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2008 Winter Dramas (Part 1)

Now that episodes have aired, ratings are out, and I’ve watched an episode or two, it seems ripe time to round up this season’s new renzoku dramas.

In other words, I’m watching everything and weeding stuff out so you don’t have to. 😀 Here’s the first six.

(Before anyone asks: I watched most of these with Chinese subtitles or raw, so I don’t know availability of English subtitles. Check on d-addicts.)

Bara no nai Hanaya is doing the best in all of this season’s dramas. It has the popular Monday night Fuji romance spot and is headed by Katori Shingo of SMAP. Plot revolves a single dad raising his daughter while running a small flower shop in memory of his late wife and – well, I guess eventually romance will come, but for now he just meets people (who happen mostly to be pretty women.) It’s a romance drama, so you know what to expect, although for now it’s just more of a “human drama.” It does has funny quirks, a nice pace, and – for my enjoyment – Matsuda Shota. It’s pretty good, if you dig those human relation dramas.
Watch Status: Might watch some episodes if I’m in a chick-flick kind of mood

(The Negotiator), headed by Yonekura Ryoko, is doing well too. It’s a police drama (with flashing sirens, SWAT teams, and scowling detectives in trenchcoats) about a team of crime negotiators mixed in with female detective Usagi’s really hard time getting any respect in the team. Unfortunately, being a team of negotiators, most of the police action comes from just fast-paced, nonstop talking – which is great, if you can actually understand Japanese the get the little nuances in the conversation. Unfortunately, I don’t, so all this drama holds for me is the portrayal difficulties about being a woman, which isn’t quite enough to get me watching.
Watch status: not watching

‘s ratings are pretty good. I think it’s more for an older audience though, because it focuses on Mano, a meek and nervous housewife new in her neighborhood, who meets with Saito, an outspoken single-mother who upholds rules in the neighborhood with an iron fist that everyone seems to be scared of. I’ll be honest: I couldn’t make it through the first episode. It has amusing moments, like when flustered Mano tries her hardest to fit in and when Saito constantly retorts to people that she’s only 30, but watching a drama revolve around housewives taker their children to preschool isn’t my cup of tea at all.
Watch status: not watching.

Hachimitsu to Clover
(Honey and Clover) is the drama adaptation of the popular manga, anime, and live action movie, and has been pretty hyped. The ratings aren’t nearly as good as I’d expected. It’s charming enough, and I do have a fond spot for Ikuta Toma and Narumi Riko. However, I’ve never found the story engaging – friends in art school who get up to shenanigans, gee whiz – and while the anime and movie at least had a calming atmosphere, the first episode tried a little too hard to garner laughs and ended up feeling rushed and manic.
Watch status: Maybe catch a few when I’m bored, if just for some eye candy. (Toma~ Riko~ moe~)

Mirai Koshi Meguru
has Fukada Kyoko being a prep-school English teacher who, upon turning 24, can see people’s futures in 20 years if she’s eaten a lot and is full. Ratings for this aren’t too good, Fukakyo isn’t exactly the best actress (she’s so earnest and cutesy it’s grating), but I really enjoyed what I’ve watched, it’s funny and sweet. The humor is kind of campy (the turning point of episode one? A student giving toilet paper to a gaijin singing Ray Charles while taking a shit in a prep school toilet – I’m completely serious) but I laughed.
Watch status
: watching (:

1 Pound no Fukuin
(1 Pound Gospel) is based on a manga about a boxer who is always over his weight class, and seeks help from a nun he gets interested in. Yeah. Kamenashi Kazuya stars in the title role of the boxer who needs to lose weight despite being pretty much skin and bones. Yeah. Despite this horrible miscast/lack of budget to get Kame a fat suit, the drama is okay. I can’t say it’s good, but the idea is novel, acting is decent, and I’d like to see how they end up weaving in a love interest when the love interest is a nun. It helps that said nun is played by very hot Kuroki Meisa.
Watch status: maybe watching


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