Best Japanese films and series coming to Netflix in January 2023

The new year will bring Hirokazu Kore-eda’s adaptation of ‘Kiyo in Kyoto’ as well as a horrifying new Junji Ito anime

Emma Steen
Edited by
Emma Steen
Staff Writer, Time Out Tokyo
Kiyo in Kyoto
Photo: Netflix The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House

It’s already looking like 2023 is going to be a great year with this lineup of upcoming titles on Netflix Japan. While December gave us the long-awaited second season of ‘Alice in Borderland’, January will bring us more episodes of the ‘The Way of the House Husband’ anime and the endearing ‘Old Enough’ show. 

Looking forward to some fresh content? Hirokazu Kore-eda’s dazzling series adaptation of ‘Kiyo in Kyoto’ is finally making its debut on Netflix, along with a deliciously dark anime from master of horror Junji Ito – read on and we’ll tell you why this should be at the top of your watchlist.

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

The Makanai: Cooking for the Maiko House 

Synopsis: Two modern teenagers leave their hometown in Aomori prefecture and move to Kyoto to chase their dreams of becoming maiko (apprentice geisha). Though Sumire thrives in her traditional Japanese dance classes, her childhood friend Kiyo struggles to keep up with her training and is frequently chastised by her teachers. Discouraged by her inability to perform like Sumire, a crestfallen Kiyo contemplates abandoning her dreams and leaving the maiko house, but soon finds purpose in cooking elaborate meals for her fellow housemates.

Overview: Closed to outsiders, the coveted world of maiko and geiko (the Kyoto term for geisha) is shrouded in intrigue and mystery. Soon, however, viewers from all around the world will get a glimpse of the everyday life and customs observed in a maiko house in modern-day Kyoto. Nana Mori plays the part of Kiyo, while Natsuki Deguchi takes the role of Sumire in this inspiring series about forging your own path in life and delicious home cooking.

Available January 12. 

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre

Synopsis: This new anthology series from master of horror Junji Ito features a hair-raising band of characters including a charming young seductress who drives all her lovers mad to the point of murder and a disturbed outcast who uses black magic to punish anyone who upsets him.

Overview: This is Netflix's first collaboration with Junji Ito, so there’s a lot of pressure on the streaming platform to get this adaptation right. It looks like Ito’s macabre masterpieces are in safe hands, however, as the trailer alone is enough to make your skin prickle. The anthology features 20 of Ito’s original stories in total, including favourites like Tomie: Photograph, Intruder and The Hanging Balloons. 

Available January 19.

Hell Dogs 

Synopsis: Shogo Kanetaka is a former police officer who has turned his back on the justice system after a series of tragic events. With an unquenchable thirst for vengeance, Kanetaka decides to infiltrate the yakuza by befriending one of its most formidable members and enters a dangerous game of cat and mouse. 

Overview: This 2022 release 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 Shogo Kanetaka, as well as ‘Shoplifters’ star Mayu Matsuoka, who also appears in ‘The Makanai’.

 Available January 23.

The Way of the Househusband (season two)

Synopsis: Tattoo-clad mafia boss Tatsu has abandoned his position in the yakuza to become full-time homemaker. While other members of the yakuza still talk about Tatsu’s fearsome disposition that earned him the nickname ‘Immortal Dragon’, Tatsu now spends all his energy going on grocery runs and crafting cutesy bento to please his beloved career wife, Miku.

Overview: We first fell in love with the slick-haired Tatsu in the original manga series, but now the unconventional home life of an ex-yakuza boss has been turned into an anime. While fans were dubious as to whether the small-screen adaptation would have the same weight as its source material, the show reveals that the strong cast of voice actors including Kenjiro Tsuda (‘One Punch Man’) and Shizuka Ito (‘Nodame Cantabile’) are more than capable of putting on a delightfully funny and touching performance that's sure to appease all the skeptics. 

Available January 1. 

Old Enough (season two)

Synopsis: This series documents the captivating journey of preschoolers on their first outing without a parent or guardian to guide them. For their maiden solo adventure, the barely waist-high youngsters are given a short list of errands to run by their mothers, which would take an ordinary adult half an hour to complete. For these plucky youngsters, however, picking up a couple of things at the local corner shop proves to be a daunting mission that can quickly turn into a tailspin adventure.

Overview: In a society where it's common for young children to take public transport to school without being accompanied by a teacher or guardian, Japan’s adolescents are admirably independent. Of course, it’s always nerve wracking to send your child off into the world where they could get up to virtually anything.

Available January 1. 

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