Japanese dramas, or dorama, as they are popularly called, are slowly gaining an international fan base. Though South Korean and Thai dramas have been on a roll for quite some time now, Japanese dramas haven’t received the attention they deserve. From sweet love stories to action-thrillers to slice-of-life tales being wrapped up in 10 episodes or so, these dramas can be finished in under 24 hours. If you want to try something new, these dramas are a perfect getaway for beginners to Japanese dorama!
Beginners guide to 7 binge-worthy Japanese dramas on Netflix and more
1. Boys Over Flowers – Viki Rakuten
Boys Over Flowers and K-dramas fans will certainly recall the Lee Min-ho-starrer. However, the superhit Korean offering is a remake of the Japanese drama, which is based on the manga of the same name. It also has a Chinese adaptation. The plot follows Makino securing admission to one of Japan’s most elite schools, which only the rich have access to. Intimated by the high-society life of the students, Makino has only one friend. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she catches the attention of the school’s popular boy group called Flower 4 or F4. Makino finds herself torn between two of the group’s boys – Domyouji Tsukasa and Hanazawa Rui – who have taken a liking to her.
2. Alice in Borderland – Netflix
Adapted from a manga, this Japanese sci-fi action thriller revolves around Arisu, a video game fanatic. One day, he suddenly finds himself transported to an empty version of Tokyo. In this new city, Arisu must fight against his friends to survive. But, it isn’t easy as with advancing levels, the game becomes dangerous. Each player has to win to extend his/her visa and failure in accomplishing the same would result in death by laser. This survival, nail-biting drama will keep you on tenterhooks with players traversing the treacherous terrains of the game.
3. Mischievous Kiss: Love in Tokyo – Viki Rakuten
This romcom revolves around high schooler Kotoko, who has had a crush on one of the popular, handsome boys, Naoki, for the last three years. An unfortunate event destroys Kotoko’s home and her family is forced to move out. During the reconstruction of their home, they stay with her father’s friend. Much to her delight, Naoki is the friend’s son. Now, with Naoki continuously in front of her eyes, Kotoko is presented with a new challenge – to show that she isn’t a nuisance and get him to like her back.
4. Midnight Diner – Netflix
The drama chronicles the story of a mysterious owner of a cafe, called The Master. His cafe is open from midnight till 7 in the morning – hence the name. He receives guests from different walks of life and class – there’s an office goer, prostitute, mob boss, and even a business owner. The customers bond over their love for food. Master has limited dishes on his menu but he cooks whatever the customer demands. Each episode follows the story of one customer with the Master acting as a friend and guide.
5. An Incurable Case of Love – Viki Rakuten
Sakura takes up medicine after being enamoured by a young doctor who saved a stranger’s life. Sakura spends her time looking for the handsome doctor. She succeeds in her quest after she learns that the doctor is Kiari Tendon. Happy with her discovery, Sakura works hard to impress the doctor and gain his attention. But, Kiari is unlike what Sakura believed him to be. He is a taskmaster, a no-nonsense guy and finds Sakura annoying and rebuffs her advances. The doctor slowly gives in when he sees Sakura’s dedication to her work. The plot majorly focuses on Sakura’s attempts at wooing the doctor while building her career.
6. The Many Faces of Ito – Netflix
This engaging comedy-drama tells the story of Rio Yazaki, a 30-something scriptwriter. To overcome her creative dry spell and complete the script, Rio taps four women. Under the garb of giving them advice about their love lives, Rio gets closer to the women and learns about their individual stories. The plot focuses on Ito and her search for her next great story. Slowly, she realises that the stories of the four women are intertwined, and that changes Sakura’s perspective on love as well.
7. Don’t call it Mystery – Viki Rakuten
Totono Kuno is a highly intelligent, introverted boy who prefers to keep to himself. He likes the peacefulness his mundane daily life brings. However, his life is torn apart when he is informed about the death of one of his classmates. He suddenly is the prime suspect in the case. Complicating matters for him is the murder weapon with his fingerprints. Totono takes matters into his hands and puts his skills to use to solve the mystery and clear his name. Along the way, Totono finds himself solving other cases as well. Soon, his peaceful life is replaced with one filled with adventure and excitement while looking for the culprits of the crime.