Japan is one of the leading countries in Asia for television shows and movies. Some fantastic dramas that have brought millions to tears, interestingly, were originally manga comics before they were made into animations and eventually live-action dramas. If you enjoy TV shows with unforgettable stories that pull at your heartstrings, then you must check out a Japanese drama. Take a look at this list for five tear-jerking, heartwarming Japanese dramas and movies.
1 Litre no Namida (One Litre of Tears)
One Litre of Tears, which is based on a true story, was first shown in 2005 and starred Erika Sawajiri and Ryo Nishikido. It tells the story of a fifteen-year-old girl called Aya who is diagnosed with a fatal and incurable degenerative disease. The drama was based on the diary of the real Aya, which she penned until she could no longer hold a pen. There was also a book published based on her story. The show follows Aya’s life until she dies at 25 years old.
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Aya is a likeable character who is determined to live her life to the fullest where other people may give up or despair. This heartbreaking drama is well worth watching and for fans of the story, there was also a bonus episode released in 2007 and a movie released in 2004.
Koizora (Sky of Love)
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Sky of Love was originally a cell phone novel and was so popular it became a book and then a hit movie in 2007 starring Yui Aragaki and Haruma Miura. It is a coming of age romance story about Mika, a shy high school girl who falls in love with a delinquent boy after they talk on the phone during the summer. However, their relationship is never simple, and Mika suffers trials involving bullying, jealousy, and betrayal.
This movie is a real tear-jerker and you’re sure to fall in love with both Mika and Hiro. It contains some adult themes, so make sure you’re at least sixteen years old if you decide to watch it.
Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers)
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A little more upbeat than the first two on this list is Boys Over Flowers, which was broadcast in 2005 in Japan. There is also a South Korean version (2009) and Taiwanese version (2001). The original story was a manga series released in the 1990s. The Japanese drama stars Mao Inoue, Jun Matsumoto, and Shun Oguri.
Tsukushi is a poor girl in a rich school who hates the drama and hierarchy in the school and hopes to remain invisible until she graduates. A group of five boys, called F5, are like the kings of the school and unfairly punish those who even slightly offend them. When Tsukushi accidentally angers the leader of F5, Domyoji, she makes enemies of the entire school. However, her plucky attitude and determination soon makes Domyoji fall for her.
This drama is funny and heartwarming and introduced many people to the handsome and talented actor and singer, Jun Matsumoto, who is also a member of the pop band Arashi. This is a great drama appropriate for teens and above.
Hanazakari no Kimitachi e: Ikemen Paradise
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Called Ike-Para for short, this drama first aired in 2007 and was re-released in 2011, and there are also Korean and Taiwanese versions. It is a fun and light-hearted story where a girl named Ashiya (played by Maki Horikita) idolises a high jumper named Sano (played by Shun Oguri, who was also in Boys Over Flowers). When Sano is injured protecting Ashiya from gangsters, he has to stop high jumping and Ashiya blames herself. Determined to make Sano high jump again, she disguises herself as a boy and enrolls in his school.
With the drama of surviving in an all-boys’ school and keeping her secret safe, this charming drama series is sure to entertain you. It’s a little less depressing than the previous ones on this list, and appropriate for all ages.
Boku no Ita Jikan (The Hours of My Life)
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The Hours of My Life aired in 2004 and also stars Haruma Miura, who also played Hiro in the aforementioned Sky of Love. It is also similar to 1 Litre of Tears; the main character, Takuto, is a normal university student with a bright future and plenty of friends. One day, he is diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease (also called amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) and tries to make the best of the time he’s got left.
This heartbreaking drama is only 11 episodes long but it is guaranteed to pull on your heartstrings. The handsome Haruma Miura broke our hearts all over again with The Hours of My Life.
Whether you’re getting some Japanese listening practice, you’re a fan of handsome Asian actors, or you’re just looking for something new and heartwarming to watch, definitely check out the above dramas and movie. You’re bound to laugh, cry, and enjoy all of them!