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12 Japanese Romance Dramas and Films You Can Watch on Netflix – TheFantasyTimes

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By Jitin Gambhir

12 Japanese Romance Dramas and Films You Can Watch on Netflix



The popularity of East Asian dramas has skyrocketed in the past few decades, thanks in large part to the increasing availability of subtitles and translations, as well as increased funding for these shows. Whether it’s anime, Chinese historical dramas set in the distant past, or Korean fantasy shows, audiences around the world can’t seem to get enough of these productions. While Japanese dramas have been popular domestically for some time, their television shows outside of anime have been largely overlooked. However, the country’s romance dramas have become a staple in Japan and have gained more attention in recent years thanks to platforms like Netflix.

One such show is The Many Faces of Ito, a 2017 television series based on a novel titled Ito-Kun A to E. The show follows a 32-year-old screenwriter who has become jaded with the concept of love after writing romantic comedies for a living. She recruits four women desperate for love, telling them she’ll give them advice, but instead uses their stories for content. The results end up being completely different than she anticipated.

Another Japanese romance series worth watching is First Love, based on music created by Hikaru Utada. The show follows a boy and a girl who fall in love in their hometown while going to school in Hokkaido. Their relationship evolves over the years, but an accident tears them apart. Time passes and they end up crossing paths once again, but not without some twists.

Love Like the Falling Petals, a film based on a 2017 novel of the same name, follows a photographer who becomes his hairdresser’s first client. When she makes a mistake and cuts his ear when he asks her out, it’s a rocky start to their relationship. But when they go out together, there are big revelations about their paths and what’s to come for each of them.

We Couldn’t Become Adults, a 2021 Netflix film, tells the story of a young man whose life is told in reverse. It begins in 2020 and ends up going back to 1998, reflecting on his life, relationships, and career and showing how he became the person he is today.

Good Morning Call, originally a Manga series, was adapted into a television show in 2016. Set in Tokyo, the show follows the characters as they transition from high school to university, watching their relationships grow. My Husband Won’t Fit, a 2019 Netflix series, follows the lives of a married couple who have been together since college but aren’t able to meet each other’s physical needs, creating distance between them.

Switched, a 2018 series with only six episodes, opens with a tragedy as a high school student struggling with depression decides to kill herself. One of her classmates watches this happen, but when she passes out, she wakes up and realizes they have switched bodies. This allows her to explore the reasons behind the student’s decision to end her life and how she was bullied.

Love and Fortune, adapted from a Manga, shows what happens when one is unsatisfied with their current relationship. While in her 30s, Wako falls in love with a high schooler, leading to serious debates and discussions throughout the show about the implications behind such actions.

From Me to You, based on a Manga series titled Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You, follows Kuronuma Sawako, who is teased constantly by her classmates for her hairstyle. She looks up to one of her male classmates, thinking he could never notice someone like her, but in reality, he already has. The series delves deeper into their relationship as it flourishes and she goes outside of her shell.

Fishbowl Wives, released in 2022, delves into the inner lives of six wealthy women and how unhappy they are with their relationships. Seeking emotional and physical validation elsewhere may lead them into infidelity, making the show a fun watch for those who don’t want to think too hard.

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Finally, Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? is a 2023 Netflix series starring Mao Inoue, Takeru Satoh, and Kenichi Matsuyama. The show follows two adults who reunite as adults after living together as children with the same foster parents. When one of them goes missing after they begin to date, the other becomes deeply concerned. The woman files a missing person report, and the mystery unfolds from there.

East Asian dramas have been wildly popular over the past couple of decades, particularly due to the widespread usage of the Internet, more subtitles and translation, and funding going towards these kinds of shows. Whether anime, Chinese historical dramas set in the distant past, or a Korean fantasy show, global audiences can’t get enough of shows and movies from the region. Japanese dramas have been very popular domestically, and have covered a wide variety of genres in their subject matters. The film industry there has become well-known, but television from the island country is unappreciated outside of anime.


The idol industry in Japan has fed into the love for dramas, with some of the most loved idols appearing on shows, and there is a thriving industry for actors to get television work.However, Japanese romance dramas have been a staple in Japan. Like their Korean and Chinese-language counterparts, these dramas have come with a list of tropes and methods of telling stories. As Netflix has been increasing its offerings with international cinema and television, more Japanese romance dramas have been spotted as being on the platform in recent years. That said, these 12 romance dramas and movies are ones you should be adding to your to-watch list on Netflix.

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12 The Many Faces of Ito

The Many Faces of Ito
Tokyo Broadcasting System

A 2017 television series that was based on a novel titled Ito-Kun A to E, The Many Faces of Ito offers a twist from the get-go. A 32-year-old screenwriter is done with the concept of love. She writes romantic comedies for a living and has become jaded because of it, but with her newest project, she’s going to use other people’s experiences. She recruits four women who are desperate for love and tells them she is going to be giving them romantic advice, but in actuality, she’s planning on using their stories for content. The results end up being completely different than she could have ever expected.

11 First Love

First Love
C&I Entertainment

Based on music created by Hikaru Utada, the Japanese romance series First Love only consists of nine episodes, but is gorgeous to watch. The show takes place across two different periods: youth and adulthood. A boy, Harumichi, and a girl, Yae, meet in their hometown in Hokkaido while going to school, falling in love in the process. Their relationship evolves over the years, but an accident tears them apart. Time passes, and while their lives look completely different now, the two end up crossing paths — but several twists are involved with this.

10 Love Like the Falling Petals

Love Like the Falling Petals
Toho Studios

Although Love Like the Falling Petals is a film, it unfolds like many Japanese dramas do. It was created based on a 2017 novel of the same name. A photographer, Haruto, meets a hairdresser and becomes her first client. He continues to come to her and get her services, but when she makes a mistake and cuts his ear when he asks her out on a date, this is a sign that the two are off to a rocky start. When they go out together, there are some big revelations about their paths and what’s to come for each of them.

Related: Netflix’s Call Me Chihiro: Why You Should Watch This Soothing Japanese Drama About the Intimacies of Life

9 We Couldn’t Become Adults

We Couldn’t Become Adults
C&I Entertainment

A Netflix film that came out in 2021, We Couldn’t Become Adults stars Mirai Morayama as Makoto, a young man whose story is told in reverse. It begins in 2020 and ends up going back to 1998, sparked by a friend telling Makoto about how only a few people in the world end up happy. The film reflects on his life, relationships, and career, showing how he became the person he is today. We Couldn’t Become Adults is very timely for many these days, as its themes and philosophical musings are relevant in today’s world.

8 Good Morning Call

good-morning-call-netflix
Telepack

Good Morning Call was originally a Manga series that came out in the late-90s through the early-2000s and even saw a sequel created years after the conclusion of the original series. In 2016, a television adaptation was finally made of the series. Set in Tokyo, the television show follows the lives of the characters as they transition from high school to university. Two seasons of the show were released, watching the characters and their relationships grow, and a third season may or may not be happening in the future. Haruka Fukuhara portrays the main protagonist Nao.

7 My Husband Won’t Fit

My Husband Won’t Fit
Fuji TV

Released in 2019, My Husband Won’t Fit takes place across 10 episodes. It follows the lives of a married couple who have been together since college, but there is a big problem with their relationship. The two of them aren’t able to fit each other’s physical needs, which has created distance between each other emotionally and mentally due to the lack of intimacy the two are having. Although the show has very specific problems many may not relate to, the conversations that come up because of it are relatable to almost everyone.

6 Switched

Switched
Netflix

Although the 2018 series Switched only has six, fairly brief episodes, that doesn’t mean they aren’t impactful. It opens with a tragedy: a high school student struggling with depression makes the decision to kill herself, and she decides to jump from the top of her school’s roof. One of her classmates watches this happen, but when she passes out, she wakes up and realizes the two have switched bodies. Because of this, she can explore the reasons why Umine, the other student, decided to end it all and how she is bullied.

5 Love and Fortune

Love and Fortune
TV Tokyo

Adapted from a Manga, Love and Fortune shows what happens when one is unsatisfied with their current relationship. While in her 30s, Wako decides she is no longer happy with her boyfriend, leading her to fall in love with a high schooler. This subject can easily be shocking for many viewers, as she is thirty-two and the student she ends up seeing is 15. However, this comes with some serious debates and discussions throughout the show that dive deeper into the implications behind such actions. Because of that, Love and Fortune may not be for everyone.

Related: Broker Director Kore-eda Hirokazu Calls for Reform of Japanese Film Industry

4 From Me to You

From Me to You
Fine Entertainment

A 2023 release, From Me to You is based on a Manga series titled Kimi ni Todoke: From Me to You. Its protagonist is Kuronuma Sawako, who is teased constantly by her classmates because her hairstyle looks like a character from a Japanese horror movie. Although she doesn’t have friends and becomes lonely because of it, she looks up to one of her male classmates. She doesn’t think he could ever notice someone like her, but, in actuality, he already has. The series delves deeper into their relationship as it flourishes and she goes outside of her shell.

3 Fishbowl Wives

Fishbowl Wives
Fuji Creative

Like many other Japanese dramas, Fishbowl Wives was adapted from a Manga series. Released in 2022, the television show delves deep into the inner lives of six wealthy women and how unhappy they are with their relationships. No longer will they sit idle in their luxury apartments and be the textbook example of what a stay-at-home wife will be. What they end up doing may cross into the territory of infidelity, as they are seeking emotional and physical validation elsewhere. The show crosses into soap opera territory, making it fun to watch if one doesn’t want to think too hard.

2 Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times?

Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times?
TBS Sparkle

A 2023 series released by Netflix, Why Didn’t I Tell You a Million Times? stars actors Mao Inoue, Takeru Satoh, and Kenichi Matsuyama. Two adults who lived together as children with the same foster parents reunite as adults, but when one of them goes missing after they begin to date, the other becomes deeply concerned. The woman files a missing person report and meets a detective who begins to investigate, but he makes some concerning findings when going out on the town to search for clues. The series ran for 10 episodes at the beginning of 2023.

1 Quartet

Quartet
TBS Television

Quartet was a Japanese drama that came out in 2017 and consisted of 10 episodes during its run time. Four individuals meet and form a quarter, living together. Each of them comes to the group with a plethora of personal issues and problems, and while they try to develop their professional lives, the secrets they have slowly come to the surface. Romance isn’t the key focus of this drama, but it plays a role. The plot delves deeper into the psychological impacts of their relationships and how they can support each other in times of need and suffering.

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