I sometimes try to work out which J-dramas would make it onto British screens. Unlikely, since UK television has an aversion to any foreign shows with only Wallander from Sweden having a series on BBC3, although an episode of the Italian detective series Montalbano was shown once in 2008.
Given the nature of British TV, of course, most Japanese stuff simply wouldn't make it. The female characters are often too subservient or girly, or in the case of hard-hitting dramas, the bitter pill of social injustice is smothered by a sweet sub-plot, in which the teenage thug really does love his mother, or the murderer was trying to avenge the honour of his father.
So, here's my list of shows that would comfortably make it onto British screens. Not necessarily prime-time on a major channel, but they could find a home somewhere and not look out of place. I've put them in order from “no changes at all” to “needs quite a bit of work done to it”. And I've added where in the schedule they might fit. Ah, I missed my vocation – I should've been a programme planner.
1. Jikou Keisatsu
I've only recently started watching this, which is why I haven't mentioned it before. This is a detective series in which a policeman has a hobby where he investigates crimes that happened over 15 years ago and so cannot be brought to trial. Directed by Satoshi Miki and starring Odagiri Joe and Aso Kumiko, it's very funny and intelligently written. I'd put this on instead of Atami no Sousakan (same director, same cast) because Atami's constant Twin Peaks references would have people complaining it was just a rip-off, but this stands on its own two feet and I think it needs no changes at all to work abroad.
Channel: BBC2 or Channel 4, around 9 or 10 o'clock
2. Ueno Juri no Itsutsu no Kaban
No need for explanations, since I've written about this before. This series of short dramas is quiet and quirky, and would work fine pretty much as they are.
Channel: BBC2, after Newsnight. 11.15 ish
I watched this ages ago, and keep meaning to write about it, but never seem to find the time. A scientist genius is used by the police to solve seemingly impossible crimes. The writing is great, and the explanations never disappoint in their ingenuity.
Channel: Late night ITV3, I reckon
4. Ashita no, Kita Yoshio
When people think of the Japanese, they tend to think of high suicide rates so I do wonder if this show (about a man who's decided to commit suicide in eleven days) would only reinforce that stereotype. But the series is so good that I'd take that risk.
Channel: BBC3 or 4 perhaps?
Definitely not prime time, but would easily fill a gap for cult movie-watchers and otaku. Some of the jokes may not make any sense to the British, but what the hell. Put it all on. Its energy and originality should be enough.
Channel: E4... or perhaps it could just make it onto Channel 4
While this show is excellent, I can't se your average UK viewer sitting through the intro and outro of every episode. So with a bit of editing, I think you've got a very strong four part series.
Channel: similar to Itsutsu no Kaban, so again BBC2, after Newsnight. 11.15 ish
7. Lost Time Life
The first J-drama I ever watched and still one of my favourites. But let's be honest, not all of the ten episodes are great and the one about food is simply too Japanese. People will ask themselves: what's so great about sukiyaki? Cut it down to a six-parter and you've got something special.
Channel: late night BBC3
Another series I haven't written about yet. Hmmm, I feel like I should apologise. Anyway, this show is about an office lady who hits 30 and has no husband and no sign of any coming soon. A sort of Japanese Bridget Jones. Shinohara Ryoko is fantastic in the lead role, and while the storyline may be a bit wobbly in places, this could work. Just about. A bit of editing, maybe?
Channel: Hmm... E4?
This series is great. Funny and mysterious. Unfortunately, episode one relies on a word puzzle that most British people would get in seconds, thus making the audience wonder what all the fuss is about. Not sure how you'd get round that. It'd need a lot of editing. After that, though, this would work fine.
10. Liar Game
This would need a complete remake. The female lead is too passive for British audiences, and the number of crash zooms in an average scene is ridiculous. But if they do make it for British audiences, I think it would work well. Geeky things are in vogue just now.
Channel: Hey, if you give it to Steven Moffat, BBC1!