Mini J-drama puffs: 2022 half-time round-up

Greetings after a long while of silence. Hope everyone’s been doing well and watching dramas! In the past few months, I’ve watched a number of Japanese dramas but just haven’t had the energy to dedicate specific posts to each of them. So here’s a wrap of what I’ve put my eyeballs on so far.

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Good Doctor

I had not expected to watch another Yamazaki Kento drama so soon after Todome no Kiss, but who can say no to Fujiki Naohito and Ueno Juri in the cast? Certainly not me.

Shindo Minato (Yamazaki Kento) is autistic with savant syndrome. When he was seven years old, his brother died in an accident while Minato was saved by the kindly Dr Shiga Akira (Emoto Akira). Minato grew up determined to be a paediatric surgeon so he could help other children become adults. Despite all odds, he passes the national examination for medical practitioners. At the invitation of Dr Shiga, Minato enters Togo Memorial Hospital to begin his journey as a paediatrician… Continue reading

Ueno Juri, Wada Sho tie the knot


The Nodame ship has sailed!

Ueno Juri announced today that she and Triceratops vocalist/guitarist Wada Sho are now husband and wife. They officially registered their marriage today. She posted on her Instagram account saying “Today, I got married to Wada-san!”, while the news has also been confirmed by their respective companies.  She further commented: “To everyone, I am very happy. From now on, whatever happens, I will still continue to do my best. Life is something that I need to set by myself. We have a lot of experiences and I think that every point was able to be connected now. With a wonderful partner, I would like to live this life with joy. Please continue supporting me from now on.”

Congrats to Juri-chan! I’m delighted for her that she’s found her special someone, and she does look so blissfully happy in the above photo. Wada Sho is a lucky guy! He also kind of reminds me of Odagiri Joe. News of Juri dating Wada broke a few months back, but I didn’t expect marriage to come so soon. I guess the relationship must have been very stable by then – they had apparently started dating around last autumn.

I never harboured much hope of Juri hooking up with Tamaki Hiroshi, since they’ve both denied strenuously rumours of any possible relationship between them, but I still wish for them to reunite onscreen just one more time. Now that Juri is a married woman with no risk of rumours, collaboration should be easier, yes? *crosses fingers*





Recurring fate you’re still haunting me
no one believes no one will know
Recurring fate
you’re still whispering
no one believes no one no one can tell

Two boys who grew up at an orphanage found their favourite teacher Yuiko murdered one night and the incident covered up by a policeman wearing a gold watch. The boys vowed to avenge their teacher. Twenty years later, Ryuzaki Ikuo (Ikuta Toma) is a detective in the Shinjuku second police bureau investigating cases with Hibino Mizuki (Ueno Juri), while Danno Tatsuya (Oguri Shun) has become one of the leading members of the yakuza. As Ikuo and Tatsuya gain ground on uncovering the murderer’s identity, Mizuki begins to suspect the relationship between the two men… Continue reading

Day 8: Favourite Drama Couple

Yikes, this calls for some repeating again, haha. I have quite a few couples that I really ship, so here we go. Spoilers included.

1. Chiaki Shinichi & Noda Megumi (Nodame Cantabile)


Well, I’m sure the reason why I love this couple is obvious. They love music and are just awesome sauce and complement each other in the ways that matter. Besides, Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri look so fantastic together and had such amazing chemistry, it’s a shame they aren’t dating in real life.

2. Suga Eiichiro & Asaoka Kyoko (Love Revolution)


Whenever he calls her Kyoko-san in that half-teasing, half-flirty manner, it makes her knees and that of the audience go weak. They’re both workaholics and true professionals, but y’know, even hotshot journalists and brainy doctors make time to kiss their way to a sizzling romance.

3. Kuryu Kohei & Amamiya Maiko (Hero)


Strictly speaking, they were never a couple in the original J-drama (whatever comes after isn’t worth a mention, really). But Kuryu and Amamiya were a powerhouse and wacko legal team, mostly because of his unorthodox methods, and their chemistry was off the charts.

4. Sena Hidetoshi & Hayama Minami (Long Vacation)


Long Vacation is a classic J-drama everyone should watch, because it’s one of Kimutaku’s best works. Both friends and lovers, Sena and Minami show age difference is no barrier to true love. Bonus: there is classical music!

5. Hirokawa Eiki & Egi Toko (Koori no Sekai)


This is a couple blighted by her traumatic past, but Eiki is nothing if determined to uncover the truth so Toko can finally get her life back. As they say, true love will overcome everything. Takenouchi Yutaka and Matsushima Nanako had some pretty sizzling chemistry here.

Some honourable mentions (or this will never end):
Takano Seiichi & Amemiya Hotaru (Hotaru no Hikari)
Kuga Tatsuhiko & Kasahara Natsuki (Over Time)
Usami Kei & Aizawa Airu (Love Shuffle)
Kudo Junpei & Tanaka Chiharu (Kekkon Shinai)
Tsui Fei & Quin (Detective Investigation Files IV)
Kang Tae-bong & Oh Dalja (Dalja’s Spring)
Hyun Jin-heon & Kim Sam-soon (My Name is Kim Sam-soon)


Day 4: Favourite Actor & Actress


Clockwise from top left: Fujiki Naohito, Tamaki Hiroshi, Takenouchi Yutaka, Kagawa Teruyuki, Nakamura Toru, Shiina Kippei, Abe Hiroshi

It’s pretty obvious from this blog that Tamaki Hiroshi is my favourite actor, but this post will also feature actors whom I enjoy seeing regularly on my screen and whom I think deserve a shout-out. Currently, I have a “super seven” group of Japanese actors whom I hope will team up together in a big drama that will be the most kickass one in Japan ever, haha. They include Tamaki, Fujiki Naohito, Shiina Kippei, Nakamura Toru, Takenouchi Yutaka, Abe Hiroshi and Kagawa Teruyuki. These are all solid actors and I’ve generally enjoyed watching the stuff they’re in.

I might as well toss in some drama recs while I’m at it. For Tamaki, definitely check out Nodame Cantabile, Shikaotoko Aoniyoshi and Love Shuffle. Fujiki was awesome in Love Revolution and Hotaru no Hikari. Shiina is incredibly versatile, check him out in Antique and Over Time. Nakamura and Takenouchi were both in Koori no Sekai, but also give Soratobu Taiya and Suteki na Sen Taxi a spin while you’re at it. As for Abe, definitely Kekkon Dekinai Otoko, but I also liked him tons in Shinzanmono and Hero. Kagawa was excellent in Double Face and pretty much the only saving grace in MOZU (which was incredibly tedious).

As for Hong Kong actors, I’m very fond of Miu Kiu Wai, who is pretty versatile and a really nice guy in real life. I’ve watched most of his stuff and like his range – he’s done everything from the good guys and baddies, to comedies and serious stuff. And this section would not be complete without the two Tony Leungs – both big Tony and small Tony are awesome, although their careers have branched out in different ways. I haven’t always liked small Tony’s recent film choices – Lust, Caution was pretty mehhh – but he remains one of the standout actors of his generation. I also like Lee Jung-jae and Kim Kang-woo even if their recent works haven’t been particularly interesting.

From left: Jessica Hsuan, Ueno Juri, Esumi Makiko, Ayase Haruka, Jeon Ji-hyun

From left: Jessica Hsuan, Ueno Juri, Esumi Makiko, Ayase Haruka, Jeon Ji-hyun

I have to admit I’m hard-pressed to select an outright favourite actress, but I’ll just name five ladies of whose works I’ve seen at least two and whom I’d want to grace my screen again: Jessica Hsuan, Ueno Juri, Esumi Makiko, Ayase Haruka and Jeon Ji-hyun. They are all solid and versatile in their own ways and have proven chemistry with the male co-stars they’ve worked with over the years. Jeon is actually more of a film actress (even if she did have a ratings hit drama last year), and she is especially memorable for her earlier works Il Mare and My Sassy Girl, both of which I recommend (Il Mare does have the edge, though). Ayase does need more challenging projects and co-stars who can bring out the best in her, while Esumi just needs a new drama, stat. Maybe it’s time for Ueno, Esumi and Ayase to team up with my “super seven” for a truly blockbuster J-drama to own all J-dramas (yes, one can dream!).


Day 2: Favourite Drama


Hands down it’s got to be Nodame Cantabile. It’s pretty much perfect, from the cast to the music, right down to the manga-esque humour. Ueno Juri and Tamaki Hiroshi were fantastic as Nodame and Chiaki, and had such amazing chemistry that many people still ship them together till this day. No other actor could have brought Nodame and Chiaki to life the way Ueno and Tamaki did. The acting was solid throughout and you could feel the camaraderie of the cast shining through in the drama and behind-the-scenes videos. For an 11-episode drama, character development was rich and logical, and every scene meant something in the bigger scheme of things. The music selection was spot-on and delightful, and added much to both plot and characterisation. You don’t have to know your Beethovens or Mozarts to appreciate the drama, but it might just make a classical music fan out of you!


I do have to give a shout-out to Love Revolution, which before Nodame Cantabile was probably my favourite drama, and still ranks very highly on my must-watch list. Japan doesn’t really do rom-coms like these anymore, where adults behaved like adults and weren’t afraid to get intimate with the people they liked. This was an all-round eye-candy cast, with plenty of kisses done right to go round, and the added bonus of these people being able to act (can’t say the same for the supposed eye-candy these days). Esumi Makiko and Fujiki Naohito were so winning in this drama, and their chemistry so pitch-perfect, that I’d shipped them for many years and still hope that they, like Ueno and Tamaki, would reunite on screen for just one more time. Dear Japan, time to give us some proper rom-com goodness!


Nodame & Chiaki: Rachmaninoff


The unique and wonderful thing about Nodame Cantabile is that characterisation is not only shown through action, it is also reflected in the use of music. It might not be obvious at first glance, but Nodame Cantabile is a drama that stands up to repeated watching and each time it brings new insights. When Nodame and Chiaki played the Mozart piano duet, the character growth was largely on Chiaki’s part. While Chiaki went on to learn how to better work with an orchestra, piano-wise it was not until the Rachmaninoff Piano Concerto No 2 in C minor, Op 18 that we see not only a major breakthrough for Chiaki, but the stirrings of one for Nodame as well. Continue reading

Winter goodness with Hiroshi & Juri


Winter 2015 looks to be shaping up quite well on the J-drama front, as both Tamaki Hiroshi and Ueno Juri will be in dramas that begin airing in January. Sadly they won’t be in the same drama (yes, the dream continues), but it’s still nice that their respective shows will air in the same month. Tamaki will star in Zannen na Otto, about a seemingly perfect husband who runs into marital problems after his wife gives birth. His character, Haruno Yoichi, seems to be the ideal husband because of his looks, character and capabilities. But after his wife Chisato (Kurashina Kana) gives birth to their first child, she begins to find fault with Yoichi and the poor man doesn’t understand why, so he ends up being downgraded to a “disappointing/unfortunate” husband.

This isn’t Tamaki’s first time playing a father and husband – he was also one in the taiga Taira no Kiyomori. According to Doramaworld, Tamaki says it is a good learning experience to play such a role at this point in his life, and hopes to make his character believable so the audience can identify with Yoichi. I think he’ll do okay! He probably already ticks the right boxes for the perfect husband part, haha.  The plot doesn’t sound terribly exciting, but it’s Tamaki back in a leading role, and I’ll watch even if all he does is paint the walls! After being criminally under-utilised in Kyou wa Kaisha Yasumimasu, it’s welcome news that the new drama will mean more Tamaki every episode. I haven’t seen Kurashina Kana in anything (she’s dating Takenouchi Yutaka, if that helps!), but Otsuka Nene is also part of the cast and I’ve liked her since she starred in the original Hero, so I’m glad.

Meanwhile, Ueno will play a police detective for the first time in her career in Ouroboros. This is a live-action adaptation of the manga Ouroboros – Keisatsu o Sabaku wa Ware ni Ari by Kanzaki Yuya, about two men who witnessed the murder of their beloved teacher when they were elementary school students. They gave evidence but the case was covered up by a police officer wearing a gold watch. Fifteen years later, Ryuzaki Ikuo (Ikuta Toma) has become a detective while Danno Tatsuya (Oguri Shun) is a leading member of the yakuza. Ueno’s character is Hibino Mizuki, who works with Ikuo while at the same time suspecting his relationship with Tatsuya. Apparently, the conflicting aspects of Hibino’s character intrigued Ueno enough into accepting the role, so I’ll be interested to see her take on this. I’m more partial towards Oguri Shun now that I’m watching him in Nobunaga Concerto, looks like this will be a fairly meaty role for him.

Zannen na Otto will air its first episode at 10pm on Wednesday, Jan 14 (Tamaki’s birthday!), while Ouroboros will take the Friday 10pm slot.


Alice no Toge


Recently finished Alice no Toge, Ueno Juri’s first drama after a three-year break from TV-land (her last being the 2011 taiga Gou). I generally enjoy revenge medical thrillers and this was a pretty good one to sink my teeth into. Hong Kong and Japan are fairly reliable in their procedurals (though I think Hong Kong has the edge), and at 10 episodes, Alice no Toge certainly burst off the blocks with a dramatic bang. Once it settled down, however, it had good pace and I found myself wanting to watch the next episode. Besides, it was refreshing to watch Ueno shed her iconic Nodame image to take on a very different role to showcase her versatility.

Mizuno Asumi (Ueno Juri) is a doctor at Seirin University Hospital, where her father was also a doctor fifteen years ago. Unfortunately, dad died because of medical malpractice that was covered up, and Asumi is determined to bring the matter to light to avenge her father. Initially, Asumi goes at it alone but gains an ally in the journalist Nishikado Yusuke (Odagiri Joe), who turns out to be her childhood friend. Together, they set out to unearth the mastermind(s) behind the cover-up and get more than they bargained for… Continue reading

Nodame & Chiaki: Sonata for Two Pianos

Nodame: Senpai's playing is so accurate! It was really according to the score! Chiaki: ......

Nodame: Senpai’s playing is so accurate! It was really according to the score!
Chiaki: You’re just too sloppy!

As I revisit episodes of Nodame Cantabile, I always find something interesting and new about the relationship between Nodame and Chiaki. I love that a huge part of their relationship is about the piano. It’s a very special instrument, the piano, with its black and white keys and the wondrous, crisp music it produces. I’ve always loved piano music above all else, so watching Nodame Cantabile and having the two lead characters be this intimately involved with the piano was an absolute delight.

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Fanvid: Hard to Love – Chiaki & Nodame

Found a really sweet fanvid of some classic Chiaki and Nodame scenes – the song is Hard to Love by Lee Brice, and the lyrics are super apt for Chiaki! I couldn’t stop grinning as I watched the scenes unfold. Maziltu, the person who made the fanvid, chose really good scenes that reflected the lyrics all too well. There are many lovely Nodame Cantabile fanvids out there, but this one really gets me right there and gives me that warm, fuzzy feeling. Every time I rewatch it, I relive the good times that are Chiaki and Nodame.