Over the Town
Photo: Over the Town Film PartnersOver the Town

5 new Japanese movies and series coming to Netflix in December 2021

New seasons of The Promised Neverland and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, plus film festival favourites

Emma Steen
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Emma Steen
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Is there such a thing as watching ‘Love Actually’ too many times? We don't think so (even if there is, we’re nowhere close to reaching the limit). But while December calls for the usual programme of Christmas classics, there’s no reason to abandon movies that don’t fall into the holiday romcom genre – especially if they look as good as these upcoming titles. 

Earlier in November, Netflix Japan held a virtual festival where the platform announced a host of exciting new films and series for the coming months and now we’re finally getting access to the first batch. As always, there’s a mix of live-action Netflix originals like ‘Asakusa Kid’ as well as popular anime like season four of ‘Aggretsuko’ to look forward to this month, so get ready for more cosy nights in with your hot drink of choice.

Bear in mind that not all of these movies and shows will offer English subtitles and regional restrictions may apply.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean

Synopsis: ​​The members of the Joestar family share more than just a bloodline – each descendant possesses the same star-shaped birthmark, nickname (‘JoJo’) and supernatural powers as their next of kin. In the latest instalment, Jotaro Kujo’s daughter Jolyne is framed for a murder and sentenced to 15 years in prison. Just as she is on the verge of losing hope, she receives a mysterious stone from her father that could be the key to far more than just her freedom. 

Overview: This is the fifth season of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – an anime which has no shortage of loyal fans. The long awaited teaser is produced by anime studio Kamikaze Douga (‘Star Wars: Vision’), which has gone all-out with loud and colourful CG visuals that are hard to look away from. 

Available December 1. 

The Promised Neverland (Season 2) 

Synopsis: The children of Grace Field House may be orphans, but they want for nothing. While they wait for a chance to be adopted, they live a cheerful existence with a close-knit group of friends and a matron who they all call ‘mother’. 

With every child of the orphanage being adopted by the time they turn 12, the future appears bright for the young children. That is until one day, when orphans Emma and Norman make a sinister discovery about the truth of the so-called adoptions. 

Overview: The innocent and endearing nature of the young orphans juxtaposed with the horrifying premise of this anime makes The Promised Neverland especially spine-chilling. After a successful release of the first season in 2019, viewers will now get to resume the rivetingly dark tale of Grace Field House’s 37 orphans and their quest to escape to the real world alive. 

Available December 7. 

Asakusa Kid 

Synopsis: Takeshi Kitano decides to drop out of university with aspirations of becoming a stage performer. He finds himself at a theatre in Asakusa and becomes acquainted with a high-profile entertainer by the name of Senzaburo Fukami. Fukami agrees to become Takeshi’s mentor and shows him the ropes of show business, but as Takeshi’s popularity rises, Fukami’s fame seems to decline. 

Overview: Set in 1965 Tokyo, ‘Asakusa Kid’ is a vibrant depiction of the performing arts scene in mid-20th-century Japan. Based on the memoir by renowned comedian and filmmaker Takeshi Kitano (aka Beat Takeshi), ‘Asakusa Kid’ stars Yo Oizumi and Yuya Yagira. The film presents a nostalgic examination of the shift from stage performances to television in Japan, just as today’s entertainment industry is seeing a big transition from television networks to streaming platforms. 

Available December 9. 

Over the Town

Synopsis: Aoi Arakawa is a directionless twenty-something who works at a vintage clothing store in the hip neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa. One day, Aoi is asked by a student filmmaker if he wants to be in a movie. Aoi, who is fresh out of a relationship, doesn’t have any formal acting experience, but he agrees to help with the project. While making the short film, Aoi gets involved with four different women, which complicates his otherwise ordinary routine. 

Overview: A romantic ensemble performance directed by Rikiya Imaizumi and with writing by manga artist Hiroyuki Ohashi, ‘Over the Town' (or ‘Machi no Uede’) was shot entirely in Shimokitazawa. In addition to Aoi and the women he meets, the charming Setagaya neighbourhood is a character of its own in the film, with Shimokita’s beloved cafés and vintage shops on full display. 

Available December 9. 

The Past is Always New, The Future is Always Nostalgic Photographer Daido Moriyama 

Synopsis: Chronicling the life and work of Daido Moriyama, this insightful documentary examines early snapshots by the famed photographer as well the ongoing projects of this prolific lensman. 

Overview: Shot in 2018 just as Moriyama turned 80 years old, this documentary is to photography lovers what ‘Jiro Dreams of Sushi’ is to foodies. While Moriyama stands as one of the most notable luminaries of our time, the photographer continues to find ways to develop his creative flair and techniques. 

Available December 20.  

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