There are lots of things to check out in the city right now, from the spectacular Sailor Moon exhibition in Roppongi to the Stranger Things pop-up café in Shibuya. That said, if you’re not keen on the heat or the crowds that August brings, you might be better off turning to Netflix’s latest features instead.
Once again, we’ve got an appropriate mix of genres ranging from a wildlife documentary to the sequel of the action-adventure anime ‘Gintama’. No new series this month – August is all about introspective cinema that will make you ponder. (Note that regional restrictions may apply.)
Gintama: The Final
Synopsis: In an alternate universe, Edo-era Japan has been taken over by aliens known as the Amanto. Samurai Gintoki Sakata and his friends are now on a mission to save humanity from the ever more powerful invaders, but toppling the enemy will call for a lot more than skilled swordsmanship.
Overview: ‘The Very Final’ is another one of those films that act as a sequel to a long-running anime series. So if you haven’t seen all nine seasons of ‘Gintama’ the anime or read the original manga, you’ve got some catching up to do. The full saga, however, is an exceedingly riveting adventure that is well worth your time.
Expect a bit of everything in this high-stakes finale, including emotional scenes that will make your eyes water. There’s also a heavy dose of slapstick humour to offset all the bloodshed from the fierce battles between samurai and aliens.
Available August 4.
The Real Thing
Synopsis: Tsuji is an attractive but dispirited salaryman who lives each day with no passion or purpose. He is pulled out of this cycle when he encounters a woman called Ukiyo in a convenience store. Unlike Tsuji, Ukiyo is a wildly erratic character for whom trouble seems to follow wherever she goes. While his budding relationship with Ukiyo puts him in dangerous situations, Tsuji can’t help but feel drawn to her unpredictable nature and finds himself going great lengths to win her love.
Overview: With its preposterously long run-time of 232 minutes, ‘The Real Thing’ isn’t the sort of film to turn to if you’re just looking for something casual to watch. There is value here, however, in Koji Fukada’s slow and deliberate storytelling that deviates from formulaic melodrama. If you’ve got four hours of spare time, this unusual and offbeat drama is a surreal experience.
Available August 15.
Synopsis: A young man has seven different personalities – one for every day of the week. Tuesday’s personality is only used to existing on Tuesdays, but when he wakes up one morning to discover it is a Wednesday, he's compelled to find out what happened to the personality that normally takes his place that day.
Overview: Though it’s been categorised as a thriller about dissociative identity disorder, ‘Gone Wednesday’ is more rooted in reality than M Night Shyamalan’s ‘Split’. It’s more like… Well, there’s very little to compare it to. Directed by Kohei Yoshino, the film is a pensive exploration how disorienting and complicated it can be for one person to host multiple, vastly different personalities.
Available August 8.
Japan's Wildlife: The Untold Story
Synopsis: From red-faced monkeys and bears to endangered cranes and killer whales, Japan is home to a plethora of fascinating creatures that depend on each other to survive. This 2012 documentary seeks to uncover some of the mysteries of Japan’s precious ecosystems and the diverse groups of flora and fauna that inhabit them.
Overview: With cinematography by Mitsuaki Iwago and Ikuo Nakamura, this dynamic documentary takes viewers across Japan through the four seasons while highlighting the delicate life cycles of Japan’s wildlife. Beautiful, educational and calming, you can’t go wrong with this 95-minute nature programme narrated by four Japanese actors and TV personalities: Masaki Aiba, Gori, Hitomi Kuroki and Masami Nagasawa.
Available August 11.
Synopsis: American photojournalist W Eugene Smith heads to Minamata, Japan in the early 1970s to investigate an outbreak of mercury poisoning caused by a chemical company illicitly dumping toxic waste into the Minamata Bay.
Overview: Directed by Andrew Levitas and starring Johnny Depp, ‘Minamata’ received more than a few good reviews from critics when it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival in 2020. Due to sudden cinema closures at the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic however, the film didn’t receive nearly as much attention as it deserved. With appearances by Bill Nighy ('Love Actually'), Hiroyuki Sanada ('The Last Samurai') and Tadanobu Asano ('Bright Future'), this well-acted drama based on a true story teaches a lesson that we can all learn from.
Available August 18.
More from Time Out
Want to be the first to know what’s cool in Tokyo? Sign up to our newsletter for the latest updates from Tokyo and Japan.