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.
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).
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.