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21 Must-Watch Japanese Dramas You Should Add To Your Netflix List

More stuff to binge-watch while you #StayAtHome!

Cover image via The Movie Database & Pinterest

1. Re:Mind

Image via Netflix

Eleven high school classmates awaken in an old European-style room, and find themselves sitting at a large dining table, with their feet shackled to the floor. Fearing for their lives, the girls try to figure out why they're here and how to escape, before it's too late.

Main cast: Mirei Sasaki, Sarina Ushio, Mei Higashimura, Ayaka Takamoto, Kyōko Saitō, Kumi Sasaki, Shiho Katō, Yūka Kageyama, Mao Iguchi, Mana Takase, Memi Kakizaki, and Miho Watanabe

Episode count: 13

Watch it if you like:
- Psychological thrillers
- Mystery and suspense

2. Erased

After his mother is murdered, a manga artist time travels to 18 years ago. If he does things right, not only will he save his mother, he'll also save three of his childhood friends who were murdered by the same killer.

Main cast: Yuki Furukawa, Mio Yuki, Jin Shirasu, and Reo Uchikawa

Episode count: 12

Watch it if you like:
- Time travel
- Mystery and suspense
- Crime and crime-solving
- Thrillers

3. Million Yen Women

Five beautiful yet mysterious women move in with an unpopular novelist. They pay him a crazy amount of one million yen a month as rent. In exchange, he is not allowed to ask them questions about themselves or enter their rooms. One day, an incident occurs that changes everything.

Main cast: Yojiro Noda, Rila Fukushima, Rena Matsui, Miwako Wagatsuma, Rena Takeda, and Yuko Araki

Episode count: 12

Watch it if you like:
- Thrillers
- Mystery and suspense
- Drama

4. Switched

Image via Decider

A popular high school girl wakes up one day to find herself having inexplicably switched bodies with her depressed, unpopular classmate, and her body's new owner has no intention of switching back.

Main cast: Miu Tomita, Kaya Kiyohara, Daiki Shigeoka, and Tomohiro Kamiyama

Episode count: 6

Watch it if you like:
- Supernatural elements
- Body swapping
- High school settings
- Relatable teenage issues
- Mystery and suspense

5. Good Morning Call

Image via FlixList

A high school girl moves into her own apartment in the city, but unexpectedly ends up having to share it with the coolest, most popular boy in her school. As they try to keep their cohabitation a secret from everyone around them, feelings start to develop.

Main cast: Haruka Fukuhara and Shunya Shiraishi

Episode count: 17 (Season 1) | 10 (Season 2)

Watch it if you like:
- Romance
- Humour
- Cohabitation hijinks
- Cute, lighthearted dramas

6. BORDER

After surviving a near-death experience, a stoic cop is suddenly able to see and talk to the dead. He uses this dark new ability to further his investigations, getting help from the victims themselves to solve homicides.

Main cast: Shun Oguri, Munetaka Aoki, Haru, and Kenichi Endo

Episode count: 9

Watch it if you like:
- Crime and crime-solving
- Thrillers
- Mystery and suspense
- Supernatural elements

7. Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories

Image via Newsweek

In a back alley of a busy street in Tokyo, there is a small izakaya with strange operating hours—12am to 7am. Run by a kind but mysterious Master who cooks whatever his customers request, the diner is visited by people from all walks of life. Learn their stories as they find comfort in their meals.

Main cast: Kaoru Kobayashi

Episode count: 10 (Season 1) | 10 (Season 2)

Watch it if you like:
- Episodic serials
- Slice-of-life stories
- Heartwarming/comforting feels
- Cooking (each episode features a particular dish and usually includes the recipe)
- Foodporn

8. Samurai Gourmet

Image via Netflix

Having lived a hectic life, a recent retiree rediscovers the simple joy of enjoying good meals and drinks. As he finds a renewed passion for life by just eating what he wants, he also gets in touch with his inner warrior along the way.

Main cast: Naoto Takenaka, Tetsuji Tamayama, and Honami Suzuki

Episode count: 12

Watch it if you like:
- Slice-of-life stories
- Food
- Heartwarming/comforting feels

9. Atelier

Fresh out of college, a self-proclaimed "fabric geek" with no interest in fashion lands a job at Emotion, a company that specialises in handmade luxury lingerie. She quickly discovers that she'll need help adapting to and surviving in this industry.

Main cast: Mirei Kiritani and Mao Daichi

Episode count: 13

Watch it if you like:
- The Devil Wears Prada
- Fashion
- Coming-of-age dramas

10. The Many Faces of Ito

Image via Netflix

After realising that four women are dating the same man, a once-popular screenwriter manipulates them into sharing their stories with her, so she can write a new TV series based on their experiences, in the hopes of reclaiming her former glory.

Main cast: Fumino Kimura, Nozomi Sasaki, Mirai Shida, Elaiza Ikeda, and Kaho

Episode count: 8

Watch it if you like:
- Romance
- Drama
- Female-centric dramas

11. Hibana: Spark

Image via Netflix

Based on a prize-winning book, this dramatic series tells the story of two aspiring comedians, weaving the tale of their friendship and struggles as they try to make it in the competitive world of show business.

Main cast: Kento Hayashi and Kazuki Namioka

Episode count: 10

Watch it if you like:
- Friendship
- Comedy
- Slice-of-life stories

12. FINAL FANTASY XIV Dad of Light

Image via Hidden Remote

A salaryman tries to reconnect with his retired and distant father through Final Fantasy XIV, an online role-playing game. He conceals his identity and reaches out to his father as a fellow player in the game, hoping that their virtual bond will also carry over to the real world. This series is based on a true story.

Main cast: Yudai Chiba and Ren Osugi

Episode count: 8

Watch it if you like:
- The Final Fantasy games
- Gaming
- Family themes
- Father-son relationships

13. Kakegurui

Image via Netflix

At the Hyakkaou Private Academy, students participate in various gambling-based games and are ranked according to their winnings. The winners get fame and fortune, and they rule the school, while the losers become their slaves. The entire institution gets shaken up by the arrival of a mysterious new transfer student.

Main cast: Minami Hamabe, Mahiro Takasugi, and Aoi Morikawa

Episode count: 10 (Season 1) | 5 (Season 2)

Watch it if you like:
- High-school dramas
- Intelligent female leads
- Gambling / High-stakes games
- Psychological elements

14. Smoking

Image via Netflix

This drama revolves around a ruthless group of homeless assassins who flay their targets and deliver the tattooed skins as proof of a completed contract.

Main cast: Ryo Ishibashi, Nobuaki Kaneko, Tomomi Maruyama, and Kaito Yoshimura

Episode count: 12

Watch it if you like:
- Vigilantes / Assassins / Hitmen
- Action
- Crime
- Drama

15. Blazing Transfer Students

Image via Netflix

Seven students with the same first name sneak into a problematic elite school, on a secret mission of improving it from the inside. Starring the boys of Japanese idol group Johnny’s WEST, this series is meant to be a sequel to the original Blazing Transfer Student manga.

Main cast: Daiki Shigeoka, Takahiro Hamada, Tomohiro Kamiyama, Nozomu Kotaki, Akito Kiriyama, Ryusei Fujii, Junta Nakama, and Umika Kawashima

Episode count: 8

Watch it if you like:
- High-school dramas
- Comedy

16. Followers

Image via SBS

The lives of several women in Tokyo intersect in this world dominated by social media, including a famous fashion photographer and an aspiring actress. Follow their stories as they try to find their own ways to happiness.

Main cast: Miki Nakatani and Elaiza Ikeda

Episode count: 9

Watch it if you like:
- Heartfelt dramas
- Friendship
- Social media
- Social commentary
- Strong female leads

17. Mob Psycho 100

Image via Netflix

A seemingly average middle school student actually has powerful psychic abilities. Desperate to live a normal life and make friends, he tries to suppress his growing powers and keep his emotions in check, but trouble just keeps finding him.

Main cast: Tatsuomi Hamada, Kazuki Namioka, and Yuki Yoda

Episode count: 12

Watch it if you like:
- High school dramas
- Action
- Comedy
- Supernatural abilities

18. SCAMS

Greatly affected by the Lehman Brothers' bankruptcy and lured by the promise of a lavish pay, a desperate but well-meaning young man ends up joining a phone scam operation.

Main cast: Yosuke Sugino, Tomoya Maeno, and Maika Yamamoto

Episode count: 9

Watch it if you like:
- Crime
- Drama
- Black comedy

19. Stay Tuned!

Image via The Glorio Blog

Follow the journey of an eccentric and clumsy aspiring drama-writer who mistakenly interviews for a news-only TV channel. When she lands the job, she enthusiastically embraces her new role as a rookie field reporter and sets out to make the most of it.

Main cast: Kyoko Yoshine and Hiroki Iijima

Episode count: 5

Watch it if you like:
- Comedy
- Lighthearted dramas
- Journalism / Reporting / The media industry

20. The Naked Director

Set in the 1980s, this series follows the life of tells the story of ground-breaking Japanese adult video director Toru Muranishi, who had an unlikely start, but his charismatic vision soon revolutionised the porn industry.

Main cast: Takayuki Yamada

Episode count: 8

Watch it if you like:
- Mature dramas
- Comedy
- Semi-biographical stories

21. My Husband Won't Fit

A couple who has been together since their college days discover that they are physically and sexually incompatible. Though their love for each other is strong, the unusual problem starts to affect their marriage.

Main cast: Natsumi Ishibashi and Aoi Nakamura

Episode count: 10

Watch it if you like:
- Romance
- Mature dramas
- Social problems

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