A few weeks ago I commended to your attentions a selection of Japanese dramatic television programs. I know, in all likelihood, that nobody bothered to give them anything more than a moment's notice, if even that much. But that's okay. I remain unfazed, and in a triumph of enthusiasm over experience, present this second volume.
Even more than romance, comedy relies on the personal outlook and experiences of the audience to make its connections. We all expect more or less the same things from a romance, but humor knows few such commonalities. It has its conventions, but they can only go so far. To connect with an audience, you have to be funny in a particular way. In order to satisfy some, you have to neglect others.
Thus it is with that preamble, as a sort of warning, I now present the five best comedic Japanese television series you aren't watching. As always, your milage may vary.
The five shows are presented in no particular order, again without syllabi for the same reasons I outlined in Volume One. However, I can furnish a synopsis upon request, and am more than happy to answer any questions regarding the attainment or utilization of these works.
1. Odoru Daisousasen (Police investigation headquarters)
2. Great Teacher Onizuka
3. Dekichatta Kekkon (Shotgun Marriage)
4. Wedding Planner
5. Kisarazu Cats Eye
101 kaime no puropozu (101st Proposal): This show requires a little more appreciation of Japanese character conventions. People unfamiliar with the show will find the main character pathetic (as intended) but may not find the humor.
Densha Otoko (Train Man): Not that I didn't find it funny, because I did, but the main character and the female lead are both a little too generic for me. It's like they took all the cliches and piled them into one show. Also, as with 101st proposal, the characters (especially the men) require some degree of acceptance of Japanese mores. Still, quite amusing.
Omiai Kekkon (Arranged Marriage): This show is very funny, but the unavailability of any copy even resembling adequate video quality with English subtitles relegates this series to the Honorable Mention category.
Gokusen: Because I already included one school show (Great Teacher Onizuka), I decided to skip this one. Personally, I think they are pretty much interchangeable, although I liked some of the film schticks and the soundtrack in Gokusen a lot.
Lunch no Joou (Lunch Queen): A little formulaic, this is one of those shows where everyone falls for the vulnerable yet fiercely independent female lead. However, the cast and the writing can usually keep you from noticing the cookie cutter outlines.
Sutaa no Koi (A Star's Love): Going from a little formuliac to out-right hackery, Kusanagi Tsuyoshi and the rest of the San Marco Ham staff pull out such wonderful performances that you don't mind coming along.
Most of these shows can be downloaded for free, along with their subtitles, at D-Addicts, the rest from Japan-TV.