, things I've liked that come to mind now are Last Christmas (Oda Yuji), Lunch Queen, CHANGE (キムタク), 流星の絆. Buzzer Beat, ごくせん 2, GTO, Boss, Trick, あねご and At Home Dad were also pretty good if I recall. Generally I like things with Oda Yuji and キムタク. I'm not sure about what's currently airing though. I saw part of the first episode うぬぼれ刑事 and it seemed like it might be amusing, though I missed the second episode last night. I also noticed that Waterboys II is re-airing now, which I think was supposed to be pretty popular, but I haven't seen it.

    Incidentally, to find older stuff that might be good, one thing I do is check this awards list:

    http://wiki.d-addicts.com/Television_Drama_Academy_Awards

    I also like some Japanese quiz shows, but nothing specific.
  • Anything with Nagase Tomoya. My Boss My Hero, Tiger & Dragon and such.
  • Tiger and Dragon was really good. I'll second that one.
  • Thanks for the pointers. From looking at some of these series on the drama wiki, it seems like it's relatively rare for a series to go to more than one series, compared with in Britain and America. I remember Trick being a very popular show (though I didn't watch it) but even that only went to three series.

    In answer to your question, tamatama, I'm more interested in things that are available in my local video shop than what's actually showing now. Watching a TV programme when it's actually on - how twentieth century. :)
  • Abe Hiroshi is a favorite actor and besides Stay at Home Dad: Kekkon Dekinai Otoko; Dragon Zakura. Amami Yuki is a favorite actress: Around 40; The Queen's Classroom. i, too, enjoyed "Buzzer Beat", also "Tumbling" ; "Troubleman" [very quirky]; "Sunao ni Narunakute" [very "now"]; "My Girl" w/Aiba Masaki was a pleasant surprise; but my most recent favorite is "Mother" --- superb acting and storyline [tho' i could've done w/anther kind of ending ... meh].
  • Posted By: Richard
    [p]In answer to your question, tamatama, I'm more interested in things that are available in my local video shop than what's actually showing now. Watching a TV programme when it's actually on - how twentieth century. :)[/p]


    For me, the video store seems pretty 20th century :) Don't they have DVRs in Japan?

    Yeah, apart from things like the NHK's Taiga drama, soap operas and foreign dramas, most dramas in Japan don't go more than 12 episodes. (Though I think that award list is specifically for single season drama.) Which for me is good, as I think most shows start of interesting for a few episodes (e.g., おせん), and start to decline rapidly. Or maybe I just have no attention span. It sounds like you have plenty of recommendations now, but I just remembered 瑠璃の島 was also quite good.

    By the way, I think I saw an ad on TV for something like a Japanese version of Netflix. I don't know anything about it, but it may be a cheaper/more convenient option for you. I sometimes get movies and CDs from Tsutaya, but I could never convince myself it was worth the cost to rent TV episodes.
  • For dramas, the only one I've made it all the way through was 1リットルの涙. It's melodramatic, overly sentimental and everyone is good-looking (perhaps not a draw-back, but this is a serious subject matter, must everyone look like a model?) but it's compelling and well-done. If I recall correctly, my girlfriend cried during 5 of the 11 episodes, so a good series to watch with your lady (might compromise your masculinity if watched alone).

    For anime series, ベルセルク. Not as good as the manga and if you go by just the first episode it seems generic, but man is this good. As a long-time nerd and fan of anime and manga, there's anime and manga, and then there's Berserk. If you decide to watch it, please stick it through all the way. If you do finish it, you'll know doubt be frustrated by the cliffanger at the end of the first (and only) season, so you'll want to check out the manga which is even better. Admittedly, I'm studying this frustrating language in the first place to read the manga (I've since found other uses for it but that was the first big motivator).

    Both of these series aren't currently running (maybe on cable sometimes) so you'll need to check out your local Tsutaya or Geo.
  • Though I must stress this is my highly subjective opinion, I don't think you will find anything remotely approaching the depth, intelligence and social commentary of shows such as The Wire, Life on Mars (I'm assuming your from the UK as you watch the IT crowd),sitcoms like Frasier, MASH, Blackadder ect on Japanese tv.

    Although there are rare gems (of which I consider Cowboy Bebop to be one), the vast majority of Japanese tv, comedy, dramas ectI find to be patronising, melodramatic, overly simplistic and cliché. I can stomach them and get into them if I have to, but when people cry that America/British tv is dumbing down, I wish they would turn on Japanese tv, and see how lucky we are.

    Concepts like subtly, satire, parody, wit are seldom to be found, as most Japanese tv is just pumped down your throat like dodgy merchandise, throwing infantile emotions, stereotypes, and only good looking stars at you whilst managing to be both politically correct and semi-racist at the same time. (I would love for someone to prove me wrong here, so please do).
    Anything that surpasses this, whilst getting critical appraisal normally doesn't get enough ratings, so people have stopped trying. For example Cowboy Bebop, while often quoted as one of the best animes of all time, didn't do well in Japan, not even getting a full run of episodes (prob because its notion of character depth wasn't just some kawaii high school girl, going "atashi ga dare desu ka?" every 5 secs)
    Most western people who rate J-dramas (and ive watched them all) in my experience tend to be emo, melodramatic teenage girls.

    That being said, there a few that are quite good.
    If you like Cowboy Bebop, then defiantly check out Samurai Champloo made by the same people. And the whole Ghost in the Shell. Dragonball and Dragonball Z if that's your thing, you got like 500 episodes there!
    As previously mentioned, Abe Hiroshi is a great actor and physical comedian (he reminds me of John Cleese somewhat) who is tragically underused and under-valued by Japanese tv. He is great in Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, if you can get past all the other actors constantly dragging his performance down in every scene.

    And dare I say Kimura Takuya (Kimutaku). Check out Karei naru Ichizoku, about Japan merging as an economic superpower, and the tragedy and corruption of a powerful family who owns one of Japans larget banks. It is has sentiments of a Shakespearean epic, though like all J-dramas, cheapens the emotions by being melodramatic. Even though, it's one of the best i've seen.

    The older dramas from the early/mid 90s have far superior writing imo. Even though they tend to revolve around trivial subject such as bf/gf things, the writing is clever and touching. I highly recommend Long Vacation.

    Trick is good, tongue in cheek, slap stick, sort of stuff, and a better example of Japanese comedy. Just dont take it seriously and you'll be fine.

    And of course the Japanese make much better movies then they do tv. Check out Tokyo Story and Kurosawa masterpieces like 7 samurai and Yojimbo. These are among the best movies ever made.

    If you go to d-addicts dot com, you can get all these dramas free.
  • i was having a similar discussion w/a friend about the kind of humor used in Japanese shows & equated them to the very bawdy British shows. my take on this is that both Japanese & British societies were very "proper" in their public faces. therefore when they let down their guards they enjoyed similar types of pretty crass humor. sure, both cultures had their "high end" entertainment, but [think pick noses & scratch butts] ... even tho' Japan has relaxed some of their social protocol, it is still comparatively [say against US's] rigid, so maybe that's why they "need" the kind of elementary-school-kid humor to help them let loose?
  • Some interesting comments. Admittedly I haven't seen a whole lot of dramas, but I used to switch on the TV sometimes in my first stint in Japan (before I had the internet) and alexkx3's comments match my surface impressions. I do remember Trick looked quite interesting though, so that may be my next stop after Cowboy Bebop. Incidentally, don't worry - I know there are lots of great Japanese films, especially the classics, but I'm looking for something a bit lighter as well.

    Hey, tamatama, I use Tsutaya Discas (the Japanese version of Netflix) for films, partly because I can never find anything in video shops. But with TV programmes, there are several discs, so not so much time wasted looking (and it's only 80 yen a time for old DVDs right now).

    Er, gardengalsu, probably shouldn't stray too far off the topic of Japan, but I wonder what bawdy British shows you're thinking about. Benny Hill? Are You Being Served? Carry On films? More smutty than bawdy, and in any case, considered old-fashioned in the UK by now. Or perhaps you're thinking of something else. By the way, I'm British.
  • I think that has alot to do with it. You can learn alot about a society by it's humour. The Japanese are taught to be ganbaru, always serious and working hard, and the ol' stereotype of them being terrfied of losing face is quite true. So naturally anything that involves them being silly, pointless or humilating other people, is hilarious to the Japanese. (For example, a professional snowborder, having to race a bowl of ramen down a ski slope and losing to it.)

    It's a simple knee jerk reaction to a strict society. My friend also points out that the average Japanese is simply too tired to engage in anything too "deep" and "thought provoking" on tv after a 12 hour shift at work.

    As Japanese society loosens up so to speak, I think there comedy and tv will get more complex.

    We have that sort of slapstick in Britian too, but to a lesser extent. I would say though because we are more emotionally subdued (repressed) then say the Americans, British humour is darker, relying heavily on subtext, sarcasm, irony and wit. We don't like direct expressions of anything, it's seen as cheap. Which is why I hate it when people say "The Japanese are an indirect society, unlike the west". For my money the British are just as indirect as the Japanese if not more, but we do it in a different manner.
  • my apologies to Richard if you felt offended and "whew!", thanks to alexkx3 for your last paragraph.
    [ It's a simple knee jerk reaction to a strict society. My friend also points out that the average Japanese is simply too tired to engage in anything too "deep" and "thought provoking" on tv after a 12 hour shift at work.
    As Japanese society loosens up so to speak, I think there comedy and tv will get more complex.
    We have that sort of slapstick in Britian too, but to a lesser extent. I would say though because we are more emotionally subdued (repressed) then say the Americans, British humour is darker, relying heavily on subtext, sarcasm, irony and wit. We don't like direct expressions of anything, it's seen as cheap. Which is why I hate it when people say "The Japanese are an indirect society, unlike the west". For my money the British are just as indirect as the Japanese if not more, but we do it in a different manner.]
    you explained it better than i did. thanks, again.
  • Does anyone here have an opinion on Jiko Keisatsu? I noticed it was top of the longsellers in my local video shop and I quite like police shows, so maybe it's one for me...

    Still not quite finished Cowboy Bebop yet, though I'm coming to like it more. There have been some good episodes.
  • 1.NODAMEカンタービレ
    2.1リットルの涙
    3.大好き!

    the best japanese dramas.
  • Posted By: Richard
    [p]Does anyone here have an opinion on Jiko Keisatsu? I noticed it was top of the longsellers in my local video shop and I quite like police shows, so maybe it's one for me...[/p]


    I can't really say much, but I remember I saw part of the first episode and it looked like it might be amusing, perhaps on the silly side. If you do watch it, I'd be interested in hearing whether it's worthwhile.

    More serious looking police/detective shows I liked are BOSS, Trick and Kiina (I never actually finished any of these, but that's more because I get busy/easily distracted) though my favorite is still 踊る大捜査線. I quite liked 流星の絆, which is sort of a crime drama/comedy (which I did watch all of). Galileo is also supposed to be good, but I never tried it because I probably don't know enough scientific terms to follow it.

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