The only Japanese dramas I’ve seen before were 14 Year Old Mother, Nodame Cantabile and Power of Love. Although those three were good ones, they didn’t leave as much impact to me as Korean dramas that’s why I stopped watching Japanese dramas ages ago.
Of course I admit I have my huge bias towards Korean dramas. If you’ll let me chose between a really good Japanese drama and
a mediocre a bad Korean drama, I would definitely pick up the Korean one without batting an eyelid. Maybe because after years and years of watching Korean dramas I feel “at home” with them. Korean dramas are oozing with Korean culture and language that I am comfortable with that it doesn’t matter whether the story is good or annoying, heartwarming or frustrating, I can still stand 16, 20, 24, 30 hours with it. After all I find every dialogue uttered in a Korean drama a learning opportunity for me (of course it doesn’t stop me being frustrated or disappointed, but my point is I’ll still watch them at any given time ^^).
Japanese dramas on the other hand screams “foreign” to me. It’s not only that I’m not ‘assimilated’ with the culture, I also have very little to no knowledge about it thus a lot of stuff feels either weird or awkward or strange. And when I start to get bored, I can’t play my usual catch-as-many-words-and-grammar-pattern-you-can-recognize or guess-what-the-character-will-say-next games because everything sounds gibberish to me.
But finding myself sooo lost while sitting in an intermediate Japanese class this semester, I decided I must exert a lot of effort if I want to survive this semester.
My main struggle is getting the “feel” of the language. All the lessons on our textbooks and classes and the hundreds of vocabulary words we need to memorize just won’t sink in. They just doesn’t make sense to me. So I ended up just being frustrated with all the conjugations and sentence endings and conjunctions; all the ru-verbs, u-verbs, te-forms, short-forms and long-forms. Everything feels like learning and memorizing random codes. And it makes me close my books and not study because I know no matter how much time I devote in studying will be futile.
And I know I can’t stay that way if I want to pass my Japanese class (and graduate). So I made an effort in exposing myself to Japanese. And what’s the best way to do it than by watching Japanese dramas? After all I’m not a big manga and anime enthusiast. And maybe… just maybe, it’ll spark my interest in Japanese language just like how Kim Sun Ah and Korean dramas did.
What to watch then? That was my next problem. It’s a make or break decision for me XD. If I made a mistake in selecting something that I will not enjoy or appreciate, then that’s the end of it. But if I’ll make the right choice, it might “unlock my heart” and finally see Japanese language in a different light.
At first I only wanted to watch My Name Is Kim Sam Soon dubbed in Japanese. But it’ll take time for me to receive a copy. So I asked some friends for drama recommendation. My ‘drama requirements’ were so specific it’s almost funny. The main character must be this and that. The guy must be like this. The story should be about this. No this. No that. And I’m glad a good friend and fellow Kim Sun Ah fan recommended Anego.
★ ANEGO アネゴ
I’m really grateful someone recommended this to me. And I’m glad that I picked this up first. It fits my ‘drama style’ perfectly. A 30-something single woman – successful in her career, looking for ‘the one’, wanting to be loved. Marriage. Unrequited love. Love affair. First person narrations. A whole smorgasbord of the many elements I enjoy in a drama (the nay-december love story – not so =.=)..
Well, the smorgasbord thing could very well be the dramas’ weakness. There are just too many things this drama wants to say in less than 10 hours. And because of that I also sometimes can’t comprehend what Anego really wants and it annoys me. But I think that’s what I liked about it too. The way Anego struggles with every confusing thing that is going on in her life.
For the first time, I was able to relate and empathize with a Japanese drama character! I was so engrossed with Anego’s life and lovelife that the loopholes in the story didn’t bother me anymore. I just want to know how she feels and what she’s going to do and what choices will she make.
Gah! This drama even made me cry many times!
Anego is a drama that I can watch over and over. Yes, fortunately, it did “unlock my heart”.
★ KASEIFU NO MITA 家政婦のミタ
THE drama that a lot were raving about. I’ve heard about this from a couple of my Japanese students last year and have made a mental note to watch it, but I never did.
I immediately wanted to watch another Japanese drama after Anego because I don’t want to break the momentum. But my heart is still too weak for another love story after all the heartaches in Anego. So I thought it’s the perfect time to watch Kaseifu no Mita.
The drama was so engaging right from episode 1. I am no longer surprised why its ratings was so high. I loved everyone in this drama. From Mita to Kii to Urara. And even if this is not a romance drama, there’s still a little bit of an unrequited love in the persona of Urara.
Mita. I love her character so much. Yes, there are bunch of loopholes as well, but I couldn’t care less. I want to have a kaseifu like Mita!
It’s a really good family drama and I also found myself crying on some scenes. I also have a lot of favorite lines from this drama. And I suffered from an intense withdrawal after the final episode. I miss Mita and the entire family. 😦
★ RICH MAN POOR WOMAN リッチマン、プアウーマン
Again, not wanting to kill the momentum, I picked the next one on my list. Rich Man Poor Woman reminds me so much of The Social Network. But I like the drama way better.
Though this drama may not be something that I will watch over and over, it was good while it lasted. I can’t even stop watching it even if it’s already 4:00am and I have a morning class.
I also love seeing dear Urara (Aibu Saki) in this drama again. And I actually love her character, Yoko, more than Natsui. Natsui is cute and fine, but somehow I think Hyuga and Yoko are also a good pair. Reminds me so much on how I root for Dr. Jo Eun Seong and Hwang Ji Ahn in I Do I Do. Why oh why do writers create such fine third wheels? Urgh! It seems like my second-lead syndrome extends to Japanese dramas O.o! But I can’t help it! Yoko is really really cool and pretty! And I think I’m liking Aibu Saki now! 🙂
And then there was Dramanote! THE awesome Dramanote! I’m so in love with it as much as Shanna.
At first I was put off because I definitely cannot navigate it with my (still) poor reading skills in Japanese. But I remember I used to be like that in Korean too and I somehow managed. So I just google translate/google search things to survive and found my way on the scripts of the Japanese dramas I learned to love!
I’m really glad I came across that website from Hangukdrama. 🙂
I am not watching a Japanese drama right now but I’m clipping Yoko’s scenes in Rich Man Poor Woman so that I can watch her over and over. Mom’s watching Kaseifu no Mita therefore I can hear also catch a glimpse of it every night. Planning to rewatch Anego and compile all of Anego’s narrations (and turn it into my final project for my Japanese class perhaps). And waiting for my My Name Is Kim Sam Soon DVD dubbed in Japanese and watch it right away (yey! So excited!). I am also currently downloading Aibu Saki’s Rebound リバウンド and it looks like I’m gonna like it. It’s Saki after all. 🙂
Any other Japanese drama recommendations? ^_^