Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko
Photo: © Kanako Nishi / Gentosha 2021

5 new Japanese films and series coming to Netflix in November 2022

A nostalgic love story, terrifying anime and ridiculous Japanese reality show will be keeping you entertained this month

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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There’s something for everyone coming to Netflix Japan this November. We’ve got a spine-chilling anime that’s far darker than you’ll anticipate, a nostalgic love story for hopelessly romantic millennials, and an uplifting 2021 release from Studio 4°C about a mother-daughter duo in a small fishing village.

As for those of you who can’t get enough of reality shows, look out for the 2022 revival of ‘Run for the Money’ – a silly and stressful Japanese reality show where contestants must evade a horde of men in black to win a cash prize. (Note that regional restrictions may apply.)

First Love

Synopsis: As teenagers, Yae Noguchi and Harumichi Namiki would avidly talk to each other about their dreams and plans for the future. Fast forward a few years and these once bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ‘90s kids have grown into full-fledged adults whose lives are a little different from the ones they imagined having. 

Yae’s plans for a career as a jet-setting flight attendant get upturned after she suffers an accident and Harumichi, who grew up wanting to be a pilot, ends up quitting his job in the Japan Air Self-Defense Force to pursue a different path. As Yae and Harumichi think about where to go next in life, they can’t help but look back on their first relationship with each other when they were young, naive and full of aspirations. 

Overview: We’re used to seeing new shows and movies that have come from popular books or manga, but this upcoming Netflix series is unique in that it’s inspired by two songs – ‘First Love’ and ‘Hatsukoi’ – from Japanese pop icon Hikaru Utada. Like the two hit singles, which were released in 1999 and 2018 respectively, this love story starring Hikari Mitsushima and Takeru Satoh will be a wistful, heart-tugging saga spanning three decades from the late 90s to now.

Available November 24

Summer Time Render

Synopsis: Upon hearing about the tragic drowning of his adoptive sister Ushio, Shinpei Ajiro returns to the island he grew up on for the first time in two years to attend her funeral. Though he was prepared for his homecoming to be a mournful one, Shinpei gets an uneasy feeling that the truth about Ushio’s sudden passing is more sinister than he was originally led to believe. When he sets out to investigate, Shinpei uncovers a series of dark and dangerous secrets surrounding the island – one where supernatural forces come into play. 

Overview: Released earlier this year, ‘Summer Time Render’ is an anime based on a popular manga series by Yasuki Tanaka. Don’t let the sleepy seaside imagery fool you – this is a show full of terrifying twists and turns that’ll have your heart beating out of your chest. The heavily violent content makes it inappropriate for viewers under the age of 17, but those who love a terrifying thriller will be up all night bingeing these episodes. 

Available November 15 

Run for the Money

Synopsis: A group of celebrity contestants must test their endurance levels as they outrun a throng of men in suits for a cash prize. It’s an intense game of cat and mouse, as the tight-fitting tuxes don’t seem to hinder the manhunters from running at superhuman speed. 

Overview: Though it’s not exactly ‘Squid Game’, there’s something terrifying about the idea of dozens of men chasing after you like you’re the government’s most-wanted fugitive (see also: Carlos Ghosn documentary). For this revival of a popular Japanese reality show that first aired in 2004, Netflix has upped the stakes by equipping the bounty hunters with hoverboards and parachutes as they tail Japanese TV personalities through international cities like Amsterdam. 

Available November 5

Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko

Synopsis: Based on the eponymous 2014 novel written by Kanako Nishi, ‘Gyokou no Nikuko-chan’ (‘Nikuko of the Fishing Harbour’) revolves around a mother-daughter duo with totally different personalities. Kikuko is an elementary school student whose mother – nicknamed ‘Nikuko-chan’ – uproots the pair to a different town every time a romantic relationship falls apart.

When Nikuko-chan finds a job in a fishing village and the pair settle into their new life on a small house boat, Kikuko secretly hopes that she can grow up in her new home without becoming too much like her mother. 

Overview: This animated film is directed by Ayumu Watanabe, with characters designed by Kenichi Konishi, who joined Studio Ghibli as a trainee in 1989 and worked on productions including 'Spirited Away' and 'Howl's Moving Castle'.

Available November 10

Arc

Synopsis: After having a baby at 17, Rina leaves her hometown and becomes an aimless wanderer with no particular plans for the future. Two years later, she meets a woman called Ema who runs a company specialising in plastination, which involves chemically preserving bodies for display purposes, and becomes her apprentice for the next few years. All the while, Ema’s scientist brother Amane researches a way to live forever and despite his sister’s protests, he eventually performs a successful trial on Rina, who becomes the first woman to achieve immortality at age 30. 

Overview: Adapted from the eponymous award-winning short story by Ken Liu, this 2021 sci-fi film is directed by Kei Ishikawa and stars Kyoko Yoshine as Rina. A strange and cerebral drama that explores the concepts of life and longevity, Arc is an allegorical tale that will leave you with more questions than answers. 

Available November 1

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