The Changing J-Drama Landscape-For Better or Worse?

sayonarawatashi

So recently, under very short notice, D-addicts closed its torrent section for undisclosed personal reasons. A lot of people miss streaming sites like mysoju and dramacrazy, but trust me, those sites (and the sites that have taken their place) wouldn’t have existed without D-addicts. Arguably the largest (and I think oldest) public domain for dramas and variety shows, D-addicts plays a large part in keeping the j-drama community alive. Subbers can keep uploading subtitles, the discussion forums are still open, and we still have the ever reliable Dramawiki, but undeniably D-addicts won’t be the same. It’s not like there aren’t other places to get raws, but none of them are quite as extensive and easy to access as D-addicts was, so there’s a mad scramble right now to figure out what to do next.

Though the future of D-addicts is up in the air (a lot of subbers have mentioned that they’ll probably quit uploading there), I haven’t exactly hit panic mode yet.  If D-addicts does end up going under, I’ll definitely miss it as it’s a site I’ve frequented and depended upon since I started watching dramas seven years ago, but it does feel like j-dramas are becoming much easier to access like k-dramas became a few years ago, albeit much more slowly.

Ever since the success of the Itazura na Kiss~Love in Tokyo simulcast on Dramafever, there has been a slow trickle of j-dramas onto legal streaming platforms. Browsing through Dramafever’s catalog, they’ve picked up around twenty of Fuji’s dramas since then, most of which have been simulcasts.

Back in April, Crunchyroll also partnered with Fuji to stream twenty-one dramas (the list of dramas is here), and they’ve made good on their word, as only three of the dramas listed haven’t been added to their site yet. Crunchyroll has been simulcasting shows as well, like this season’s Nobunaga Concerto, Suteki na Taxi (listed as Time Taxi), and the upcoming second season of Itazura na Kiss.

Viki has managed to pick up a few shows, though they only have a handful of dramas that you can’t find on Dramafever or Crunchyroll like Doctors and W no Higeki, and there’s no guarantee that they’re fully subbed.

It is a little discouraging to see that it’s only Fuji TV that is willing to take the extra mile to reach international viewers, but it does look like NHK might be coming around as Dramafever has been streaming Ryomaden and and lined up other taigas like Yae no Sakura and Gou-hime for an unspecified airdate. NTV has been doling out crumbs as well; Crunchyroll has a tiny picking of their shows such as Rebound, Kaseifu no Mita, and 35 no Koukosei.

Of course, this leaves out stations like TV Tokyo, TV Asahi, TBS, and WOWOW, but considering the fact that I can now watch some j-dramas as they air without worrying about if they’ll be subbed all the way or not, something that was unthinkable a few years ago, I don’t think this is too bad.

Is a site like D-addicts still necessary? Right now, 100% yes, and I think drama fans will have a rough few months before we figure out what to do, but in two or three years from now, who knows? I do know that I am extremely grateful to all of those people that have contributed to maintaining D-addicts over the years, from uploaders to subbers, administrators, and moderators. Despite all the whining of impatient fans, site crashes, legal problems, and the demands of their own lives, they stuck it out because they really wanted to give back to the community and bring in new fans, even if they didn’t receive anything in return. As a fan, all I can say is thank you as D-addicts has truly been an indispensable part of my drama watching experience.

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11 thoughts on “The Changing J-Drama Landscape-For Better or Worse?”

  1. Heard from Heisui about D-addicts shutting down this AM, but I had noooo idea that other legal sites have actually streaming FujiTV shows! I only know that DF is on it, but then again I’m more of an I-read-about-Jdramas than I actually watch them these days… BUT I do agree that it won’t be too bad …provided the legal sites keep streaming and making Jdramas as easily accessible and available as Kdramas though. On one hand I appreciate that the Japanese are always catering to their domestic market first (unlike Korea), but they also come out with some of the best dramas so I hope they’ll keep the legal simulcast going.

    Hopefully it won’t come down to this (though ironically this is how I started watching Jdramas) but if it really becomes crazy difficult to download Jdramas with subs, when I’m back in Malaysia I’ll resort to buying DVDs of shows I want to watch because thank goodness that this straight-to-video doesn’t seem like a dying trend there. (…though then again, all is fair because none of the legal sites are available outside of N America grrr)

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    1. Hello Jan, yeah, the D-addicts situation sucks, but drama fans are nothing if not resourceful.

      Haha, I was also surprised going through Crunchyroll’s library recently and I was like “Where did all these j-dramas come from?” but I’m definitely not complaining, streaming is honestly a lot easier for me than downloading and I like that they’ve picked up a few old dramas that are hard to find like 101st Proposal.

      (…though then again, all is fair because none of the legal sites are available outside of N America grrr) This has always been really strange to me since I think dramas are far more popular in other countries than America, but I’m sure there’s some complicated legal mumbo jumbo that limits streaming to certain countries. I’m curious, are the straight-to-video releases legal or are they just ripped fansubs?

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      1. They’re legal! Kind of amazing isn’t it haha come to think of it, and I noticed they’re speedy with it too. Like when I was home this summer, dramas that recently wrapped up in spring are already available. I love it mostly for the fact that I know I can still get older i.e. 90s drama (I bought Beach Boys!) There’s also multiple subs available catering to the local mass i.e. Malay/English/Chinese subs. The funny thing when is the internet and streaming finally caught on and I slowly switched to that, I realized fansubs are actually more detailed than the official ones …but I’m grateful for any subs so not complaining aha.

        Legal mumbo-jumbo – ah yes, that. Possible actually, come to think of it now… But I am totally with you that I think they’re more popular outside of NA – definitely in the Asian region – so it is kinda bizarre that it’s so difficult to watch them online unless illegally. The only reason I can think of is probably that our local channels don’t want to lose viewership cos they do air J/K dramas (mostly Kdramas though, of course, and a variety of C-dramas). Even so I think Jdramas are still the hardest to access, so I do hope there’ll be an alternative to d-addicts soon 😦

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      2. Whoa, that’s super fast! I might have to invest just to get my hands on some older dramas.

        Hmm, the thing about local channels makes sense since it’s way easier to stream a drama whenever you want than watch it at a set time on TV, I suppose they don’t want any competition.

        *Sigh* Being a j-drama fan is so hard. I need a different hobby.

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      3. OMG your last sentence hahaha. I need a different hobby, period- away from dramas I mean haha. Having Twitter over the past month has made me realized that I watch wayyy too many o.o

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  2. Well, the one thing that’s quite heartening is that many people on D-Addicts have come forward to offer alternative sources and pitching in to maybe build a new resources site (will refrain from saying the dreaded T-word here, heh). Like you said, fans will survive, people just need to be patient.

    That said, Japan does need a mindset change if it expects J-dramas to be successful beyond its shores and pockets of Asia. I understand all the copyright concerns behind the crackdown, but there are ways of getting around the situation to ensure a less bruising drama-watching experience for fans and regulators.

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    1. Yes, the fans are really amazing. They didn’t take it too well at first, but they sure were quick to find an alternative solution.

      I absolutely agree about Japan needing a new mindset, but unfortunately they’re not too concerned with looking outside their own market since they make plenty enough money on their own shores. It’s definitely not just a problem with just dramas, but with every level of entertainment in Japan. The recent simulcasts have been encouraging, but it’s still frustrating as an international fan that more isn’t being done and we still have to jump through hoops.

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  3. I’d kind of noticed the spread of streaming Jdramas, but didn’t realize it was expanding quite so fast (lol ‘fast’ is relative, but for Jdramas it certainly seems like it). I never downloaded anyways, so this will be a nice change. I keep wanting to start some new Jdramas these days. They appeal to me more than most Kdramas, and I’m already in a slump. Need easier accessibility to things I can watch whenever I feel like it.

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    1. Yeah, it’s expanding “fast” so to speak considering Japan’s closed mind-set. I remember when Dramafever popped up and Viki became legal, licensing k-dramas was a pain because some stations didn’t want to stream their shows, but that smoothed out after a year or two, so I hope the same thing happens with j-dramas (though then we’ll have to contend with the two sites fighting over dramas like they do with k-dramas now, but that’s a problem I’ll worry about later).

      Downloading can seriously be a pain, mostly because I have slow internet and if it’s a drama where I just want to check out the first episode than I really don’t feel like going through the trouble, so streaming has definitely given me more time to pick and choose what I want to watch.

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