This is a recommendation/review of a drama. I wouldn't normally do this; most of the stuff I watch is well-known enough anyway, and is usually aimed at a specific demographic. But I'm doing this for わたしたちの教科書 (Our Textbook); allow me to explain why.
Title: わたしたちの教科書 (Our Textbook)
Starring: 菅野 美穂（かんの みほ), 伊藤淳史（いとう あつし), 風吹ジュン （ふぶき ジュン), 志田 未来 （しだ みらい)
Genre: school, mystery, law
Maya's Rating (Scale of 0-10): 9.5
I'll be honest: I haven't really seen that many Asian dramas to date. In fact, this one is only the 3rd drama that I've watched from start to finish. But even if you look aside the fact that this one was infinitely better than the other's I've watched, you're still left with the fact that わたしたちの教科書 was, just one its own, phenomenal.
The story is about a young woman, Tamako Tsumiki (積木 珠子), who is a lawyer and works in her fiancé's firm; she is good-looking, intelligent, and has a promising future. But (this is going to sound cheesy, but hang on) her life changes when she starts to get involved in a case about a middle-school student who fell out of a window. Getting information out of a new teacher at the school (Kouhei Kaji - 加地 耕平) and getting involved in the some of the school's private matters, her life, and life of those at the school, are drastically changed.
Sounds cheesy, right? At best, it might sound mediocre - that was I thought, until I actually started watching this drama. Where do I even begin? ... OK, the show had its cheesy moments. But overall, it was an emotional roller coaster. At least half of the episodes (=guesstimate pulled out of the air) had dramatic plot twists that were quite unexpected. The acting was amazing, and pulled the viewer right in - it felt like I was literally a part of the show, somehow.
I stopped watching TV when I was in 6th grade; it wasn't because I was too busy (what could a 12 year old kid be busy with?). It was because, frankly, most of the stuff on TV, in any country, is crap. The animes/dramas I watch nowadays are fine, IMO, otherwise I wouldn't watch them; but they're nothing special. I wouldn't watch half of them if they were in English. わたしたちの教科書 is one of those rare exceptions - I watched 4 episodes of it in a single day because I couldn't stand NOT to know what was going to happen next.
Another thing about this drama that sets it apart from other anime/dramas is that it's not aimed at any one particular demographic. Except for toddlers perhaps, I think almost anyone could watch this show and enjoy it. It didn't strike me as explicitly feminine or explicitly masculine or whatever. It was just explicitly human.
I'm not sure to what extent this drama was popular in Japan, but I can say one thing about its popularity: it is massively, massively, MASSIVELY underrated. I see absolutely no reason why mediocre dramas like 1リットルの涙 (1 Litre of Tears) should be famous all across Asia, while amazing and emotionally profound dramas like this one should do so-so on the market. I suppose it's a matter of marketing, of course, but... it's not really fair.
If you're learning Japanese (and even if you're not!), I highly recommend this drama. A subtitled version is available on www.onlinedrama.net; just type in "our textbook" in the search engine. You won't regret it =)