Ahh! That sweet time when you transition from childhood to adulthood! All the memories, the learning moments, friends, puppy-love and teenage angst!
How I wish I could go back! Where is Doc and his DeLorean when you need a quick ‘Back To the Future’ moment?
I bring to you, my list of the top 5 Japanese Dramas that perfectly encompass these coming-of-age moments. These dramas have me rolling around laughing till I cry, and crying till I laugh out of hysteria, I fall for the characters, I don’t want to say goodbye when the show ends, and afterwards, they leave a lasting effect on me.
Suffice it to say, they give me ‘all the feels’!
I would like to express, that this is my personal list and I am not claiming these to be the best of the best! I’m sure you avid Jdrama lovers will each have your own personal list! If so, share the love! Kuma and I need some drama recommendations!
On with the list!
1. Hana Kimi or Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (For You in Full Bloom)
Ashiya Mizuki decides to part with her family in the United States, and travels to Japan in order to motivate her struggling idol Sano Izumi, an award winning high jumper who has left the scene due to a leg injury.
Problem? He attends and resides in an all-boys school; Osaka Gakuen.
Solution? She cuts off her hair and transfers to the school, pretending to be a boy!
This drama one of the funniest I’ve ever seen! Ashiya Mizuki’s struggle to hide her gender from the boys, while befriending them and pushing Sano Izumi to fulfil his dreams, is both hilarious and awe-inspiring!
Osaka Gakuen’s spontaneous dorm competitions are ridiculously intense, and under these awesome dorm heads’ leaderships, the boys cause a lot of mayhem, and make lasting high school memories!
Do not be fooled, this drama is not centred around romance, the camaraderie and love these boys have for each other is inspiring and I’m sure you’ll shed a tear or two at their bromance!
2. Seigi No Mikata (Ally of Justice)
This drama focuses on sisterly love… or should I say hate?
Yoko’s older sister Makiko is as selfish as they come. She carefully plots and schemes to ensure that she gets exactly what she wants, and who is forced to play the role of her minion? Yoko of course!
Yoko is caught in hilariously embarrassing situations, all while running some ridiculous errand assigned by her older sister! Not only does she have to deal with homework, friends, teenage love, and figuring out her future, she has to deal with Makiko’s wrath!
But to Yoko’s disdain, no one around her seems to see her sister for what she is really like, because her selfish actions end up making things better for other people, and placing her on a pedestal! They seem to think she’s an ally of justice!
Yamada Yu’s acting abilities truly shine in this drama, she plays the role of a rude and selfish glutton, who will step on anyone to get what she wants, all while parading around under the garb of an elegant and moral young woman!
This drama focuses on the sisters’ relationship and how it changes, as they both scheme to get the ultimate prize; Yoko: freedom from her sister and Makiko: a rich and successful man at her every beck and call!
This drama will leave you laughing at every scene, and thanking your lucky stars that you don’t have Makiko for an older sister!
Get out your tissue box and get comfy because this drama is a roller coaster of emotion.
Michiru is reunited with her high school best friend Ruka after four years. Michiru decides to move in with Ruka and her flatmates, and they become more than just flatmates, they all become good friends.
But they all have some baggage; secrets that have been hurting them, and causing them pain and misery.
Over the course of this drama, you’ll fall in love with these characters and really feel for them, you’ll want them to find happiness and cry when they feel pain.
Their circumstances stirs a sense of compassion and empathy, and their growing relationships with each other are very reminiscent of our own personal ones.
These characters come to terms with their issues and grow closer to each other, creating their own family, and I felt like I was a part of this family too.
4. Gokusen (Abreviation of Gokudo no Sensei, which means Gangster Teacher)
Some teachers are passionate about the subjects they teach, some spend the entire year ignoring their students, and some teachers lead a double life as Yakuza! Well at least Kumiko does!
Kumiko is next in line to inherit her grandfather’s position; head gangster. However, her passion lies in teaching. She is one of the most optimistic and caring characters I’ve ever seen. Within a school system that has no love for students that can’t get high grades and follow in line like sheep, she yearns to make every student’s high school life as fulfilling and memorable as possible.
But Kumiko has her work cut out for her, her first time teaching, and she has been assigned the ominous ‘3-D’ class. This class comprises of violent youth that have no concern for learning or following the rules. They are considered gangsters by most other students and teachers and take pride in their feared status.
Well, a very real gangster is about to whoop them into shape!
This drama features one of the best takes on student-teacher relationships and has many over-the-top high-jinks that will have you laughing till you pee yourself!
Everything about this drama is comedic. From their outfits to their hair, the details in this drama have created characters that you will never forget!
I often think of actor Oguri Shun’s hair in this drama, and wonder how such a creation came to be!
And then theres the charming Shin Sawada, played by Matsumoto Jun. He’s observant and intelligent, he has taken the leadership position within our beloved ‘3-D’ teen-gangsters, and albeit his suspicions about Kumiko, he soon warms up to her.
5. Nobuta Wo Produce (Producing Nobuta)
This drama is all about friendship. We never forget the people we meet in high school, and the relationships we make during this time effect us in many ways.
Nobuko, a shy and awkward transfer student, gets bullied and teased by her peers because of her unsociable nature.
The dynamic duo Kiritani and Kusano decide to help her out, as a testimony to their youth.
Nobuko is cynical and can’t relate to people around her, whereas Kiritani is extremely popular, however his persona is a façade. Kusano, unlike the two, is a free spirit who does as he pleases.
Their ‘production’ of Nokuko creates ridiculous situations and their clashing personalities are a hilarious combination.
In the process, Kiritani, Kusano and Nobuko (who they nickname ‘Nobuta’) become friends and learn the meaning of true friendship.
They confide in each other and share their secrets. They come to terms with what they truly want and face their fears, supporting and inspiring each other to express their feelings and strengthening their bond.
Kiritani and Kusano’s friendship is especially wonderful to watch, their bromance is very touching and makes me cherish my own BFF kuma.
If you haven’t seen these dramas, I highly recommend them, you will not be disappointed! And if you do, then let Kuma and I know what you thought!
Now, I’m off to re-watch these and reminisce about my high school days!