The Best Japanese TV Series on Netflix You Shouldn't Miss
In addition to being hugely entertaining, Netflix is a great resource for language learning! They have a wide range of foreign programmes, including Chinese, Japanese and Korean, all of which have the option for subtitles in multiple languages. One of the genres in which Netflix excels is Japanese language TV shows. There are many Anime series that are solely hosted on Netflix, with both English dubs and original Japanese versions. For our list of favourite anime series you can click here, this article however, will be focused on live action Japanese TV shows!
These TV shows are both addictive and entertaining. All are Japanese hits, big in both Japan and the West. Check them out and let us know what you think! If you have any you'd like to add then feel free to let us know!
Alice in Borderland
Alice in Borderland is a dystopian drama based on the manga of the same name. It sees residents of a mostly abandoned Tokyo compete in a series of games to earn "visas". Those who lose and are unable to attain the necessary visas are killed by lasers shot from the sky.
Although similar to many Japanese survival stories, such as Battle Royale (the film that inspired The Hunger Games in the West) and even Korean counterparts such as the hugely popular Squid Game, Alice in Borderland retains a unique feel through its use of visual effects, camera angles and music.
Following the huge success of the first series both in Japan and abroad, it was renewed for a second season that released in December 2022. A potential season 3 is yet to be announced but "looks likely" according to officials at Netflix.
Good Morning Call
Also based on a manga comic, Good Morning Call follows the story of Yoshikawa Nao, an average Japanese high school student who stays behind in the city when her parents inherit a farm in the countryside.
On the day of moving into her new apartment she discovers that through an admin error, it has also been rented to Uehara Hisashi, a handsome and popular boy who goes to the same school as her. Having nowhere else to go, they decide to live together as flat mates and hide it from everyone at school. A series of interesting events ensue, possibly even romance. We'll leave that to you to find out.
Praised for the casts' ability to portray manga characters in human form, this show has gained widespread approval from fans of the original comic. It's also received critical acclaim in its own right as a standalone drama, full of comedy, lighthearted storytelling and great acting.
Love is Blind - Japan
Love is Blind is a reality dating show hosted by Takashi Fujii and Yuka Itaya that follows couples trying to find their life partners and get married. The USP of the show is that the couples don't actually get to see each other straight away.
Instead they have to sit in individual pods and have conversations with their partner through the wall. This is designed to test how compatible they are without looks being a factor. An interesting concept no doubt, the show has been praised for not being superficial like some other dating shows. The aim is to build a real and lasting connection with the person on the other side of the wall before meeting.
The concept seems to work well as 2 of the 8 couples on the show are in fact now married. Although there has only been one season released on Netflix so far, it is due to be renewed and viewers can also watch the same format applied in other countries such as the US and Brazil.
Late Night Diner is set in a diner in the Shinjuku district of Tokyo. It follows the stories of a mysterious chef known as "Master" and the lives of his patrons. The restaurant itself only has 4 items on the menu, soup, beer, whiskey and sake but Master is such a skilled chef he's able to make any dish on request as long as the ingredients can be bought nearby.
Each episode tends to focus on the story of one customer of the diner, following his or her current life dramas, with Master offering helpful advice as and when needed. The plot is usually light hearted tone but can deal with more serious problems on occasion. There is usually a philosophical lesson to be learned at the end of each episode and resolutions are often satisfying and humorous.
One interesting and unique element of the show is that each episode tends to start with the lead character ordering a dish from Master. At the end of the episode the audience gets to watch him prepare the dish along with verbal instructions should you wish to replicate at home. The unique set up of the show along with the occasional fourth wall break make it truly entertaining and special. Check it out today and see for yourself!
Erased follows the story of Satoru Fujinuma, a young man with a troubled past. He comes home one day to find his mother dead on the floor and travels back in time to save her and 3 of his classmates.
Originally a manga, then adapted into an anime before finally getting its own live action version, this gripping story is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing the whole way through. Much darker than many of the other shows on this list, death plays a huge role in this story and is an underlying theme throughout.
This being said the visuals of the show are stunning. Beautiful shots of snowy trees and magical elements are used tastefully throughout and although it was released in 2017, the show uses a gritty camera tone reminiscent of shows released in the 80s and 90s. All in all this unique feel adds an element of intrigue and keeps it in tune with the anime series (also visually beautiful if you want to check that out as well).
Anna Matsuda is a reporter for the Tuoto newspaper. She has a reputation for being tenacious and following stories through to the bitter end. When she uncovers a political corruption scandal within the Japanese government, her approach is no different and this story captures the events that follow.
A constant battle between what is ethically right and her own personal safety, Erased sees Anna asking herself some big questions. The audience also finds itself asking "can one journalist really make a difference to the entire government of a country?".
Well acted and full of drama throughout, erased is an emotional journey of frustration, morality and the importance of not giving up. Released in 2022, season 1 is 6 episodes long and talks for a season 2 release date are ongoing. One thing is for sure, this one is not to be missed!
Now you have loads of Japanese TV shows to check out it might be helpful to brush up on your Japanese language skills!
Luckily for you we offer group and private courses for all levels! You can take these courses either online or in person at our London offices where you'll meet lots of like-minded Japanese learners and fans of Japanese TV culture!