Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi fanboy
Saigo Kara Nibanme no Koi (literal translation: "Penultimate love") stars Koizumi Kyoko as a lonely TV producer in her mid-40s, who, reflecting a real Japanese trend, moves to Kamakura to live in a traditional home close to nature and the sea. Instead of a calm, pre-retirement existence, though, she gets pulled into the maelstrom of the eccentric family next door.
For me the charm is the amazing, largely female, cast. Start with Koizumi Kyoko, who starred in the very first Japanese dorama I ever watched, Aishiatteru no kai!, back in 1989.
Among the delightfully eccentric supporting cast is Uchida Yuki as a severely introverted Asberger's type, who speaks in long-winded monotone and
I am particularly fond of Masuwaka Tsubasa (in what is apparently her debut acting role) as a trendy young adult drama screenwriter.
Like all good dorama, the show is equally comic and heartwarming. Quiet moments of contemplation/realization abound, sometimes punctuated by the cry of the tobi (black kite) or, as in the scene below, accompanied by the barely audible crackle of the kerosene heater.
Tastefully underlying the action are two songs by Yael Naim: "Far far," and "Go to the river," perfect for expressing wistfulness and the feeling of losing control respectively. (I ended up buying both from iTunes...)
For non-Japanese speakers, there is a very good fansub that has been graciously offered up by an efficient group a few days after episodes air. I usually rush and watch the raw upload as soon as it appears (at the risk of not quite grasping all the nuances)--the show is that good.
[UPDATE: The 8th episode has arrived, just moments after I posted this!]
[December 2012 UPDATE: A NEW episode, a "special" that advances the relational plot a tiny bit is now available.]