Top 4 Suspense Jdramas

Top 4 Suspense Jdramas

If you like dramas with intricate stories, plot twists at every turn, and an air of suspense, then you should give these four dramas a chance.  All four are Jdramas because if there is one thing that Japan is good at, it's suspense dramas. It's literally their specialty. These 4 are my favorites: 

1) Maou

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This is my favorite Japanese suspense drama and I always recommend it to whoever wants to watch a thrilling and thoroughly interesting drama.  This drama is a remake from the (year) Korean version, The Devil.  

The plot is about a famous lawyer, Naruse, who helps people in need and is all about doing good deeds. He is called the “Angel Lawyer” by the press, as they know him to be a kindhearted lawyer willing to help anyone. What they don’t know is that he has a hidden agenda, and is indeed a devil seeking revenge on his brother's murderer. The main focus of his revenge is on the young detective, Naoto, who is the main person responsible for his brother's death. However, along the way, he will also target everyone else who was involved in his brother's murder.

Every episode is chalk-full of suspense as you don’t know who Naruse’s next target will be, nor how his revenge will take place. What is certain is that he has been planning his revenge for many years. He has very well devised plans in which he is the mastermind but has no direct involvement in the execution. The most interesting thing is how Naruse manages to use others to do his dirty work for him, and as a result making it very hard for him to get his hands dirty, and thus get caught.

The acting is surprisingly great. Ohno Satoshi nails the role of Naruse perfectly, even though this is his first main role in a drama.  He gives Naruse the right amount of mystery needed. Ikuta Toma as Naoto also does a masterful job. Toma is very well known for his acting skills and he proves it again in this drama. He exquisitely portrays this young, enthusiastic detective who only wants to protect the people he loves.

The OST is also awesome. ARASHI’s 'Truth' is spot on as the intro song. In fact, every time I listen to that song, it makes me want to watch the drama all over again.     

I highly recommend watching this drama as you’ll be highly entertained throughout all 11 episodes. There won't be a moment of dullness, and it's very interesting to see how the story evolves and ends.The ending is such an unexpected one, but fits the story and gives us very good closure.


#2) The Quiz Show 2

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This drama has a season 1 that is also good. However, they are both very similar and so I prefer Season 2 over the first one.

The drama is about a TV quiz program where contestants are asked 8 questions. If they answer all the questions correctly, they’ll be granted their lifelong dream. But there are no normal questions in this show. Contestants will find out that they will have to answer questions related to their personal lives and their deepest, darkest secrets. In the end of each episode, they’ll have to choose between exposing their secret or fulfilling their dream.

This drama is  episodic, as there are several different contestants throughout the drama. But don’t be fooled, as in the end you'll find out that there is more than meets the eyes.

The main characters are: the MC of the program, Kamiyama, who is a mysterious character that has no memory of his past. Therefore, he is very cold and emotionless.  But when hosting the show, he turns into a very charismatic MC. He is given instructions on the questions and the contestant’s background information by the director of the show, Honma. Honma is also the person in charge of choosing the contestants. He and Kamiyama have a hidden dark past that will slowly start to reveal as the drama unfolds. There is also the producer of the show, Saejima. She isn't aware of Honma’s hidden intentions and normally disagrees with his methods. However, she really cares about getting good ratings, so she lets Honma do things his way. 

Once again I really liked the drama’s casting. Sakurai Sho did a great job even though he was relatively inexperienced at the time.  I think he is really an actual MC in almost every Arashi show, so he probably drew experience from that. He portrayed the madness and charisma of the character really well. But the thing I liked the very most was his “DREAM CHANCE!!!” dance ^_^

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The director was played by Yokoyama Yu and he really knows how to play evil characters! He was awesome in the last episode, with all the madness going on.

Saejima was played by the veteran actress Maya Miki. She had good chemistry with Yokoyama and also played an interesting role on the story's development. 

This drama has lots of guest actors. Their stories are well developed and fit into the story in an intriguing way. Watch this drama and have fun with all the quirkiness of “The Quiz Show.”


   #3 Ryusei no Kizuna

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This drama is based on a book. It's about three siblings whose parents were murdered and have sworn to find the culprit in order to seek revenge. Several years have passed and the siblings are still trying their hardest to find the killer before the statue of limitations ends.  There is a detective that has been in charge of the case and also has been in contact with the siblings, but hasn’t found any new leads on the killer.

The three siblings are: big brother Koichi, middle brother Taisuke and little sister Shizuna. They’ll use any method in order to find a clue that leads them to the murderer such as cheating, deceiving and swindling. Little by little, they get closer to finding the culprit, before being hit by a shocking plot twist...

Ninomiya KazunariNishikido Ryo and Toda Erika had great chemistry and were absolutely lovely together. The swindler part did require them to have good acting skills as they were impersonating others within their character. They accomplished that challenge pretty, darn well in my opinion. 

Watch this drama and see if you can find the culprit. It is no easy task and you’ll enjoy the ride and perhaps be surprised by the end. 


#4 Liar Game

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Liar game is based on a manga, that wasn’t finished when the drama started airing. It’s about a kind, honest and naive girl named Nao, who receives an invitation to participate in the 'Liar Game'. The Liar Game is a game of lies and deception, where one has to trick their opponents in order to win. Naturally Nao doesn’t stand a chance, so she asks for help from a professional swindler who was recently released from jail. The swindler, Akiyama, decides to help Nao but ends up getting more and more involved in the game. Finding the Liar Game’s existence despicable,  they decide to team up and destroy the organization behind it.

As Japanese dramas are short, there are 2 seasons and 1 movie to end the story. As the manga was completed AFTER the drama ended, the ending is original and has no relation to the manga's ending. I’ve read the manga and felt like the ending was confusing and/or something was missing.  I prefer the movie’s ending, as it wraps up the story very well.

The main characters are: Kanzaki Nao (Toda Erika), who fit the role splendidly. Akiyama Shinichi ( Matsuda Shota) fills the shoes of the main lead quite well with his portrayal of a genius, swindler character. 

This drama is more on the psychological side, but also has a lot of suspense as you never know how the games will take place and what tricks the contestants will use.  I found Liar Game to be an interesting drama that will make you think and that will surprise you with its players' strategies.


So what do you think of my four recommendations? What are your favorite suspense dramas (Japanese or otherwise)?

Comments (52)

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  • Reply
    ItIsAshViolet Feb 11, 2017 - edited

    Actually, the only one of these I haven't seen is Quiz Show 2... I highly recommend the other three for anyone interested!

  • Reply
    MareSoares Jan 1, 2017

    Suspense Jdramas are the best!

  • Reply
    KenWong Nov 22, 2016

    Love J=Drama forever bro!

  • Reply
    MissBuyNLarge Nov 4, 2016

    Toda Erika is amazing. I loved her in LIAR Game (only ever saw the first one, but plan on watching the rest as I get time).

  • Reply
    Powster Sep 15, 2016

    this list is way too short..

    Zeni Geba, Yakou Kanransha, W no Higeki (2012), Utsukushii Rinjin (2011), Saki (2013), Taisetsu na Koto wa Subete Kimi ga Oshiete Kureta (2011), Seijo (2014), One Million Stars Falling from the Sky (2002), Lost Days (2014), Long Love Letter (2002), Limit (2013), LIFE (2007), Kurosagi (2006), Ice World (1999)

  • Reply
    prettytin Sep 11, 2016

    actually i'm surprised that Ryusei no Kizuna is in the list. but i have to agree that the chemistry of the 3 siblings is really great.

    from what i've seen, i think Bloody Monday should be in the list

  • Reply
    siisii Sep 10, 2016

    I prefer the korean liar game.

  • Reply
    SuzieKyu Sep 8, 2016

    Bloody Monday 1 & 2

  • Reply
    NewKDramaAddict Sep 7, 2016

    I still have to watch the first 2. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Reply
    IzzyDramaLover Sep 7, 2016

    I've watched only Ryusei no Kizuna but I loved it!!! :)
    You should also add Siren, Limit and Shinzanmono to your list! ^_^ They were great!!

  • Reply
    J-DRAMASROCK Sep 6, 2016

    Watched Maou and Ryusei no Kizuna, they are INCREDIBLE! Love Japanese suspense dramas! J dramas FOR THE WIN!!!

  • Reply
    zombiehero Sep 6, 2016 - edited

    I just finished re-watching Maou and I can only agree that it's one of the best suspense dramas I've seen. I also really loved Unfair and Byakuyako. I need to watch The Quiz Show!

    • Reply
      fanitha Sep 6, 2016

      I've watched Maou twice and still find it awesome. Byakuyakou is such a dark drama but very well acted and with a very interesting plot. Haven't watched Unfair :(
      Do watch The Quiz Show!

  • Reply
    KenWong Sep 5, 2016

    I love the J-Drama! Huge Fan of J-Dramas.

  • Reply
    chibiladychoi Sep 5, 2016 - edited

    nice list.. makes me want to reconsider Lia Game. Siren shouldbe on this list as well

    • Reply
      fanitha Sep 6, 2016

      I haven't watched Siren, but already read the sinopsis and added to my PTW list! thanks

    • Reply
      dr_yui Sep 7, 2016

      Ow you should you should >< Liar Game is my TOP2 (after SPEC - Keizoku 2 ) <3

  • Reply
    realdeal Sep 5, 2016 - edited

    How about hanazawa naoki?

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