Top 15 Japanese Movies

1. Rashomon

  • Drama, crime, detective.
  • 1950
  • 88 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.3.

It was this film about a mysterious crime that introduced foreign audiences to Japanese cinema in the distant 50s. And it gave rise to a powerful cinematic technique : one story is told from different points of view, each character has his own truth, and each subsequent episode completely changes the perception of the plot.

2. Royal battle

  • Fantasy, thriller, drama.
  • year 2000.
  • 114 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.7.

Long before The Hunger Games and other teen dystopias , there was Battle Royale, a brutal story about high school kids who are forced to kill each other to survive. Surprisingly, despite the abundance of various violent deaths that you will see on the screen, the film is quite encouraging. The bright role of Takeshi Kitano adds zest, and this picture is also in the personal top of Quentin Tarantino.

3. Be with you

  • Fantasy, drama, melodrama.
  • 2004
  • 119 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.0.
Shot from the film “To be with you”

Mio’s husband and young son consider themselves guilty of her death and are grieving the loss. One day, while walking on a rainy day, they meet a woman who looks exactly like Mio, but remembers absolutely nothing about herself. Could this be the real Mio, and how is the book that the mother left to the boy before her death related to these events?

4. Fireworks

  • Thriller, drama, crime.
  • 1997
  • 103 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.9.

Crime drama by Takeshi Kitano, in which he played the main role. Police officer Yoshitaka Nishi takes care of his leukemia-stricken wife and quits his job after a tragic incident: his partner died and another detective was seriously injured. To help the widow of a deceased and disabled colleague, Nishi commits a bank robbery and clashes with the yakuza.

5. Twilight Samurai

  • Drama, history.
  • 2002
  • 129 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.1.
Shot from the film “Dark Samurai”

This film is the beginning of the samurai trilogy directed by Yoji Yamada. Seibei, the lowest-ranking employee, takes care of his mother and daughters, and is so poor that he had to sell his samurai sword to pay for his wife’s funeral. The Japanese view on the theme of the “little man” is about the clash of cruel circumstances with the feelings and principles of an individual.

6. Umimati’s diary

  • Drama, comedy.
  • 2015
  • 128 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.6.

A film about family ties, based on the manga of the same name. Three girls come to the funeral of their father, who left the family for another woman when they were still children. Here they first meet their half-sister, find out that she has no other relatives left, and offer the girl to move in with them.

7. Heaven and hell

  • Thriller, drama, detective.
  • 1963
  • 143 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.4.
Frame from the film “Heaven and Hell”

A film by Akira Kurosawa based on the novel by American writer Ed McBain. A tense detective story about the kidnapping of a child turns into a philosophical story in the spirit of Dostoevsky’s works – about the nature of good and evil and about the choice between “heaven” and “hell” that a person has to make.

8. No one will know

  • Drama.
  • 2004
  • 141 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.1.

The mother leaves the four children some money and a note in which she asks her eldest son Akira (he is only twelve) to look after the others – she needs to leave for a while. Month after month passes, the mother does not return, and the children are left to their own devices. The story is based on real events .

9. Kagemusha: Warrior’s Shadow

  • Drama, military, history.
  • 1980
  • 180 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.0.

Another film by the legendary Akira Kurosawa in our selection. A beggar thief sentenced to death is suddenly granted a pardon, and then he is taken to the palace: it turned out that outwardly he is indistinguishable from the ruler of Takeda Shingen, an imperious and strong man. Soon he dies from an enemy shot, and the Takeda clan, in order not to lose influence, decides to hide his death and put a double on the throne.

10. Son to father

  • Drama.
  • year 2013.
  • 120 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.8.

The shocking news completely changes the life of a young family. It turned out that six years ago, two babies were mixed up in the maternity hospital and the biological son of the architect Ryota and his wife Midori is growing up in another family, and they themselves are raising a non-native child. Despite the beginning in the style of Brazilian TV series , the creators of the picture avoided melodramatic clichés, and the story turned out to be very subtle and touching.

11. Departed

  • Drama.
  • 2008
  • 130 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.1.

A philosophical drama that tells about death beautifully – as a natural end to the earthly path and something that should not be feared. The young cellist remains unemployed and returns to his hometown, where, by coincidence, he gets a job in a funeral agency: now his duty is to prepare the bodies for burial. The film won an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film.

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12. Kwaidan: a tale of mystery and horror

  • Horror, fantasy, drama.
  • 1964
  • 163 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.0.
A frame from the film “Kwaidan: a tale of mysterious and terrible”

An anthology film consisting of four stories (“Black Hair”, “Snow Woman”, “Earless Hoichi”, “In a Cup of Tea”), each of which originates from Japanese fairy tales and legends. The characters encounter the world of the supernatural, alien and frightening, and the mystical atmosphere of events is wonderfully conveyed by an inventive approach to scenery and special effects.

13. Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence

  • Drama, military.
  • 1983
  • 123 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.3.

An exception in our selection is an English-language film directed by Nagisa Oshima. Major Jack Selliers (David Bowie), a fearless rebel who is not going to obey the strict rules of the camp commander, the young Captain Yonoi, ends up in a Japanese prisoner of war camp. In parallel, other idiosyncratic relationships develop: between the brutal Sergeant Hara (Takeshi Kitano) and Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence – the only one of all the prisoners who knows Japanese.

14. Walk-walk

  • Drama.
  • 2008
  • 115 minutes.
  • IMDb: 8.0.

On the anniversary of the death of their eldest son, in order to honor his memory, an elderly couple gathers adult children at home, each of whom has long been living his own life. The viewer is presented with a complex history of family relationships, woven from table conversations and memories.

15. Linda, Linda, Linda

  • Comedy.
  • 2005 year.
  • 114 minutes.
  • IMDb: 7.7.
Frame from the film “Linda, Linda, Linda”

Girls from the school band really want to perform covers of the songs of Blue Hearts, a Japanese 80s punk rock band, at the music festival. But their idea is close to failure, when a few days before the performance, the vocalist leaves the group. The girls’ only hope is a Korean exchange student who barely speaks Japanese.

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