Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Can jdorama/jmovies thrive without idorus and talento?

I don't even need to watch this show to know how bad it is.

If you're one of the five people who read this blog, you know how much I despise mainstream shows with the main purpose of being vehicles for idorus and so called talentos. *cough* Gouri *cough*. However, compared to Japan, Australian tv is full of reality tv shows and the only dramas are soap operas like Neighbours and Home and Away. There are hardly any home made Australian dramas. The reason isn't just the difference in population between Japan and Australia, although it probably plays a part.


If you're in charge of greenlighting tv shows for TV Asahi or TBS or Fuji TV, you'll probably have to convince the higher ups that casting this person who can't act can draw X number of eyeballs to the show and increase entertainment news coverage. Can you go the bosses and say I've got this great script and director and we are going to cast the best no names and we are going to draw ratings based on strong reviews.


The two biggest ratings giants in recent years have been Kaseifu no Mita and Hanzawa Naoki, two shows with horrible acting and crappy scripts and both drew ratings producers will die for.


I've talked to many Japanese about their doramas and movies and most conversations don't go beyond whether something is interesting or not. Seriously, its impossible to have in depth conversation about doramas or movies when in Japan unless the other person is hardcore into movies. Compared to the Western world where we're discussing every detail of Game of Thrones or how Sons of Anarchy and House of Cards suck after season 3.

Lots of people hate Gouriki but apparently she's got a lot of female fans for some reason. This producer says that reviewers don't really criticise movies. If reviewers don't criticise movies, that also means they don't criticise performances of people who can't act like that overpushed Mikasa actress in the Attack on Titan movie. If they don't criticise their own movies, then that means the movies that are actually good.

Long story short, I don't think your average Japanese will appreciate a good jdorama like Suzuki Sensei even if it hit them in the face. Its not just the Japanese audience though. You can also see the indifference to quality with shows that get subbed and the number or people downloading the subs from English speaking jdorama fans.


Johnnys are already responsible for a large chunk of TV entertainment shows like Bistro SMAP and that Arashi game show. You want continued support from Johnnys, you better put more of their people in your doramas. Gouriki can't act for fucks? Don't worry, we'll keep giving her her own show.

There is an episode in the anime Shirobako where all the stakeholders from the tv studio and talent agencies give their stupid input on how to make and cast this anime that it derails from what the creators are trying to do. Talent agencies hold more power than producers and directors.


Granted the good doramas are mostly from WOWOW and NHK but because your major networks continue to make doramas, everyone has to compete in that field as it is much cheaper to create those so called reality shows that are actually faker than wresting.

A robust industry at least guarantees that there is money flowing into the making of doramas and movies. The good WOWOW and NHK shows like Yami no Bansosha may not have the budget of a Getsu 9 dorama but at least they have one.

A robust industry allows good writers and actors and production people to have jobs, pay their bills, hone their craft and hopefully they'll have a chance to work on a dorama with an actual story and vision.


To answer the question of whether jdoramas/jmovies can thrive without idorus and talento, I would like to think yes but Japanese viewing habits suggest not. If something as great as Lady Joker which is like The Wire of Japanese doramas cannot make a dent in their public consciousness, there is no hope. However, because we continue to have shows featuring people who cannot act and soap opera lighting, we at least can continue to have gems like Arechi no Koi which are unappreciated and unsubbed.


Shane said...

You're absolutely right about this.

Japanese people are generally very casual when it comes to watching dramas and movies. It's hard to find people who care about good scripts etc.

One theory I have for idoru shows getting the best ratings is that most people with a decent level of intelligence DO NOT HAVE TIME to watch TV. People of working age here are grateful to get 30 mins in front of their TV. So I dont think they're as fussy because they're all so bloody busy at work. Meanwhile all the schoolgirls are buying the CDs and watching the dramas.

Buck said...

I know several Japanese people who have good tastes in TV shows but they don't watch Jdramas. They're film buffs so they're more like the exception to your fact 3. I suppose that most working people hardly have time to watch TV anyway, so they want to make sure that what they watch is well worth their time. People who care about good acting, good scripts generally turn to American and British shows like Breaking Bad, The Wire, Sherlock etc. With the availability of Hulu in Japan, I don't think anyone would be bothered with duds like that kekkon show with Miki Nakatani.

That leaves Jdramas in the vicious cycle of crappy writing, laughable acting and soap-opera direction. I reckon that Australian dramas are not much better. There're too many home-grown Aussie talents for too few good scriptwriters. Recent hits like Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries, A Place Called Home are enjoyable , but they're nothing more than soap opera propped up by stylish fashion and high production value.

Cyberwave said...

The TV ratings already tell us Japanese nowadays tend to watch more variety shows & sports programmes much more than dramas. They just want an hour of entertainment, rather than thinking the message behind a serious story. Dramas that have double-digit ratings are either episodic, cliche (e.g.Lawyers, Police, Middle-Aged Love-seeking Woman), or starred by experienced talents. That's why we can still see Yutaka Takenouchi and Miki Nakatani being heroine. I am so worried that there will be lack of training ground for new talents in near future. Japan Entertainment Industry had already failed to foster leading artistic talent from 90% of the 1985-88 generations. We can only hope it won't fail again.

Anonymous said...

I agree on most of your points, although, speaking as someone who has seems a ton of doramas, I am probably in not a good position to critizise others for watching "crappy" shows, as actually I watched a fair share of those too (and those I finished I enjoyed :P).

I think as the others above said, it is also a question of what you expect from a dorama when you are going to watch it. Depending on this you can either enjoy or hate a show. (Even though I compeltely agree on Gourikis acting, which basically only was tolerable in Is back with Fukuda Saki).

So for me a good dorama isn't necessary a one with good acting and or a superiour script + actors, it depends what I want to watch and what mood I am in. And so probably because it appears to me, a lot of entertainment is provided there must be a demand for this. The question if it is overdone, is a different matter though. From the japanese I know, I can only say that noone was even remotely watching as much doramas as I did so I can asume they mostly watch them for entertainment reasons if they have time or so.

But yes the really memorable doramas are only a few and those typically are strong in all mentioned aspects (think for instance on Arifureta Kiseki, which not only had a good balance with a sentimental/depressing setup + it's funny moments and beside the well known Nakama Yukie a lot of good actors that weren't jhonnies...)

Sonna~ said...

What I want from a good J-drama is sort of similar to hama's comment above. All I expect from a Japanese drama is a good story and a decent lead.

My fav. drama in 2013/2014 was a K-drama called "Let's Eat" about a stubborn office admin, an insurance salesman, and a student. The story was good, the lead was interesting, there was lots of glorious food, and it was addictive. Something simple like that was good enough for me, even though I'm not a fan of most K-dramas.

Unknown said...

I love gouriki face really my type but omg her acting just kill every drama she in
i'm watch first ep of this and it nothing to look forward for just same old same old wiht bad lead.
japan agency must be so powerfull they can push a lot of cant act actor/actress in to drama
every season and is really fun when rating just so bad like they acting.

4545 said...

Don't think this has been mentioned but a lot of this is also due to the influence of the Jimusho system. And since not much can be done to change that system (or watching habits), all we can do on our end is to rely on heroes like you Mike, to sift through all that crap and give us the good stuffs. <3

What we could do, though, is to try and influence fansubbers to pick up these unappreciated, good dramas/movies. Question is how.

Anonymous said...

Rootabega sez:

See what happens when I slack off on reading this blog? I'm late to this most trenchant, finely-distilled and no-bullshit discussion on j-doramas and j-ent. That won't stop my from adding my paltry two bits long after everyone else has gone home;).

Mike-san, you've made so many excellent points in this post, but this one has to be the money-quote:

A robust industry allows good writers and actors and production people to have jobs, pay their bills, hone their craft and hopefully they'll have a chance to work on a dorama with an actual story and vision.

I almost never watched TV after high school, and I had become a hard-core film snob by my late twenties. I really felt like I was "lowering my standards" when I watched my first doramas in early 2010. I remember feeling relieved that I visited Japan for the first time in 2009 before such "cheap and tacky" entertainment could sully my rarified and idealistic views on "aesthetically pleasing/challenging" Japan. I was truly horrified by what I saw. Then, I watched this lil' Kudo Kankuro dorama called "IWGP", and the rest is history:). I can no longer call myself a film connoisseur, but I am a better person for having removed that stick out of my rear end.
I will always be a terrible music snob, however;;).

Anonymous said...

Rootabega agin':

Mike-san, have you seen this series of posts from Psycho Dorama? It's kind of like the long, drawn-out version of what you have expressed so succintly in this post and on other occasions. In particular, in part 3, the author surveys the Japanese media and really drills down into the ugly mechanics of the J-ent biz:

"Are we doomed to watch mediocre young Japanese actresses? As Hikari Mitsushima, Yu Aoi, Mao Inoue graduate to matured roles, who will take over? [Part 1/4]"

Akiramike said...

@Rootabega, actually I think someone posted a link to the post long time ago.