4 Japanese Series on Netflix, Binge-watching Worthy!

August 01, 2021

If you’re on my Instagram (@brigidalexandra), you might have seen my Netflix show reviews on my Instagram stories which later became ‘Watchlist’ series on my highlight. Those Netflix shows have been my salvation, well, it’s one of my many salvations. I’m thinking to put those reviews with the categorized theme here on my blog. So, my first one is binge-watching worthy Japanese series available on Netflix! Whether you’re a big fan of Japan, studying Japanese, or looking for something new, here you go. 

1. Midnight Diner and Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories

Midnight Diner is a gem for those who love cooking or Japanese food, or heart-warming stories. This series was originally made and launched in Japan for 3 seasons before Netflix published another one to become ‘Netflix Original’ (the one titled: Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories) that lasted for 2 seasons so far. As you might know, Netflix Original contents are into unique and diverse elements, and this series ticked off all of those requirements for a Netflix Original. 

The story was made from a best-selling manga. A story of a diner cook, called Master, un-named yet wise and a bit mysterious—as he has an unknown scar on his face---and his encounters with daily customers, their stories, and how they become entangled. His customers are very unique and much different from each other as they come from various backgrounds. The only thing they have in common is how they can unwind and become comfortable as themselves once the day goes down at the chef’s diner. Master will cook anything the customer wishes, as long he has the ingredients. 

Each episode will share about one specific dish that plays a significant role, holding the shape of the story of one of either new or recurring customers, who will become a dominant part of the single episode. The drama will make you cry, laugh, or give you mixed feelings in very unexpected, cheesy, not cheesy, fresh, and simple plot. Even though the story feels new, it does not lack real Japanese culture and real issues. This is why I really like the show since it was all over important topic once thought of as taboo. It’s feminist, gender-mainstreaming, open-minded, and of course, therefore it’s progressive. I can say, it's light to watch yet rich in magical elements that will leave you feeling good.

The line of customers of Master consists of yakuza boss, stripper, gay club owner, scriptwriter, porn star, salary-woman, five-star restaurant reviewer, and many others. They can sit together, side by side, eating their own favorite dish specially cooked for them by Master, in peace. Exchanging stories, thoughts, life problems, and sharing their bites. By the end of the episode, Master will share how to cook the star dish. Many times he will narrate his thoughts and wisdom with his calm yet soothing fatherly voice. If you feel like needing a safe space, an open mind, non-judgemental place, the series is for you.

Midnight Diner is a truly beautiful series, reminding us of how different we are… we are human beings with our own stories and food is a great soul connector, with ourselves and others. I like the way the story tells us that good food isn’t always about a fancy place with a pretentious vibe, but it’s about personal connection linking ourselves to our heart and inner peace. Lots of wisdom in the story touches us, through mistakes, sadness, and struggles that told.

Well, South Korea also made their own version, too. 

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories Trailer

2. Alice in Borderland

Also coming from the popular manga, Alice in Borderland comes in live-action series. This is a battle-royale story where the characters are secretly random-picked and sent to an alternate universe without their consent where they have to survive through playing games. The games are physical, tactical, and deadly, while along the way the survival is successfully putting friendship apart, re-questioning humanity, and challenging morale. 

The first three episodes were touchy yet gory. I cried! The storyline is super unexpected, I can’t guess what could happen at all. I was totally hooked with all of those cliffhangers of each episode. 

The characters of the story represent the world we’re living. Betrayal, a power-thirsty person who is lacked skill but has great charisma, losers who gang up for the sake of security, strategic person, ass-lickers, sincere ones, individual brainy, and sly chameleon. Totally a great mix of people to survive together while the only exit would only allow one person. 

Yes, of course, this will remind you of Battle Royale, Hunger Games, and Maze Runner. This is actually a blend of those three. But definitely, you should give this a try! Even the idea might not seem like a new thing, the storyline is truly special. Watching this makes me cry, deep-thinking, and of course, re-questioning the humanity inside us. I'd ask the question to myself, what if I were in such position? This will definitely challenge my humane side. The gruesome bits will remind you a bit of The Condemned (if you ever watched this one), only Alice in Borderland goes with class. I'm happy that Season 2 has been announced to be set soon.

Amazing acting by the actors matched with awesome CGI, too!

Alice in Borderland Season 1 Trailer

3. My Husband Won't Fit

Well, while seeing the closing credit, I was surprised to see a studio of full Indonesian names. Well, this is a Japanese series… 

The romance story is about a woman who married a super loving man, yet they can’t have sex. With a huge understanding, they keep trying yet still don’t work. This situation takes the wife for the first 5 episodes into a little adventure of sexual awakening, where she learns about herself, her past, the sex forum that set him with another guy and rethinking about sexual taboo. We would be taken to another 5 episodes narrated by the husband, where we would learn about how he thinks about the situation and digging down to a deeper understanding about sex and married life… and love. 

Though it’s actually simple, it doesn’t lack interesting bits that debunk parental mistakes that form their children’s minds and personalities, including their POV and abnormalities. At the end of the show, it also brings up the side effect of sexual absence.

I can find this a bit cheesy at some point, but this is truly a cute love story to watch. Surprisingly, this was from a true story. The story has spoken up a bit about the issue of having children nowadays and how broad 'having children' can be interpreted today.

The storyline for me is really surprising. It was all sweet in the beginning, and then BOOM, wow.... that was the kind of story that goes.

My Husbands Won't Fit Trailer

4. Naked Director

This is my favourite!!! Now it comes in 2 seasons on Netflix as their original series. 

The semi-biography story is inspired by Toru Muranishi, a guy who made history in the Japanese porn industry and was deemed as “Emperor of Porn” in the 80-90s. He rose from nothing to fame, through his controversies yet creative and breakthrough touch in directing. Watching this made laughing hard, yet amazed that I finally reach another level of understanding about the power of good directing. 

The series really speaks up about my issues, such as fighting the taboo-ness of sex, porn as a form of art, female sexual liberation, and the integrity of an artist. Through the acting of Takayuki Yamada, I can see the passion of the creative and crazy mind of Toru Muranishi, seeing what it takes to be a pioneer in that industry. He saw porn in another frequency, just like how he put it, "I want to sell sexual desire."

He translated the energy into art and created something new in the market. 

It is also interesting side to crack the business and work culture sides in the porn industry in Japan at the time. The differences Toru Muranishi brought in his company compared to his competitors, the fresh ideas to the market, and also how the demand and political game between the porn-video competitors-the riches-the police. 

Watching this series really made me know a lot of other interesting things. I just knew about Kaoru Kuroki and her empowering stories (and also her retaliation through showing off armpit hair). Who knew that Japan also had such a figure is almost the same era as Eva Arnaz who had almost the same ‘campaign’ in Indonesia. I wasn’t born yet, such an era is truly something.

As for Season 2, it reminds me of the early 90s as I was just born at the time. The madness over satellite broadcast, the super volume hair, and all of the bits were very nostalgic to my childhood. Meanwhile, the era of the 90s is the new era for Japan who just transitioned with the then-new Emperor. This era marked the more challenging time for Toru Muranishi, in fact, the story is about how he fell from power and his regrets. The season has more touchy moments.

This is totally about ups and downs, playing it fair or dirtiest as you can, strategic or experimenting at the maximum level, betting it all, or putting it all for your best. Watch this if you wanna know the guy behind the invention of bukkake!

P.S. They play a very nice cover version of “It’s Too Late”. 

Season 1 Trailer - Naked Director

Season 2 Trailer - Naked Director

I will add new series to this post =) 

Also, tag me on your Instagram or Blogpost or Twitter if you watch this, I wanna know what you think about these picks!

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