A Different Perception on JDrama

Nodame Cantabile the Movie

If anyone asks me two years ago about my opinion of JDrama or Japanese live action movies, I tell you my answer would not be a positive one. Watching Kimi ni Todoke live action movie left such a bad taste in my mouth that I find it hard to watch another series. Although I won’t go as far as to say that I hate it completely, they just weren’t my cup of tea.

That was until I was asked to watch Nodame Cantabile live action drama on YouTube.

To my surprise, I enjoyed the series very much. I didn’t feel like it’s stiff, which is one of the main reasons I shunned the category for as long as I did. Sure, there were what I call exaggerated actions or movements (something I’m not quite fond of in live action stuff), but coming from having watched the anime and read the manga, I can relate (it’s an excuse! >.<). In the end, I managed to watch the whole series plus the specials and movies. Pretty good stuff.

Remember the friend who asked me for anime recommendations a while ago? She ended up watching a few JDrama series and introduced me to them. I was a little more open to giving those series a shot after having a wonderful experience with Nodame Cantabile series. I took my sweet time though, lol. She gave four series and I only managed to complete two. And she gave me those series early last year! I managed to slot in those two series while on the move. Internet at the places I traveled to on work commitments isn’t friendly to me so I spent my late nights watching the dramas at the hotels.

I started with Attention Please, a series based on manga of the same name, and then quickly followed by 1 Litre of Tears, a touching true story of a girl’s battle with spinocerebellar degeneration. Both drama are very different in terms of genre and material. One was a super fun comedy while the other made me wanna cry.

What I noticed was I wasn’t annoyed or irritated by the flow of the series or awkwardness/stiffness of the actors I sometimes sensed. Both series managed to pull off a decent presentation of the materials. Each of the series triggered the rightful emotions/response from the audience. This I can tell because after discussing the series my friend (who doesn’t, right?), I found that we shared the same opinion regarding both series. I think the most important point is that both Attention Please and 1 Litre of Tears managed to win over two people who previously never really liked the idea of watching JDrama series. That’s some kind of accomplishment, don’t you think?

Oh, Paradise Kiss live action movie ain’t bad too. It even prompted me to watch the anime, which was super fun and a unique experience.

It’s either I had terrible runs with JDrama/J-movies before seeing the aforementioned titles or my taste has changed and that I’m a little less picky. Hey, you know sometimes people changed with age! Or maybe now I understand that certain titles have weirdly dressed casts and exaggerated movements because they’re adapting according to source (it still feels weird though).

You know what. After that little experiments, maybe now I’m more willing to embrace the idea of watching live action series of the anime titles I’m following. Or maybe vice versa.


10 thoughts on “A Different Perception on JDrama

  1. Aww, I liked the Kimi ni Todoke movie >.<

    I had an easier time adjusting to JDrama because of prior fascination in the Kamen Rider franchise (had those airing at local channels a lot back then), which really displayed what I think a lot of viewers really dislike about watching JDrama, and other Japanese live action genres – that being over-acting, or just being "over" in general. I guess in the end it's about acquiring a taste for it? Who knows, it could also be the natural progression for us anime viewers 😀

    • Lol, there are quite a few people I know who like Kimi ni Todoke movie. For me, it feels stiff. >.<

      That's right, the over-acting part really puts me off. But as I try watching different series, there are some that actually quite good, which is why now I'm more willing to give JDrama a shot. I still find it hard to accept the over-acting part though…and this doesn't just apply to JDrama.

      "Who knows, it could also be the natural progression for us anime viewers" – true, and also I think it goes both ways, depending on the interest of the viewers. Since I'm more of an anime fan, I might actually check out the anime version of a JDrama.

  2. I once watched a JDrama called Hungry! without anime background, the actors were great and I nearly liked it as much as watching anime. A factor I didn’t liked that much was the technical setup, it was hd but the lighting felt so artificial, I prefer the cineastic attempt in terms of lighting and stuff.

    My favorite Japanese Movie so far was Go! it was story about a korean youngster in Japan.
    I really liked the movie a lot and it had the right cinematic setup.

    • Speaking of cinematic setup, I notice different movies from different places have different sort of lightings. Like for instance, the local movies here in Malaysia have this oldie movie feel to it. I’m not sure if it still the same now since I haven’t keep myself updated with local entertainment industry in ages.

      Hungry! eh? I think this is the one you told me a while back? Is this the one about cooking?

      • Well, I prefer it when the light looks more natural and when the backround is a little blurred.
        In Hungry! everything was sharp 😀 Maybe I have to get used to it.

        Yes this one, he has a funny restaurant and it was a cool story ^^
        Oh I guess I missed the last episode, I should watch it now.

  3. D’aww…and here I was thinking about watching the Kimi ni Todoke movie. =( Ah well, best to watch it first and comment later, no?

    As for J-drama, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t the guts to watch any yet. (T_T) Where do I even start?

    Anyway, I think the transition from 2D to 3D is harder because we’re too used to the visual cues in anime already. When a character’s depressed, you look for that distinctive “blur zone” on his face and maybe even some “depressed” lines on his forehead. If that fails, you can even just look at the surrounding art; in gloomy situations, they tend to use a darker palette.

    Here’s an eye-opening read by Carillus of “Ambivalence, or is it ambiguity?”. I always go back to his/her post when I want to understand anime as a hobby:

    • That’s right. Maybe the movie will tickle your fancy. Who knows right? Never try never know.

      Haha, I totally understand it. It took me a few years before finally venturing into watching live action version of an anime title. I was a little worried that it may ruin my impression of the series but it never did. I still love Kimi ni Todoke even though the movie wasn’t to my liking. >.<

      For me, I don't really think is about that. It's more like I'm used to a certain style of acting so when things are a little different, it takes time adjusting. I don't know about you, but for me Taiwanese, Hong Kong, Singapore, Japanese, English drama series are all different. The feel and overall production value varies too. So I'm kind of picky like that?

      • Phew, glad to hear that watching an adaption doesn’t affect your love of a series. Still, I think I’ll watch the source first before the adaptions, just to be safe. =D Btw, do you know of any J-Dramas that got adapted into anime? I’m kinda curious.

        Well, there is an extra dimension in real-life acting, so I think there’s more room for mistakes and flat acting. Anime has its fair share of awful animation and bungled dialogue, but there isn’t the pressure of a huge crew and audience watching your every move.

        Nah, it’s not just you. I get what you mean. When I watch Chinese dramas back in my hometown (once a year!), I always have a mild, uneasy feeling. The static cameras, perfect lighting and even the different colour of the shows always surprises me-a Western TV and anime otaku. In short, I guess each entertainment medium and industry has its own standards and technology; there’s no “right” or “wrong”.

        Still, if only they could move those creepy and stationary cameras once in a while…

        • So far, I only know of anime/manga adapted to J-Drama, not the other way round. It would be interesting though if there is. I’d love to know what will the experience be like. Do tell me if you heard of any titles.

          Probably directing anime is a lot easier in the sense that one doesn’t have to depend on another human to project the emotions the way he/she wants. Let’s just say, it’s easier to control drawings or CG than actual human beings. At least, that’s how I see it.

          “There’s no “right” or “wrong”” <- very true. It's just a matter of personal preference in this case. And even that changes depending on circumstances.

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