No travel plans for Christmas? No worries! Here’s your unmissable list of Japanese films and dramas to keep you going over the festive and New Year period! This list has something for everyone from binge-worthy uplifting dramas to emotionally-charged films.
1. Tokyo Girl
When we arrive at year’s end, social media sites like Facebook urge us to look back on the year we’ve just lived, and the creeping-in of New Year’s Eve gets us pondering on the next stage in our lives. This transition from year to year, life to life, is presented perfectly here in Tokyo Girl.
On the surface, Tokyo Girl looks like another typical Japanese drama. The story trails a young girl – played by Asami Mizukawa – from a small town who feels there are no opportunities for her in her local area, and that she’d have been much better placed in Paris, NYC or Tokyo. Somewhere far from her provincial life.
When she heads to her first stop, Harajuku, however, she finds out that her good looks, praised in her hometown, aren’t so special in Tokyo. The series follows her life from age 23-40 as she maneuvers her career and love life, and moves from district to district in Tokyo, each move providing a clever commentary on Tokyo’s social ladder and the changes we face as we journey through life.
Watch on: Amazon Prime
2. It All Began When I Met You
If you’re looking for a film to fill that Love Actually hole in your life, this is it. Full of warm Christmas feels – although decidedly tragic at times – It All Began When I Met You focuses on six separate stories centering around Tokyo Station just before Christmas. Many of the ten characters are dealing with the …continue reading
Source: Japan Subculture Research Center
You don’t know cool until you’ve seen ZAN (international title: “Killing”). A period action film set in the late Edo Period, ZAN is everything that The Last Samurai is not: minimalist, unpretentious and totally unsentimental. Back in Old Japan, sentiment was often a luxury few people could afford. It was hard enough to secure things like food and basic comforts, and the situation was harder for the samurai because they had to keep up appearances as the authoritative class.
ZAN notes that a samurai was defined by two things: 1) his sword and 2) his ability to kill others with that sword. The film also makes no bones about the incredible pain and grossness that accompanies a sword fight. It’s not like a TV period drama where one swish of a katana brings on instantaneous death–the process takes hours or even days of intense suffering. In one scene, after a close battle a samurai slices off the arm of an opponent, right from the shoulder. “I want you to think about all the mistakes you’ve made in your life up to this point,” he tells his bleeding victim. “You have plenty of time for reflection until you finally manage to die.”
Chilling. Isn’t it? ZAN is a lesson in Edo Period brutality and despite the obvious disregard for period detail (like speech patterns and vocabulary) it all feels eerily true. No one cracks a smile, wears make-up or even changes out of soiled kimonos. The sky is heavy with perpetual rain, the houses are pitch dark, cramped and dingy. The threat of pain …continue reading
Kanade Amakusa – a boy cursed with the mental power who will turn any multiple-choice quiz he thinks about into a reality. However, one day in school, he is given another choice: a beautiful girl will fall before him or he will fall from the rooftop in female clothes. Although he chooses the first option and it comes true, he and his new-chosen love – Chocolat – are in for a hilarious multiple-choice adventure. This show is funny, cute, smart, and has a surprising amount of depth. I thought it was going to be a slice-of-life style show where there is no real overarching plot and the show would just focus on separate things that happen in the main characters life. This was not the case and the overarching story was interesting and drew me in. The show also had me laughing out loud multiple times. It was able to be serious too with good character development and an ending that, while typical for a harem anime, was still satisfying and set things up for a potential second season.
Interestingly, Kanade’s reactions to the first Mental Choice (yes its a pair of perverted choices) is a litmus test of sort for …continue reading
Illya (Illyasviel von Einzbern) is a typical young girl attending Homurabara Academy who just happens to have a slight crush on her brother-in-law. Then, one night, a magic wand called Magical Ruby falls from the sky into her bath and tricks her into signing a contract. At first it was looking like a typical magical show with just Fate characters added to the mix. However, later in the series the action scenes actually got me interested to finish through. When the announcement for second season was announced, I went ahead and read the manga from there and found out there was a deeper storyline and before I knew it I got hooked onto the series so I’m excited for what comes in second season. The series’ storyline after this season does resemble to me of Mahou Sensei Negima’s manga version by Ken Akamatsu, as well as a bit of Madoka Magica’s but rather Fate’s Dark side of their story.
On the surface you have yet another magical girl/comedy/parody of the genera that uses familiar characters from the fate franchise to pull in the audience. At the core you have a clever, interesting. very action packed and some times cynical anime that …continue reading