I am looking for really good Japanese dramas. To be honest, I am a slice of life genre types - doesn't matter the sub-types like romance, thriller, comedy etc. To put it bluntly, I am not the Hana Yori Dango types (apologies to the hoards of fans, no offence intended). I am a sucker for realistic dramas.
Despite my better intentions I have never been able to complete these famous dramas :
I hate the stereotypical characterization and lack of interesting plot or below the par performances. I had lost faith in Japanese dramas until I saw the below listed dramas which made me form an opinion that when good Japanese dramas are made they literally have no comparison and you will never be able to get over them. They are the best at portraying the raw emotions without the fluff and unnecessary props.
The above dramas were so unforgettable for me, that I feel a thirst to discover such beautifully made dramas. I am not scared of the taboo tags aka #infidelity since if you get past that tag, (in Chugakusei Nikki and Hirugao) , there was no mollification of the act what so ever, all the sides were properly put forward and the love portrayed was just too pure even if it was forbidden. Of course the performances were also outstanding which put those dramas at an even higher pedestal.
Currently, this is for dramas only since good Japanese movies are easier to come by. I would be extremely happy if you experienced souls out there could help me out with suggestions.
https://mydramalist.com/21768-gekokujo-juken - parents only finished middle school but want their daughter to have a better education. Based on a true story and says a lot about the pressures of the schooling system on children from a young age.
If you're interested in female heroines, more "inspiring" stories, I recommend getting into asadoras (morning dramas). They are 156 episodes of 15 min each. You don't get as slice of life as asadoras, honestly, and you'd be surprised how binge-worthy they are. I recommend starting with Amachan, Asa ga Kita, or Oshin (which was the highest rated asadora in Japan ever) but have a look at the list and see which heroine's "journey" interests you the most.
There are so many good suggestions already, but I want to put my two cents in!
Judging by what you've like and what you haven't liked I think Takane no Hana will really interest you. Summary might look a bit fluffy but this drama is really unique with strong performances. The emotions are really raw and it really left an impact long after I'd finished. One of the true underrated gems of 2018.
It's been mentioned above, but the screenwriter of Soredemo, Ikite yuku (Sakamoto Yuji) has written many dramas that are very highly acclaimed here on MDL. Among those, Love That Makes You Cry is quite good. It also stars Arimura Kasumi (who you'd know from Chugakusei Nikki) in a main role.
Amachan is a good slice of life drama if you are willing to watch 156 eps @15mins
You don't get as slice of life as asadoras, honestly,
N no Tame Ni is also a "realistic" slice of life with a mystery flavor (it has the same director and screenwriter as Chugakusei Nikki)
Reverse is also good. Both N no Tame Ni and Reverse are adapted from Kanae Minato novel, and id also recommend all drama(and movie)s adapted from her novel, a good mix of mystery and slice of life, more mystery tho tbh.
If you don't mind serious themes served without sugarcoating or easy optimism, I strongly recommend medical dramas produced by WOWOW. Kami no Te is airing now, Kokou no mesu ended earlier this year. Top-notch writing and acting; however these are definitely not feel-good shows.