The TV industry in Japan has two seasons: spring and autumn. Each April and October, every commercial station launches a 10-episode seasonal drama. In the preceding weeks, the media traditionally raise a ruckus, zooming in on the debut actors and squabbling over which station's program will top the ratings.

Back in the 1990s, at a time when the internet was just beginning to take off, the TV served as the centerpiece of all our homes. Being such an important experience shared across much of the country, TV dramas began influencing the world outside the box. Fuji TV's Monday (getsuyōbi) 9 p.m. (ku-ji) drama slot became known affectionately by the acronym "getsuku," and commentators pondered what new trend the next getsuku would spawn.

In fact, despite Japan's work-to-death culture, office districts would empty on Monday nights as salarymen and office ladies rushed home in time to catch the 9 p.m. show. At university at the time, I fell behind on the latest fads because I never became engrossed in the whole TV drama scene. But I remember my friends breathlessly giving me their updates on the shows.