2018 was my come back year to j drama fandom. So, I guess there is no better way to close this year’s end than write something about that, right? 😀
If I should to rank the dorama in 2018 that I’ve already watched so far, my personal rank would become in this order :
(1) Unnatural – Investigation/Medical
The protagonist in this drama is Misumi Mikoto (Satomi Ishihara), a pathologic physician who work for UDI lab. UDI stand for Unnatural Death Investigation (real lab in Japan), a laboratory that investigate the cause of unnatural death. Aside of Mikoto, there are Nakado (Arata Iura), another pathologist with numerous experiences but has personality issue, Kube-kun (Masataka Kubota), a fellow junior-photographer who has some kind of hidden agenda, Shoji (Mikako Ichikawa) an UDI laboratory technician, and the head of UDI, Kamikura. Altough it was clearly Mikoto as the protagonist, there was no wasting character in this team. They shines as the UDI team individually. Their work was about this team work, not merely Mikoto.
This show is unique and interesting. The different case in every episode is always unpredictable, full of emotion, and very very engaging. Nothing meaningless from each episode and the way it interlacing with one another to build a whole completed story were perfectly done. The casting and the way it contribute to the storyline also a good watch. It gave the interesting mystery, the lesson of humanity, the character development, the entertaining interaction, from the beginning until the end. Very impressive.
(2) Kemono ni Narenai Watashitachi/Weakest Beast- Romance
Kemono ni Narenai Watashitachi, or Kemonare, was finished airing some time ago. Many people dropped the dorama due to its slow development, hard to root for character, or somehow heavy storyline. Expect to watch long dialogue during the show, but if you kind of people who like watch the show that feel realistic enough about adult life, struggling in job, looking for what loves and relationship affect our lives, this show is a go.
The protagonist was Akira Shinkai (Yui Aragaki), employee for IT company, did her job perfectly, logically intelligent and also caring to other. Our heroine was smart but not come to snobbish. She was kind but did not appear as innocent nor stupid. She is likable. She is the epitome of perfect woman both in her private life and in her job. But her character (kind, reliable, responsible) made it hard to avoid extra job that supposed not to be her responsibility to do and prevent her to said necessary thing that comes as unkind or would disappoint people around her. There’s a solid reason behind that. Althought she clearly got certain flaw, I love her character the most.
Then, there was Kosei Nemoto (Ryuhei Matsuda), an accountant, popular among woman but somehow appear ‘mean’ because of his tendency to speak as it is. Also a logically intelligent person, he didn’t let emotion got in his way. Both he and Akira were regular in 5tap, a bar near Akira’s home and Kosei’s office. At first, their conversation was superficially like stranger until they could almost read the real each other character precisely and addressed each other difficulty without being too privy.
Not only this two, another interesting character like Shuri (Haru Kuroki), Kureha (Rinko Kikuchi), Kyoya (Kei Tanaka) added the dynamic of this drama. Kyoka was Akira’s boyfriend that cohabitating with his unemployed ex-girlfriend, Shuri. Their circumstance frustating at first to watch, but along the way, it somehow feel ‘suitable?’ and understandable. At first, all the character was annoying and hard to root for. But as the story progressed, we could see them in different light. I found all the character issue were relatable in the real life and I feel like recognize human as it is: struggling, longing, and suffering.
For me, Kemonare was more than a romance and relationship themed, although the way it portrayed relationship also extraordinarily a good ones too. It told the adult life, our tend to value people and ourselves. It comes to thought what right we have to put label on someone whether she/he was okay, perfect, live a miserable life, or else? How far we could change while stay true to our genuine self? It also confront our fear because of the choice we made and fear because of the change.
In relationship department it made me evaluate about values in love and relationship. Shouldn’t we like someone as human first than just simply like him/her because of love? Should love about caring our partner but not our thought? If loves serves other, is it wrong to serve us? What makes we connected to a person?
This story told beautifully without exaggerated moment, with carefully tend dialogue. For me, this feel real, deep, and honest. It gave me a rollercoaster of emotion in a very fond ways. And I could not recall when the last time, I felt so compellingly drawn to human through screen like this.
Both Unnatural and Kemonare were from Akiko Nogi sensei as the scriptwriter.
I pledge that, from now, I would watch every work from her. I found her work always charming. I also love how the character always centered in woman with all her strength and issues in life without positioning man as a jerk nor secondary.
(3) DELE- Investigation.
Sakagami Keiji (Takayuki Yamada) and Yutaro (Masaki Suda) works in an IT company called dele.life that specialise in deleting all electronic data from deceased client. Kei was the founder but has limited ability in field because he was crippled, and then Yutaro comes to did some of job that Kei could not do, basically confirmed the client’s death.
An intriguing premises that deliver in each episode. Should we leave any trace of our existence in digital data? What it mean if we did that? What would we did if it would hurt or cause harm to another person? The story not carefully threaded as whole storyline like unnatural but still enjoyable.
Aside from this three, here’s another j drama in 2018 that I had finished:
1. Hana Nochi Hare- Youth, School RomCom
Hana nochi hare could not compete with the other in storyline (cheesy enough about rich boy fall for poor girl) and script department, but it was excitingly enjoyable and I have had many LOL moment while watching. This show was the one that remind me of the joy by watching jdrama. Thus, Hana Hare, become one of my favourites drama from this year too.
I became a fan of Sugisaki Hana after watching this show and ‘Her Loves Boils Bathwater’.
2. Todome no Kiss
Good storyline with abundant good looking actors. It didn’t really hooked me in the earlier episode, but in continuity it’s become interesting. The character development is good and quite engaging, but I just don’t feel the ‘right’ push to be put this one as the best dorama. Maybe because there’s another drama with better storyline of the thriller/psychological aspect?
3. Eerie Mienai Kao
4. Good Doctor
5. Princess Jellyfish
6. Cold Case Season 2 – Investigation/Thriller (Great and Great)
This series would beat dele and kemonare (and I was really conflicted for unnatural or this one) as my personal best drama in 2018, but being broadcast by WOWOW made this one an outlier for me. The casting, the storyline, and the cinematography are so perfectly done. In my opinion, this season made me emotionally wrecked than season 1. This drama is really that good.
Drama in 2018 that I watched by number of episode but not finished (because of various reason) were:
1. Kyo Kara Ore Wa
2. The Confidence Man JP
Have finished this one recently. And what a ride that was. The earlier episode about the scam scheme didn’t always caught my attention but it’s getting better and better. Masami Nagasawa was fun to watch too. Highly recommended. It was not my best 3 thought, but became another favourite of mine.
3. Dairenai (Although Erika Toda and Muro Tsuyoshi were good tandem in this and extremely engaging to watch, the premise about alzheimer in love story just too soap opera-ish for my liking)
4. Gibo to Musume no Blues
5. Suits JP
6. Black Pean
7. Legal V
8. Miss Sherlock
10. Way too Kawaii
Older drama that I’ve been watch recently and become personal favourite were:
N no tameni (2014)
Code Blue series (2008, 2010, 2017)
(still surprising that I had missed this ones during my college day as all about japan fandom)
All my thanks to all the english subber and indonesian subber that make it possible for me to enjoy this shows. Thank you.