Netflix has a great set of Japanese films. Both live-action and animation. While we all know the magic Hayao Miyazaki in the animation industry, there are plenty of mainstream live-action films and some off-beat animation films that deserve a watch. So here’s a curated list of absolute gems from the cinema of Japan and Tokyo.
- The Forest Of Love
Probably one the weirdest and creepiest films you are ever going to see in your life, The Forest Of Love, directed by Sion Sono. The film is based on the murders, extortion, and tortures committed in Kyushu, Japan from the 1990s to the early 2000s which were all done by a serial killer called Futoshi Matsunaga. It contains severe violence and gore, so watch it at your own risk. It’s one of those cinematic experiences that are very different, long, repetitive but boring? Never.
Before Parasite, a similar film called Shoplifters by Hirokazu Koreeda rolled out on Netflix in 2018. On the margins of Tokyo, a dysfunctional band of outsiders is united by loyalty and their liking towards committing the crimes of petty theft. When the young son gets arrested, their secrets are revealed.
- River’s Edge.
A great combination of strong characters and nostalgia trips, River’s Edge by Isao Yukisada tells the story of a man called Yu Meng, who receives a phone call hearing the news of a man’s misfortune as his son has gone missing after saving a drowning student. Yu consoles the father and tries to help him through his grief. Winner at Five Flavours Film Festival Award in 2018.
- 37 Seconds
Yuma is a young Japanese woman who suffers from cerebral palsy. But she’s torn between her duties towards her family and her dreams to become a manga artist. Between these struggles, she’s unable to live an independent life of her own.
- The Chase
After several people in a town turn up dead, a cantankerous landlord receives a visit from a detective hoping to solve a case that was left unsolved, 30 years ago. Directed by Kim Hong-sun.
When his abducted brother returns, he seems to be a different man with no memory of the last 19 days. Jin-Seok chases the truth behind the incident. Directed by Jang Hang-jun
- A Whisker Away
Directed by Junichi Sato, A Whisker Away explores how a line between an animal and a human starts to blur when a peculiar girl transforms into a cat. This might be one of the cutest films to release this year.
- In This Corner Of The World
Directed by Sunao Katabuchi, In This Corner Of The World tells how a spirited 18-year old woman is married off to a man about whom she barely knows a thing. And then we see how she lives a troublesome daily-life in Hiroshima during World War II.
- A Silent Voice
When a grade school student with impaired hearing is bullied, she takes a transfer to another school. But, years later, one of the students who used to bully her sets out to make amends.
- Spirited Away
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki, the name is enough for you to start the film. Spirited Away is about a 10-year old girl called Chihiro ( Rumi Hiragi) and her parents stumble upon a seemingly abandoned amusement park. After her mother and father suddenly turned into giant pigs, Chihiro gets to know that she has to work in the park to free herself and her parents.
- My Neighbor Totoro
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki again, My Neighbor Totoro is a story about a giant rabbit-like creature called Totoro. Mei and Satsuki who shifted to a new house to be close to their mother, who is in hospital. They soon become friends with Totoro.
- Kiki’s Delivery Service:
A 13-year-old Kiki moves to a seaside town with her talking cat, Jiji, to spend a year alone to maintain her village’s tradition for witches in training. After learning to control her broomstick, Kiki sets up a flying courier service but when she starts questioning herself, she loses her abilities. This film is also directed by Hayao Miyazaki.