Why You Can’t Find Love In Japan

Well 2012 is here so you might be asking yourself “what new J-drama should I kick the year off with?” Luckily for you I’ve just recently found one that I really like and have no qualms about recommending to everyone and anyone. And that drama is Watashi ga Renai Dekinai Riyuu (私が恋愛できない理由 ((The Reason I Can’t Find My Love)) aka “Wataren”. It’s a pretty standard romantic comedy (romedy?) spanning ten episodes, but it’s definitely one of the better shows in the genre, especially as of late. Its viewership rating was 15.8% (Kanto) which isn’t too bad at all (Densha Otoko‘s was 21.04% to give you a bit of perspective – there’s usually a good chance of anything higher than 15% being worth checking out).

It was also highly anticipated and its first episode received a viewership rating of 17%, the most successful first episode since Tsuki no Koibito (which was also really good) in the summer of 2010.

And we all know that Japanese dramas are great. Even the venerable Koichi himself once said, “One of the most addicting things in the world is Japanese drama. If I needed to quit cocaine or something like that, this is what I’d use to kick it.

Finding and “Using” J-Dramas

A while back, Koichi wrote a great post entitled Studying With Japanese Drama: The Step-By-Step Guide. If you watch a lot of dramas, or plan to in the future, you should do yourself a favor and give the guide a look-see. It will be invaluable in making your Japanese studies all the more enjoyable.

And for those of you who have no idea how to treasure hunt for great dramas, DramaWiki is a great place to find them. One of their most useful tools is the Upcoming J-Drama page where they list the dramas from every television season and give plenty of details about them. DramaWiki is definitely your one-stop-shop when you’re hunting for J-dramas. It’s helped me find almost all of my favorite Japanese shows. But enough of that, let’s get on to what this new show is all about.

About Wataren

Left to right: Mako, Fujii, and Saki.

Well, Wataren highlights the lives of three women, Fujii Emi (Karina), Ogura Saki (Yoshitaka Yuriko), and Hanzawa Mako (Oshima Yuko of AKB48). They’re all looking for love but each one has something that is getting in the way of their romantical happiness.

Fujii works for a lighting company as a lighting technician, where she is surrounded by men due to the nature of the profession. This has shaped her into a very tom-boyish woman who is very much one of the guys. She has a straight-forward and generous personality, but is unconcerned about general feminine interests such as fashion.

You’ll rarely if ever see Fujii in anything more extravagant than jeans and a t-shirt, let alone a dress. She is often treated like one of the guys by her boss and colleagues, and feels that being in love is tiresome. However, she cannot forget about her ex-boyfriend and co-worker and hopes to someday fall truly in love.

Saki is prideful and determined, but fails in landing a desirable job. As a result, she starts to work at a bar as a hostess, keeping the fact a secret from her parents. Her love interest in the story is a little bit more involved than Fujii’s so I’m not going to spoil anything for you by detailing it here.

Mako is the youngest of all, having attended the same high school following Fujii and Saki. She is earnest and responsible, but on the other hand, rather clumsy and afraid of taking chances on a romantic relationship.

Mako gets into all sorts of dumb office romance situations and her part of the story easily frustrates me the most. She’s just really naive when it comes to love and relationships. (On a side note, I really prefer Oshima Yuko with long hair rather than the short style she’s sporting in this drama (although it kind of makes sense for her character). Long hair works a lot better for her I think.)

But anyway, the three main characters end up living together in the same house, and it is there that they share each other’s experiences, bitter or sweet, desperately struggling with their individual love lives. Drama ensues, laughs are had, and overall it’s a delightful show that I would heartily recommend to any fan of J-drama, especially those who like romantic comedies (or any of the actors from the show, they all do a good job).

Synopsis credit to DramaWiki.

I looked around for a trailer or something for the show but the best I could come up with was the first five minutes of the first episode which kind of sets up the feel of what the show will be about (pursuing love vs pursuing career success, etc) and briefly introduces us to the three main characters. No subs for the video (sorry) but I think after reading the synopsis, even without subs the video below is pretty easy to follow along with (if you have any questions on what anything means, feel free to ask in the comments).

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eC2m5MggZQ']

All in all it’s a very good show and it takes you along for an emotional but ultimately satisfying ride. I haven’t been this into a J-drama for about a year or so and I was really glad to find it. You should at least give the first episode a watch.

I know from the synopsis that the show doesn’t sound like anything special and I don’t really know how to explain what sets it apart, but it’s just really well done and really well acted. The cast really makes the show here I feel. It’s super emotional and really tugs your heartstrings in all sort of directions. I feel like a lot of people can relate to the show in one way or another because it seems so real and believable. I fully recommend this show. It’s really good.

And Just In Case…

If you totally hate J-dramas, here’s an awesome and totally unrelated Japanese music video for you. Enjoy.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzC4hFK5P3g']

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  • John

    Perhaps it is something you’ll discover if you watch the show!

  • hoshiro-

    Then I shall watch it!

  • http://www.meow.fr Meow • Japan & Urbex

    I’d love to know which of those dramas are available with english subtitles (official or not). That would be really useful to know :) I’ve never watched any of them because of that.

  • Dana Atnb

    me too never watched full series because of that : ) thatiswhy i just watch the first and the last episodes, seems could get whole meaning of story (:

  • Anonymous

    thanks a lot for the recommendation!

    I started watching it yesterday and I really like it ♥

  • kuyaChristian

    Now PONPONPON is stuck in my head. But then, I need to catch up to the Japanese music scene. I know Tofugu might not be the site for that, but I can’t find a decent site to catch up with JP music. And Jpopasia is basically poop

    PONPONPON. But but Kyary is cute :3
    Thanks, John. :D

  • John

    There are tons of fansubbing groups and they manage to cover most dramas.

  • http://www.meow.fr Meow • Japan & Urbex

    But that would be cool to have a list of the dramas with links to the subs :) I live in Japan but I have no idea what TV show I should watch, difficult or not, is the season is finished or not, etc… That would be really interesting to have an article about this. We don’t all speak Japanese, and Japanese TV shows aren’t easy to access for most of us. Please help ˆˆ

  • nanami

    WHY didn’t you mention that the japanese subs are available?

    and i heard bad things abt this show personally.
    Like I love reading this guy’s blog and he doesn’t like it.

    and he watches a lot of dramas and we have similar tastes.

    I do like the actresses in the drama but it’s not enough for me to watch the drama.

  • John

    D-Addicts is a great place for information on all dramas, not just Japanese ones. They’re also the ones who keep DramaWiki up and running. Super useful.

  • John

    I thought DramaWiki had a linkback to D-Addicts on it, haha my bad – thanks for posting the link though. And yeah, probably not for everyone, just depends how much you like these kind of dramas – I can see how someone with different tastes wouldn’t be a fan of it.

  • Emily C.

    Anyone know where to see this on the internet? I’ve searched but I can’t find it :( Until then i’ll go for some other drama though. I’ve got really into Coffee Prince a few months back and trying to get back into watching other dramas.

  • John

    Yeah Coffee Prince was great. Check out D-Addicts and their forums for drama stuff though – really useful.

  • Bree

    If anyone’s still wondering where they can watch it, the drama is on dramacrazy.net under the w’s. 

    I hope it’s as good as you say! :) I’ve never watched a whole drama, but maybe I’ll start now!

  • giraffe

    Just finished watching this… sooooo good! Please recommend more like this!

  • Bree

    I love the drama! It was so good! Please recommend some more good ones! :)

  • http://twitter.com/0LovelyMadness0 Emily

    PONPONPON! XD  (I use to watch that video all the time)

  • John

    When I run across good ones I’ll be sure to share them!

  • John

    I will once I find more new ones!

  • Niji Hirasawa

    I have that song! But, like, I prefer the SeeU version more than this one. I don’t know if I screamed or what when I saw the original. ^ ^;;

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Nat-Wel/1477579975 Nat Wel

    Japan looks like a happy country :).

  • Anna

    Ponponpon definitely one of the trippiest videos i’ve ever seen…

  • berryp

    Wow, I just finished watching Coffee Prince. I really enjoyed it. It’s my second favorite, after My Girlfriend is a Gumiho – which, incidentally, doesn’t have an evil [grand]mother/father.

  • http://www.facebook.com/elysia.beattie Elysia Beattie

    Just started watching Wataren….hoooked! My first J-drama :) I’m sure this means more in the future….

  • http://www.facebook.com/AbigailCamarillo Cam Abi

    Everyone LOVES the Korean version of Hana Yori Dango! Also The Great Doctor aka Faith is pretty good. I’m a big Lee Min Ho fan :)

  • Cole Bearden

    Im lovin the music vid lol :3