Best of J-Drama Over the Last 15 Years

kwa's picture

Whether you're a JDrama enthusiast or novice, I think this history of JDrama will really entertain you. It really brought a lot of my friends down memory lane. Of course, we tried to spread out JDrama over the last 15 years so there were some years where we had to exclude some really good dramas. Also, we can't watch EVERY single drama, although we feel like we've seen a lot of them. We did take into account show ratings to see if there was a big one we missed.

Here's the list:

麻辣教師 1998 GTO - This is a give-me. We cover this show starting here. This show was a gateway drama for many of us older drama fans. It also is one of the few shows that everyone seems to know, even if they don't watch TV. The show is based on a manga and is about a delinquent teacher who luckboxes a teaching job and ends up being teriffic at it.

魔女の条件 1999 Forbidden Love Majo no Jouken - This is about a love affair between a teacher and a student. Very forbidden but an interesting topic in Japan because it does happen.

トリック 2000 Trick - As far as I know. This is one of the first dramas that was kind of interesting and what differentiates J-drama from other dramas. Trick is a very intelligent drama based of deception and in-depth explanations as they do often in manga.

Hero 2001

ごくせん 2002 Gokusen - This drama really popularized the good-looking boys and was a hit as school dramas with awesome teachers (see GTO) was really popular. Gokusen adds in an extra twist, making the female lead teacher a member of the Yakuza family.

ウォーターボーイズ 2003 Water Boys - A real favorite among Japanese drama watchers.

オレンジデイズ 2004 Orange Days - This drama revolves around falling in love with a deaf girl. I'm a fan of anything with Shibasaki Kou (who is the Machiavellian antagonist from Battle Royale). It adds a very cool twist to a love-story.

電車男 2005 Densha Otoko - Really popular in Japan and a story everyone knows. This literally means 'train man' and is about an otaku (nerd/fanatic/geek) who gets a chance-meeting with a super hot girl on a train. He uses his online forums to help him court her. Based on a true story (the forum records are real).

ライアーゲーム 2005 Liar Game - Based on a manage, this show is just super awesome. It's a psychological/game theory very intelligent show. We cover here at JapaneseVideoCast as our very first episode :)

花より男子 2005 Hana Yori Dango - Another show covered early at JapaneseVideocast. The story revolves around a poor girl in a rich school. This might be the most popular J-Drama of all time and has been remade by so many other countries.

1リットルの涙 2005 1 Liter of Tears - Known as the saddest drama ever! This tear-jerker is about a girl who shows her fighting spirit despite going through a rare brain degeneration condition. Her family is strong and supportive. The lead actress in this is unbelievable in this performance.

のだめ カンタビ-レ 2006 Nodame Cantabile - Really funny show and for orchestra fans learning Japanese, a must-watch. Based on a manga, it's a love-comedy between two virtuoso musicians.

マイボスマイヒロ 2006 My Boss My Hero - Another hilarious show. My favorite Nagase drama. He plays his best role, a yakuza comedy, about a guy yakuza boss-candidate who has to go back to high school and get a diploma in order to become the next gang boss.

ガリレオ 2007 Galileo - Extremely intelligent detective show and one of the most popular and well-known shows among Japanese. It's about a physicist who is able to use his powers of deduction and scientific method to solve crimes.

ホタルノヒカリ 2007 Hotaru No Hikari - A love comedy about a non-traditional girl and her traditional boss. It's extremely popular.

花ざかりの君たちへ 2007 Hana Kimi - My favoirte Horikita Maki drama. She sneaks into a all-boy school and gets in all sorts of chaos. This is one show I can watch over and over and still find it so funny.

ラスト・フレンズ 2008 Last Friends - A serious show about DV (domestic violence). It also covers other controversial topics such as homosexuality. This show was so intense, it affected my well-being for a few days.

ブラッディ・マンデイ-シーズン2- 2008 Bloody Monday - A cool show about a hacker that stops a terrorist organization. It has a real "24' feel to it except the hacker isn't superman like Jack Bauer. He is superhuman when it comes to hacking though.

MR. BRAIN 2009 - Intelligent show about a neurologist who uses his knowledge of the brain to solve crimes. The brain theory is portrayed well. Coming from someone interested in the study of the brain, this is a great show.

BOSS 2009 - A female boss who is very strong and smart. She uses this to her advantage to solve crimes.

ギルティ 悪魔と契約した女 2010 Guilty Akuma to Keiyakushita Onna - Very interesting mystery drama.

全開ガール 2011 Zenkai Girl - Maybe you know some other shows in 2010, but it was a slow year for me. Zenkai Girl was very popular. It's a story about a girl who is very focused on work but finds love with someone who has a good heart.

リッチマン、プアウーマン 2012 Rich Man Poor Woman - A nice love story about an extremely talented and young company president (Oguri Shun) and a girl who works really hard. The show portrays a progressive "Google-like" company in Japan, something that is much needed there.

リーガル・ハイ 2012 Legal High - Funny show that is pretty ridiculous and random but also intelligent.