Makoto Shinkai
Photo: ©2022 'Suzume no Tojimari' Production Committee

5 most promising Japanese film releases coming in 2022

A documentary on the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Makoto Shinkai’s upcoming animation and more to look forward to next year

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen

From box office-breaking anime hits to Golden Globe nominees, 2021 was evidently a big year for Japanese cinemas. But there’s no slowing down for 2022. A handful of films coming soon have been unveiled, and among them are some monster productions you won’t want to miss – you’ll see what we mean in a minute. 

Scheduled to screen in Japan in the coming months are a compelling documentary about the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, a kaiju comedy and a new anime by Makoto Shinkai, just to name a few. Mark these release dates in your calendar now. 

Suzume no Tojimari

Revered animator Makoto Shinkai has faithfully released a feature film every three years since his 2013 masterpiece ‘Garden of Words’. This was followed by ‘Your Name’ in 2016 and ‘Weathering with You’ in 2019. Despite production schedules everywhere getting pushed back due to Covid-19 compilations, Shinkai is right on track to release a new anime film in 2022 titled ‘Suzume no Tojimari’.

The story follows a 17-year-old teenager in Kyushu called Suzume, who crosses paths with a mysterious time traveller in search of a particular door. Though the film has yet to release a trailer, the poster, which boasts a familiar picture of Makoto Shinkai’s signature blue skies, promises that this will be another visually stunning crowd-pleaser.

Coming in autumn 2022. 

Dai Kaiju no Ato Shimatsu

We’re all familiar with the classic kaiju movie formula, where a colossal monster terrorises a city until it’s finally defeated by the Japanese Self-Defense Forces (‘Godzilla’) or an equally bad-ass superhero like Ultraman. But what happens after the monster has toppled over and died? Who cleans up the mess? That’s the messy-ever-after this upcoming larger-than-life comedy seeks to answer.

Directed by Satoshi Miki, the film stars Ryosuke Yamda, Tao Tsuchiya and Gaku Hamada, who are part of an unconventional specialist team in charge of clearing fallen kaiju from city streets once the superheroes have finished with them. Think your job is tough? You should see what this lot have to put up with. 

Premiering February 4 2022

Hell Dogs in the House of Bamboo

Up next from director Masato Harada (‘The Last Samurai’) is a hybrid film that is both a live action adaptation of a manga as well as a modern remake of the 1955 American noir film ‘House of Bamboo’. 

The film stars Junichi Okada in the lead as former police officer Shogo Kanetaka who has turned his back on the justice system after a series of tragic events. Kanetaka decides that the only way to win is to infiltrate the yakuza and enters a dangerous game of cat and mouse in his quest for vengeance. 

Coming in autumn 2022. 

Naomi Kawase
Photo: Naomi Kawase ©2016 Photographed by Leslie Kee, courtesy of the IOC

Tokyo 2020 Olympics 

In the summer of 2021, Japan hosted one of the most momentous and yet controversial sporting events in history. Next summer, director Naomi Kawase will be releasing the official ‘Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ documentary, which chronicles the astonishing sporting moments that took place behind closed doors. The film will also reveal the obstacles that athletes and event organisers faced in the lead-up to the Games. 

The documentary will bring sports fans closer to the Tokyo Games, which were conducted without any spectators. It's also an opportunity to learn more about Japan’s involvement in and history with the Olympic and Paralympic Games, with footage filmed from the 1964 Summer Olympics. 

Coming in June 2022. 

Shin Ultraman 2022 

After its initial 2021 release was delayed, Hideaki Anno’s ‘Shin Ultraman’ is now set to be released in May 2022. Anno, who is also the creator of the ‘Neon Genesis Evangelion’ franchise, expressed the heavy sense of responsibility he felt while directing the film as he’s been a fan of Ultraman since childhood. He promised fans that he would do the latest instalment justice. Expect impressive special effects and unprecedented kaiju battles – this one is worth the extra long wait. 

Premiering May 13 2022. 

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