Tezuka's Barbara
Photo: Aeon EntertainmentTezuka's Barbara

5 new Japanese films and series coming to Netflix in October

The riveting anime series ‘Monster’ will be out just in time for Halloween, along with two feel-good ‘Doraemon’ movies

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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Finished bingeing ‘Squid Game’ and don’t know where to turn to next? October is as good a time as any for a marathon of horror flicks and Halloween classics, but if you’re not in the mood for jump-scares and bone-chilling thrillers, Netflix has a mixed bag of genres coming out so you won’t feel left out. 

On the lineup this month is the 3D animated Doraemon movie (and its sequel), along with another Netflix-exclusive samurai anime and a documentary on Japan’s hit alt-rock band, One Ok Rock. Bear in mind that not all of these shows will offer English subtitles and regional restrictions may apply.

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 be releasing the film’s sequel at the same time – ‘Stand by Me 2’ – which premiered in cinemas across Japan last year. 

Available October 1. 

Monster anime
Photo: Madhouse

Monster 

Synopsis: Kenzo Tenma is a talented Japanese surgeon who lives in Dusseldorf, Germany. While he is a successful and well-respected figure in the hospital he works at, Tenma sometimes disagrees with the hospital’s politics and protocols for handling patients. When a boy called Johan is shot in the head and admitted into the emergency ward just before the mayor, Tenma takes a stand and decides to operate on Johan first. Though Tenma lost his status when the mayor didn’t survive, a string of mysterious deaths among his colleagues leads Tenma to become chief of the hospital in the years following the incident.  

Overview: Despite its title, this widely acclaimed anime series doesn’t feature the ghoulish, otherworldly creatures as seen in ‘Attack on Titan’ or ‘One Punch Man’, but that doesn’t make the ‘monster’ in question any less sinister. A beautifully executed anime adaptation of Naoki Urasawa’s eponymous manga, ‘Monster’ is a sharp and penetrative thriller for anyone who appreciates a complex storyline with clever plot twists. 

Available October 1.

Flip a Coin: One Ok Rock Documentary 

Synopsis: Japanese rock band One Ok Rock was about to set off on a world tour when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, forcing the band to cancel travel plans and in-person concerts. With thousands of fans despondent over the uncertainty of when they would be able to attend the band’s concerts, One Ok Rock decided to pour the following months into producing a virtual concert that would uplift their fans and generate the same energy as their best live performances. 

Overview: ‘Flip A Coin’ presents an intimate look at the Japanese rock band One Ok Rock. It chronicles the journey of Takahiro Moriuchi, Toru Yamashita, Ryota Kohama and Tomoya Kanki from their early days of rehearsing as starving artists to now. Featuring a series of noteworthy hits that took Japan (and the world) by storm, the documentary zones in on the extraordinary three-month process the band took to produce their first live-streamed concert ‘Field of Wonder’ in 2020. 

Available October 21.

Tezuka's Barbara 

Synopsis: Yosuke Mikura (Goro Inagaki) is a successful novelist, but while his books are popular, he feels ambivalent about his own writing. Things take a turn when Yosuke meets Barbara (Fumi Nikaido), a beautiful yet chaotic young woman with an aversion to routine and a drinking problem. With Barbara as his muse, Yosuke is able to make his writing more interesting, but his life quickly gets tangled as he loses himself in his obsession. 

Overview: Inspired by ‘The Tales of Hoffman’, manga artist Osamu Tezuka (creator of ‘Astro Boy’) penned his take on the series through a manga called ‘Barbara’. Released in 2019, this neo-noir film adaptation is directed by none other than Osamu Tezuka’s eldest son, Macoto Tezuka. Unlike some of Osamu Tezuka’s most popular works, ‘Barbara’ is an adult-oriented story of an erotic nature, full of bizarre twists, bloodshed and even the occult. ‘Barabara’ may fit the definition of a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but this isn’t your typical ‘Ruby Sparks’ rom-com. 

Available October 1. 

Bright: Samurai Soul 

Synopsis: At the turn of the Meiji Restoration, a powerful wand puts a stop to war and brings peace to Japan for a transition into the new era. It is during this time when the one-eyed ronin Izou and an Orc assassin meet a young elf girl called Sonya on separate occasions. When it's revealed that Sonya is the keeper of the powerful wand and must bring it back to the elves of the north, the unlikely trio must journey together and protect the wand from being used to revive an evil force known as the Dark Lord. 

Overview: It’s ‘Lord of the Rings’ meets feudal Japan in this new anime exclusive to Netflix. ‘Samurai Soul’ is actually a spin-off of the 2017 live-action film ‘Bright’ (starring Will Smith), but while the original film took place in modern-day Los Angeles, this anime takes place in Japan at the dawn of the Meiji Restoration. 

Available October 1. 

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