Hey there everyone! Camille here. As you may or may not know already, I’ve been learning Japanese. And like for so many languages, the best way to learn when you cannot practice is to watch series. Now, I know that Japan is mostly known for anime, and series are usually Korea’s thing. This is why I wanted to tell you about a couple series in Japanese that you can watch easily.
I discovered Giri/Haji during the first confinement. It was produced by the BBC, then bought by Netflix. Giri/Haji (Shame/Duty) tells the story of police detective Kenzo Mori, who is sent to England to find his younger brother Yuuto, after a yakuza gets killed in London. The story is a great thriller, mixing Japanese culture with the efficiency of British thrillers. The actors are great, and the story is suspenful all through. I warmly recommend this series for someone new to the Japanese culture and language, as it may be easier to approach from a Western point of view.
May I Blackmail You ?
A very light and perky show. May I blackmail you (Ima kara anata wo kyouhaku suru) takes us on an adventure with professional Kanji Senkawa (Dean Fujioka) and honest student Mia Kanesaka. The show begins with Mia receiving a video tape threatening her boyfriend in order to get some money off her. Mia doesn’t have a boyfriend, but still decides to save the young man. Against all odds, she ends up making friends with Kanji, and tackles various cases with him. This show is very light hearted and funny, and I recommend it to whomever has a couple minutes to watch something in Japanese. May I blackmail you can easily be watched after a long day of studying or working, and will surely make you laugh.
Qualified as “Amazon Prime’s hidden gem”, Tokyo Girl is definitely worth a watch if you would like to see a show reflective of Japanese society. Let me explain. Tokyo Girl follows Aya and her moving to Tokyo from age 23 to 40. On the way, she finds different boyfriends, jobs and friends, and go through typical choices Japanese women have to make. I found this show particularly interesting as it was far from the glossy image Japan sometimes gives of itself. It is a very honest portrayal of what women’s lives are like in Japan.
The classic : Hanazakari no Kimitachi e
This is the first ever Asian drama I watched! Back when I started my Japanese classes in high school, they showed it to us in class. I became hooked and watched the whole thing on YouTube at the time. The plot is typical of shojo manga : Ashiya is super into the athletic Sano whose career she followed closely, when she discovers that he put an end to it, she decides to transfer to his high school to understand why. It turns out that the high school is not co-ed, so she has to dress as a boy to enter it, and becomes Sano’s roommate. It is a very Japanese show in the way events occur and everything is crazy (the school is divided in 3 dorms, each with its specialty, and students have competitions all the time). Hana-Kimi is however very addictive and quite fun to watch.
Also adapted from a Japanese manga, Switched is darker in its topic. Popular school girl Ayumi’s life falls apart after that her classmate Zenko found a way to switch their bodies and lives. During this time, she will have to learn to make friends in spite of her new appearance, and will get a new perspective on her friends and family. A nice little show to practice Japanese.
What does it mean to be a woman in Japan in the modern era ? Followers tells us about the lives of two women, a fashion photographer and a wannabe model. It’s a colourful and seductive tale about what success means and the choices we made. A good little show.
Kahogo no Kahoko
A hit in Japan, one of my Asian friends told me it was a super well-known show in Japan. So big it actually got a spin-off movie. Kahogo no Kahoko is a very fun yet touching coming-of-age comedy. University student Kahoko gets everything done by her mum and at 20 years old is unable to get anything done by herself, let alone find a job. Her meeting with art student Hajime shakes everything up. The show was surprisingly deep towards the end, and i can’t help but recommending it.
Adapted from the manga with the same name, Erased is a very good thriller. Satoru is an aspiring mangaka who has a special skill: he can come back a few minutes before an accident to prevent it. When he finds his mother killed, he is sent back 18 years before in his past, so he can prevent the event. Could this all trace back to his childhood ? The show is suspenseful and original, and is perfect for a cold winter night. Try it and tell me!
That’s it for my recommendations, there will of course be more coming up soon. Until then, take care !