Excessive TV Detective Dramas In Japan

You can guess that I love Japanese dramas. I wouldn’t have a guide on this site of nearly 100, in addition to the many others I’ve seen but haven’t bothered to write about, unless I was enthusiastic about them. So every new season (which happens about 4 times a year) of J-dramas, I am filled with unparalleled excitement.

But then that unsettling, familiar feeling returns.

Excessive TV Detective Dramas In Japan

Watch new show A: detective drama
Watch new show B: crime drama
Watch new show C: crime mystery drama
Watch new show D: police comedy drama
Watch new show E: some special crime enforcement division drama
Watch Show F: crime forensics drama
Watch Show G: repeat

Now I don’t hate this genre.

Two of my all time favorites, Trick and 自惚れデカ, easily fall in this pattern. And I have enjoyed others. But it was because they were original, and didn’t follow the same tired formula.

In every new season of J-dramas, maybe about 20-30 new dramas come out. And I would guess that at least a third of them are some variation of detective dramas.

It wasn’t so bad originally. There have always been detective dramas. But it was with the same number of school dramas, medical dramas, illness dramas, yankee dramas, and workplace dramas.

But in recent years, the number has grown ridiculous and out of control.

I’m confused about the reason behind this trend. They are popular, I get that. Are they cheaper to produce? Guaranteed higher profit? What is it?!

Two of the main Japanese reasons I’ve read are that:

1. People like watching stories that are far removed from their daily uneventful lives, and

2. They are usually one episode – one case, allowing viewers to come in starting from any episode, or miss an episode along the way and be okay.

To me these can also be negatives. I like watching shows I can relate to, and I like the continuing story, otherwise I’m not tempted to watch the next episode.

It’s not just me as a foreigner either though.

I have plenty of Japanese friends who have gotten fed up lately with the endless stream they are forced to deal with.

But how about you? Do you love the detective dramas? Have a theory behind the nonstop onslaught of them? Want to complain together with me? Or leave some of your favorites in the comments to show where they really shine.

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Founder of Jalup. Spends most of his time absorbing and spreading thrilling information about learning Japanese.


Excessive TV Detective Dramas In Japan — 6 Comments

  1. I don’t have any explanation, but it does seem this phenomena is not confined to Japan. I haven’t paid any attention to US television in years, but at one time it seemed that every series was either a show in the “CSI” franchise, a show in the “Law and Order” franchise or some other “slightly offbeat” detective drama like “Numb3rs.”

    It’s also not confined to drama, lots of anime seem to have a detective character or episode, including this season’s “龍ヶ嬢七々々の埋蔵金 (Nanana’s buried treasure)” and of course the “Lone Island Syndrome” parody in “涼宮ハルヒの憂鬱 (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya)”.

    That said, while crime dramas don’t hold any attraction for me personally, I really liked the take on the detective genre in “氷菓 (Hyouka) “, especially once the mood lightened a bit in the second cour.

    • Yeah, I guess I haven’t really followed American TV in a long time either, so I wonder if there are still a lot on TV these days. I also wonder if these types of shows work well in some countries, and not in others.

  2. Hmm, now that I think about it, most of the dramas I’ve watched have been detective dramas. ジョーカー 許されざる捜査官 is a really good and popular one.

    • Anyone who gets into Jdramas will definitely eventually get into some good detective dramas. Thanks for the recommendation.

  3. Using these for immersion also resulted in my being able to say “fraud,” “public prosecutor,” “rape,” “murder,” and “crime scene,” in Japanese before “food,” “parents,” “house,” or “drive.” Thanks, Japanese TV :/

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