The Japanese TV world moves fast; there are approximately 30 new series each season, of which perhaps a dozen will go out in prime time, and only a handful will comprise remakes or sequels to earlier shows. In order to help you guess what the storylines might be for as-yet unmade series like Hairdresser Detective, My Boyfriend is an Alien, Get Away From My Husband You Bitch, and who knows, perhaps Undertaker Cop, we offer this handy plot generator. Delete as applicable, or add your own variables:
Janet is a (reporter / photographer / traffic cop / nurse / princess / florist / teacher / stewardess / designer) who finds herself falling for John, who is a (detective / bail jumper / salaryman / architect / doctor / samurai / pilot / musician / student/ undercover alien / terrorist). After first meeting during a (wedding / crime investigation / blind date / robbery / swordfight), they initially fail to get on with each other, but are miraculously thrown back together by their (interfering parents / shared interest in an unlikely hobby / unexpected relocation to shared lodgings).
However, their burgeoning relationship is threatened by (old flames / intrigues at their workplace / the fact they’ve switched bodies / their removal to a different time period), and by the fact that Janet is (already married / a celebrity / impersonating someone else / on the run from the police / diagnosed with only three months to live / on an undercover mission / pick one from the next list) and that John is (leaving the country / in love with someone else / supposed to defend the world from attacking aliens / pick one from the previous list).
Nor is anyone expecting the sudden mid-season appearance of (an old flame / a long-lost relative / an ultimatum that could ruin their careers). They must also deal with a dark secret, because one of them is (also married / still getting over the death of a loved one / a parent / suppressing the memories of a terrible trauma / actually a ghost / hell-bent on revenge against the other’s father). Luckily, they grow closer thanks to an incident involving (zany friends / a talking dog / someone’s parent / a wacky DJ) and the fact that they are forced to cooperate on (rearing a child or children / chasing a story / an arrest / saving the planet).
Though the story appears to resolve itself, a surprise twist involving (another murder / a revelation about the boss / a sudden hospitalisation) leads to a last-minute reunion at (Narita airport / a wedding / a sports meet / the hospital). And everybody lives happily ever after, including two supporting cast members who have unexpectedly fallen in love, unless there is a second season, in which case at least one of the leads will (turn up with an unexpected spouse / change jobs / lose their memory).
(Originally printed in the Dorama Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese TV Drama Since 1953, by Jonathan Clements and Motoko Tamamuro, 2003).