“Yeah, totally. I watch that show all the time.” – how times have I said that line and never meant it at all? Too many to count, really. To be honest, I’m not exactly in tune with any television series in the United States. What? Don’t you live in the United States, you ask? Aren’t there lots of wonderful shows on all the time, you ask as well? Yes and yes. I watched a few series and that’s it. There are lots of others that I know of and I’ve heard, but never really watched. Perhaps out of all the shows shown on television, I watch, give or take, two.
So, why is it that you don’t know or watch many shows in the United States?
That is the simple phrase that explains everything. I stopped watching American television for Japanese television. Why? I find it to be much more interesting. It captures my attention and provides variety. Trust me, not all Japanese television shows are equal.
Variety shows are the only thing people think of when they hear me say, “I watch Japanese TV.” All they think of are people doing insane things, such as going into a tub of hot water or eating sushi with too much wasabi. Yeah, that does happen in variety shows (think Bakusho Red Theater or even Haneru Tobira) but that’s not all the variety shows. Variety shows are shows that don’t really have a set genre. I mean, when I think of shows such as Himitsu no Arashi-chan, Arashi ni Shiyagare or even 5LDK, I can’t really imagine them being completely one-style. They have various elements to their shows which usually involve having a special guest over but everything else isn’t by the norm. There will be segements with food, dancing, music, games, you name it! That’s what makes variety shows so interesting – they have variety. Wow, right? Not really, but for those accustomed to typical American shows, it would be a bit of a shock watching a Japanese variety show for the first time.
Don’t forget, you shouldn’t watch it while you’re hungry. Most Japanese variety shows involve food. Very delicious food that will make your mouth water even if you have next to no idea what it is. VVV6 was the show that made me think it was cruel and unusual punishment to watch the show at night. Hunger strikes late at night, but that’s just one of the pluses.
Another plus of Japanese television is that if you like a certain celebrity, you will see them all the time. Everytime a drama is being promoted, they’ll make their rounds on every station; everytime a movie has been released, they’ll show up in a series of shows; everytime a new music single is out, they’ll make their way through the list of popular shows. Japanese idols will appear in almost every popular show when there is something to be promoted! I remember clearly watching Arashi hit up every music television show to promote their new singles (not that I minded or anything).
Japanese television not only has variety shows and music television shows, they have dramas. Japanese dramas, the most addicting thing known to a fangirl’s heart. The Japanese dramas might seem like they’d be the type of sitcom you’d see on TV here in the states, but they’re not. Television series here run for a long time and often have lots of fillers and unnecessary parts to the show (not all, but most of the shows are like that, in my opinion). However, Japanese dramas? They’re short (9 to 13 episodes usually), concise and make you wish there was more than one season.
The first drama I ended up watching was Hana Yori Dango (“Boys Over Flowers”). After that drama, I knew I was addicted. From then on, I’d watch whatever drama was on the spot. Each drama isn’t always the most amazing, but there are elements that make you enjoy it. The characters, the plots, the crude humor – there’s always an element that someone somewhere enjoys. Dramas like ROOKIES are ones that the whole family can enjoy – the plot will have your heart-wrenched as you watch.
With dramas, comes drama specials. Drama specials are like made for TV movies regarding that drama that you’re watching. Usually it happens after the drama has wrapped up and loose ends weren’t tied up. Let’s face it though, no one will complain about a drama special. We like drama specials. Why? Once you’re hooked on a series, you want more. Sometimes, the drama series is so popular the drama special becomes a silver screen feature (see ROOKIES or Hana Yori Dango or SARU LOCK).
Dramas aren’t the only thing that make Japanese TV amazing. No, there is the heart of the Otaku on there too. Anime – the golden word that glitters in the minds of Otaku everywhere. Anime come out like crazy. No doubt about it, it’s addicting and it’s good. TV TOKYO usually releases some of my favorite series ever, but there are other channels. I’m not just talking about the big three, NARUTO, BLEACH and ONE PIECE. Though, I am an avid One Piece fan. There are lots of anime that are aired for all types of fans. Anime like Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, Durarara!! or Kuroshitsuji run popular amongst both male and female viewers. And no, anime is not always people fighting with super-powers. That’s just a stereotype.
Despite these very interesting television shows, I still recommend the news. What? The news? Yeah. Even the news is interesting. Asazuba or Mezameshi will have you interested – bright colors and celebrity guests? Yep, that gets me interested and informed! What I recommend is NEWS ZERO. They have segment directed especially for the ‘young’ generation brought to you by Sho Sakurai from Arashi. Don’t jump to the conclusion that he’s presenting gossip. No, he’s presenting hard-core news about things that will affect the generation now. Pretty cool, right?
Japanese television – it provides more than just a single style of television.