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Japanese drama set in New York is your next binge-watch series

35 Comments
By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

If you enjoy Japanese dramas but find yourself craving more variety to the common boy-meets-girl, set-in-Japan storyline, then "HodoBuzz" has the edge you’ve been looking for.

Billing itself as a “Japanese indie drama,” "HodoBuzz" tackles issues that most mainstream Japanese production teams shy away from, touching on topics like freedom in the Japanese media, racial stereotypes, objectification of women and sexism.

Starring a cast of likeable characters, this drama follows the story of Asuka Wada, a Japanese reporter who moves to New York and joins an online news site called HodoBuzz. Striving to distance herself from her past fame as a variety talk show host, Wada sets out to deliver hard-hitting local Japan news in her new role as a reporter, only to become the target of online abuse which threatens to end her career.

Check out the official trailer below.

The six-part series was written by scriptwriter Tsukasa Kondo, directed and produced by Mari Kawade, and stars actress and model Maho Honda in the lead role. This trio of New-York-based Japanese expats formed the creative team behind the series, “Derrrrruq!!!" which comes from the sound of deru kugi wa utareru, the famous Japanese saying that translates to “The nail that stands out gets hammered down“.

Derrrrruq!!! aims to be the nail that stands out, regardless of any potential hammering, by producing works that set out to challenge stereotypes related to topics like “masculinity“, “femininity“, “Japanese-ness“, and “age-appropriateness“.

 Left to right: Maho Honda, Mari Kawade, Tsukasa Kondo

Hodobuzz-Japan-drama-Japanese-tv-series-shows-Amazon-New-York-media-politics-review-news-3.jpg

Encouraging people to reconsider stereotypes is something the trio have done exceedingly well in the film, particularly when it comes to racial stereotypes and what it means to be “Japanese”. The character of Atsushi Mori, for example, describes himself as a “half-Japanese who doesn’t speak English“, debunking the common perception that mixed-race children are multi-lingual.

Then there’s the character of Mike Korematsu, a Japanese CEO who rented the HodoBuzz office before the current reporters moved in. Despite his Japanese appearance, Korematsu says he can’t speak the language as he grew up in the States, and he proves it by hilariously saying katsu curry instead of otsukare (“good work”) when he leaves the office.

▼ Characters like Atsushi prove that looks can be deceiving when it comes to the languages they speak.

Hodobuzz-Japan-drama-Japanese-tv-series-shows-Amazon-New-York-media-politics-review-news-10.jpg

Outside perceptions of Japan from Japanese expats living abroad is something that gives this drama its unique flair. It’s also the reason why they have more freedom to point out some of the problems within the Japanese media industry, including the objectification of women, which is also a global problem.

In one scene, Wada decides to stand up against online criticism and objectification by pointing out the fact that Australian TV presenter Karl Stefanovic once wore the same suit on television for a year without anyone ever noticing. Meanwhile, the outfits of his female co-presenter continued to be a constant topic of discussion, showing just how much women in the media are objectified by the public on a daily basis.

To show the absurdity of reducing women’s worth to their appearances alone, Wada goes on to film a video while dressed in only her bra and skirt, standing alongside a blow-up doll and a Barbie. It’s a scene that propels the action forward as Wada and her boss — played by Yuki Matsuzaki ("Pirates of The Caribbean," "Letters from Iwo Jima") — attempt to find the identity of an online troll, who might actually be closer than they think.

Despite the heavy-hitting issues, the story remains well-paced throughout and unfolds with a lot of humor, keeping the viewer entertained up until the very last episode. The drama is definitely worth watching, not just for the engaging narrative and commentary on Japanese media and politics, but for the gorgeous scenes of New York, which plays a leading role of its own throughout the series.

Anime fans may be surprised to hear that the "HodoBuzz" script development was supervised by Dai Sato — a famous anime screenwriter known for "Ghost in the Shell" and "Cowboy Bebop," among others — and the series’ Executive Producer is Masu Hiroshi Masuyama, one of the producers from "In This Corner of the World."

"HodoBuzz" is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime U.S./UK, and is free through Prime membership with English subtitles. Within Japan, "HodoBuzz" is currently only available for rental/purchase and can be viewed on 10 platforms: Amazon Japan, Rakuten TV, TSUTAYA TV, Google Play, VIDEX, YouTube, GYAO! Store, DMM, VideoMarket, and Hikari TV. While the Japanese platforms don’t support English subtitles at the moment, HodoBuzz says they’re working on adding them so that English-speaking viewers residing in Japan can also enjoy the show.

Each episode runs just under 20 minutes, making this an easy series to binge-watch in one sitting. So grab your matcha popcorn, sit back, and enjoy a trip to Japan in New York, where the HodoBuzz team are waiting to take you on a memorable journey. Katsu curry!

Source: YouTube/Der-ruq!!! – デルック

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© SoraNews24

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

35 Comments
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Japanese drama set in New York is your next binge-watch series

No it isn't.

25 ( +27 / -2 )

A great retro show! Oh, the good ol' days!

No masks, people out on streets, businesses functioning normally, Japanese being allowed to enter the country, Asians not targets of hate crimes....

-9 ( +3 / -12 )

Looks terrible. The naked director was just another level of Japanese tv and nothing has come close. Highly recommended viewing.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sounds awful. Won’t be watching. I can imagine all the “zany” western stereotypes that are going to fill it. Shudder.

17 ( +17 / -0 )

If you enjoy Japanese dramas

Then you have probably never seen a drama made anywhere else.

This sounds....uh....”nice”, but watching the trailer it looks like the standard Japanese TV drama with the usual overacting, scenes mostly shot in overlit sets, stereotypical characters, etc.

Enticing me to binge watch stuff like that when I’ve can stream HBO shows is a hard sell.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

The trailer opens with a reference to New York as the "city of dreams and freedom." I don't mean to sound negative, but New York hasn't been that kind of a city for quite a while. And the reason is the outrageous cost of housing. New York has always been a bit expensive, but the situation spiraled out of control starting in the early 2000s. The city is now more like Dubai, with a really stark division between the ultra-wealthy (who own most of Manhattan) and everybody else. Same thing has happened in lots of places--London, Washington, Dublin, Toronto, Vancouver, Sydney--but thankfully not Tokyo.

Remember, you're not "free" if what you pay for decent housing (in the form of rent or a mortgage) amounts to more than one-third of your gross income.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

"HodoBuzz" is currently available to watch on Amazon Prime U.S./UK, and is free through Prime membership with English subtitles. Within Japan, "HodoBuzz" is currently only available for rental/purchase...

Free on Prime in the US and UK, but you have to pay in Japan.

No thanks.

Again.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

Looking forward to watching!

-6 ( +3 / -9 )

Umm, thanks but no thanks.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

This sounds great. I really want to see this.

-4 ( +3 / -7 )

the trailer looks underwhelming if I'm being honest - the usual overacting, and especially the theme of the series, which perhaps is novel in controversial for Japanese TV audiences, but as for the rest of the world, is nothing new at all.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

I want to know if they frequent a Coffee shop and chat about their problems, do some characters marry? Do they shout at each other and cry? Under office lighting. Think I've seen it already.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I couldn't even make it through the trailer without wanting to punch my telly. Looks dire.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

I want to know if they frequent a Coffee shop and chat about their problems, do some characters marry? Do they shout at each other and cry? Under office lighting.

You know they do. And dont forget the “emotional” tearful scenes at night in the pouring rain with no umbrellas.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

When is the last time you saw a Japanese TV actor who could make you believe that they were anyone other than themselves? It's always amazed me that in a country where people switch masks so deftly depending on their relationship with their counterparts that actors can't seem to do convincingly what normal people do almost instinctively every day.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

You gotta be kidding me, right?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Japanese dramas have one big unifying theme: They contain characters who behave in ways no real Japanese person ever behaves. Whether it's the heartfelt conversations between lovers, family members, or at corporate meetings, etc. it's so far removed from what really happens in Japan that you can't help but wonder if this is some deep yearning on their part for how they wish they could be, but never will.

16 ( +16 / -0 )

Ego Sum Lux Mundi: Exactly correct; good observation. "They could be, but never will." More is the pity!

3 ( +3 / -0 )

This article has been bugging me just because of how badly it overplayed its hand. Right off the bat in the title and also in the opening sentence it sets itself an impossible task: convincing an audience of foreigners - the demographic that hates Japanese TV dramas more than any other - that this Japanese TV drama is something they will binge watch.

That is a pretty bold move. Its like walking into a biker bar and proclaiming to all the grizzled bikers there who definitely don't like low fat kale smoothies that they are about to fall in love with your new low fat kale smoothie. Its a hard sell and you dam well better blow their socks off with how good that low fat kale smoothie is.

Then the follow through is to basically describe a Japanese TV drama that sounds very much like any other Japanese TV drama except that it addresses a slightly different topic than most other Japanese TV dramas. It encourages viewers to reconsider stereotypes that people in the West already reconsidered like 40 years ago? Mkay.

The series I just finished binge watching, for comparison, ended with a teenager getting karate kicked off a second floor high school mezanine, leaving him in a coma and causing his mom to break up with his karate coach who she was secretly dating after he beat up the guy she was dating before and also he is the father of the guy who kicked him, who himself was being coached by the father of the girl who was the guy's ex girlfriend and simultaneously with him getting kicked off the mezzanine she was in a karate battle with his current girlfriend who was super mad because the two of them had gotten drunk and kissed in the penultimate episode. Oh and then the karate coach's other students abandoned him and are now forming a more evil karate gang under his former coach and we'll see what happens there next season.

You want to compete with THAT? No sale.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

You want to compete with THAT? No sale.

Brilliant!

You gonna watch it then or what?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

You want to compete with THAT? No sale.

Sounds quite adolescent. I think Hodo Buzz sounds better. But I don't like kale smoothies or motorbikes, so take that as you will.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Sounds quite adolescent. I think Hodo Buzz sounds better. 

Yes, if you don’t like adolescent shows, clearly one that utilizes a scene of a female character uncomfortably having a chocolate banana shaped like a male sex organ shoved in her face for humor is going to be much better.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

he proves it by hilariously saying katsu curry instead of otsukare (“good work”) when he leaves the office.

if that’s what is deemed “hilarious” then I would wager this show isn’t worth your time at all.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"a Japanese reporter who moves to New York and joins an online news site called HodoBuzz. Striving to distance herself from her past fame as a variety talk show host, Wada sets out to deliver hard-hitting local Japan news"

Someone moves to NY to cover stories from Japan. That sounds ... (Do I have to say any more?)

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Yes, if you don’t like adolescent shows, clearly one that utilizes a scene of a female character uncomfortably having a chocolate banana shaped like a male sex organ shoved in her face for humor is going to be much better.

I get the impression from the article that dealing with harassment is one of the show’s main themes. Sexual harassment like that and how the character deals with it interests me. Cobra Kai might be very good, but your description of “then this guy pinched this guy who punched this guy who pinched this girl” doesn’t tell me anything about the themes or characters, other than they can punch. I dunno, maybe you’re not a good writer.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Set in New York? The episodes pretty much write themselves

"Kenta gets mugged in front off a Starbucks" "Yuka survives a sexual assault on the D train while strangers ignore her cries"

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I get the impression from the article that dealing with harassment is one of the show’s main themes. Sexual harassment like that and how the character deals with it interests me.

Yes, if the subject matter interests you I can understand why you would want to watch it. Having never seen it I obviously can’t comment on its quality beyond what is in the trailer. My point was really more to criticize the way the article oversells what seems from the trailer and how it is actually described to be nothing more than a very run of the mill Japanese TV drama.

Cobra Kai might be very good, but your description of “then this guy pinched this guy who punched this guy who pinched this girl” doesn’t tell me anything about the themes or characters, other than they can punch. I dunno, maybe you’re not a good writer.

My clumsy run on sentence that I used to describe it was an attempt at satirizing the complexity of the character relationships in the show, it would probably make more sense to someone who had already watched it. For a TV show full of teenagers kicking each other it offers a surprisingly layered set of character arcs which play out quite well.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Fair enough, I was quite blunt and unkind, and I do apologise. The Cobra Kai trailer on Netflix looked alright, But I have no Karate Kid nostalgia.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Just reading posters comments has put me off having a look.Even checking out the trailer feels a hassle!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Who's gonna take their own life next? Turn in to pretend you know something about the scripted actors so you can abuse them online! And don't forget to click the pages of our sponsors who don't care who dies so long as the profits roll in!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japanese dramas have one big unifying theme: They contain characters who behave in ways no real Japanese person ever behaves. Whether it's the heartfelt conversations between lovers, family members, or at corporate meetings, etc. it's so far removed from what really happens in Japan that you can't help but wonder if this is some deep yearning on their part for how they wish they could be, but never will.

This is why K-drama is making a killing, while J-drama doesn't

2 ( +2 / -0 )

This trio of New-York-based Japanese expats formed the creative team behind the series, “Derrrrruq!!!" which comes from the sound of deru kugi wa utareru, the famous Japanese saying that translates to “The nail that stands out gets hammered down“.

The translation above is correct for the Japanese above, but the author got the Japanese idiom incorrect. The Japanese idiom does not state kugi (釘 - nail) it uses kui (杭 - post).

出る杭は打たれる

The post that sticks up gets hammered down

This is a common mistake by English speakers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japanese drama set in New York is your next binge-watch series

No it isn't.

I agree. I'll stick with "binge-watching" The Sopranos. That's good enough for me.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

You can take a Japanese production company out of Japan, . . .

Watched the first two episodes last night. Boring, poorly acted and poorly produced. They are also guilty of the bad "travelogue" plot device as characters easily traverse two boroughs, Manhattan and Brooklyn, in no time at all, apparently via Doraemon's Doko Demo Door.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"Yuka survives a sexual assault on the D train while strangers ignore her cries"

In NYC?! Ha, good luck with that! The tough NY chicks will be the first taking turns kicking the perp's crotch! Lol

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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