Densha Otoko [電車男] The plot was dead funny, the production excellent, and the acting more than adequate, especially that of Shiraishi Miho.
Home Drama [ホームドラマ] This drama managed to discuss a very solemn subject (death of loved ones) in a mildly light-hearted manner. I was quite surprised by how engrossing this drama is. While nearly all the characters were a bit dramatic (this is a drama, after all) the cast looked quite creditable. There were parts that touched upon the Japanese society which was a bit of an insight for me, not being Japanese.
Shiraishi Miho [白石美帆] When I saw her in "Swing Girls" and "Orange Days" I just thought of Shiraishi as a cute-girl-next-door, of which there is plenty in Japan. Then I saw her as Jinkama Misuzu in "Densha Otoko" and got completely bowed over...
Ueno Juri [上野樹里] She's way beyond your average 'kawaii' Japanese teen actress. Her rebellious character in 'Engine' contrast sharply with her role as a brash school girl in 'Swing Girls'. Goes to show she is acting the role and not just acting herself.
Jyoou no Kyoushitsu [女王の教室] Nice mix of wholesome and evil [Rating: 9/10] To be honest I wasn't expecting much from this drama, as I have not seen any previous works of Amami Yuki. As it turns out it is a very pleasant surprise.
Up until episode 7 I thought this was a reflection of the Japanese society - the need to work hard, obey, and confirm. After watching the whole drama I realized this is an accusation of those Japanese values.
The side plots added a nice touch while not too distracting. I don't know where they come up with 24 kids who can, basically, all act.
All in all, a must see.
Orange Days [オレンジデイズ] Very addictive [Rating: 8/10] I finished this drama in a single day, and find myself searching for more information on the net. I have only watched the more slapstick variety of Japanese drama in the past - "Orange Days" has given me a new insight into J-drama.
There is no doubt Shibasaki has done well in her role. However I've watched "Good Luck" and her performance in OD reminded me strongly of the rigid mechanic in GL. I'm not sure whether Shibasaki is acting the role or acting herself. I'll try to get hold of more drama feathering her to find out.
Not being Japanese I am not sure how realistic OD is, but if this is a quasi-accurate portrait of the Japanese culture/mentality then I suppose it is a good way to get an insight into the Japanese mind.