Throwback Thursday: My First Drama

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Mei-chan no Shijsuji (2009); Source: wiki.d-addicts

I have had an interesting Asian entertainment journey as my horizons continue to expand. I started with manga sometime in high school. Anime seemed like the sensible next step. It was a predictable jump from there to dramas. And now 10 years later, I venture into different genres and languages. But this is where it all started.

Mei-chan no Shitsuji (Mei-chan’s Butler), was my very first drama. I watched it around when it first came out. I was completely drawn in by the live action version of this shojo manga. The story was so unique and unlike anything I had ever seen. The totally unrealistic plot was understandable in manga form but when I discovered that this was translated into a real live action drama, my mind was blown.

For those who have not heard of this show, Mei-chan no Shitsuji is about a poor, orphaned girl who ends up in an elite high school. It is an all-girls school where all students are in training to become “ladies”. The best part is that each student has a handsome, male butler. The school is set in a ridiculously large campus where students are transported by helicopters. The drama explores Mei-chan’s journey as she goes from being an outcast to a well-loved classmate.

I was in love since the very first episode. This drama introduced me to three of my favorite Japanese actors, Nana Eikura as Mei-chan, Hiro Mizushima as her butler Shibata Rihito, and Takeru Sato as Shibata’s younger brother and aspiring butler. They do not get a chance to completely showcase their abilities. But these are the same individuals who went on to capture my heart in N No Tame Ni, Hana Kimi, and Rurouni Kenshin, respectively.

As one might expect, this show is a comedy. There is a little bit of romance and a love triangle. For me the highlight of the drama has always been the stories behind the lady-butler relationships. Every episode focuses on a different pair and their challenges. This might sound odd but they are some of the most touching stories I have encountered in drama. They really emphasize the loyalty of the butlers but they also show that it is a two way thing. The ladies are equally concerned about the well-being of their devoted butlers. The drama highlights a few different relationships; friends that grew up together, a butler who is essentially a bodyguard, and another pair who are lovers.

After having watched many dramas since my first experience with Mei-chan, I have come to accept that strange things do happen in drama-land. Our heroines are often poor and forced into strange situations where they have to interact with the ultra-wealthy. Most romantic relationships include a love triangle or two, and our leads can always use their charms to save the day. My first drama was not all that odd.

I have learned that I tend to love the live-action adaptations of shojo mangas. In fact, I seek them out from time to time. In the midst of watching realistic dramas like Valid Love, and Candy House, I crave dramas like Mei-chan and Hana Kimi. In fact, these are two of my most re-watched drama. They are both funny, unrealistic, but heartwarming stories of relationships and community. They are simple stories that take me back to a time when my own life was more simple.

As I said in my last post, there is a drama to fit every mood and every life situation, it’s just a matter of finding the right one when you need it. There has never been a time when Mei-chan no Shitsuji has failed to lift up my spirits. I hope that all of us find shows that fits our moods and make us feel better.

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Top 10 Korean & Japanese Food Dramas

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By jqn (a flickr user) (http://flickr.com/photos/jqn/290210441/) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

I must admit that I have not watched as many food dramas as I would like. There is never enough time to watch the all the dramas one wants to. As a follow up to a previous postI wanted to share some of food dramas I think are worth watching. Whether you are new to drama-land or a longtime viewer and looking for something to watch, I hope you find some ideas here.

1. LIQUID – Oni no Sake, Kiseki no Kura (2015)

This is a short Japanese drama special that focuses on sake, the alcoholic beverage. It is one of my all time favorite shows. If you are interested in learning about Japanese  food culture and traditions, this is a great show. LIQUID tells the story of a banker who inherits a failing sake brewery and decides to use traditional methods and ingredients in order to produce a high quality product. (Japanese)

2. Fermentation Family (2011)

This is an underrated drama about a restaurant that specializes in kimchi (spicy fermented cabbage). Every episode begins with the story of a different type of kimchi and the parallels between the dish and the lives of the characters. (Korean)

3. Shinya Shokudo Series (2009)

Shinya Shukodo is one of the most well-known Japanese dramas and has spanned 4 seasons. It is about a diner that opens at midnight. Every episode tells the story of one of the diner’s patrons as it relates to that night’s special dish.This is a wonderful drama with plenty of heartwarming stories. (Japanese)

4. Gochisousan (2013)

Gochisousan translates to “thank you for the meal.” It tells the heart-warming story of one’s woman’s love and passion for food. The drama follows her life from childhood to old-age as she moves from one region of Japan to another and tries to incorporate both cultures into her cooking. If you love learning about food and cooking this might be the best one for me. (Japanese)

5. Let’s Eat (2013)

There is not much of a plot to this show that can be rightfully called “food-porn.” This is a noona romance (older woman- younger man) show about 4 people eating delicious food. Beware, this show will make you hungry. If you are a fan of Korean food at all, you will learn about a lot of new dishes. (Korean)

6. King of Baking, Kim Tak Goo (2010)

This one is an older drama set in the backdrop of a large bakery business. From a young age, the hero is drawn to bread baking and after going through many episodes of birth secrets, the family business is settled. The only food that is comes up in the show is bread so if you are looking for variety or Korean food, this is not the drama for you. (Korean)

 

7. Antique (2001)

This  is one of the most visually appealing food shows out there. It is a combination of comedy and mystery set in a bakery.  The best parts of this show are the delicious looking pastries and  the amazing Misu-Chiru (Mr. Children) OST. If you are not interested in watching an older Japanese drama, there is a Korean movie remake called Antique Bakery(Japanese/ Korean)

8. A Girl & Three Sweethearts (2016)

This was one of the most popular J-dramas of 2016. The cast included some of the most popular young Japanese actors. It focused on the business aspects of food where all main characters were involved in different aspects of running the restaurant. It is not my favorite on the list, most people enjoyed it. (Japanese)

9. Oh My Ghostess (2015)

This show is set in a restaurant owned by the main lead where the female lead joins as an apprentice chef. It is more of a romantic comedy than a food drama. I really enjoyed this drama. It does have a some fantasy and mystery but at its heart it is a simple romance. A good watch if you are looking for a drama with a restaurant setting. (Korean)

10. Flower Boy Ramen Shop (2011)

A very popular drama from the Flower Boy series. The story is nothing unique and even the challenges faced by the leads are very predictable. A large part of the drama takes place in a ramen shop where the female and male leads are teacher and student respectively. Not my top recommendation on the list but it is a pretty popular drama that many would consider a K-Drama essential.

 

Have you watched any of these dramas? Are there any others you think should be on this list?