screenshots of own netflix account and shows that are watched

6 Asian Dramas to Add to Your Binge List This Month

We’re more than a year into the pandemic and if you’re not an essential worker, you’ve responsibly stayed in your house as needed. Naturally, you’re steadily running out of new shows to watch. You’ve already watched Schitt’s Creek three times in a row. You’ve done a whole Marvel, Pixar, Harry Potter, and Disney movie marathon. So why not try things that might be a little different? Why not explore some other cultures’ media for a change? With these six suggestions, your watchlist is about to go global. Here are six of my favorite Asian shows to get you started.

  1. 1. The Untamed

    I raved about this show once before, but I felt it worth mentioning again. The Untamed is a great introduction into a genre of Chinese dramas called xianxia (仙侠). This refers to a genre with a focus on fantasy, magic, and warriors, in a similar vein of Western movies such as Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings. However, at least in the case of The Untamed, it replaces orcs and wizards with spiritual cultivators (people who use martial arts and music in order to dispel evil spirits).

    The Untamed tells the story of two male cultivators who form a strong relationship and seek to solve the mysteries that caused a disastrous series of events in their past. This is also considered an LGBTQIA+ show since the show is based off a gay love story between the two characters. However, due to Chinese censorship, the creators had to do their best to deliver romance without breaking censorship laws. And they sure delivered. As someone who read the book, both main actors Xiao Zhan and Wang Yi Bo did an amazing job portraying their characters and brought more attention to LGBTQIA+ culture in China and in entertainment. 

    Stream it on Netflix, YouTube, or Viki.

     

  2. 2. Crossfire

    Next up, another Chinese drama. Crossfire is a modern style show that would be extremely entertaining regardless of your favorite genre, but especially for those who are into eSports, this is a great show. Crossfire follows the story of a middle aged vagabond named Xiao Feng in China in the year 2008, who has a love for a computer game called Crossfire. In the year 2018, a teenager named Xiao Bei similarly has a love for modern eSports at a time when eSports became huge in the Chinese market.

    Through the game, the two become suddenly connected across time as they are both looking to achieve greatness in the eSports industry during their respective timelines. When I first started this, I wasn’t sure what to think, but every episode was extremely exciting. Especially during the moments where the teams are battling, you can’t help but sit on the edge of your seat as they compete and as the relationships between characters change over time. Few shows make me cry but with this one, I cried five times. It’s a must watch, and free to watch with subtitles on YouTube. If you’re knowledgeable about the K-pop world, you’ll be happy to know that Xiao Feng is actually portrayed by previous EXO member Luhan. His portrayal of Xiao Feng is hilarious and heartwarming at the same time. 

    Stream it on YouTube. 

     

  3. 3. The Promised Neverland

    We’re now switching gears and traveling to Japan for this next recommendation. If you need some suspense and a little creepiness, look no further than The Promised Neverland. This anime tells the story of an orphanage where, when kids are finally adopted, not all is as happy as it seems. The oldest kids of the orphanage discover a huge secret that turns their whole world view upside down and now must figure out a way to keep their family together. This is an extremely easy show to binge, with just twelve mind-blowingly crazy, shocking, sad, and suspenseful episodes. My suggestion? Grab a friend, blanket, tissues, and some popcorn, because you’re not gonna watch this one alone. 

    Stream it on Netflix and Crunchyroll.

  4. 4. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

    Sticking to the Japanese trend, you need to watch this unique one called Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba. This 2019 anime has been seriously hyped in the anime world, and for good reason. From the animation style, to the story and unique characters, there is not much more you could ask of this anime. It keeps you on the edge of your seat with every episode.

    This show follows a boy named Tanjiro, who lives peacefully with his family in the woods but returns home one day to find his family slaughtered by a demon. His only surviving relative is his sister Nezuko, who has been gravely injured. Although Nezuko isn't killed, she becomes infected and she herself becomes a demon. Tanjiro must now find a way to cure his sister and become strong enough to defend himself and his sister from the demon race that seeks to feed on humans. This anime is action packed and dramatic in all of the best ways. But the character development and all of the exciting events that occur in just this one season make this show all worthy of the hype it has received. 

    Stream it on Netflix and Crunchyroll.

  5. 5. Itaewon Class

    Our last stop on this Asian entertainment tour is South Korea. Netflix has bombarded their show selection with tons of new Korean dramas and even fantastic Korean Netflix Originals. One of these is Itaewon Class. Itaewon is an area of South Korea teeming with bars and a party atmosphere with tons of diversity. In this show, high school student Park Saeroyi encounters a school bully and a tragic situation lands him in jail. Once his sentence is over, his goal is to start his own bar in Itaewon called DanBam to compete with the food Jangga Group whose CEO and son landed him in jail in the first place.

    It’s an amazing show in which the main character must go through tons of trials and tribulations in order to help his business become successful. You can’t help but root for him and his team. Park does his best to make a name for himself and build up his business. He’s motivated by the desire to be better than those who landed him in jail. The show is amazing in that the story is so uplifting and exciting and the character development is nicely paced. This is also one of very few popular dramas that feature characters of different races as well as openly LGBTQIA+ characters. There are so many other reasons to love this show, but rather than me hear more of my reasons, you should just watch it.

    Stream it on Netflix.

  6. 6. Strong Woman Do Bong Soon

    This last one is a fun show. If you’re into comedy and some fun-loving romance, Strong Woman Do Bong Soon tells the story of Do Bong Soon. Her family has been cursed with super-strong women. Bong Soon grows up having to keep her strength a secret, but struggles to still fit in. One day, she encounters a gang and beats all of them up; a handsome video game company CEO named Ahn Min Hyuk witnesses her extreme abilities. He decides to hire her as a personal bodyguard as his company is being targeted by people who want to take it down. It sounds a little ridiculous, but that’s the best part about it. This fun-loving and exciting drama is one that I constantly turn to if I’m having a bad day. The on-screen chemistry between main actress Park Bo Young and Park Hyung Sik is great, and really helps in watching the relationship between their characters develop. 

    Stream it on Netflix and Viki.

Very few things have gotten me through quarantine with a little less stress and anxiety, and Asian dramas are definitely one of them. As I decided to learn a new language this quarantine, diving into shows and music from different cultures has been a great way for me to feel connected to the world, and makes me feel like I can improve upon myself even in this stressful and uncertain time. I hope that while things are still uncertain, you find joy in exploring new cultures and entertainment.