Top 5 Starter Jdramas for Dudes

by mo on 02/21/2010

Are you a guy who’s never seen many (or any!) jdramas? This article is for YOU.

I’ve been into jdramas (Japanese dramas) for 3+ years now and I love any opportunity I get to spread the jdrama joy. As I’m a Computer Science major, about 90% of the people I meet and interact with on a daily basis are guys. Over the past couple of years, I’ve had quite a few requests for jdrama recommendations… all from guys. Since a lot of jdramas are romantic and more girl-oriented, I wasn’t sure at first which to recommend. Here’s the list I tend to recommend to guys (and they’ve reported back that they liked). All five are superb shows by the way, and everyone (not just guys) should watch them.

Oh, and one note before we start: A lot of the clips have non-english subs. Apologies to those of you who don’t speak either Japanese or the language the clip is subbed in. All of these jdramas should be readily available with subs, though… so don’t let that stop you.

Here we go!

1. Kekkon Dekinai Otoko
The pitch: Neurotic architect resists pressure to get married… or eat anything except for steak.

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More info: Kuwano is nearing 40. He lives alone in an insanely neat and clean apartment. He cooks himself steak for dinner every night, and has a glass of milk. He is an architect obsessed with creating wonderful kitchens. He hates people, has no intention of getting married. However… he’s a little anal, some health issues take him to the doctor, involving his next-door-neighbor, who won’t leave him alone. Hilarity ensues. I promise.

Why it’s fun: Ken-chan, Kuwano’s neighbor’s dog, is probably the best actor you’ll ever see.

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Kuwano’s neighbor and doctor spy on him doing something unbelievable…

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Kuwano and his architecture assistant obsessively read the blog of their architect-competitor

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Ken-chan (the dog), about to be in BIG TROUBLE

Sample: Kuwano is uhh… a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to making okonomiyaki.

2. My Boss My Hero
The pitch: Yakuza boss goes back to high school.

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More Info: Makio (Nagase Tomoya) is in line to become a yakuza boss. Unfortunately, he’s not the brightest crayon in the box, so his father (a current yakuza boss) insists that he go back and graduate high school. Makio becomes a high schooler by day, and a yakuza member at night (when not doing his homework, kanji practice and arithmetic).

Why it’s fun: You get to hear Makio’s aggressive, yakuza-speech style thoughts that go through his head while sitting through class… and become completely worthless around his cute, adorable crush played by Aragaki Yui <3 myboss3
Makio is sure one intimidating gangster. He has this facial expression for 90% of the show.

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Night job = YAKUZA aka intimidating people.

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But Aragaki Yui is still TERRIFYING

Sample clip: Let’s just say getting the pudding at lunchtime is VERY IMPORTANT to everyone… including Makio.

3. Stand Up!!
The pitch: 4 dudes find out they’re the last virgins in high school… and go on a mission to change that fact. Maybe.
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More Info: The story is set in a low-ish class Tokyo neighborhood. One of the 4 boys’ families runs a love hotel. One boy has a hopeless crush on their extremely attractive english teacher. A girl, Chie, comes back to town for the summer and awkwardness ensues. (Also, these 4 main characters are all major stars now, FYI).

Why it’s fun: Do you know how to insult a dude by calling him a virgin in Japanese? Well, you will.

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Sample: Uhh… kissing practice?

4. Kisarazu Cat’s Eye
The pitch: Baseball player finds out he’s dying of cancer, his team decides to become burglars!

Summary: This show surpasses description. It moves at 1000 miles a minute and you will probably be left in the dust. In a good way. Also, there are TWO movies.

Why it’s fun: Probably just Sato Ryuta’s hair. Oh right, and EVERYTHING ELSE. This show is hilarious.

Sample: The baseball team visits Tokyo!

5. Nodame Cantabile
The pitch: Messy spaz / brilliant pianist Nodame goes to music school, studies under uptight aspiring conductor. Hilarity ensues.

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More Info: This one is a pretty famous drama based off the manga of the same title (there’s an anime too which is totally not worth watching, IMO). Technically, Nodame is a love story, but the music (primarily orchestral) is the major thrust of the drama. It’s cute, a little cartoonish due to its origin in manga, and very good. Great music selections too. If you’ve ever played a musical instrument, this drama is a must-see (and even if you haven’t played one, really…)

Why it’s fun: Nodame is insane. GYABO!

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Sample: Chiaki shows Nodame how this whole cooking thang is DONE!

Thanks for stopping by! Hope this list helped direct you towards a jdrama you’ll get completely hooked on. To all the guys who watch jdramas out there, let me know if you have a favorite that should have been on this list!

This post was a submission for the February 2010 Japan Blog Matsuri hosted at Muza-chan’s Gate to Japan.

There are 16 comments in this article:

  1. 22/02/2010bhargav says:

    I’ve seen all of these! and they were all by your recommendation, haha.

    awesome :D

  2. 22/02/2010Burritolingus says:

    There, there, poor hard drive… it’ll all be over soon. Nice list, time to load this sucker up with a few dozen more gigs of dramas!

    I haven’t watched a huge amount of J-dramas, but a few particularly manly ones come to mind.

    魔王(Maou) is one of my all-around favorites, a loose remake of the Korean drama “The Devil”, a revenge story about a tough detective with a shady past and… a lawyer. Guess which one is the bad guy? Suspenseful and has one of the most memorable drama endings I’ve seen yet.

    Bloody Monday was pretty entertaining, as well, if a little too over the top at times. It’s basically 24 with a few more braincells and set in Japan. Sorta. Season 2 is airing as we speak, and it’s surprisingly badass so far!

    Also, Densha Otoko.

  3. 22/02/2010nacest says:

    Thanks for the list! I too would have placed 結婚できない男 at the top, it was really awesome. Now I’ll have to watch My Boss My Hero.

  4. 22/02/2010mo says:

    @bhargav: yes, thanks for being one of the initial testers of the jdrama starter list :P Glad you liked them…

    @Burritolingus: I’ve actually been meaning to watch Maou for a loooong time (I planned to watch it a long time ago… and then forgot.) Thanks for the tips! They sound particularly good for the jdrama-watching dudes out there, too.

    @nacest: Glad to point you in the direction of My Boss My Hero… it’s definitely one of my favorites. Kekkon Dekinai Otoko really takes the cake as far as amusing & quality too, I think.

  5. 25/02/2010Aeris says:

    So fun!!!! i see the last 4!
    now.. i wanna see Kekkon Dekinai Otoko!!!

  6. 1/03/2010chodee says:

    These are all really good esp. My boss my hero! You might check out are Ikebukuro West Gate Park, it’s directed/produced by the same person as cat’s eye.

  7. 3/03/2010casey says:

    how about LOVE SHUFFLE. totally love this one!

  8. 4/03/2010Laurel Ryan says:

    As someone who has lived in Japan for the last year and is just now getting into TV, this is a great article. I am currently co-editor for a brand new Kyoto online newsletter, and am trying to find some good guest posts for our readers. This post would definitely fit that role! Would you consider doing a guest post on manly J-dramas for the Ganbatte Times? My email is somewhere attached to this post, and the newsletter email is on the site. Please let me know!

    Oh, I’d add Liar Game to the list. Sure, forty percent of the first season is slow-motion footsteps and evil laughter, but it’s still very intelligent.

  9. 4/03/2010Darrel says:

    I would definitely second Densha Otoko for this list, but Love Shuffle? Isn’t that the one where everyone pees in cups in the elevator together, then decides because of it they should trade boyfriends/girlfriends? Personally, I hated that one.

    Another recommendation though is a drama called LIFE. Just watching the main character change from innocent HS girl to vicious revenge machine is amazing. And, like Kisarazu Cat’s Eye, LIFE moves 1000 miles a minute. I was hooked after the first ten minutes.

  10. 4/03/2010mo says:

    @chodee: I saw part of IWGP but it was a very low-quality copy, unfortunately. I do LOVE the scriptwriter though, Kudo Kankuro. He does great work.

    @casey: I definitely enjoyed Love Shuffle, but I don’t think it’s quite as high-quality as the others listed here. I also think it’s a bit less guy-oriented (though I do have several guy friends who enjoyed it!) It’s a good runner-up suggestion though, especially if people liked Tamaki Hiroshi in Nodame.

    @Laurel: Wow, I’d love to guest blog for the Ganbatte Times!! I will shoot you an email this afternoon, but really, I’m honored!!

    @Darrel: Densha Otoko looks like it could have made the list — LIFE I would have categorized as a girl-oriented drama more just because all the characters are schoolgirls. You’re right though, it is really intense, and kind of scary. I was definitely also hooked in the first few minutes.

  11. 16/03/2010locohama says:

    Thanks for the info. I’m gonna check out all of the above based on your recommendations. They sound great!

  12. 24/10/2010dazu says:

    Not a bad list but there are much better dramas for men. Stand Up is not really a drama for men as the guys in it are such wimps, more of a fantasy drama for girls. For men, there are better shows such as Holyland (street fighting), Be Nice to People (4 guys raising a little boy), Kita Yoshio no Ashita (suicide) and Fuuma no Koujiro for fun (ninjas). There are also many sports dramas which are pretty good if you ignore the romantic cliches. Baseball of course gets centre stage (Rookies is the best baseball drama) but there’s also ice hockey (Pride), car racing (Engine) and even board games like Shougi (Hachi one Diver).

    Additionally no talk of jdramas for men would be complete without talking about 2 other kinds of shows:

    Midnight dramas….nudity! Usually comedies, these are made for men with such gems as Yankee Boku ni Kaeru and Shimokita Days. Don’t expect plot but it gets made up to you in fan service shots!

    Taiga dramas….Japan’s annual 50-episode drama about the history of Japan is almost always a feast for men with of course the Sengoku and Bakumatsu periods taking centre stage. If you’re new to Japanese history, start with Musashi (semi-fictional) and Fuurin Kazan to get a good background of the Sengoku period, quite possibly the coolest 60 years in the history of the planet.

  13. 8/12/2010D. Satoshi says:

    Awesomeness. My Boss, My Hero was my first Jdrama (back in 2008), then went to Stand Up!! then Kisarazu Cat’s Eye. Loved them all deeply (my friends and I have a limitless supply of inside jokes XD). I’ve been looking for a new one to get into and Kekkon Dekinai Otoko looks perfect; thanks for your insight!

  14. 7/04/2011Nora says:

    I love your list! I’ve watched all the drama’s, so it won’t really help me right now (I’m currently looking for a new drama to watch, and since I have watched quite a lot of dramas, most lists don’t contain any drama I haven’t seen so far…), but I really liked all the dramas in this list. I also read all the comments, (I’ve even watched almost every drama that appears in those comments as well>….<), etc.\

    Enough talking, now: A request! Do you have any dramas you would recommend to someone who has watched I guess over a hundred dramas allready? I really want to find a new drama to watch, but I'm out of ideas…=(

  15. 6/09/2012Amira Devant says:

    I highly recommend the jdrama Bloody Monday. Granted, I only watched this at first because I love Haruma Miura. But it’s just fantastic.

    Description: After a biological terrorist attack kills off the population of a Russian town; Japan’s Public Safety Special Third unit, code name THIRD-i, believes that the terrorist organization responsible plans to unleash the same virus known as Bloody X into Tokyo. Subsequently, THIRD-i recruits the help of genius hacker Takagi Fujimaru to find out what happened in the Russia. However, as Fujimaru becomes involved, he soon finds out that he is in over his head and that the terrorist groups influence reaches not only his school but even the police. Fujimaru must now rely on his skill as a hacker to unravel the organizations sinister plot and find out the truth behind “Bloody Monday.”

    I have watched (and love) yoru recommended! I am a girl but I can’t stand tooth-rotting fluffy love stories…

  16. 8/11/2014Lily says:

    Even girls can enjoy these cause I do!!!

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