Japanese high school dramas are one of the best. Compared to the usual dark themes that you may notice in Japanese productions, the young school life dramas are very fun and refreshing. The stories not only focus on the students’ life, love and friendships but it also gives you a good view into the Japanese school life and culture.
The dramas have fun and interesting plots and of course amazing young actors. Here is a list of must see, best high school Japanese dramas.
Proposal Daisakusen (2007)
A sweet romantic drama starring Yamapi. It’s about best childhood friends Ken and Rei, secretly in love with each other without the other knowing of their feelings. But when Rei is about to get married to another man Ken is send back in time, giving him a second chance to win the girl he loves.
Cast: Tomohisa Yamashita, Masami Nagasawa, Nana Eikura
Yukan Club (2007)
Great drama for the lovers of comedy and mystery combined in one in high school setting. Starring KAT-TUN members Akanishi Jin and Taguchi Junnosuke, each episode is a different mystery challenge that the five wealthy and quirky members of Yukan Club solve to pass time.
Cast: Akanishi Jin, Yokoyama Yu, Taguchi Junnosuke, Minami
Nobuta wo Produce (2005)
This high school drama is considered classic and a must watch. It’s funny and dark, starring Yamapi, Kazuya and Horikita Maki. Kiritani Shuji is the popular guy who gets along with everyone, from the jerks to the nerds to the just plain weird, but there is one person he can’t stand – Kusano Akira. Akira is free spirit who laughs, talks a lot and acts funny. They have to work together to help the new student Kotani Nobuko, a bullied girl with no self-confidence, and make her in the next popular girl.
Cast: Kamenashi Kazuya, Yamashita Tomohisa, Horikita Maki
Hana Yori Dango (2005)
Anyone who watches J-Dramas must know “Hana Yori Dango”. Based on a famous manga there is a reason it’s considered classic, it was so popular it led to international drama adaptations. The story follows Makino Tsukushi, the only poor student at Eitoku Gakuen, school for ridiculously rich kids who is ruled by four popular guys F4. If a student gets on F4’s bad side they get a red notice and are driven out of school. Makino happens to get the dreaded red notice.
Cast: Inoue Mao, Matsumoto Jun, Oguri Shun, Matsuda Shota
Hana Kimi / Hanazakari no Kimitachi e (2007)
Another classic J-Drama starring Oguri Shun and Horikita Maki. Track star Mizuki transfers from a school to Osaka High School – an all-male high school. She must disguise herself as a boy, all to get closer to her hero Izumi Sano, a high jump athlete. Trouble soon starts to brew and feeling to develop, but she has to hide she is a girl.
Cast: Horikita Maki, Oguri Shun, Ikuta Toma, Mizushima Hiro
KOIZORA / Sky of Love (2008)
A very sweet romantic high school drama. Mika Tahara, an ordinary high school girl is kisssed out of the blue by Hiro, one of her classmates. Hiro stands out with his bleached hair and piercing, and apparently he is also dating someone else right now.
Cast: Erena Mizusawa, Koji Seto
Itazura na Kiss Love in TOKYO (2013)
The drama is actually a remake of popular drama “Mischievous Kiss” from 1996. It’s a sweet romantic drama about a high school student Aihara Kotoko, who isn’t that smart, who fall in love with pretty genius boy Irie Naoki. When she finds courage to confess she is turned down with “I don’t like dumb women.” But when they become unexpected roommates can she change his mind.
Cast: Miki Honoka, Furukawa Yuki
Detective Conan: Kudo Shinichi e no Chousenjou (2011)
For everyone who loves mysteries this is a great high school drama. Based on the popular manga “Meitantei Conan” the drama follows genius high school student detective Shinichi and his childhood friend Ran Mouri solving criminal mystery closed cases.
Cast: Junpei Mizobata, Shiori Kutsuna
Tantei Gakuen Q (2006)
Another great mystery drama about a team of genius students studying in a detective academy run by a famous detective, Morihiko Dan. Each with individual strong qualities, in the tough competition to win will they learn to work as a team or will they try to solve the mystery cases alone.
Cast: Kamiki Ryunosuke, Shida Mirai, Yamada Ryosuke
Kindaichi Case Files Gate of Jail Private School Murders (2014)
The drama is based on Japanese mystery manga series about the crime solving adventures of a high school student Hajime Kindaichi. Two school friends Hajime and Miyuki turn into detectives when they discover a death at their school. Can they solve the case?
Cast: Ryosuke Yamada, Chun Wu, Nichkhun, Hiroki Narimiya