You figured if I like (more like I obsess over it) Asian culture, then is only natural that I like Asian dramas. This is not necessarily so, however, I do happen to like them. I will explain: It wasn’t until two years ago, in 2008, when I started liking Asian dramas; the culture however, I have liked since I can remember. But to be precise, if you can sing to the opening theme of Sailor Moon, then, most likely you are one of mine.
For this post I will list only those I consider the 10 best dramas of this year based on how much I enjoyed it. But before I get to it, I want to share how I started liking Asian dramas:
I was really into this Korean manga titled Goon, and was looking for chapters to read online when I stumble upon Goon, the drama. I was completely taken by the end of the first episode, and even when its one sweet and joyful drama it does not come close to being on my top 10 list. After Goon, I quickly jumped to First Shop Of Coffee Prince, and then The Vineyard Man; and kept on going none stop following actors, directors, stories. I even went as far as to make a diary with the name of those actors I favored and their dramas. I would connect them with a star if it happened that one or two actors on my list were together in one drama. Also, I would rate them on a scale of 1 to 5. How is that for being the biggest dork ever? Amazing.
Judging from this, then you have to realize, I have been watching more Asian dramas in two years than what I have seen of any other country in a life time. For a Cuban that is a lot since we were heavily exposed to Brazilian dramas. Thirteen years of my life were spent adoring and drooling over those “Adonis” they have for men in Brazil. Then, I came to this country to be introduced to a whole new kind of obsession, Mexican and Venezuelan dramas. Imagine how many dramas I have seen; all those stories compiled into one big massive cell in my brain. Now, imagine watching in two years as much or double of what I watched in twenty-five years… that is almost sad, if not completely sad. Do I have a life? Well, if I were Bones, I would say: “of course, I am alive; therefore I have a life, if not I would be dead.” But since I am not Bones –I wish I could pull that one on you- I will answer with honesty and say: sometimes it did feel like I didn’t have one of those, what do you call it? Ah! Life. I do go to work, school; have a perfectly healthy relationship with a boy and, take care of a house, pets, plants, and a Blog. I think that can be pretty much described as a normal life. The trick is to always make time for those things that keep you going through your everyday routine. It’s real easy, it’s called time management, not addiction, no. Trust me. Some of my friends go clubbing, others like to play tons of video games, and others like taking pictures and traveling. I -among other Asian things- love their dramas. This is why I have named this phase of my life ASOAO (All Sorts Of Asian Obsessions).
10. Pick The Stars. Funny, cute, lovely, but is the same thing over, and over again. Typical Cinderella story with shiny-prince-in-a-white-horse which then turns into a sort of Sleeping Beauty. What saved the drama from being another waste of my time? The hilarious scenes with the kids.
9. Code Blue 2. Medical drama. In my opinion, no other medical drama I have seen beats New Heart. But then again it might be just my opinion. Code Blue 2 was not as good as the first season, and the lead actor (Yamashita Tomohisa) could easily be compared to a brick on a wall, very cute, just adorable boy, but… brick on a wall. It was the engaging stories of the patients in each episode what made me keep watching.
8. Yankee-Kun To Megane-Chan. A school drama based on a manga by Miki Yoshikawa of the same name. The story was funny, but forgettable. What I loved was the chemistry between the leads. Narimiya Hiroki is such a great actor, I love him in all of his dramas. He pulled the rebellious teenager character very well; he did not let me down and that is something I have to respect. His cat-like lips are the cutest thing… meow.
7. Pasta. A romantic comedy about pasta chefs, what more can you ask for? The lead actors are, perhaps, two of the best actors in Korea right now… eh, for TV dramas I mean. Gong Hyo Jin won me over in Thank You. Since then, I have followed her in other dramas. I know that wherever she is, I will get quality acting and a lovely story to boot. Both leads, together, made me fall in love.
6. Mischievous Kiss. This drama is not exactly good, it does not have all the components required for it. It is, however, very lovely and sweet. It makes you feel like a teenager in love once again. It is based on a famous Japanese manga (Itazura na Kiss) although this version is from Korea. The manga was written by Kaoru Tada. Another huge Cinderella like story… only this prince was very abusive. I think what makes the story so appealing among the younger generation is the fact that the male character is such a jerk, yet always does the right thing when it counts… and of course the fact that it is played by Kim Hyun Joong helps a lot since he has the drooling effect on girls… It is the same idea as in Hot Gimmick, another Japanese manga, in which the female character falls in love with this boy who acts like a complete jerk, but loves her right on the inside. No wonder boys believe girls only like “bad boys”. ;P
5. Freeter Ie o Kau (currently watching.) A drama about a young man who evolves from being a loser to a “making it happen” kind of person. This drama best describes why I like Japanese dramas above Korean dramas. Most Korean comedy dramas are about Cinderella and her prince. They characterize by having an extremely smart, talented, handsome, and above all trendy male lead, and a poor not so pretty girl (they want you to believe that) with a strong willpower. I got tired of that when I started watching Personal Taste. Instead, why not watch a drama about a dysfunctional family, and a young man with whom I can totally relate? That is Freeter Ie o Kau.
4. Secret Garden (currently watching.) Okay, so I said I was tired of Cinderellas. However, this dramas is not your typical Cinderella. It has body-switching/soul-exchange kind of thing, a tomboy female lead, and a… wait, wait for it, jerk for a prince. Plus it has Hyun-Bin, and Ha Ji-Won.
3. Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge. Lovely drama based on a manga I truly enjoyed about three years ago. It’s about four beautiful boys trying to transform a timid, Gothic-looking girl into a proper young lady. It’s a love comedy, and it won’t disappoint you. The cast is full of handsome boys, and one of my favorite young actors, Kamenashi Kazuya. The female lead I had never seen in any other dramas, but I thought she was endearing. Overall, it was a joy to watch. It also has one of the sweetest kiss scene I have ever seen, here is the link: skull kiss.
2. Liar Game 2. Taken out of a manga (currently reading it) Liar Game is a psychological thriller in which a naive, candid girl, and a top swindler plan to uncover the evil person responsible for the misery in which those who are chosen to play the Liar Game fall under. Without giving too much detail of the story -because it would spoil the fun and this story is a must watch- the game is design to bring out the worst in people. During the game, the players are forced to betray each other in order to achieve their goals; be it, win the game, or get out of debt. Kanzaki Nao (the main character) always looks for alternate ways in which to win the game without having to cheat other players. However, she cannot do it without the help of the mastermind Akiyama Shinichi, a swindler with an agenda of his own.
This drama is good in all aspects. The only reason why it wasn’t my number one choice is because I like dramas to be less manga like and this drama being taken out of a manga cannot do that for me. Other than that, its one drama I still miss after watching it. It had great acting and story so mind-blowing is almost crazy. I was tempted to fly to Japan and find the author of the manga Shinobu Kaitani, so that I could ask him face to face, how the — he came up with a story so — good. Erika Toda is lovely and Matsuda Shota is one of the few young actors in Japan that I follow, together with cutie-pie Kazuya.
1. Quilty: Akuma To Keiyaku Shita Onna (currently watching, one more episode to go, I’m so exited) This drama is one of the best if not the best of the year. What makes it the number one on my list? Well its got everything I always want out of a story: love, mystery, action, comedy. There is Miho Kanno, an awesome actress, she makes me feel her pain. Also, Hiroshi Tamaki, although I can’t say he is a great actor, because I would be lying to myself. He is, however, very handsome and not only that, but sexy, grrr. Hiroshi is tall, skinny, and has shoulder length hair, I love it; Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, anybody?; Johnny Depp in… almost all of his movies; Brad Pitt in Legends Of The Fall… (sigh) I love man with long hair. The first thing that pulled me to Guilty was not Tamaki and his sexy hair cut (coughing) It really wasn’t. It was the story. For me, if a drama has a story involving revenge, or taking justice in your own hands kind of thing, then I don’t need good-looking actors to watch it. But this one had both, lucky me.
The story is about a woman (Meiko) who goes to jail for a murder she did not commit. Twelve years later, she starts taking revenge in those who contributed to her imprisonment. Not just by making their lives miserable, but by manipulating them into committing suicide. Tamaki plays the detective behind the murders, however he meets Meiko by chance and feels attracted to her. Here is the link for those interested in watching it, and not just because of Tamaki, haha. Happy melting.
I probably should mention those I didn’t have the time to watch, but seemed promising. Hopefully I’ll have time to watch next year; Harvest Villa; Kim Soo Ro; Road Number One; My Girlfriend is a Gumiho; Athena: Goddess of War; Juui Dolittle; Ogon no Buta.