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 :

etc.

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.

ERASED/Boku dake ga inai machi

https://mydramalist.com/23222-boku-dake-ga-inai-machi 

Chugakusei Nikki

https://mydramalist.com/29908-chugakusei-nikki 

Soredemo, Ikite yuku

https://mydramalist.com/2662-soredemo-ikite-yuku 

Hirugao

https://mydramalist.com/10447-hirugao 

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.

  • I don't know if you'd be a fan of medical dramas (I am such a big medical drama fan) so  I highly recommend these:
    • Code blue (all 3 seasons and specials)
    • Dr.Storks / Kounodori
    • Black Pean
    • A life: A Love
  • Stepmother and Daughter Blues
  • Pride
  • Kaseifu no Mita
  • Unnatural
  • Hanzawa Naoki
  • 100 million yen women
  • Taboo and Not slice of life but definitely must watch
    • Kenjo no ai
    • One Million stars falling from the sky

Since you're into slice of life, maybe try these:

*More of a "drama" drama than legit "slice of life", but the acting and presentation is more naturalistic than a lot of Jdramas out there, so I decided to add them.

The following are ones that I've enjoyed.  Mainly focused on families but deal with some serious issues.  

https://mydramalist.com/4621-beautiful-rain - single father dealing with early onset Alzheimer's

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.

https://mydramalist.com/19384-hajimemashite-aishiteimasu - couple fostering/ adopting a young boy who has been severely abused

https://mydramalist.com/17437-kiseki-no-hito - single mum with deaf/blind daughter

https://mydramalist.com/264-orange-days - deaf female lead.  More of a college romance drama, but a lot more realistic.  

NGL Japanese does slice of life and serious dramas better than any other Asian country without a question.

- family -
Mother (yes, there's a korean remake. watch the japanese version.)
Saka no Tochu no ie
Hikari to Tomo ni
Bara no nai Hanaya
Aishiteru
Woman
Home Drama
Wakamono Tachi
- other -
And, Live (not out yet, but HPriest, a jdrama subber, already announced he'll sub it, so look forward to it)
Quartet
anone
1 Litre of Tears
Boku no Ita Jikan
Nankyoku Tairiku
Tenno no Ryoriban
Mahoro Ekimae Bangaichi
Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi (this is slice of life to the point that you may even be bored LOL)
- business/psychological/politics -
Roosevelt Game
Hanzawa Naoki
The Great White Tower
Karamazov no Kyodai
Byakuyako
Legal High
Shinya Shokudo

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. 

Best of luck!

Amachan is a good slice of life drama if you are willing to watch 156 eps @15mins


 indie fox:
You don't get as slice of life as asadoras, honestly,

this exactly


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.

You have got way too many recommendations, and I don't believe in giving too many recommendations at once { how a person is supposed to choose } so I will only pick 2, The emperor's cook and Rikuoh.

Hi

Indeed, you already got so many good recommendations! In case you still got time in the next months, you might be interested in (very different genres): 

Akira to Akira

Ashita no Kita Yoshio

Atami no Sousakan   (it is a very odd drama though)

Bokura wa Kiseki de Ikite Iru

Champon Tabetaka

Unmei ni, Nita Koi (Destiny-Like love)

Kekkon Aite wa Chusen de

Misnhu no Teki

Shitamachi rocket

Taiyo to Umi no Kyoshitsu

Tokyo Sentimental

Yasashii Jikan

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.