Japanese films are funny. The tend to either be brilliant, plan silly fun, or horrible. I'm a huge fan of Japanese cinema and it seems to always be a 50/50 hit or miss. If your looking for Drama, here would be my recomendations.
Bright Future: I'm embarrassed that I forget the director's name, but this is a wonderful, semi cynical film about social misfits wondering through life, dreaming of a better future while breeding jellyfishes.
Audition: ALthough many consider this to be a horror film, and horrific it is, it's easily one of Japan's most important films ever made. Very intelligent and abstract film that deals with issues of Japan's changing gender roles and issues of equality. Beautiful and haunting, but very shocking.
Bounce Ko Gals: Very interesting little film on inja kosai/ child prostitution. Not nerely as dark or depressing as it sounds which makes it all the more interesting. ANother film on changing gender roles, protrays women not as victims but as intelligent and strong individuals who are completely able to manipulate men to get what they very. Very accurate protrayal of Tokyo and youth culture.
Vibrator: once again, sounds more explicit and outlandish than what it is. Very touching and raw romance about an artist on a roadtrip with a truck driver.
Suicide CLub: If you can stomach the ultra horrific violence, this film by one of Japan's most critically acclaimed poets is a masterpiece. I admit that some of the gore is gratuitious, but it's such a damn smart, trippy, mindf*** I don't care.
Ping Pong: Very cute and suprisingly somber film about national ping pong tornument.
Dolls: Master director, Taekshi Kitano's most beauitful and probably best film. Brilliant without all the ultra violence for once.
You should also check out some new wave Korean cinema as well. Old Boy, Memories of a Murder, and Friend are all breathtakingly good.