Important Importables: Intro to JDramas

September 12, 2010 - 2:00 am No Comments

Hot Japanese Imports: Intro to JDramas

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Japanese language learners are often advised by teachers to look into the cultures media to help make the learning process go faster. By immersing oneself, like by watching TV shows or listening to music from the country, people can get used to hearing spoken Japanese.

While Japanese anime, music, children’s picture books and manga are often suggested, as they allow students to refine language and translation skills by watching characters on the screen or in the pages of a comic and getting comfortable with hearing Japanese and seeing kanji, katakana and hirigana, there’s another kind of TV show learners can turn to. Japanese dramas, often referred to as Jdramas, can be another helpful resource.


What are Jdramas and how can they help people learn Japanese?

Based on the name, Japanese drama, newcomers may be inclined to consider them soap operas. Which for the most part is wrong. Yes, there are some series which comfortably fit in that genre, but it’s easier to think of most Jdramas as general television series, which can fit into romance, drama, comedy or historic genres. A typical series is around 12 episodes long, though there are exceptions, and episodes are filmed a few weeks before they are shown on TV. They also tend to have very catchy opening and ending theme songs.

Jdramas can be a valuable resource for non-native Japanese speaker because, like Japanese music or anime, they provide listeners a chance to hear the language being spoken while also watching on screen interactions. The optimal situation is to find a series that has English subtitles. That way, the viewer can know exactly what’s being said, start to pick out words that he or she finds familiar and perhaps even get an idea of how sentences are formed.

Jdramas may even be more helpful than anime, in terms of learning Japanese. Situations in Jdrama series usually aren’t as outlandish as in animes and actors performances aren’t exaggerated.

When it comes to watching them, however, you’ll probably have to stick to YouTube. Most DVD box sets you’ll find on eBay are bootlegs and the original DVDs won’t have English subtitles and will be region encoded, so you’d only be able to watch them on region-free DVD players.

Hana Yori Dango Jdrama

Jdrama recommendations

Many times Jdramas are based on popular manga series or novels, which could be a good way to help newcomers get into series. If someone is familiar with a particular story, like Densha Otoko, the Jdrama adaptation may be a good place to start.

Here are a few series newcomers may want to look into:

  • 29-sai no Christmas: Noriko is 29 years old and her life is falling apart. She’s no longer a fashion designer and her boyfriend cheated on her and left her. So she moves in with her best friend to regroup.
  • Densha Otoko: A shy man named Yamada saves a train stewardess named Saori, and turns to the 2channel website users for help find a way to talk to her and build a relationship with her.
  • Ginrou Kaiki File: A detective series where, after a motorcycle accident with a friend, the surviving high school student named Kosuke develops a second personality.
  • Gokusen: Kumiko is a new teacher and is looking forward to it, ntil she realizes she’s been made homeroom teacher to class 3-D, which is filled with delinquents.
  • Hana Yori Dango: Tsukushi is an ordinary girl attending a prestigious high school. The F4 rule the school, and pass out red tags to anyone who offends them, causing the person with the tag to become a target. When Tsukushi steps up to defend her friend, she becomes the next target. But she’s a weed and won’t back down!
  • Kimi wa Pet: A businesswoman named Sumire finds a young man living on the street. She takes him in and agrees to keep him as her pet, Momo. She’ll keep him and take care of him, as long as he promises to love her and be like a pet dog to her.
  • Samurai High School: Kotaru Mochizuki is a rather weak boy. He finds out in a history book that he shares a name with a legendary samurai, and his father confirms that Kotaru may be descended from him. He then finds himself transforming into a samurai to help others in dangerous situations.

Personally, I’d recommend watching Hana Yori Dango. It’s funny, has great casting, wonderful theme songs and can be found with English subtitles.

COMING NEXT WEEK: Hot Japanese Imports reviews Pop’n Music for the Dreamcast.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: Last week Hot Japanese Imports talked about TinierMe.

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Full Story » | Written by Jenni Lada for Gamertell. | Comment on this Article »

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