Japanese that the Japanese Don’t Know, The
Based on the manga series 日本人の知らない日本語 (Nihonjin Shiranai no Nihongo) by Hebizo & Umino Nagiko, this 12-episode series tells the story of Haruko Kano (Riisa Naka), a young woman whose dream of becoming a high school teacher is trumped when she begins teaching at a Japanese school for foreigners. Making a promise to make each one of her students pass the course, she’ll find out that she might need to dust off her knowledge about the Japanese language as well.
The series not only deals with Japanese assumptions about foreign cultures and stereotypes — since the episodes deal with each of the students, including Ellen the Swedish ninja lover, Luca the Italian otaku, Marie the French Yakuza Japanese honor lover, and Diana the Russian Enka lover — the show also teaches you about grammar, use of language, and reading kanji. Perfect for those who already dominate hiragana, katakana and basic Japanese structure.
As a comedy or a drama, however, Nihonjin suffers from an episodic storyline, as well as somewhat over-the-top situations and overacted reactions. These probably come from the manga setting, but they can work when they’re well-developed — like in Nodame Cantabile.