Yes, I had to take a rest. It took a couple of days to let my mind simmer and relax. I had no idea that I would be so long winded. Blame it on the fact that most of these dramas, I never wrote a review for even though I had the best intentions to do so. So, let’s continue with the rest of my picks. Again, I don’t necessarily expect agreement but as most of this lists are opinion posts, here we go again! (Check out Nelly’s blog, she might have rated dramas with **)
Kimura Takuya as Ieji Hisashi
Ueto Aya as Ieji Megumi
Mizuno Miki as Nozawa Kaoru
Tanaka Kei as Honjo Tsuyoshi
Suzuki Kosuke as Watanuki Shinji
Yoshimoto Miyu as Takanashi Yua
See rest of cast here
My opinion on this drama will definitely be different than most. While I admit that I am a HUGE fan of Kimura Takuya because he is the reason I started watching Japanese dramas (Priceless was my very first!), I really liked this drama for many reasons.
1. The mystery of Hisashi and the significance of the 10 keys was interesting. You wanted to know where each key would take you.
2. Hisashi and Megumi’s relationship was kind of perplexing. As the episodes revealed more and more, you became interested in why they were even together.
3. Hisashi and Yoshio’s relationship. Why was a man so distant from his son?
Later when it is revealed to the viewers about the relationship that Ieji didn’t have with his current family as well as the lack of one that lead to his first divorce due to his workaholic tendency, it was nice how those facts were revealed to an amnesiac Ieji and help to mold and rebuild the man. It’s pretty sad when even your own son is not used to having a ‘real’ father to participate in his life! I admit, the use of masks wasn’t first understandable; however, as the drama went, it became clearer what the masks meant and their use throughout the drama. It was nice to see KimuTaku return to a family drama. I wasn’t a big Hero fan and I was hoping this drama would be something different. My rating might be a little bias as I am a HUGE fan, but it stands at 9/10
Matsuzaka Tori as Satomi Shinobu
Kimura Fumino as Inokuma Yuki
Nanao as Tachibana Kara
Kitayama Hiromitsu as Hayami Sho
Takada Sho as Miyake Ryosuke
Okazaki Sae as Amemiya Hikaru
Kaname Jun as Tsukimoto Kei
See rest of cast here
Mind blowing… This truly was the year of the female characters that step out of the typical mold of having to be protected and coddled to females able to take care of themselves; or in this case, scare the HELL out of us! Siren was a very nice surprise. I went into this drama thinking it was going to be the typical Japanese crime/mystery drama that I like and it morphed into something closer to Mozu which I absolutely LOVED!
I haven’t had the pleasure to watch a lot of Matsuzaka Tori, especially in a leading role but as Satomi Shinobu, I liked that his character was smart and an actual “thinking” detective. Sure, it was with dismay that he was surrounded by incompetent people in the police force; however, it was with relief to be able to follow his logic as he questions evidence and conclusions made by others. The man’s only fault was being in love with a woman who I felt wasn’t the smartest of the lot but really thought she was.
Yuki’s character went from having some sense to being one of the stupidest women on the police force. Her constantly believing everything that Kara told her and never listening to Tomi who she’d known for 3 years was amazing. The final moments with Kara and her torturing of the girl, I tried to have some sympathy but I couldn’t. She got where she was because of her stupidity and her unwillingness to listen to Tomi and his logic. Yes, Yuki was my least favorite character, especially the more she listened to Kara! Because she ignored him, she literally got more people killed or hurt in the process. So my sympathy during her plight was very limited.
Every scene with these 3 was simply charming! These two women represented two that was pretty sharp and picked up really fast when it came to doing what their Satomi wanted them to do! They really were a joy to watch!
But, this drama wouldn’t have been the same without the best evil villain for the year 2015. As Kara Tachibana, Nanao did a HELL of a job playing this female that not only would scare most men but was a force to be reckoned with. Throughout the entire drama, Kara had you guessing “Who she was?”, “What does she want?”, and most of all “Who will she kill next?” Whenever Kara was on the scene, the unpredictable always happened. Here Kara never failed to intrigued us or surprise us.
The brilliant writing by Sato Shimako (Yasha and Unfair, two very good dramas) brought us a drama that definitely is in a class by itself. As usual, the constant twists and turns in the drama had us screaming “WHAT?” all the time! I love surprises and unpredictability in a drama and Siren represents one of the best in this category. Overall, crime/mystery/suspense drama watchers will like this one. This drama kept us on the edge of our seats and as is rare in a drama, gave us an ending that made us stand up and clap! Good job, Sato Shimako! You have a new fan! My final rating for this drama was 8.5/10. Why? Because Yuki annoyed me too much!!
Ikuta Toma as Ryuzaki Ikuo
Oguri Shun as Danno Tatsuya
Kobayashi Kika as Danno Tatsuya
Ueno Juri as Hibino Mizuki
Ishii Kaho as Hibino Mizuki
See rest of cast here
This drama also represents a difference in writing. I like a drama that gives me something different than the usual drama troupe! I also loved the fact that the concentration was on the bromance and not a non-sensical romance thrown in for no reason. The pairing of Ikuta Toma and Oguri Shun was magnificent! You couldn’t have had two better actors together! For some, it was the return to Hana Kimi or maybe Hana Yori Dango; however, as I have never seen neither of those, maybe those dramas will finally make it to my watch list.
The drama was a ride fantastic! From beginning to the end, I enjoyed the story. The thrills and the chills as the story was slowly unfolded kept everyone’s attention. Even non-fans of either actors would agree that there was some great acting in this drama! There were so many moments that I enjoyed to include the flashbacks to Danno and Ikuo’s early life with their mother figure played by Hirosue Ryoko. While the writer did try to inject some sort of a love line between Ikuo and his partner, Hibino Mizuki (played by Ueno Juri), I was actually glad that this remain pretty much in the background or on the editing room floor.
The love and affection as well as respect that these two men had for each other was a bromance well played out, right until the end. While some might have balked at the ending, for me, I felt it was appropriate for two men that grew up together, planned together and were willing to sacrifice for each. I wouldn’t have expected anything less. My rating for this drama was 8.5/10
Shinohara Ryoko as Nakahara Aki
Eguchi Yosuke as Takayama Fumio
Kichise Michiko as Osaki Moeko
Suzuki Sawa as Sakata Midori
Tanihara Shosuke as Kurita Junichi
Hirayama Hiroyuki as Ikeda Yu
See rest of cast here
I really did like this drama. It really took me back to the days of watching Sex and the City. Like that US show, the focus was two-fold: friendship and relationships. The 3 women, Aki, Moeko, and Midori were friends but totally different. All of the women were in their 40s but Aki was single and workaholic who was married to her job but initially was in relationship with a younger man. She was always looking but it seemed all the men in her life just were never right for her. Moeko was a self employed business woman who owned a flower shop. The funny thing about Moeko was her life wasn’t her own but her mothers. Truly a momma’s girl! Last but not least was Midori. A mother of 3 teenage and older sons, I never understood if she was divorced or widowed. But one thing for sure, she had a wonderful relationship with her sons.
Some of the men we were introduced to ran from Ikeda Yu who first began dating Aki with the intentions of marriage but as Yu had a commitment phobia, the minute Aki got serious, he bolted. What a dolt!
Moeko went from playboy and PR firm owner, Kurita Junichi who couldn’t decide whether he was willing (or able) to settle down with one woman but you had to respect him because he knew that and told all of his women that. At least with Moeko, he almost was willing until he met her mother. Damn! When the woman dictated to him how she not only was going to live with them but also how she wanted to live, even I understood his hesitance to continue the relationship with poor Moeko. Now, Maekawa Ryosuke really liked Moeko but for some reason she wasn’t willing to give him the time of day. Poor guy!
Now, Midori’s choice of man turned out to be not only her youngest son homeroom teacher but also a mere 4 years older than her eldest son. I got a kick out her following him around; okay, actually stalking the man. Though this relationship didn’t really progress, I loved it when her sons were pressing her to date and actually said they didn’t care whether the man was young or old. Such great sons!
I enjoyed Aki and Fumio’s interaction. As a client at Aki’s PR firm, she was put in charge of his latest project as a writer. Fumio hadn’t written anything of late but his book firm was trying to promote him before his next release. One thing about Fumio; he was a very eccentric man! Eguchi Yosuke did a wonderful job as Fumio. He made his office at a local coffee shop and didn’t think twice about interrupting Aki where ever she was. He became her confidante on her relationships, her friend when she needed someone to talk to and later lovers. Yes, their relationship did progress in the natural order of love. I liked that about this drama.
I would be remiss in not mentioning the office folks. Talk about cutthroat BYTCHES!! They thought nothing about talking about poor Aki behind her back. It amazed me how they showed her no respect when she wasn’t in the room, always complaining about her age and how she needed to leave. One of these women actually had the audacity to talk about how she was too old too still work!! As you can imagine, a few cat toys went flying. One woman in particular who went so far to fabricate a story about Aki getting drunk and publishing pictures. The problem was that the company had a morals clause and this put Aki in a bad situation. I couldn’t believe that the workplace with younger women could be this bad.
Again, this was a drama that you could enjoy and if you are of a certain age, you could relate easily with the characters. Like Sex and the City or even A Gentleman’s Dignity, you will absolutely enjoy this drama. I really did. My rating for this gem was 8.5/10
Ayano Go as Kounodori Sakura
Matsuoka Mayu as Shimoya Kae
Yoshida Yo as Komatsu Rumiko
Sakaguchi Kentaro as Shirakawa Ryo
Seino Nana as Sumida Mayumi
See rest of cast here
Babies! Babies! And more babies!! This was one drama that ran the gamut when it came to emotions. You could laugh, cry, feel sad and definitely cry some more! I believe this might have been my first drama about OB/GYN profession! And what better way to watch this drama but with Ayana Go as the lead! Dr. Konotori Sakura was a different kind of OB/GYN. He truly put his patients first. When it came to the mother or the babies, Sakura thought nothing about himself.
As a closet pianist who went by the stage name of “Baby”, Sakura was the ultimate doctor. He was loved by his patients, nurses and most of the other doctor staff.
I loved that this drama didn’t shy away from any subject matter. There were stories about preemies, unwanted pregnancies, teen pregnancy, and especially about fathers left to raise their child after the death of their wife. One story featured prominently starred Oguri Shun as Hiroyuki Nagai. Nagai’s wife died as she gave birth to their daughter. It was also wonderful that Shun had his real life daughter Mei (with actress wife, Yu Yamada) played the daughter. As you can expect, Shun/Yu daughter is simply adorable!
This is definitely one drama that you will love to watch. There’s just something about watching so many beautiful babies! Not prop babies; actually babies. I’m sure that this was shot partially in a real hospital. You cannot go wrong watching this beautifully orchestrated drama that featured real life situations with the precious ones in our lives. I gladly gave this drama a 8.5/10
If this wasn’t enough to consider, here are some more dramas that I watched that I’d suggest:
Shitamachi Rocket 8.5/10
37.5°C no Namida 8.5/10
Second Love 8.5/10
Mutsu: Mieru Me 8.5/10
TENSHI TO AKUMA – Mikaiketsu Jiken Tokumei Koshouka 8.5/10
Mare 8.5/10 (Japanese Asadora)
Angel Heart 8/10
Soredemo Boku wa Kimi ga Suki 9/10 (drama short)