J-Dramas: The Stuff Fangirls Are Made Of

Christina of AReaderofFiction wrote this awesome post on Kdramas and I thought I’d follow it up with a post on Jdramas because I watch them and I’ve discovered that while they’re not as addictive as Kdramas, they are rather more empowering than the Korean counterparts. This isn’t meant to be a compare and contrast but simply a totally biased overview of the Jdramas I’ve watched and loved.

Many JDramas are live action adaptions of Manga (and yes, they, too, involve the furious debate over how the adaptation is true/not true of the book/manga). My first Jdrama was possibly:

Hana Yori Dango


If you are a Kdrama aficionado, you may know this as Boys Over Flowers. The Jversion (there’s actually a Taiwanese version as well and a Chinese version) was very popular. In my  opinion, it was possibly truest to the manga while expressing a more modern sensibility where the gender roles are concerned. It also helped that it was only 11 episodes long and the pace was fast and sweet. It did spawn another season and a movie such was its success. If you liked the K-version of this drama, watch this one.

Nodame Cantabile


This may be my favourite drama. Ever. If you like classical music, even if you don’t, this drama adapts the manga so seamlessly that it is amazing. Nodame and Chiaki are music students and the drama documents their rise in fame and growth both emotionally and professionally. I love the music and how true they are to it.

Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu


I found this to be a particularly brilliant look at women in their 20s. Society and relatives are telling them they need to be married and the drama explores how friendships are forged and valued between these women as they navigate love and romance. It is bittersweet and I loved how poignant it is but true to life. It doesn’t gloss over things and spends time creating complex relationships. Also, it’s pertinent to me. Haha.

Last Friends


This one is a sensitive portrayal of a group of friends who are bound in complex ways. Also a winner is Utada Hikaru’s song for the drama:

And finally, what I’m really enjoying right now:

Ando Lloyd


This is about an android from the future sent to protect a mad (possibly dead) scientist’s fiance. (It helps that he looks exactly like the possibly dead fiance.) It’s mostly fluff but it does bring up some interesting questions about science and the consequences of creating things we do not completely understand. I recommend it.

On the whole, I’ve found that J-Dramas have a slightly more didactic tone than others but at the same time, they are more empowering where females are concerned. In fact, I’d say female conversation and interaction passes the Bechdel Test way more frequently than Kdramas do. However, it’s not an either/or situation so there’s no need to choose. You can watch both J and K dramas and enjoy the heck out of them. I know I do.



One thought on “J-Dramas: The Stuff Fangirls Are Made Of

  1. Hana Yori Dango and Nodame Cantabile remind me so much of my teen years – I was so in love with watching them (especially when I was 16)! I remember watching Jdramas with my brother – I think he enjoyed the humour and how the heroines express a little more agency when they come across a barrier (which might explain his violent reactions when he tried watching some of the triangle heavy Kdramas – he liked Coffee Prince but hated the pacing and its quite funny watching triangle heavy music videos or dramas with boys – their reactions are hilarious.) I still need to finish watching Watashi ga renai dekinai ryuu (but I really liked it – I’m so ill equipped to being a new (?) adult that’s comforting to watch that mirror struggle.) oo I think I’ll start Last Friends! I love slice of life stories.


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