May 25, 2008

Last Friends: Japan's Popular TV Drama

Domestic Violence(DV), Gender Identity Disorder(GID), sex phobias, child abuse and neglect, office romance and extramarital affair, AND love triangle of a DV victim woman and her best friend who suffers GID, and a man who is a child sexual abuse victim and a sufferer of sex phobias. All of these serious issues are being featured in a single TV drama called "Last Friends."

It's sort of like a mixture of Boys Don't Cry, Antwone Fisher, The O.C., ER(extramarital affair), and Beverly Hills, 90210(Remember Donna and Ray?) Moreover, these sufferers and the office romance couple share a house all together. To share a house with friends is not common in Japan, btw.

Last Friends is doing well and ranked No.3 most-watched drama of the season last week. I think it's a reflection of the current atmosphere in which we realize that we need to address these social issues. Pop culture always mirrors social phenomena and vise versa.

The theme song of the drama is "Prisoner of Love"by Hikaru Utada. The single has been downloaded 1.5 million times so far (source: Listen Japan). Utada writes music and lyrics that sound fresh and new. You can hear a little bit of the sentimental song at Listen Japan. People's comments are available on oricon style music.

Unlike American TV series, each season brings new dramas in Japan. As these programs are replaced quarterly, conversation topics and fashion trends shift accordingly. Or, current trends change so rapidly that the dramas need to follow them. No wonder it's hard to keep up with the trends even for locals in this fashion-conscious country.


Christy said...

I really love the drama Last Friends. I watch it on the internet...I watch a lot of Japanese dramas that. We can't get Japanese drama's in America (unless you have the tv channel NHK international..and that's really expensive to get and it doesn't show all the dramas)

It's a really intersting drama...I can totally understand why it's number 3! by the way...what the the number one and number two ranked dramas?

I really enjoy your blog!

Karen said...

Christy, thank you for visiting my blog!
As of today, No.1 drama is CHANGE featuring Takuya Kimura, in which he, a teacher, will become the Prime Minister.
No.2 is Gokusen, in which a bunch of young good-looking men appear.
It's part3 of a famous teen scene drama series. The cast gets full of fresh faces each time when a new part starts with a few exeptions.
I like Gokusen part2 most, btw. Jin Akanishi and Kazuya Kamenashi play the lead.

I totally understand how hard to watch Japanese TV programs in the US.
I would ask my family and friends to send me videotapes from Japan.
One of the options you have is to go to Japan town, if your city has one.
They may have DVD/Video rental shop.
Or, as you probably know, YouT*** has a lot of videos.

Christy said...

I've been watching Gokusen 3 also!!! It's really good. ^^

I like part 2 also, better than 3. I've only seen a little bit of the first one...i really like Matsumoto Jun. ^^

Karen said...

Christy, if you have a crush on Matsumoto Jun, here's for you
(You might have seen it.)

I believe Gokusen2 is the jewel of Japanese TV dramas.

Christy said...

I've heard about that movie! The permier was in Los Angeles so MatsuJun came! But I'm on the other side of the country so I couldn't go and see it.

Karen said...

I heard about the premier. I hope he will visit the US again and you will be able to meet him next time! :)

Meghan said...

This sounds like a really interesting drama and I hope they play it on Japanese TV here in the States. It tackles a lot of issues at once, and I think it addresses things that are hard to talk about, but need to be.

BTW I can't believe you watched 90210 as well! That show was awesome and they shouldn't do a remake of it (though for reasons I don't understand, they are).

Karen said...

Meghan, I must confess that it was 90210 that brought me to the US. The drama made me want to see what American life looks like. Sounds funny, but true.

Hope you will be able to watch Last Friends in months or so in the US.

BTW, I love your profile photo! :)