I remember when I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Japanese drama – I would keep tabs on my favourite actors and actresses’ upcoming releases, and as soon as they aired on Japanese television, I would hunt for them online.
I consider myself an expert at finding online websites to stream Japanese dramas. As a teenager, I wouldn’t pay a penny to watch anything, but as an earning adult, I could afford to spend a few – so our list consists of a mix of both free and paid sites for you to watch Japanese dramas!
AsianCrush is one of the best paid websites out there, but it’s not fully paid, though – there’s their free site which you can still stream from, but ads are appearing on the video every now and then. With the paid version, at $4.99 per month, you get no disruptions and access to more uploads.
You can also watch tons of drama genres on this website like action, horror and comedy – all of the videos are of HD quality, at least 720p and up! This website is one of the more popular ones and has a range of listings, depending on which part of the world you’re in.
You might think that Viki is expensive, but it’s charged at $9.99 per year! Pay once and you don’t have to think about it again until the next year! Run by Rakuten, one of Japan’s leading companies, this website is also available to stream for free! You’re only limited to watching videos in 720p, but I think that’s a small sacrifice to make.
A distinctive feature of Viki is that you can watch a Japanese drama with your friends and family anywhere in the world – there’s a watch party function on it which is pretty unique to this website, in my opinion.
There’s also an app for Viki so you can stream easily on your mobile phone.
One of the largest video streaming platforms available, Midnight Pulp is a lot of people’s go-to for horror, thriller and action Japanese movies – their Japanese drama listing is pretty darn good as well. If you’re into interesting, dark Japanese drama plots, this website’s for you.
The downside to this website is that it’s a paid streaming service. It’s at $4.99 per month, but you can get a month of free trial to see if you like their services. Just a fair warning though, if you’re more into the lovey-dovey Japanese dramas, this one’s probably one to miss out on – they’re very committed to the darker storylines.
Who hasn’t heard of Netflix? I use it on a daily basis! If you don’t already know, Netflix is one of the best sites to watch Japanese dramas! They don’t necessarily have the latest updates, but they’re convenient and almost always have English subtitles.
We all know Netflix comes at a cost of about $7.70 per month, but you can try it out for 30 days for free if you don’t have a subscription yet. Japan is opening up to online streaming services like Netflix, so there are ones that are Netflix-exclusive like Alice in Borderland!
5. Amazon Prime
Last but not least on our list of paid websites, we have Amazon Prime. Amazon is one of the world’s largest technology companies, and in Japan, Amazon and Amazon Prime are used widely. Some might say their streaming service is more widely used than Netflix!
Even if you don’t have a prime membership, you can rent the shows to watch. Depending on which Amazon you use, you might not get subtitles, though – I have Amazon Prime for Japan but most of them don’t have subtitles to go with it, which is a shame! I bet if you have Amazon US or Amazon UK, they’ll definitely have subtitles for the shows!
Moving on to free websites, KissAsian is one of my favourite sites to watch Japanese drama! KissAsian is an online streaming site that’s free to use. They’re extremely on the ball when it comes to updating newer episodes that have already been aired on Japanese TV. In fact, as soon as it finishes airing in Japan, you’re going to be able to find it on KissAsian within the next few hours!
A plus side I like about KissAsian is that you can request for a Japanese drama to be uploaded or report a problem, which gets solved almost instantly!
One annoying thing about KissAsian is that it has one too many ads! You’re probably going to get a pop up with almost every click, not to mention some captcha along the way. Their domain always changes as well, which can be quite confusing. But, if you have it bookmarked, most of the time they’ll redirect you to the new domain.
Another free online streaming site for Japanese drama is DramaNice. It’s extremely up-to-date as well, just like KissAsian. Similarly, they’re not only just for Japanese dramas but other Asian dramas as well!
In comparison to KissAsian, DramaNice’s website is more mobile-friendly. You can download directly from the website to your phone or laptop and comment on the site. I personally find the discussion sections pretty useful at judging which Japanese drama I should put on my watch list and which to avoid.
While KissAsian has only subbed videos uploaded, DramaNice does have raw videos – meaning uploads without any subtitles. Hey, if you want something instantly, you can’t be picky, right? They do update the Japanese drama listing pretty fast, but not all of them are subbed!
However, on DramaNice, the advertisements come at the beginning of the video and you can’t skip them. But hey, if we’re pretty used to YouTube already, this website is a breeze. Oh, and also, be sure to bookmark the website as DramaNice also changes its domain quite frequently.
Here’s another free website that I use to watch Japanese drama: ViewAsian. Most of the videos are subbed and you can search for drama by categories like crime, action and romance.
If you’re watching a movie then this won’t matter but if you’re watching a drama, there’ll be a thumbnail on the drama listing to show you how many episodes are in it. It’s much more convenient than having to click one by one – imagine deciding on watching one and then finding out it has hundreds of episodes!
Dramacool is one of the streaming sites I used when I was younger. It appealed to me more than the rest at some point due to its simple web interface – navigating around was a breeze and it was easy to find Japanese dramas that I wanted to watch. On top of that, it lists the latest episodes updated for the season on the front so you don’t have to go around clicking to check.
There are even multiple video servers for you to switch to if the default one is not playing or plays slow. There is also a “switch off light” function that darkens the website screen when watching your Japanese dramas to have that cinematic effect.
The last of our free websites to watch Japanese drama is JDorama. It’s one of the most popular ones out there! On some other free sites, you won’t be able to find old dramas, but here, you can find those that were released from as far back as 1964! Oh, and don’t worry, there are also newer ones on the website as well.
JDroama is one of the oldest and yet popular websites to watch Japanese drama online for free. It has a section where you can find the most famous Japanese shows in each season of the year. Aside from that, you will find the trailer of each movie and TV show on its homepage. Moreover, it has a vast community where you can join and discuss trending shows in Japan.
With both paid and free websites, five of each, what excuse do you have not to watch Japanese drama? Which will you choose — are you going to test out the free websites or bite the bullet and go for the paid ones?