Taking another step out from anime, I’m a fan of a lot of Japanese live action stuff – not too much but a good number of shows and just finished watching a show now that the last episode finally aired and got subbed, and it put me in the mood to mention some of them. I’d like to watch a lot more so if you have any suggestions let me know in the comments, I find it’s hard to find subbed stuff, and even harder to find stuff worth watching. For some reason every drama site mixes in korean stuff too, and I’m not interested in it regardless if it’s good or not. I know there are people who watch this stuff as much as I watch anime, but given I’m not that deep into them these might not really be all that great in your mind.
Anyway, I won’t let this get too lengthy, it’ll be more of a short touch on each show like a summary and what I liked about it. And for the record, these are in no real order, I’d say they are my top 5 favorites, but I’m not sure how I’d rank them within that 5.
*Wordpress is acting up, so images might not load*
My Boss, My Hero;
This is a hilarious and very endearing show that will have you laughing, feeling nostalgic, and sometimes even quite sad. It also does a brilliant job of making you care about the main character, a very quick to anger Yakuza who is stuck going, at almost 30 years old, back to high school. He’s the son of the current head and can only become the new leader by graduating or else his father is going to find someone else (kind of like that adam sandler movie, but actually good). He has to hide his identity and pretend to be a normal student, and all the while he learns the importance of an education (he’s a complete dipshit at the start), the importance of real friendship, self respect, and – no surprise – learns about love as well. It’s as touching as it is hilarious, and it IS hilarious. It also maintains a nice balance between both of his lives – and, keeping to the title, showing how he is as a boss to some and showing how he is a hero to others.
This might be my top favorite after Nodame, it’s just so funny and yet so easy to feel empathy and sympathy for the MC and his situation, and really gets you a serious connection with Makio and wanting to see him succeed. This is also something I think even those not into Japanese TV could manage to get into easily because of just how funny it is in the simplest ways that don’t require any cultural knowledge.
The best character, well, there’s no question it’s Makio himself. The actor did a PERFECT job and has a really great voice for this kind of character, his outbursts of anger were made that much more funny because of it, and because of the all by themselves laughably awesome facial expressions he can manage. My second favorite is the girl who sits directly behind him, she’s very cute but is entirely a very side character.
Rich Man, Poor Woman;
This series just ended really recently, it’s basically about an amazingly talented and quirky guy who has already risen to the top of the IT industry, is known world ’round, and is super rich, and a girl who can’t get a single job offer and lives in a one room apartment. It sounds like some sort of romantic comedy, something like Hana Yori Dango maybe, but it turns out to have a lot more to it than that – and a LOT of actual drama within the company and so on. What I mean is it’s not some romcom, it’s almost more of a story about a company and Oguri’s character than it is about the relationship at times, keeping the entire series fresh, exciting, dramatic, AND having the romance get the perfect amount of focus without going stale. It’s always part of what’s going on, but many times it’s not the focus, and this makes for a much more interesting story than the romance taking the front seat as usual. Even the ending encompasses both the relationship and the business. Also, Oguri’s character is a huge tsundere.
Great cast of characters played by great actors and actresses, a really interesting and well paced dramatic story that keeps you constantly wanting to watch the next episode ASAP, some great songs, and a really well done romance with great chemistry that’s really fun at times and very cute at others. Very much worth watching, even though I said they aren’t ranked, this is probably in the top 3 of the 5.
My favorite character is actually a side character, apparently my strange side character fetish carried over to live action as well from this and My Boss My Hero. The main girl has a best friend who is only around every now and then, but she’s extremely cute and has hair very similar to Misaka Mikoto, and a face that works perfectly with the style. I just wish she was there more often. Second would be Oguri simply because, well, it’s fucking Shun Oguri, how can he not be at least the second best character? It’s also got some good music. I also like Yasuoka a lot for the way he obsessively and sillily tries getting Oguri’s character to remember his name and what a really great bro he turns out to be later on.
Hana Kimi (JP not Korean);
This was actually one of my first real steps into live action Japanese stuff. I had seen some things on and off beforehand but nothing of any remotely high quality or with any good acting. This also introduced me to the wonderful Horikita Maki and of course Oguri Shun. Horikita plays a (very cute) girl who enters an all boys school to meet this guy she admires (Oguri) and has to keep her secret from everyone. I had read the manga way before watching this so I knew what to expect and figured the show wouldn’t deliver, but I think it was a really great adaptation and got the feel of the manga across perfectly. They also did a lot of special effects and camera work during certain scenes to make them feel even more anime/manga-ish and it worked out instead of just looking cheesy. Another great thing is that almost the entire cast is made up of up-and-coming stars who now you can find in almost every worth-watching live action series or movie from Japan.
Very fun watch and one of my favorite romance stories from back in the day as well.
My favorite characters, well, first would be Horikita’s character. She’s just so cute and has a great personality and a really fun character to watch get in all these situations. She really feels like a shoujo manga character and they portrayed it well in the show. My second favorite would be Nakatsu who is constantly the butt of homo jokes and then starts actually believing he’s gay, all because he happens to love a girl who is pretending not to be one, but it’s pretty hilarious to see his reactions when he’s with her or when others point out how he acts around her.
Hana Yori Dango (all seasons + movies);
I hadn’t and still haven’t read this manga or seen the anime, no reason, just never got around to it – always meant to. But I did end up giving this a shot and then getting sucked in and marathoning through a rather long series, and it was great. This show either had a huge budget or a lot of sewing to be done because the very expensive looking outfits and even a movie with a lot of it filmed in America seem to be things that WOULD cost quite a damn bit, but the detailed clothes really helped with the atmosphere and believability that these guys were RICH AS SHIT, same with going to NY, it’s something you can easily believe these characters would do. A poor girl gets into a stuck up rich kid private school and has to deal with the group of kids who basically run the place due to their parent’s money and influence, and from there it goes through comedy, drama, and of course into romance. One aspect I did like was that it actually DID keep me really wondering who the hell she’d end up with.
Another really fun romance with well developed characters you get attached to easily once things get rolling – especially with the length of the series. And because a lot of the actors were just starting out or not that big at the time, it really felt pretty genuine too, they all did an awesome job somehow too. Very cute show.
My favorite characters were Makino and noodle hair (Domyoji, I remembered!). Makino is a typical likeable female MC type with some cute quirks and who doesn’t stand up for your bullshit if you screw with her no matter who you are – but at the same time is scared the moment you get mad. Domyoji develops just amazingly well in this going from a huge stuck up egotistical prick to a huge stuck up egotistical great guy whose a bit tsundere. You see, that might sound like no development but what you might be missing is the important fact – he grew HUGELY as a human being and a character all while still being himself. Instead of going for the typical moral of the story being you shouldn’t be x or y type of person or you’re bad – this went with showing that you don’t need to change the entirety of who you are to become someone better. And you know, dick or not, it was nice to see a character with more than one side to him. Even when he’s still being a prick you see so many times he’s a really sensitive guy who is just socially retarded thanks to being a sheltered rich kid all his life. He’s impossible to hate and, if you ask me, one of the best examples of a “classic” tsundere, instead of the retarded way the term is applied now.
Also, by far, one of my very favorite couples out there but I won’t spoil who!
Nodame (all seasons + movies);
This would probably be in the top 3 of the 5, Nodame in all forms is one of my very favorite things. Nodame Cantabile is by far one of the biggest masterpieces in anime, the manga is also amazing, and this show keeps the standard. One of the most well written, realistic, and mature – yet very light hearted fun and comedic romance stories you’ll find out there in any medium. I ended up writing enough to make a fucking full post all on it’s own about this so I deleted it and will keep this one short. Basically, if you haven’t seen this, watch it. Like now. Hell, more importantly, if you haven’t seen ANYTHING Nodame, watch the anime right away. It’s seriously one of a kind and one of the best anime series there is.
Overall, a must see with top notch acting, amazingly well done adaptation, and just a really fucking great watch and one of my favorite series in any medium be it the anime, the live action, or the manga. The actors all really got across the quirks of the characters perfectly as well and really…”became” them you could say. It seems less like actors playing roles and more like the anime characters popped out from it to film a live action, it’s fantastic. Also, if you’re into classical music this is a MUST because it’s got not only amazing performances but it’s all real orchestra playing it. They even made a special orchestra SPECIFICALLY to use for actually playing the music in all the scenes showing such, and a big part in Nodame for a good chunk of the first season is how Chiaki gets stuck working with an orchestra of misfit retards who put their own spin on every song – messing it up on a technical level yet making it sound wonderful, and this orchestra they filmed with and who did the audio was made to do that exact same thing – and they did great. They also had guest appearances by several very well known real world orchestras. Overall every aspect of the series was adapted perfectly into this medium.
My favorite characters, well the whole cast I suppose. Nodame is the very very top though, she’s just such an amazing person while being such an adorable airhead and the actress got this across spot on.