The Imminent Future: 2016 Fall Doramas

Okay, that’s a lie by probably 25% since five or six of these are already airing, but don’t quote me on that; I’m no good at math. What I am good at is hiding from the Internet for a year and a half and drowning in dramas, so that’s what I’m going to talk about: more dramas to get lost in.

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48-ninme no Chuushin / Chuushingura no Koi
(Currently airing as of Sep. 24)

It’s Japan’s Genroku era wherein Kiyo (Takei Emi) serves as a lady-in-waiting at the Asano family’s Edo mansion. During her first koto performance, she is paired with the drums of Lord Asano Naganori’s favorite vassal—Isogai Jurozaiemon (Fukushi Seiji). Unbeknownst to Kiyo, her encounter with Jurozaiemon makes a reunion between childhood friends who, soon enough, come to feel something more than mere friendship for each other. Social status is not in their favor, however, forbidding the couple from ever meeting alone. Regardless, they swear to rise above these hurdles and find a way to become husband and wife. If only this was their single-most barrier, as life for Jurozaiemon and Kiyo alike is headed on a path soon to be upheaved.

It begins when the Shogunate appoints Naganori to serve as host to imperial court envoys. There to assist is Kira Yoshinaka, the impudent master of ceremonies, but Naganori refuses to withstand Yoshinaka’s sarcasm and—on the third day—slashes him with his sword. For this act, Naganori is ordered to commit seppuku. After his death, the Shogun confiscates his estate, effectively leaving Naganori’s vassals to become the legendary 47 Ronin.

Kiyo, unable to participate in the avenging of Naganori, is bid farewell by Jurozaiemon as her second life—determined to restore the Asano clan—begins.

48-ninme no Chuushin is slated for 20 episodes, scripted by Yoshida Noriko, and began airing on NHK as of September 24th.

*Every summary translation I found reads to a point of confusion. With what little knowledge I have of Naganori and the 47 Ronin, in addition to quick research, I tried my best to clarify the plot—to my understanding— as it meshes fact with fiction.


Kuroi 10-nin no Onna
(Currently airing as of Sep. 29)

Bakarythm has set loose a new drama, folks. Adapted from the 1961 film, Kuroi 10-nin no Onna (10 Dark Women, the original screenplay written by Wada Natto) tells a story about Kaze Matsukichi (Funakoshi Eiichiro), adulterer extraordinaire, and the plot to murder him. At first vaguely aware of one another, Matsukichi’s wife and mistress finally make an encounter, and—ever-so-casually, I imagine—one day find themselves discussing their cheating scoundrel’s demise. Of course, this drama isn’t called 10 Dark Women for nothing, because the scheming mistress and wife aren’t the only women in this man’s life—so are eight other mistresses!

Point in summary: don’t cheat, or you might die. Cheating, by all accounts, is a Terrible Thing, but it sure must suck to be Kaze Matsukichi right now.

Kuroi 10-nin no Onna began airing as of September 29th on NTV.


Hippocratic Oath
(Currently airing as of Oct. 2)

Advised by her respected professor, Tsukuba Kojin (Ikko Furuya), medical intern Tsugano Makoto (Kitagawa Keiko) agrees to train under Professor Tojiro (Kyohei Shibata) in a medical forensics classroom. Once there, Makoto notes a distinct strangeness in the atmosphere and, when first left alone by Tojiro, receives a strange phone call. A girl’s voice sounds out from the receiver’s other end, requesting an autopsy be performed on a woman who died in a car accident. Despite that the police deem it unnecessary and the family protests it, Tojiro agrees to proceed with a post-mortem exam. Although the professor’s ways appear immoderate to Makoto’s rationale and ethics, the autopsy exposes a truth that may have otherwise remained hidden.

The summary is simple enough and, I’m guessing, covers material we will see in episode one. What piques my curiosity is wondering what’s up with the notable and peculiar atmosphere. What skeletons lie in Tojiro’s closet, if any? Since I can only speculate, I assume Kojin recommends Tojiro to Makoto in hopes that she will learn something valuable, and I’m sure she will, but I feel like not all is what it appears at first glance.

Shinozaki Eriko scripted Hippocratic Oath from the novel it’s based on by Nakayama Shichiri and began airing as of October 2nd on WOWOW.


Jimi ni Sugoi! Koetsu Garu Kono Etsuko
(Currently airing as of Oct. 5)

Kouno Etsuko (Ishihara Satomi) has sights set high on becoming a fashion editor but is disheartened when, after joining a publishing company, is assigned to the proofreading department. However undesirable the job or task, Etsuko remains determined—for the sake of achieving her dream job—to complete her work to a point of perfection. Whether it’s meeting writers in person or directly visiting locations to fact-check, this hopeful fashionista strives to go above and beyond basic requirements. Although the distance between fashion editor and proofreader leave a wide gap to cover, maybe—and to her surprise—she’ll discover that proofreading isn’t the uninspiring, dull job she that thinks it is after all.

Jimi ni Sugoi! began airing this past October 5th on NTV, scripted by Dear Sister and Last Cinderella writer Nakatani Mayumi.


Toge
(Currently airing as of Oct. 8)

Here’s a fun one: Toge, or Toge Shoushimin Kuranaga Haruyuki no Gyakushu, is a work drama said to lead into a “feel-good” conclusion as its protagonist awakens a newfound sense of justice. Kuranaga Haruyuki (Tanabe Seiichi) works at the municipal office of Wani no Kuni for the citizen consultation center. The title of that alone rings dull with a baggage of stress, so it’s no surprise that Haruyuki’s life has been under immense strain since his initial transfer-in from three years ago. To make matters worse, his personality bears traits that reek of a cowardly push-over and succeed in sandwiching him between subordinates, his boss, and demanding citizens who come in with their own set of complaints. It’s not until an emergency happens that Haruyuki breaks out of his beaten shell and makes a turning point in his life.

Toge is scripted by Mikuni Tsuzuko, Obayashi Reiko, and Ogawa Masue and aired its first episode as of October 8th on Fuji TV.


Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku Tatsu
(Premieres Oct. 11)

Moriyama Mikura (Aragaki Yui) is a twenty-five year old graduate and recently laid-off temp worker looking at a bleak horizon of no job offers. That is, until emotionally cold Tsuzaki Hiramasa (Hoshino Gen) steps into the picture. Mikura begins work, finally, but as his housekeeper… and then some?! For whatever strange (or perhaps totally sensible) reasons, Mikura makes a sudden proposition to marry for work. It is said that the thirty-five year old Hiramasa takes pride in what he calls a “professional bachelor,” but agrees to enter a marriage contract with his new fake wife housekeeper after considering the pros of her idea. Complications and some melting of Ice-Man Hiramasa are sure to arise from this romcom, adapted from Umino Tsunami’s josei manga of the same name.

All in all, this doesn’t sound too exciting when the summary is one big cliché, but I am excited to see how Nogi Akiko (writer of my favorite Juhan Shuttai!) transitions yet another story from manga pages to the small screen.

Nigeru wa Haji da ga Yaku ni Tatsu (literally, Running Away is Shameful but Useful) begins October 11th on TBS.


Chef: Mitsuboshi no Kyushoku
(Premieres Oct. 13)

Amami Yuki plays Hoshino Mitsuko, a talented, three-star chef at the top of her game and no downfall in sight. But then, how often does a person foresee the collapse of their career? Despite world-renowned recipes and a three-year waitlist of reservations, Mitsuko’s boss, Shinoda Shogo (Koisumi Kotaro), fires her. Although her pride—plus meddling on Shogo’s behalf—creates difficulties in finding a job, she lands a new gig at creating school lunches for children as part of a variety TV program. The normally confident Mitsuko, who once believed not a single soul would leave her food unfinished, just may have backed herself into a humbling experience. All caught on TV, she’ll not only need to work hard to regain those lost stars but to satisfy a different group of taste buds than what she is used to cooking for.

Written by Hamada Shuya, Chef airs this October 13th on Fuji TV!


Suna no Tou
(Premieres Oct 14)

Something ominous looms in the near future for happy housewife Takani Aki (Kanno Miho) and its name is Sasaki Yumiko (Matsushima Nanako)—a terrifying, devious woman. It’s not clear if this villainess preys upon all of the building’s housewives or masterfully manipulates them against Aki, but the woman is bad news for the Takanis. It’s not soon after moving into their dream apartment that they encounter Yumiko, who could very well set in motion this family’s destruction and drive Aki into isolation. Sounds like Sasaki Yumiko brings a whole new level of insane to your average crazy neighbor, amirite? We’ll find out soon enough.

Sou no Tou, written by Ikeda Natsuko, will air on October 14th at TBS.


IQ246
(Premieres Oct. 16)

From the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department, detective Wato Soko (Tsuchiya Tao) is sent to the First Investigative Division. Perhaps excepting to investigate brutal crimes, she instead finds herself assigned to guard a man from an esteemed aristocratic family in which all eldest sons share an IQ of 246. His name is Homonji Sharaku (Oda Yuji), currently serving as the 89th head of the Homoji family, and remains in continuous pursuit of knowledge and in search of a case that is worth his while. Mysteriously, everyone who has been assigned to Sharaku has resigned within a month… (But with an IQ higher than Sherlock, and if he’s anything like Sherlock, then I can see why. But hopefully IQ246 is creative enough by its own means to not add yet another Sherlockian character to the world.)

IQ246, aka IQ246 ~ Kareinaru Jikenbo, airs October 16th on TBS. It was scripted by a three-man team of Izumisawa Yoko, Kurimoto Shizuka, and Hara Suzuko.


Cain & Abel
(Premieres Oct. 17)

What better way to infect a wound by neglecting to treat it? Poor Takada Yu (Yamada Ryosuke)—who knows what festering emotions he has grown up to harbor, living as the overlooked & less valued child of Takayumi (Takashima Masanobu). Although his father has yet to acknowledge Yu’s worth, he works for his father’s company where he seeks to gain Takayumi’s love and recognition. Instead, it is the older, higher-achieving brother, Takada Ryuichi (Kiritana Kenta), who—no stranger to their old man’s praise—continues to win favor.

Well, who hasn’t come across this scenario before? I can imagine Yu’s resentment and envy of his brother, his eagerness to prove his merit, the longing to have his father’s affection, and maybe even disappointment in himself, but the tension I grasp from the summary alone is thick enough to need a knife. Hopefully no knives are called for when things become more interesting once Yu meets and falls in love with Azusa (Kurashina Kana), Ryuichi’s girlfriend.

Cain and Abel, scripted by Aso Kumiko and Kanzawa Tatsuya, airs on Fuji TV starting October 17th.


Cold Case: Shinjitsu no Tobira
(Premieres Oct. 22)

Little can be said about what Cold Case will cover throughout its ten episodes, you know, besides cracking cold cases. Either way, I’m all in. Cold Case is in fact an adaptation of the American police procedural of the same name, which stars Kathryn Morris as the strong yet compassionate and devoted homicide detective Lilly Rush. In terms of police procedurals, the American Cold Case doesn’t make the cut into my favorites list, but it was an enjoyable, addicting show that ran a total of seven seasons. I have no doubt that WOWOW, who partnered with WBITVP, will produce and excellent adaptation; in fact, I expect I’ll enjoy this dorama more than the original drama. I just hope I’m not setting expectations too high.

Lilly’s Japanese counterpart will be played by Yoshida Yo, who takes the leading position as Inspector Ishikawa Yuri. From the Kanagawa Prefectural Police’s First Investigative Division, she will head a team comprised of actors Nagayama Kento, Takito Kenichi, & Mitsuishi Ken who—although it goes without saying—will work to solve cold cases.

Zeze Takahisa, Yoshida Yasuhiro, Hourai Ryuta, and  Hayashi Koji were tasked with scripting Cold Case while Takafumi Hatano was hired on to direct. The first episode premiers October 22nd on WOWOW.


Princess Maison
(Premieres Oct. 25)

There’s not much to say here: twenty-six year old Numagoe Sachi (Morikawa Aoi) lives life searching for and dreaming of owning an apartment. When she’s not working her job at a Japanese-style bar then she’s out and about attending showrooms in hopes of discovering a “lucky property”—whatever that means. Speaking as a fellow twenty-five twenty-six year old, I fantasize about owning a home, too, but it appears there is more to Sachi’s motivation than what can be seen at surface level…

Writers Takahashi Izumi and Matsui Kana are responsible for this manga-to-drama adaptation, which is set to air October 25th on NHK BS Premium for a reported eight episodes.


Shinya Shokudo ~ Tokyo Stories
(Premieres Oct. 31)

Here is one I am highly excited for despite having not seen or read any previous Shinya Shokudo material, but it serves as more incentive to jump into the series. Shinya Shokudo is lifted from the pages of Abe Yaro’s manga about a back-alley midnight diner that opens from—you guessed it—12 AM until 7 AM. It’s a one-man staff operation run by the owner, simply referred to as “Master” (Kobayashi Kaoru), who makes do for his customers with what ingredients are offered. If it’s anything like its South Korean adaptation, Late Night Restaurant, Shinya Shokudo should be a perfectly cozy slice-of-life for late nights and late night food cravings.

The Tokyo Series follows the 2015 film Midnight Diner and will mark the show’s forth season. It begins October 31st and can be viewed on Netflix.


Suisho no Kodo
(Premieres Nov. 13)

If you happen to hear screaming off in the distance then that might be me and my continuous celebratory freak-out. Suisho no Kodo marks the return of Detective Kisaragi Toko (Kimura Fumino), who I fell in love with—along with her partner Takano Hideaki (Aoki Munetaka)—last year in the five-episode detective drama Ishi no Mayu (literally Stone’s Cocoon). It’s not a drama one watches for the whodunit (because that is an early giveaway), but for the depth of the script, of the characters, and for the perfectly poignant and—at times—haunting atmosphere. I never expected to see Toko again apart from a rewatch, so I am full-on elated that WOWOW will be airing more of My Favorite Thing.

Suisho no Kodo takes place one year after the incidences that occur in Ishi no Mayu, and it appears that Toko still struggles with trauma left by her confrontation with Toremi. One of Ishi no Mayu’s joys comes from watching Toko’s development of filling a position she was too green for to finding her place. Now, it seems, we’ll see the psychological damage that was inflicted and how it effects her work and personal life, and—hopefully—how she copes while facing new threats, because Suisho no Kodo is sure to have one. Like weird, freaky murdering(s) and explosions with stalker-suspects!

It’s said that a “bizarre” murder happens in a room that’s turned a color of deep red. Hideaki and Toko arrive at the scene to investigate, but leave in pursuit of a man they realize is following them. It sounds as though they manage the nab the guy, but an explosion happens just before they can arrest him. Coincidence? Or not?

We have a little more than a month’s wait to find out, as Suisho no Kodo will air its first of five episodes on November 13th. Both director Akira Uchikata and writer Kazushi Asami have returned for this second Ishi no Mayu installment. Kensaku Watanabe, however, remains unattached to the project, although Yuuka Arai was added—perhaps in his stead—to help write the script.


Copyface
(Premieres Nov. 18)

What would you do if, one day, you realized you’re not the true spouse of your significant other? And—if that significant other was guilty of foul misdeeds—would you, for love’s sake, continue the lie or choose to expose the corruption? Hirosawa Nodoka (Kuriyama Chiaki) is about to find out.

Based on Sandra Brown’s Mirror Image, Copyface tells a chapter in the life of Nodoka, a free-lance journalist who sets out to expose Asakura Shuji (Sato Ryuta), the director of a cosmetic surgery clinic. To do so, she attempts to get close to his wife, Fuyuko, by following her on to a plane that—in what steers into a twist of fate—crashes in an accident. Pulled from the wreckage, Nodoka is rescued but is misidentified as Fuyuko. Plastic surgery allows for Nodoka’s face to be reconstructed into that of Fuyuko’s, and—unaware of her real identity—she begins a new life as Shuji’s wife. Believing she is Fuyuko, she falls in love but is left to confront difficult decisions when memories of her true self resurface.

Copyface is another drama this season scripted by Shinozaki Eriko (Hippocratic Oath), which is planned to air November 18th on NHK.


Daishou
(Premieres Nov. 30)

I love a good, gritty suspense, but I love Oguri Shun’s acting even more. Smack them together and I might think I’ve been gifted a slice of heaven from the drama gods, so I feel exponentially thrilled to watch Daishou. Based on Ioka Shun’s novel, Daishou covers the well-to-do lawyer Okuyama Keisuke (Oguri Shun) and the dark past that returns to haunt him.

Asked to defend a murder suspect, Keisuke discovers that the accused is none other than Ando Tatsuya (Takahashi Tsutomu). He’s a man said to be responsible for robbing Keisuke of his parents and belonging to a family at fault for causing further anguish—a backstory I am all too eager to hear. Labeled as a Keisuke’s “psychopathic ‘friend’” and distant relative, Tatsuya must rely on the successful lawyer to prove his innocence, but what better opportunity is there to crush one’s demon than now? If there is any innocence to prove, however, remains to be seen, and—ultimately—becomes Keisuke’s weapon of power against his old tormentor, who he intends to bury once and for all. Whether this means figuratively or literally, I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!

A team composed of Inagaki Kiyotoka, Moriguchi Yusuke, and Honda Ta were dealt the task of scripting Daishou, which airs it first of six episodes on November 30th at Hulu.


This is, by no means, a complete list. For that you may have to look through various wikis and blogs, but I’d love to hear which dramas you’re looking forward to this fall!

*If you’re unsure about whether a drama will receive subs or not, check the fansub map by clicking here. So far none of my top picks have been picked up, but there’s still time to hope.

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