Places to legally watch Japanese dramas online for free

If you are a fan of Japanese dramas, then you will know that finding places to watch them legally is much more difficult (compared to Korean or Chinese dramas anyway).

Netflix is working on expanding its range of Japanese dramas, which is good news for international fans. However if your budget cannot stretch to a Netflix subscription, there are other options out there. I personally use the following two places to get my J-drama fix for free (or very cheap)!

Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll has been established for some time as the go-to place to watch the latest anime, and to a lesser extent manga. Crunchyroll has evolved over the years to provide a wide range of Japanese shows in an on-demand format. This includes a pretty good range of Japanese dramas; whether you enjoy suspense dramas or romcoms, you will find something you enjoy here.

crunchyrolljapanesedramas

Crunchyroll (like the others on this list) operates on a ‘freemium’ model, meaning you can watch most of the content in standard definition for free with adverts interspersed in each episode (usually at least 4 ad breaks in a 45-minute drama episode). To get rid of the ads and stream in HD, you need to pay a subscription cost of £4.99/$6.95 per month.

Pros:

  • Can install the Crunchyroll app on a variety of platforms: iOS, Android, pretty much all video game platforms
  • Broad range of dramas to watch

Cons:

  • Annoying adverts (on the Android App, you tend to get 2-3 ads at the same time which are not skippable at all)
  • No options for Japanese subtitles

Being mostly interested in Japanese dramas, I’ve listed the Jdramas you can watch for free (further content is available if you have a subscription).

 

List of Japanese Dramas available on Crunchyroll:

99 Days with the Superstar

Akagi

Always the Two of Us

Angel Heart

Anohana: The Flower We Saw that Day

Antiquarian Bookshop Biblia’s Case Files

A Taste of Honey

Biyou Shounen Celebrity

Crazy for Me

Death Note (live action drama)

Desperate Motherhood

Detective vs Detectives

Dinner

Doctor’s Affairs

Dr Coto’s Clinic

Forget Me Not

Frenemy ~Rumble of the Rat~

Future Diary: Another World

Galileo

Ghostwriter

Gokaku Ganbo

GTO/ Great Teacher Onizuka

GTO: Taiwan Special

Happy Boys

Hard to Say I Love You

Hero (2014)

High School Entrance Exam

I’m Mita, Your Housekeeper

Iryu: Team Medical Dragon

Last Cinderella

Liar Game

Life in Additional Time

Mischievous Kiss – Love in Tokyo

Mischievous Kiss 2 – Love in Tokyo

Mr. Nietzche in the Convenience Store

Mooncake

Nobunaga Concerto

Nodame Cantabile

No Dropping Out ~Back to School at 35~

Onna Nobunaga

Ordinary Miracles

Power Office Girls 2013

Rebound

RH Plus

Shiratori Reiko

Switch Girl

The 101st Proposal

The Perfect Insider

Time Taxi

Ultraman 80

Ultraman Gaia

Ultraman Ginga

Ultraman Leo

Ultraman Max

Ultraman Mebius

Ultraman Nexus

Ultraman Orb

Ultraman X

Wakakozake

Wild Mom

You Taught Me All the Precious Things

 

Viki

Viki is a website that is a subsidiary of Japanese online retail giant Rakuten. The website has a large collection of Korean, Mainland Chinese, and Taiwanese dramas in addition to Japanese dramas. The collection of Japanese dramas is relatively small but there is some variety in terms of genres.

Screenshot 2018-04-03 at 16.55.29

What I like about the website (and app) is that it is very easy to use. It is easy to filter by Japanese dramas and if you create an account, you can save a list of dramas you want to watch later. You can read drama reviews by other members, and it is possible to turn on live comments showing reactions from other users whilst you watch the drama too which helps foster a sense of community.

For language learners, you usually have the option to switch subtitles in the options between English, Japanese, and many other languages. Viki members help with the translations, which helps make the dramas accessible to many people around the world.

Viki is free to view, but ad-free and higher quality videos require a Viki pass, which has a subscription cost of $4.99 per month.

Pros:

  • Sense of community
  • Japanese subtitles available for a lot of dramas
  • App is very slick and easy to use

Cons:

  • Limited selection of dramas
  • Annoying adverts (slightly better than Crunchyroll in that they are usually skippable)

 

List of Japanese dramas available on Viki:

A Doctors’ Affairs

A Heartfelt Trip to Fukushima [TV show]

All About My Siblings

Blue Fire

Clinic on the Sea

Dear Sister

Delicious Niigata in Japan [TV show]

Dokurogeki

Festival: Pride for Hometown [TV show]

FLASHBACK

Galileo

Girls Night Out [TV show]

GTO in Taiwan

Hakuoki SSL: Sweet School Life

HEAT

Hello! Project Station [TV show]

Hirugao: Love Affairs in the Afternoon

I am Reiko Shiratori!

I am Reiko Shiratori the Movie

Juho 2405

Juho 2405 the Movie

Kakusei

Kimi wa Petto (2017 remake)

Koinaka

Lady Girls

Last Cinderella

Leiji Matsumoto’s OZMA

Let’s Explore Fukushima

Love Stories from Fukuoka

Murakami Grand Festival 2016

My Little Lover

Mysterious Summer

Nogizaka 46 Meets Asia [TV show]

Painless: The Eyes for Signs

Phoenix [Movie]

Railway Story [TV show]

Rainbow Rose

Ramen Loving Girl

Real Horror

Second to Last Love (Season 1 and 2)

Sendai Iroha Zoukangou [TV show]

Switch Girl Season 1

Tabiaruki from Iwate [TV show]

Tales of Tohoku [TV show]

Teddy Go!

The Hours of My Life

The Sanjo Great Kite Battle [TV show]

Torihada

Upcoming! [TV show]

Vampire Heaven

Visiting Sacred Places of the Tohoku Region

 

 

Other sites that stream Japanese dramas

*October 2018 update* Now that Dramafever has suddenly shut down, I have changed this post to include some other sites I believe stream Jdramas. However, as they are not available to me in the UK, I have not been able to try them myself. If any of these are incorrect, please let me know and I will update the blog post.

Here is a list of sites that I believe are free to use:

  • AsianCrush (mix of Japanese animated and live action films available, not available in every country – I know it is available in the US and Canada)
  • Viu (streams a number of Japanese dramas; available in Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Malaysia, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Myanmar)

More options are available, but come at a cost (usually less than the cost of Netflix though). If you are able to pay for a subscription, it might be worth checking out the following sites:

  • dTV (Japan only – requires a subscription, although the first episode of some dramas can be watched for free)
  • Hooq (available in Thailand, Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines)
  • Hulu (United States only). Japan does have its own version of Hulu called Hulu Japan, but this is only available in Japan and will only have Japanese subtitles.
  • Iflix (available in Bahrain, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Egypt, Ghana, Indonesia, Iraq, Kenya, Jordan. Kuwait, Lebanon, The Maldives, Morocco, Myanmar, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Vietnam, Zimbabwe)

 

So that is my list of Netflix alternatives for Japanese dramas. I will keep updating this post as and when I find new sites!

The post I wrote on Netflix has some tips on how you can use TV shows in general to study Japanese.

Are you a Jdrama fan or not? What are your favourite dramas or TV shows to watch in Japanese? Let me know in the comments!

0 thoughts on “Places to legally watch Japanese dramas online for free”

  1. choronghi.WORDPRESS.COM

    I just download that way I can watch with Japanese subs and “bookmark” lines with words I want to add to anki

      1. choronghi.WORDPRESS.COM

        the other upside is that you can rip the audio using sub2srs and just listen to the dialogue parts over and over. that way you understand the episode more after relistening to it multiple times compared to the first time.

        but seriously what japanese can you learn from a streaming video??? i guess if there’s japanese subs you can manually type stuff out that you want to remember ? but if you just had the files you can open the subtitle file in chrome or firefox or whatever and use a pop-up dictionary and automatically generate anki cards using rikaisama. it just seems like if you’re goal is to just watch jdramas what you mention is fine… “just watching” is fine if you’re already fluent or if you just want to watch it and want to overestimate your comprehension abilities and feel better about yourself (it easily happens if you watch with english subs.) . but if you want to learn from the drama it’s best to just have the files. it’s too inefficient otherwise.

        for me as a language learner i’ve been at it a long time and i’m obsessed with efficiency and streamlining at this point. i’m gonna make a post on it later

        1. To be honest, I don’t actively study using tv shows and dramas. I usually try to watch shows with Japanese subs or no subs at all depending on the genre.

          I’ll definitely read your post on studying more efficiently from dramas when you publish it!

          1. choronghi.WORDPRESS.COM

            so you watch and don’t look up anything or add anything to anki? you’re just swathing for fun?? i wanted to post on efficiency because i love saving time.

  2. This is great!
    I’m not really find of tv shows, so I’m not really into dramas, I’ve finished maybe 5 JP dramas my whole life 😂
    But this is definitely useful and great to see, few years back it was terrible to watch dramas or anime or try to read manga, since there was barely any way to get them legally.

    1. I used to be really into dramas but stopped watching them, until I rediscovered Crunchyroll 😅
      The ads are annoying, but I think it’s better to support Jdramas through legal means as it will hopefully encourage Japanese media to make more stuff available outside of Japan.

      1. I didn’t know Crunchy had dramas, only knew about dramafever and viki haha x)
        Japan has always been exclusive and it’s never been about piracy, they just like their market closed. Anime, manga and dramas only got exported because they were basically forced too :’)
        But you’re right, we do need to support^^

        1. I wish Japanese companies would open up more, I think it makes a lot of business sense! I think there is very slow progress being made, I do my best to show support in the hope that it will encourage more in the future 🙂

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