I love January. With the exception of the cold weather, it’s a great time. Start of the new year and a great time to see the new batch of the new year’s dramas. It’s also a great month to check out Japanese dramas. I admit that Korean dramas take over my schedule as the year progresses, but the beginning of the year gives me an idea of the tone of Japanese dramas which ultimately determines my priorities for the year. These are the upcoming dramas I have my eye on, and please note that this list could grow.
Anthology (Drama Special) | tvN (South Korea)| Premieres 1/6
While some may groan over its one episode run, it’s perfect for everyone involved with this project. Drama specials are a great way to usher in new writers without overwhelming them with 16+ episodes. Directed by Lee Yoon Jung (The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince, Cheese in the Trap), a talented female (YAY!) director who has carved out a respectable (and controversial) space in the dramaverse, but may fare better with the shorter dramas for now. Starring young actors Shin Eun Soo (The Legend of the Blue Sea, Magic School) and Jung Jae Won, also known as YG Entertainment rapper ONE, in his first leading acting role. I’m not-so-subtly obsessed with him so I’m interested to see how he does in this high school romance where he’s playing the exceptionally handsome country boy that falls for the tough city girl that just came to town.
Kiss of Death | NTV (Japan) | Premieres 1/7
A guy whose only goal in life is to obtain money and power works as a popular host at a host club. He dies after being kissed by a mysterious woman and resurrects to find he’s been sent back seven days before. It’s like Groundhog Day meets the documentary The Great Happiness Space: Tale of an Osaka Love Thief. Of course I’m going to watch!
Final Cut | Fuji TV (Japan) | Premieres 1/9
A revenge story about a man who loses his mother after she is accused of killing his sister. On his path to revenge he begins to fall in love with one of the sisters that may have the answers he’s looking for. Um, Show, you had me at Kame.
Anone | NTV (Japan) | Premieres 1/10
A year is not a year without a Sakamoto Yuji penned drama, and this is one hell of a year seeing that we’re starting with one. This will also be reuniting the writer with the same director that did Mother (2010) and Woman (2013). A top notch cast which includes a frequent Sakamoto player Eita will bring this tear-inducing script to life. I can’t wait.
Life for Sale | BS Japan (Japan) | Premieres 1/13
Guy who has bearable amount of success as a life insurance agent turned copy writer suddenly tries to commit suicide which leads him to start selling other people’s lives to people who no longer want to live their own. Each episode will likely be based around a new client/request which is the kind of episodic format associated with crime television shows that I try stay away from. Nonetheless, this sounds intriguing, disturbing and has the potential to convey a great message about treasuring the life that we have. I’m in.
BG: Personal Bodyguard | TV Asahi (Japan) | Premieres 1/18
I’m Kimura Takuya (a.k.a. KimuTaku) trash along with a good portion of Asia so it’s guaranteed I’m gonna check this out. Kimura plays a father who works as security guard at a construction site. His company opens a bodyguard division. Good thing he used to be an elite bodyguard but, due to a bad experience, he hides this fact from his employer.
Mother | tvN (South Korea) | Premieres 1/24
Yes, this is the Korean adaptation of the Sakamoto Yuji penned classic drama of the same name. Yes, I’m going into this side-eying the hell out of it. I usually don’t bother watching an adaptation if I’ve seen and loved the original. However, that love I have has ensured my investment, and that is exactly what the producers are expecting. To be fair, they haven’t let me down so far. PD Kim Cheol Kyu (Chicago Typewriter, My Beautiful Bride) is a capable director and I’m impressed that instead of recruiting a drama writer, they brought on film screenwriter Jung Seo Kyung (Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, The Handmaiden) whose detour to the small screen only makes me assume she had just as much investment in the original that we do.