The best Japanese movies and series coming to Netflix in August

A hit samurai film, food-focussed J-drama, a charming series about a road trip for a cat and its owner, and more

Emma Steen
Written by
Emma Steen
Staff Writer, Time Out Tokyo

Following July’s exciting lineup of new releases on Netflix, August sees another batch of arthouse films, period dramas and of course, more manga adaptations coming to the streaming service (regional restrictions may apply). Let’s face it ⁠– with the extremities of the summer heat in August, you weren’t going to spend much time outdoors anyway. 

Love and Honor
Photo: Japan Shochiku

Love and Honor

Synopsis: Shinnojo Mimura is a low ranking samurai whose main duty is to taste test food for his feudal lord. Shinnojo dreams of opening a kendo school, but things take a turn for the worse when he becomes blind after eating some bad sashimi. After he is misled into believing his wife, Kayo, has been unfaithful to him, Shinnojo goes on a mission to restore his family’s honour and reestablish his reputation. 

Overview: Starring beloved actor and singer Takuya Kimura, this third installment of director Yoji Yamada’s samurai trilogy won a number of awards after its release in 2006. While the film is worth watching simply for its captivating Edo-era mise-en-scène, its passionate and intricately written love story is one that sets this box office hit apart from other samurai films. Available August 1. 

Boukyaku no Sachiko
Photo: TXN

Boukyaku no Sachiko

Synopsis: After her fiancé abandons her on their wedding day, high-flying magazine editor Sachiko Sasaki has a hard time concentrating on her work, but she begins to find solace – and a welcome distraction – in her lunchtime meals. 

Overview: From ‘Midnight Diner’ to ‘Samurai Gourmet’, it’s clear viewers can’t get enough of watching TV characters devour scrumptious-looking Japanese dishes over lengthy inner monologues. This fun and light-hearted series is sure to appeal to the same crowd. Based on the beloved manga by Jun Abe, Sachiko’s story of eating your feelings is one that is as relatable as it is humorous. Available August 1. 

Travelling Cat Chronicles
Photo: Netflix

The Travelling Cat Chronicles

Synopsis: Satoru Miyawaki decides he has no choice but to find a new home for his cat, Nana, due to unavoidable circumstances. Along with his furry companion, Satoru goes on a road trip to visit old friends as he searches for a new home for Nana. During the journey, pieces of Satoru’s past and his reasons for giving Nana away are revealed, leaving the cat all the more determined to stay by his side. 

Overview: Based on a novel of the same name by Hiro Arikawa, this is just as much of a story about Japan as it is about the love between a man and his pampered pet. The part of Satoru is played by Sota Fukushi, but it’s really Mitsuki Talahata who steals the show as the voice of Nana with her portrayal of the temperamental feline. Don’t worry, the cat is still alive at the end of the film, so animal lovers can put away those tissue boxes. Available August 1. 

Intentions of Murder
Photo: Nikkatsu Kabushiki-gaisha

Intentions of Murder 

SynopsisSadako and Riichi’s marriage isn't a happy one. The two were married after Sadako, who used to be Riichi’s servant, discovered she was pregnant with his son. As a lowly peasant, Sadako has no power in the marriage and isn’t even registered as the legal guardian of her own son. Nonetheless, Sadako puts on a brave face and endures her loveless marriage until one day, a robber breaks in when she is home alone. 

Overview:A black and white film directed by cinematic master Shohei Imamura, ‘Intentions of Murder’ revolves around the treatment of women in 1960s Japan, presenting a brutally gritty perspective on the lengths some will go through to survive. Tinged with suspense and dark humour, the film is a gripping account of a remarkably resilient heroine as she fights for a way out of her oppressive life. Available August 5. 

Insect Woman
Photo: Nikkatsu

The Insect Woman

Synopsis: Tome is a woman who was born to a lower class family in 1918. Struggling for decades to escape the poverty she grew up with, she eventually works her way up to become the madam of a brothel. 

Overview: Yet another stunning masterpiece by Shohei Imamura, 'The Insect Woman' follows the story of a hapless woman in a time of social upheaval in Japan, but Imamura doesn't sensationalise Tome as a victim. Instead, Tome (an award-winning performance by Sachiko Hidari) is presented as a captivating, unflinching character as she braves hardship against the backdrop of Japan's 20th century transformations. Available August 5. 

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