One fine evening, I curiously hopped into the unappreciated Netflix section of East-Asian TV shows and the next thing I knew- I found myself hooked onto a type of content that I had never seen before in any typical western production. I’ve watched about ten East-Asian dramas/shows in total, but four particular shows stood out to me because of their intriguing plots that have cost me several hours of sleep, nightly. These dramas hit every aspect that should belong in a binge-worthy TV drama- suspense, mystery, and complicated romance.
This thrilling Japanese drama is based on a popular manga that will always seem to have you on the edge of your seat. Protagonist Satoru Fujinama (Yuki Furukawa) starts off as a young, unsuccessful manga artist in Japan, working at a pizza place alongside a young teenage girl named Airi. Satoru often faces strange occurrences that will warp him a few moments back into the past and finds that these time-travel-like moments he calls ‘revivals’ happen right before a tragic incident is about to strike. These ‘revivals’ give Satoru a chance to fix or prevent whichever dreadful incident is about to occur. After his mother is viciously stabbed and left to die by an unknown criminal, Satoru finds himself in a ‘revival’ that results in him waking up in 1988, outside of his old elementary school as a young boy. Satoru goes on intense, recurring journeys in both the present and the past to uncover the unidentified murderer and prevent the infamous string of crimes; but the culprit may be even closer than Satoru thinks.
Trigger Warning: This show depicts suicide and graphic visuals
Another intense Japanese drama; different plot. Switched digs deep into the cruel truth of bullying, loneliness, and neglect. Ayumi Kohinata (Kaya Kirohara) establishes her role as the popular, pretty girl at school, known for her kindness and outgoingness. She has it all- the handsome boyfriend, the perfect friends, and the ideal, caring family. Zenko Umine (Miu Tomita) is her complete opposite; she suffers from neglect, physical and verbal abuse by her mother at their small apartment on a daily basis, adding onto her daily struggles at school. Zenko, being an outcast who gets bullied daily for her introverted personality and appearance, makes the decision to commit suicide on the evening of the Red Moon. She dials Ayumi to watch her as she goes through with the action; little does Ayumi know that this would trigger an effect that would switch her and Zenko’s bodies. The story continues to show the struggles of Ayumi in Zenko’s body and Zenko’s unexpected struggles in Ayumi’s body. Despite Zenko’s troubles, she finds that this life in Ayumi’s body is still better than her previous.
3. Meteor Garden
The 2018 remake of the iconic Chinese drama, Meteor Garden (2001), shines light on a determined, strong-willed Mingde University freshman, Shancai Dong (Shen Yue). Shancai comes from an average, middle-income family and manages to attend China’s most prestigious university with her closest friends. Her optimism for the life she has ahead of her comes to a slight close when she meets F4- a group of the richest, most popular boys at school. Daoming Si (Wang He Di) is the meanest, most arrogant boy of the group, and starts off on the wrong foot with Shancai. He bullies her and her best friends constantly, yet this is his way of demonstrating an interest in her, but Shancai doesn’t seem to favour him because of his complex expressions of emotion. Instead, at first, Shancai favours another member of F4, an introverted, intelligent boy named Lei Hua Ze (Darren Chen). Things rise in complication when Daoming Si admits his feelings for Shancai, and she discovers that she may feel something for him as well.
4. Strong Girl Bong-Soon
Now, this list would not be complete without a K-Drama, and this one is full of girl power, twisted suspense and romance. Bong-Soon (Park-Bo Young) is a young woman who was born into a distinct group of people, her family having superhuman strength coursing through the veins of all the females who are born into it. She attempts to hide her unique powers for the entirety of her life, secretly taking on the role of the anonymous superhero in her district of Dobong-dong. One day, she is seen fighting crime by a rich, video game design company owner, Ahn Min-Hyuk (Park Hyung-Sik ) and he hires her as his bodyguard. After Bong-Soon’s friend is targeted by a serial kidnapper, she finds herself determined to expose his identity and prevent him from committing his recurring crimes against the women in her district. Ahn Min-Hyuk rises as her detective partner and begins to develop feelings for Bong-Soon that grow heavier the more he is with her. These feelings circulate in between both Ahn Min-Hyuk and Bong-Soon but a few obstacles may get in the way of their budding romance.
Featured Image via Netflix