the Japanese (language) that the Japanese (people) don't know
This is the first time that I've been watching a series as soon as it is aired in Japan. It's much easier to download a series when it comes out instead of waiting for dead links. Nihonjin is currently airing and this week will mark the 6th episode, but the rating have been rather poor. Episode one had 5.8% and episode five had a shockingly low 1.3% Despite these ratings, it is an entertaining series with many lessons in Japanese and reasoning to certain rules in the Japanese language. This series is softsubbed which makes it even faster to watch and upload. The drama is based of an illustrated book of the same name where a teacher is explaining how she teaches foreign students. The premise of the series is a fashionable shop assistant named Haruko who has always dreamed of being a high school teacher. She ends up getting a job as a temporary teacher, but finds out when she gets there that it is a school for foreign exchange students. At first she is intimidated by all of the questions and curiosity of her students, but they end up teaching each other valuable lessons (because come on, it's a drama!). The cast is one of the most amazing parts of the series! The main character is a popular actress this season, but the class is actually made up of a wide range of foreigners who speak very good Japanese. Unfortunately most of them are not popular actors, so there are very few pictures of the whole cast. I hope that this picture will give you the basic idea of what the whole cast looks like. (click on the image to see the entire image)
Naka Riisa (Yankee-kun to Megane-chan)
She plays the character Haruko who is given the position of teacher to a class full or foreign students. She wants to be a Japanese high school teacher and is promised a teaching position if she can get all of her current class to graduate. She typically dresses like she's a fashionista instead of a teacher and can often get overwhelmed by the types of questions her students ask. Typically the way the foreigners learn Japanese is quite different and much more formal than most Japanese people are used to using. She might be a new teacher, but she has a big heart and treats her students well.
This series is very entertaining and informative. As a past student of Japanese I found the lessons to be very interesting and also incredibly useful. It teaches you about some of the little things such as counters, reasoning for kanji readings, "standard speech" vs. "everyday speech," and many various topics. In one episode one of the characters is into yakuza traditions and even has a high stakes hanafuda* match. The foreigner's Japanese is very good and it flows just as easily as quickly as some of the Japanese characters within the series. Perhaps the reason the show isn't too popular in Japan is that it points out things about Japanese language that most people already know or feel like they know. The students know Japanese from the way they were taught from textbooks and their own countries, and many of the questions are about super formal things in the Japanese language that typical Japanese people don't even think to question. I suppose it's like that for any foreign country, where you have the way you speak, and you think nothing of it and the way it must sound to a foreigner. For instance in one of the episodes there are specific ways to talk when working at a restaurant and giving food to customers, but in textbook terms it seems like very strange Japanese to say it the professional way. I highly recommend this series to anyone interested in the Japanese language and the little things that make up the rules of a language.
Characters: 5 out of 5 (The cast is pretty much non-Japanese who speak fluent Japanese throughout the series. Each character has their own personality and they all have good chemistry)
Story: 5 out of 5 (I thought this story was super original and was very good with the information about Japanese language)
Irritation Level: 0 out of 5 (No love misunderstandings, the only thing people might complain about is the characters constantly questioning the way things are. But if you've taken a language, the willingness to learn and understand is something that many can relate to)
Overall: 5 out of 5
It's a good series with an extremely original premise. Being an ex-Japanese major, I can relate to wanting to know everything about the language and just being fluent. Even with the low rating system I am hoping that the rest of the series will be just as good. I'm guessing there about 5 more episodes before the end and can't wait to see the other students' stories and experiences. There are 9 students total meaning that everyone should have their own story line, plus a finale. :) I hope you also enjoy this series as much as I do!
*A traditional set of hana cards. It is traditionally a gambling game, but also a very fun card game. I've tried teaching it to friends in the past, but they have a hard time getting into it. My grandpa and my family used to play this a lot when we would visit.