1. Netflix
    Photo: ©Haro Aso, Shogakukan/Robot
  2. Rilakkuma and Kaoru
    Rilakkuma and Kaoru, Netflix
  3. Netflix
    Photo: Mio Hirota, courtesy of Netflix

Best Japanese movies and series with English subtitles on Netflix

Locally produced, binge-worthy titles to add to your watch list

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen
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If being cooped up at home all these months has made small talk and social interaction a terrifyingly foreign concept, take comfort in knowing this: the topic of Netflix can bond anyone, regardless of age, gender or social background. More than just another way to kill time, the streaming platform has become a way to travel, fall in love and live vicariously with its immense selection of movies and TV shows during this interminable pandemic. 

Whether you want to be swept off your feet with impassioned romantic dramas or salivate over mouth-watering dishes in food documentaries, you’ll find everything you’re looking for right here. From gripping new thrillers to heartfelt anime, these are the best Japanese series and movies available with English subtitles on Netflix right now (note: regional restrictions may apply).

RECOMMENDED: The best documentaries about Japanese food

What Did You Eat Yesterday
Photo: Kadokawa

What Did You Eat Yesterday

Synopsis: Kenji Yabuki is an openly gay hairdresser while his partner, Shiro Kakei, is an attorney who keeps his identify as a gay man a secret from his family and colleagues. While both men are in their forties, they have vastly different personalities that sometimes clash: Kenji is an upbeat soul who wears his heart on his sleeve while Shiro is more stoic and less inclined to joke around. Despite his non-nonsense disposition, Shiro never fails to show his affection and dedication to Kenji by making him delicious home-cooked meals every day. 

Overview: Netflix has no shortage of LGBTQ+ titles, but such features most often come in the form of over-the-top productions like ‘Ossan’s Love’ or gritty dramas by the likes of ‘Ride or Die’. There’s lots to love about the aforementioned productions, but it’s high time the mellower, slice of life titles get their time in the spotlight, too. This popular manga adaptation, starring Seiyo Uchino and Hidetoshi Nishijima, is a welcome change of pace chronicling the domestic life of an everyday couple – along with some mouthwatering scenes of home cooking.

A Silent Voice
Photo: Netflix

A Silent Voice

Synopsis: Disenchanted with life and struggling with feelings of worthlessness, high school student Shoya Ishida is on the verge of ending his life. While Shoya feels there is little he can do to make his own life better, he decides to take care of some unfinished business to undo some of the damage that he’s caused in the past. As a way of redeeming his past actions, Shoya resolves to befriend Shoko – a former classmate who Shoya bullied relentlessly in middle school for being deaf. 

Overview: The popularity of anime films seem to weigh on how emotional they make you, and ‘A Silent Voice’ doesn’t let us down on that front. Grab your tissues – this heart-tugging masterpiece is one that’ll hit you where it counts.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light
Photo: Netflix

Final Fantasy XIV: Dad of Light

Synopsis: Akio is perplexed when his hardworking father Hakutaro suddenly decides to quit his desk job one day without any explanation. Because Hakutaro was usually preoccupied with work for most of Akio’s life, the father and son duo never had much time to spend with each other.

In an effort to get to know his father and understand him better, Akio re-introduces his father to Final Fantasy – a video game the pair once bonded over when Akio was just a young boy. Now that he doesn’t have the job eating into his free time, Hakutaro finds himself becoming increasingly invested in the game. Meanwhile, Akio has been secretly logging onto the game as an anonymous player to get his father to open up to him through an RPG.

Overview: Based on a true story, this criminally underrated gem is divided into a mini-series of  eight episodes. Starring Ren Osugi as Hakutaro and Yudai Chiba as Akio, this series will have you reaching for tissues and contemplating picking up the latest edition of Final Fantasy.

The Way of the Househusband
Photo: Netflix

The Way of the Househusband

Synopsis: Tattoo-clad mafia boss Tatsu has abandoned his position in the yakuza to become a full-time homemaker. While other members of the yakuza still talk about Tatsu’s fearsome disposition that earned him the nickname ‘Immortal Dragon’, Tatsu now spends all his energy going on grocery runs and crafting cutesy bento to please his beloved career wife, Miku. 

Overview: We first fell in love with the slick-haired Tatsu in the original manga series, but now the unconventional home life of an ex-Yakuza boss has been turned into an anime. While fans were dubious as to whether the small-screen adaptation would have the same weight as its source material, the show reveals that the strong cast of voice actors including Kenjiro Tsuda (‘One Punch Man’) and Shizuka Ito (‘Nodame Cantabile’) are more than capable of putting on a delightfully funny and touching performance sure to appease all the skeptics. 

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Synopsis: A group of three friends who normally entertain themselves with video games go looking for some excitement in Shibuya one day. When their mischief catches the attention of nearby police, the trio escape into a bathroom only to discover they’ve suddenly been transported into what seems like a real-life video game.

Overview: Live-action Netflix adaptations of manga or anime are typically poorly received by audiences, but this new series packs a punch. Directed by filmmaker and video game designer Shinsuke Sato, the show kicks off with an eerie scene of a mysteriously deserted Shibuya Crossing and a series of sinister game rules implying that not every player will make it out alive. 

Giri/Haji
Photo: Netflix

Giri/Haji

Synopsis: Following the killing of a yakuza boss’s nephew, Japanese detective Kenzo Mori travels to London to track down his brother, Yuto. Yuto is also a member of the yakuza and was charged for murder before he mysteriously vanished, and presumed dead. 

Overview: Though produced in the United Kingdom, 'Giri/Haji' makes for a surprisingly authentic thriller based on Japan’s notorious mafia-like gangs. With dialogue both in English and Japanese, this eight-part series weaves a riveting tale of deceit, corruption and brotherhood. Although many risks were taken to produce this ambitious intercontinental show, its razor-sharp script, slow burning tension and host of compelling characters create a deeply satisfying performance. 

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Kakegurui
Photo: Netflix

Kakegurui

Synopsis: At this elite private school, gambling is part of the curriculum and the students’ positions in the hierarchy depend on their ability to swindle their peers over poker instead of their academic grades. Students who come away with all the winnings are heralded as the world’s future leaders, while those who lose and end up in debt are forced into servitude and become the ‘pets’ of their more competent classmates.

Overview: The teenagers in Gossip Girl don’t hold a candle to the cut-throat ruthlessness of Hyakkaou Private Academy students. The anime series, which is adapted from a manga, is every bit as twisted as it sounds, leaving you with a similar sense of dread to what you felt when you thought about the villains who invented the ‘games’ of Squid Game. 

A Whisker Away
Photo: Netflix

A Whisker Away

Synopsis: Middle school student Miyo Sasaki struggles with a stepmother who she doesn’t get along with and a crush at school who doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. One day, Miyo comes across a stranger who gives her a cat-shaped Noh mask. When Miyo discovers that the mask gives her the ability to transform into a cat, she uses it to spend time with the boy she likes without him knowing his new feline companion is really Miyo. 

Overview: Heart-tugging, emotional and meaningful, ‘A Whisker Away’ is a charming exploration of what it would be like to trade everyday stresses for the easy life of a pampered cat. The film, which made its debut as a Netflix feature in June 2020, might have not have gotten the theatrical release it deserved due to the coronavirus pandemic, but its sweet story and mesmerising animations led the film to be celebrated as a venerable success anyway.

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Naomi Osaka
Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Naomi Osaka

Synopsis: After winning a historic match against Serena Williams in the US Open 2018, 20-year-old tennis player Naomi Osaka was named world champion by the Women’s Tennis Association. What followed was a flurry of brand deals, sponsorships and interviews (the latest being the cover star of Vogue Japan) as the world turned its gaze on the first Asian tennis player to be ranked number one. In the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, this momentous docuseries covers her triumphs and tribulations in defending the world champion title. 

Overview: This three-part mini-series covers different aspects of Naomi Osaka’s life, from her dazzling career as a professional tennis player to her multi-cultural background of being a young Haitian-Japanese woman raised in the United States. 

Ride or Die
Photo: Aiko Nakano/Netflix © 2021

Ride or Die

Synopsis: Rei, a young woman from a wealthy background, gets an unexpected call one day from Nanae, an old friend from high school. Though it has been a decade since the pair last saw each other, Rei is eager to meet up as she used to harbour romantic feelings for Nanae when they were at school together. Upon being reunited with her friend, however, Rei realises that Nanae is a battered wife trapped in an abusive relationship with her husband. After the two friends quickly establish a new kind of intimacy with each other, Nanae asks Rei if she would help her murder her husband.  

Overview: Kiko Mizuhara (‘Norwegian Wood’, ‘Attack on Titan’) makes a return to full-length features alongside co-star Honami Sato (‘The Cornered Mouse Dreams of Cheese’) in this gripping psychological drama disguised as an LGBT romance. The film, adapted from the manga ‘Gunjo’ by Ching Nakamura, is directed by Ryuichi Hiroki, whose credits include the 2014 film ‘Kabukicho Love Hotel’. 

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Stand by Me Doraemon
Photo: Toho

Stand by Me Doraemon

Synopsis: Though he has a good heart, fifth-grader Nobita struggles to fit in with his peers and consistently receives poor marks at school. One day, Nobita encounters a stranger who is actually Nobita’s great-great grandson from the future. Nobita’s grandson, Sewashi, warns Nobita that if he doesn’t change his ways, his future and his lineage will suffer for it.

Sewashi is accompanied by an earless robot cat called Doraemon, who agrees to stay and help Nobita change the course of his life before returning to the 22nd century. Though Doraemon has a bottomless pocket full of futuristic gadgets that work like magic, Nobita quickly realises that gadgets alone might not be enough for him to overcome his biggest challenges, or win over the heart of his long-time crush Shizuka. 

Overview: An icon recognised by people all over the world, Doraemon is a beloved and popular creation of Fujio F. Fujiko. Those who grew up watching Doraemon or reading the manga may not be used to seeing the infamous characters in 3D anime format, but with the 2014 film taking off where the manga begins and featuring an array of wondrous inventions, viewers will quickly see that the film remains true to the same familiar story they remember from their childhood. Incidentally, Netflix will also offers the film’s sequel – ‘Stand by Me 2’ – which premiered in cinemas across Japan last year. 

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal
Photo: Netflix

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal

Synopsis: ‘Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie' serves as a direct sequel to the most recent episode of the Sailor Moon series. It expands on the ‘Dream’ story arc featured in the original manga by Naoko Takeuchi and begins with a celebration of a total solar eclipse in Tokyo.

Later, when the Dead Moon Circus appears to spread their nightmarish incarnations across the world, Usagi and the other Sailor Soldiers must protect the universe and stop the evildoers from getting to the Legendary Silver Crystal. 

Overview: Earlier this year, ’90s anime icon Sailor Moon returned to Japanese cinemas with an all-new film titled 'Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Eternal The Movie'. The release marked the return of the heroine after a 26-year hiatus from the big screen. The film was released in two parts – both 80 minutes long – for a total running time of 160 minutes.

It may have been a while since you last revisited this childhood favourite. However, with work by the franchise’s original character designer Kazuko Tadano and appearances from all the core characters, this Sailor Moon film is a dazzling comeback for the beloved franchise. 

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Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan
Photo: Netflix

Age of Samurai: Battle for Japan

Synopsis: Following the death of his father, Oda Nobunaga becomes the successive leader of the Oda clan and swiftly moves to take control over central Japan. But Nobunaga is not the only daimyo with plans to become the nation’s absolute ruler. Through power struggles and fierce battles between samurai, the ensuing decades of 16th-century Japan become a pivotal time in history for the country and its rulers.

Overview: This particular time in history doesn’t have to be presented as a period drama to be shocking, action-packed and full of high stakes – the true sequence of events are dramatic enough as they are. In this documentary series, the end of Japan’s Warring States period is chronicled by expert historians with re-enactments of events involving legendary rulers by the likes of Toyotomi Hideyoshi and Tokugawa Ieyasu. Commentary is in both English and Japanese, and re-enactments feature notable actors including Masayoshi Haneda (‘West World’, ‘The Last Samurai’) and Hideaki Ito (‘Memoirs of a Murderer’).

Rilakkuma and Kaoru
Rilakkuma and Kaoru, Netflix

Rilakkuma and Kaoru

Synopsis: Kaoru, an office worker in her twenties, lives with her pet chick and two bears. While Kaoru may not have too much in common with her fluffy roommates, the animals try their best to cheer her up when she’s down and help out around the house, even if they don’t always see eye to eye. 

Overview: This stop-motion animation is a heart-warming tribute to one of Japan’s most beloved characters, Rilakkuma. In this delightful series, we see the bear try earnestly to host a hanami, save money and lose weight alongside Kaoru, who is sometimes surprised at the lengths Rillakuma and his friends will go to be included, but nonetheless charmed by their good intentions. Whatever mood you’re in, it’s impossible not to fall in love with these innocent characters who’ll do anything for a friend.

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Followers
Photo: Sayuri Suzuki

Followers

Synopsis: Natsume Hyakuta is an aspiring actress trying to break into Tokyo’s competitive entertainment industry. While she determinedly juggles auditions with part-time jobs, she is finding it increasingly difficult to fight her insecurities and self-doubt. Limi Nara, meanwhile, is a thriving fashion photographer who revels in life as an independent thirtysomething. When the two women cross paths, their lives and careers see a noticeable shift as Natsume’s fame rises and Limi begins to question her desires and ambitions in womanhood. 

Overview: Written and directed by Mika Ninagawa (‘Helter Skelter’), ‘Followers’ is a colourful depiction of ambitious women in Tokyo’s glitzy fashion scene. A vibrant and visually stunning series with scenes shot in some of Tokyo’s trendiest hot spots like teamLab Borderless, the series paints an intriguing yet realistic narrative of modern women in show business that is also reliably feel-good for nights when you want something light-hearted.

Paprika
Photo: © 2006 Madhouse, Inc.

Paprika

Synopsis: Doctor Atsuko Chiba and her team of scientists have developed a device that allows the user to enter people’s dreams. The device was invented as part of a treatment plan for psychiatric patients, but could cause imponderable damage in the wrong hands. When the device prototype is stolen, it is up to Chiba and her dream persona, Paprika, to save the real world and put things right. 

Overview: If you thought Christopher Nolan’s ‘Inception’ was trippy, you probably aren’t ready for the parade of dancing objects and dolls that come to life in the dream world of ‘Paprika’. Director Satoshi Kon brilliantly captures the bizarre and impalpable characteristics of a dream, conveying them through stunning animations that exceed anything that could be done in a live action film. You’d better strap yourself in and hold on extra tight, this is one wild carnival ride you won’t want to miss.

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Japan Sinks: 2020
Photo: Netflix

Japan Sinks: 2020

Synopsis: A number of devastating earthquakes cause the islands of Japan to start sliding into the sea. The series follows the Murata family of four and their desperate bid for survival as the country is deluged by seawater. 

Overview: This anime series is directed by Masaaki Yuasa, known for 'Devilman Crybaby', 'Ride Your Wave' and 'Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken'. The ten-episode drama is based on the best-selling 1973 disaster novel by Sakyo Komatsu, in which major earthquakes strike Japan and cause it to sink into the ocean. While there have been previous live-action adaptations for film and TV, this is the first time the book has been brought to life as an anime.

Aggretsuko
Photo: Aggretsuko/Sanrio

Aggretsuko

Synopsis: 25-year-old Retsuko is a red panda who works as an accountant. During the day, she gets pushed around by her boss and colleagues at the office, but at night, she hits a karaoke parlour and unleashes all her rage with death metal. 

Overview: The contrast of Retsuko’s cutesy daytime demeanour with her ferocious after-dark alter-ego is endlessly entertaining, but beyond her unusual way of letting off steam, Retsuko represents the everywoman of 21st century Japan. From her difficult coworkers to her overbearing mother who won't drop the subject of Retsuko's relationship status, Retsuko's everyday struggles are something that everyone can empathise with and it's Retsuko's relatability that makes this show binge-worthy. 

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Battle Royale
Photo: Battle Royale Production Committee

Battle Royale

Synopsis: In a dystopian society, the Japanese government passes an act where Japan’s youth must battle to the death in order to suppress the population of juvenile delinquents. 

Overview: Released in 2000, this gory cult classic by father-and-son duo Kinji and Kenta Fukusaku is still one of the most talked about films in Japanese cinema. While the plot of teenagers fighting in a bloody free-for-all is comparable to the more recent dystopian hit, ‘The Hunger Games’, ‘Battle Royale’ is far more brutal as it highlights the emotional and animalistic traits of humankind. 

Crayon Shin Chan: The Adult Empire Strikes Back
Photo: Shin-Ei Animation

Crayon Shin Chan: The Adult Empire Strikes Back

Synopsis: Shin-chan and his family take a day trip to a ‘nostalgia theme park’ where parents can revisit the joys of their childhood. The next morning, Shin-chan and his baby sister, Himawari, find themselves in a bizarre situation where their parents are behaving like children. Shin-chan’s friends reveal the same thing happened to their parents and the children resolve to investigate. 

Overview: While the Crayon Shin-chan franchise is geared towards children, the titular character’s hilarious antics and juvenile worldview will crack you up regardless of your age. Besides providing a strangely satisfying throwback to the bygone days of 20th-century Japan, the film’s underlying themes make for a riotously funny comedy while the heartwarming conclusion is just pure chicken soup for the soul.

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Close-Knit
Photo: ©2017 Suurkiitos inc.

Close-Knit

Synopsis: 11-year-old Tomo Ogawa is abandoned by her neglectful mother, who leaves her daughter to be with her new boyfriend. With no father in the picture, Tomo moves in with her uncle whose live-in girlfriend, Rinko, happens to be a transgender woman.

Overview: Director and screenwriter Naoko Ogigami wrote this poignant film with the desire to raise LGBTQ+ awareness and spark more discussions about LGBTQ+ issues in Japan. Actor Toma Ikuta’s portrayal of Rinko is delivered with all the depth and delicacy required for the film to make its statement, while Rinka Kakihara does a remarkable job in depicting all of Tomo’s complex emotions as she gradually becomes attached to her new family.

Shin Godzilla
Photo: Shin Godzilla, ©2016 TOHO CO., LTD.

Shin Godzilla

Synopsis: Members of the Japan Coast Guard set out to investigate an abandoned yacht in Tokyo Bay when their boat is destroyed by something in the water. The cause of destruction, initially thought to be abnormal volcanic activity, is later confirmed to be a creature known as Godzilla. While government officials prepare to evacuate the city, experts on the case make a disturbing discovery – Godzilla is ever-evolving and becomes more dangerous every time it’s attacked. 

Overview: ‘Shin Godzilla’, directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, was the 31st installment of the Godzilla franchise (now available in full on Netflix) and marked the beginning of the Reiwa-era reboot of the kaiju series. While there are dozens of Godzilla films that have been produced since the original 1954 production, the box office success of ‘Shin Godzilla’ reinvigorated enthusiasm for modern-day kaiju films and went on to win several awards for its fresh take on a Japanese classic. It’s a story that’s been told before, but the keen self-awareness of the film makes it a triumphant reintroduction to kaiju movies while avoiding the usual cliches. 

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Terrace House
Photo: fb.com/th6tv

Terrace House

Synopsis: A group of young strangers share a house where the camera captures some of their most intimate moments. As the days and weeks go by, the members form friendships, take on different roles around the house and even fall in love, all while juggling their personal and professional pursuits. Once a member feels they have made enough personal growth during their time at the house, they return to their previous life, making room for a new housemate. 

Overview: It’s not quite Big Brother, but the members of ‘Terrace House’ are sometimes followed by the camera as they leave the home for their various jobs, dates or outings with friends. Most of the new arrivals are single, giving plenty of opportunity to become romantically attached to other members. Unsurprisingly, this also leads to bitter rivalry, heartbreak and messy love triangles that viewers can’t help but get invested in.

While watching each member navigating their careers, life with their housemates and romantic pursuits is entertaining on its own, what really makes the show is the commentary provided by the panel of Japanese comedians and TV personalities who make sidesplitting remarks about the characters’ interactions in the house. 

The Naked Director
The Naked Director, Netflix

The Naked Director

Synopsis: An unsuccessful salesman, Toru Muranishi tries his luck in the porn industry after getting fired from his job and discovering his wife is having an affair. Despite his lack of experience, Muranishi quickly learns the rising potential of the VHS and goes on to build an empire for himself while revolutionising the porn industry in Japan. 

Overview: It’s the show everybody is talking about. This full-frontal biopic series is loosely based on the true story of adult film director Toru Muranishi. The show is a provocative narrative of his eccentric, often bizarre adult film career that blossomed at the height of the economic boom in the ‘80s. While the series was only released in August, Netflix has already confirmed the show is being renewed for a second season.

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Little Miss Sumo
Little Miss Sumo, Netflix

Little Miss Sumo

Synopsis: Japan's oldest sport, sumo, is one where women are still barred from entering the dohyo wrestling ring. Although sumo is not officially recognised as a women's sport in Japan, aspiring sumo wrestler, Hiyori Kon, pursues it anyway, with the goal of becoming the world's best female sumo wrestler. 

Overview: When two women were ushered out of the dohyo ring after rushing to aid a Japanese mayor who was suffering from a stroke in 2018, the Japan Sumo Association was heavily criticised for allowing outdated gender biases to perpetuate in modern society. While the JSA apologised for an inappropriate response to an urgent situation, no changes in policy were made. This short yet stunning documentary takes a balanced look at the sport, exploring the beautiful traditions of sumo as well as the ugly prejudices behind it. 

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories, Netflix

Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories

Synopsis: A man who is only known to those around him as ‘Master’ runs a small restaurant from midnight to 7am daily. The restaurant welcomes a mixed group of clientele every night who dish up their fascinating personal stories as the chef serves them dinner. During these hours, the Master becomes a trusted confidant as well as a cook while his diners contemplate their personal dilemmas over a soulful dish.

Overview: List this under the ‘Don’t Watch Hungry’ category. 'Midnight Diner' features a host of scenes with mouthwatering home-style dishes that’ll have you craving whatever Master is dishing up that night. Be heartwarmed as you join these lone diners – from seasoned lawyers to forlorn gamblers – at the table while they connect with each other in this intimate eatery during the wee hours of the night.

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Ossan’s Love
Photo: Netflix

Ossan’s Love

Synopsis: Soichi Haruta is a single 33-year old employee at a real estate company. He feels ready to get married but his awkward character and lack of independence (he lives with his mother) leaves him struggling to attract the attention of single women. He feels he faces enough challenges in life as it is, and his problems are further complicated when both his colleague, Ryota Maki, and boss, Musashi Kurosawa, confess having feelings for him.

Overview: When people think of ossan (the colloquial word for old or middle-aged man), they might picture surely businessmen with distinguished mustaches and serious suits rather than office romances or awkward love triangles. However, the creators of ‘Ossan’s Love’ have managed to defy the trope of schoolboy crushes so often seen in BL (Boy’s Love) dramas and veered towards a slightly different kind of love story involving a couple of Japanese salarymen. With the sort of plot that could only have originated from a BL manga, ‘Ossan’s Love’ is a warm, funny and at times absurd series that adapted nicely to a seven-episode series on Netflix, leaving fans hungry for more. 

Ring
Photo: Toho

Ring

Synopsis: After her niece dies suddenly under mysterious circumstances, Journalist Reiko Asakawa decides to investigate the case and the rumours surrounding it. Reiko learns that her niece watched a ‘cursed’ video tape: anyone who watches it is killed exactly seven days later. As she tries to piece the story together, Reiko watches the video tape for herself, but doing so means she could have less time to uncover the full story than she first expected. 

Overview: Over 20 years after its release, ‘Ring’ still holds its ground as the genre-defining catalyst that inspired a new generation of techno-horror films. Though the movie ushered in a procession of imitators – and remakes of those imitators – including ‘Pulse’ and ‘One Missed Call’, it's the unforgettable image of a girl in a long white gown crawling out of a television screen that remains etched into the mind of anyone who’s seen the film.

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Ju-On: Origins
Photo: Netflix

Ju-On: Origins

Synopsis: A paranormal researcher looks into the sinister history of a house where a mother’s body was found with no sign of her child. People claim that the house is cursed, but no one seems to know the truth of the terrible events surrounding it. 

Overview: Also known as 'The Grudge', the 'Ju-On' franchise became such a hit in Japan that it sparked a number of American adaptations. Though reboots seldom live up to the original material, 'Ju-On''s first series adaptation holds spine-chilling potential, with ghoulish scenes of that awful eye peeping out from a curtain of black hair, and not to mention the ominous sound of footsteps at night

Samurai Gourmet
Photo: Netflix

Samurai Gourmet

Synopsis: Recently retired Takeshi Kasumi struggles to find a new routine for himself after years of being a salaryman. While his wife carries on with her usual day-to-day activities, Kasumi goes out looking for a bite to eat, whereupon he discovers his inner samurai who encourages him to live each day (or each meal) to the fullest without any inhibitions.

Overview: Have you ever stopped yourself from eating that second helping of curry rice because you were worried about your waistline? Or shied away from a restaurant you were interested in because the queue was too long? Perhaps you need to get in touch with your inner samurai to help you enjoy your food the way it’s meant to be. Starring Naoto Takenaka as Takeshi Kasumi and ‘Naked Director’s Tetsuji Tamayama as the samurai, Samurai Gourmet is a series that’ll have you taking to the streets in earnest search of your next epiphany-inducing meal. 

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Tokyo Bachelors
Photo: Netflix

Tokyo Bachelors

Synopsis: Three friends – a banker, a dentist and a lawyer – are all single and enjoy success in their respective fields. While they’re satisfied with the work-life balance, an eye-opening conversation makes each of them question their single status and they set out to look for potential partners. Tying the knot, however, proves to be even harder than it sounds.

Overview: Screenwriter Arisa Kaneko turns the tables in this star-studded drama about hopeless romantics looking for love. While in the past some romantic dramas written by men tended to portray women as clueless hopefuls as they navigated complicated relationships, this time it’s the male protagonists who are a little more lost than they are willing to admit.

Helmed by actors Issey Takahashi, Takumi Saitoh and Kenichi Takito, the show sheds light on some of the common beliefs surrounding the concept of marriage in Japan. The three men, originally convinced that they’re better off independent and that marriage will only hold them back, are forced to look within themselves as they explore whether they are truly living every man’s dream or if they are in denial about personal issues they have yet to confront.

Mother
Photo: fb.com/eiga.mother

Mother

Synopsis: Akiko is a young single mother who seeks attention and fulfillment through relationships with different men. Akiko’s preoccupation with her pseudo-boyfriends often leaves her son, Shuhei, feeling neglected. Nevertheless, when Shuhei tries to break free of his toxic relationship with his mother, Akiko isn’t prepared to let him go easily. 

Overview: Based on true events that shocked the nation in 2016, ‘Mother’ is a dramatic story of a toxic maternal relationship released just this year. Starring Masami Nagasawa as Akiko Misumi and Daiken Okudaira as teenage Shuhei, the film is a terrifying and heartbreaking downward spiral that leads to a boy murdering his own two grandparents. 

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Atelier
Photo: Netflix

Atelier

Synopsis: Wide-eyed newcomer Mayuko Tokita joins a lingerie design house in the posh fashion district of Ginza. Though inexperienced, Mayuko is determined to find her feet under the scrutiny of company owner and founder Mayumi Nanjo, whose formidability makes her somewhat akin to Anna Wintour.

Overview: As it turns out, there’s a lot more to lingerie than meets the eye. While ‘Atelier’ (also titled ‘Underwear’) is just one-season long, we’re taken on an eventful journey as Mayuko, played by Mirei Kiritani, paves her way in the fast-moving design house. If you enjoyed watching ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, this is the show for you. 

Million Yen Women
Photo: Netflix

Million Yen Women

Synopsis: Five women appear at the house of a struggling novelist, Shin Michima. They proceed to pay him a monthly sum of a million yen, in exchange for rent and living expenses, but Michima doesn’t know why these women are here ⁠— and the women won’t let him ask them any questions about it either. 

Overview: This series was adapted from the manga of the same name by Shunju Aono. While it’s the kind of story that could only ever come out of a seinen manga (manga marketed for young men), each of the women have distinct personality traits and their refusal to provide Michima with any details regarding who they are and why they’re there creates an interesting dynamic that’ll have you baffled and probably bingeing the series in one go. 

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Erased
Erased, Netflix

Erased

Synopsis: After his mother is murdered in their own home, Satoru Fujinuma is thrown back in time by 18 years, before a number of life-threatening incidents have taken place. Satoru, suddenly transformed into his elementary school-self, must find a way to prevent these incidents involving his classmates and save his mother from being killed in the future. 

Overview: It’s worth mentioning that Netflix offers three versions of this thriller series — the original anime, the 2016 movie adaptation and this 2017 live-action series. This 2017 series is the only version with English subtitles. Purists will argue that neither of the adaptations live up to the original anime, but the story translates well to its real-life representation on screen and does the original material fair justice. 

Devilman Crybaby
Devilman Crybaby, Netflix

Devilman Crybaby

Synopsis: An ancient race of evil demons disguise themselves as humans as they begin reclaiming the planet for themselves. Akira Fudo is told by his best friend that the only way to defeat the demons is by harnessing their powers. Akira gains the powers of a demon through an infernal ritual, thereby becoming Devilman. Despite his powers, Akira still possesses his pure human soul, and gets pulled into a diabolical war between demons and humans. 

Overview: This animated masterpiece demonstrates the versatility of the art form and the wide spectrum of genres in anime. It’s violent, crude and shockingly explicit, but this intense rollercoaster of a show is one of Netflix’s best Japanese productions to date. Not for kids. 

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Queer Eye: We're in Japan!
Queer Eye: We're In Japan!, Netflix

Queer Eye: We're in Japan!

Synopsis: Five experts take on Japan for the first time and help a few local heroes rediscover themselves by sharing their individual flair and skill sets. They are joined by two of Japan's most prominent TV personalities, Naomi Watanabe and Kiko Mizuhara, as they set out to transform lives together. 

Overview: Queer Eye was rebooted in 2018 and is already gearing up to release its fifth season. The show has seen overwhelming success and captured the hearts of thousands worldwide for its inspiring message of self worth. This highly anticipated mini-series, filmed in Japan, is expected to highlight some of Japan's most exciting cultural aspects along with plenty of tear-jerking moments. Antoni Porowski, the ‘chef’ of the bunch, promised that the gang’s adventure in Japan will result in a ‘full on snot-fest’.

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