12 Best Japanese Movies on Netflix Now (2024)

best japanese movies on netflix

We curated a list of the best Japanese movies on Netflix for you to watch on your movie night! 

Dive into the spellbinding world of Japanese movies on Netflix! From heart-wrenching dramas to pulse-pounding thrillers and whimsical anime, a treasure trove of exceptional films awaits. So grab your popcorn, settle in, and prepare to be transported by the magic of Japanese storytelling.

Best Japanese Movies on Netflix: Quick Summary 

Best Japanese Movies on NetflixDirectorEditor’s Rating
The Forest of LoveSion Sono7/10 
Rurouni Kenshin: The BeginningKeishi Ōtomo8/10
A Silent Voice Naoko Yamada8.5/10
Battle RoyaleKinji Fukasaku8.5/10
A Whisker AwayJunichi SatoTomotaka Shibayama7/10
Rurouni Kenshin: The FinalKeishi Otomo8/10
Spirited AwayHayao Miyazaki9/10
Blade of the ImmortalTakashi Miike7/10
37 SecondsHikari8/10

Best Japanese Movies on Netflix

Call Me Chihiro (2023)

Director: Rikiya Imaizumi | Cast: Kasumi Arimura, Hana Toyoshima & Ryuya Wakaba | Editor’s Rating: 8/10

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Chihiro, a former sex worker, goes out into the world to make a name for herself. She makes lots of friends while working at the Nokonoko Bento store close to the beach and explores her passions on her own terms. 

Thanks to her popularity, she is inspired to discover everything the city has to offer. Thanks to her popularity, she is inspired to discover everything the city has to offer. 

Call Me Chihiro is a slice-of-life story based on the Hiroyuki Yasuda manga and ix directed by Rikiya Imaizumi.

The cast includes Kasumi Arimura, Lily Franky, Miwako Ichikawa, Ryûya Wakaba, and Toshie Negishi.

First Love (2022)

Director: Takashi Miike | Starring: Becky, Bengal, Masayuki Deai

A mutilated head with eyes wide open slides into an alleyway within the first three minutes of Takashi Miike’s First Love. This is an R-rated Japanese movie on Netflix since the movie has gore scenes. 

Boxer Leo (Masataka Kubota)  lacks ambition and has little to live for until he collides with Yuri, also known as Monica (Sakurako Konishi), a drug addict and sex worker on the run from the mob.

Following them is Yuri’s pimps outraged girlfriend and Kase who is a coked yakuza. And from time to time, Yuri’s abusive father’s ghost appears too! 

It all comes together in the movie, and Miike infuses it with his own brand of crazy, punk-rock energy. Near the film’s climax, the movie breaks into an odd animated sequence, and in the process, gives us the hilarious sight of dozens of police cars pursuing a runaway criminal as he crosses a bridge.

There is always something to keep the interest with Miike because of the enormous volume of bizarre innovation. It’s weird and incredibly nasty. However, oddly motivated. 

Bleach (2018)

Starring: Sota Fukushi, Hana Sugisaki, Ryo Yoshizawa | Director/Writer: Shinsuke Sato | Editor’s Rating: 6/10

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Bleach is a live action adaptation of a manga of the same. The movie was released in 2018. Having read the manga myself, I can assure that the movie has done justice to the original story as much as it could.

But also, if you haven’t read the manga, you’ll still enjoy it because the movie introduces the characters and builds a beautiful arc so eevrybody can follow.

Bleach revolves around Ichigo Kurosaki who has the ability to see ghosts. And then one day he is turned into a Soul Reaper or in the words, The Grim Reaper. It’s now his responsibility to ward off evil spirits and also transfer souls to soul society.

  • Run time: 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Release year: 2018

Mother (2020)

Starring: Masami Nagasawa, Daiken Okudaira | Director: Tatsushi Omori | Editor’s Rating: 8/10

Mother‘ is a tragic story that depicts the harshness of life of a single mother named Akiko who struggles to lead a stable life. Akiko has a son named Shuhei and she does little to nothing to raise him well. 

This movie is based on a true story of an abusive mother who cares less about her son’s welfare.

Akiko has casual sex with men and she spends most of her time playing pachinko machines. She uses her son to beg for money from their relatives to fend for herself. She even motivates her son to steal and kill people for her crazy desires. 

Shuhei is often present when Akiko talks about sex and even doing it in front of him.

This movie isn’t definitely for the faint-hearted as it contains intense emotional and physical violence scenes. Watching this movie will definitely bring tears down your eyes and some scenes will still linger in your memory.

Key features:

  • Run time: 2h 6m
  • Release Year: 2020

Ride Or Die (2021)

Starring: Kiko Mizuhara, Hona Ikoka | Director: Ryuichi Hiroki | Editor’s Rating: 6/10

This Japanese movie is a pro LGBTQ+ movie that depicts the lives of two young women. Rei Nagasawa is a woman in her late 20s who realizes that she’s a lesbian. 

She learns that her former friend Nanae Shinoda is married and is being brutally abused by her husband. To save her from the constant abuse and to profess her love to Nanae, Rei decides to end Nanae’s husband’s life by murdering him.

Although Nanae is saved from the abuse she had endured, she still feels remorse for what Rei has done and has conflicting thoughts. Meanwhile, Rei accepts what she’s done and moves on regardless. 

They both start developing feelings for each other eventually and start a romantic relationship. However, things take a wild turn when their seemingly loving relationship turns into a toxic drama.

Key Features:

  • Run time: 2h 22m
  • Release Year: 2021

The Forest of Love (2019)

Starring: Kippei Shiina, Kyoko Hinami | Director: Sion Sono | Editor’s rating: 7/10 

First up on our list is a tale inspired by the series of murders and other crimes that rocked Kyushu, Japan in the mid 1990s to the early 2000s.

The Forest of Love is a gripping crime thriller that stars Kippei Shiina as Joe Murata. The movie is based on the true story of Futoshi Matsunaga who was a serial killer. 

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Definitely not for the faint of heart, this psychosexual and violent movie is a must watch for all crime and thriller movie buffs.

Key features:

  • Run time: 151 minutes
  • Release Year: 2019

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning (2021)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Kasumi Arimura | Director: Keishi Ōtomo | Editor’s rating: 8/10

The fifth and final movie from the Rurouni Kenshin film series, this movie is a live action movie. 

Based on Nobuhiro Watsuki’s manga, the Rurouni Kenshin film series consists of 5 parts- Rurouni Kenshin, Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, Rurouni Kenshin: The Legend Ends, Rurouni Kenshin: The Final, and Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning.

This part of the film series is a prequel to the other movies and gives viewers the story behind how Himura Kenshin received his cross-shaped scar. 

If assassins and action are your kinda movie content, this movie should definitely be placed on your movie list. 

Key features:

  • Run time: 137 minutes
  • Release Year: 2021

Related: Best Japanese Horror Movies

A Silent Voice (2016)

Starring: Miyu Irino, Saori Hayami | Director: Naoka Yamada | Editor’s rating: 8.5/10

Would this list be complete without mentioning a few anime movies?

Anime movies will always be one of my favourite genres because besides the animations, there is always a beautiful moral to take away. 

A silent voice is based on the manga by Yoshitoki Oima of the same name. The film is about a bully who ends up as a social outcast. While contemplating suicide, he decides to mend things from his past. The movie follows him as he befriends one of his victims who is a deaf girl. 

The movie ends on a happy note with lessons to be learned. To say that this movie touched my heart would do it no justice. 

Key features:

  • Run time: 130 minutes
  • Release Year: 2016

Battle Royale (2000)

Starring: Tatsuya Fujiwara, Aki Maeda | Director: Kinji Fukasaku | Editor’s rating: 8.5/10

Based on the 1999 novel by Koushan Takami, Battle Royale is a treat for all you action thriller movie buffs. 

The movie revolves around a group of young high school students who have to fight to the death by the Japanese government. The film was initially banned in many countries and was the cause for much controversy. 

Even after 20 decades since its initial release, Battle Royale continues to be named as one the most influential and best Japanese movies ever made.

Key features:

  • Run time: 113 minutes 
  • Release Year: 2000

A Whisker Away (2020)

Starring: Mirai Shida, Natsuki Hanae | Director: Junichi Sato, Tomotaka Shibayama | Editor’s rating: 7/10

Another animated movie on our list is “A Whisker Away” which was produced by Studio Colorido, Toho Animation, and Twin Engine. 

This movie is a beautiful story of magic and sweet puppy love. The movie follows Miyo as she tries to woo her crush, Hinode, even after multiple rejections. She gets her hands on a magical mask that lets her turn into a cat. As a cat, she spends time with Hinode and they both grow close. 

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This sweet movie is popular among children and adults alike. This sweet and charming movie is sure to put a smile on viewers’ faces. 

Key features:

  • Run time: 104 minutes 
  • Release Year: 2020

Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (2021)

Starring: Takeru Satoh, Emi Takei | Director: Keishi Ōtomo | Editor’s rating: 8/10

The Rurouni Kenshin film series is truly a piece of art. 

Rurouni Kenshin: The final is a live action film that is inspired by the last bit of the manga series with the same name. It is the fourth film of the series.

The action packed film follows the revenge fueled battle between Himura Kenshin and Yukishiro Enishi. 

The movie series was the first Japanese live action film invited to be screened at the Movie Franchise Section at the Shanghai International Film Festival. 

Key features:

  • Run time: 138 minutes
  • Release Year: 2021

Spirited Away (2001)

Starring: Rumi Hiiragi, Miyu Irino, Mari Natsuki | Director: Hayao Miyazaki | Editor’s rating: 9/10

Spirited Away will always be one of my favourite movies of all time. This movie has emerged from the creative energies of mastermind Hayao Miyazaki and is the only Japanese animated movie to have won the Best Animated Feature Oscar. 

The movie is a story about Chihiro Ogino who enters the spirit world of Kami. Her parents are turned into pigs and she crosses paths with many mythical creatures as she figures out a way to change them back. 

The movie is a brilliant blend of Japanese folklore and modern culture. If you haven’t watched it already, you don’t know what you are missing out on.

Key features:

  • Run time: 125 minutes 
  • Release Year: 2001

Related: More Anime Movies Like Spirited Away

Blade of the Immortal (2017)

Starring: Takuya Kimura | Director: Takashi Miike | Editor’s rating: 7/10

Based on the manga series by Hiroaki Samura, Blade of the Immortal is an action packed samurai film. 

This movie tells the story of an immortal samurai, Manji, and his journey with a young boy, Rin Asano, as they seek revenge against the people who killed the boy’s parents.

For those of you who like a good fight scene and the concept of a dark hero, this film will be an absolute treat.

Key features:

  • Run time: 141 minutes
  • Release Year: 2017

37 Seconds (2019)

Starring: Mei Kayama | Director: Hikari | Editor’s rating: 8/10

37 Seconds is a heartwarming story of Yuma Takada who is a 23 year old artist with cerebral palsy. This movie explores Yuma’s journey to sexual freedom and personal discovery. 

This movie is a great eye opener to how society treats people with disabilities. It is well paced, and mixes anime with live action, making it a great choice for movie night. 

Key features:

  • Run time: 115 minutes
  • Release Year: 2019

In This Corner Of The World (2017)

Starring: Natsuki Inaba, Yoshimasa Hosoya | Director: Sunao Katabuchi | Editor’s rating: 8/10

The movie ‘In This Corner Of The World’ is a masterpiece directed by Sunao Katabuchi. I absolutely loved watching this movie. And it, honestly, bought tears to my eyes.

The movie shows the story of Hiroshima Japan through a little girl’s, Suzu’s, life 10 years before and after the atomic bomb explosion. The struggles that the city goes through is as the effects of the war is shown through Suzu’s perspective.

A heart-breaking story that will definitely give you some perspective about wars and the level of destruction it can bring to not just the city but its people too.

Key features:

  • Run time: 168 minutes
  • Release Year: 2017

What do you think?

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