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10 Best Japanese Movies on Netflix 2021

best japanese movies on netflix

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

The Japanese world of cinema has been around for a long time. It is one of the oldest film industries in the world. It dates back to 1899, when the first Japanese movie was released. Kenji Mizoguchi is the first recognized master of Japanese cinema. 

Japanese movies are known for their fantastic storylines and for maintaining a blend of Japanese traditions and folklore along with modern culture.

J-cinema is known for anime, manga adaptation and horror flicks. But besides this, Japanese movies also include thrillers, crime, romantic comedies, Samurai movies and so much more. Netflix is home to many hidden gems from the world of Japanese cinema. 

Besides being an amazing choice for Netflix and chill, Japanese movies are also a great way to pick up the Japanese language.

We have put together this list of some of the best Japanese movies available on Netflix for you to watch. So grab your popcorn and settle in!

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

How did we choose the best Japanese movies on Netflix?

After thoroughly browsing through Netflix, our team went over 20 different Japanese movies and rated them based on storyline, direction, and characters. After sitting through hours of Japanese cinema, we have hand picked and put together this list of the best Japanese Movies on Netflix.

Best Japanese Movies on Netflix

The Forest of Love

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. 

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

Related: Top Japanese Anime on Netflix

Rurouni Kenshin: The Beginning

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

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

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

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. 

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

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

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

Blade of the Immortal 

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

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

Best Japanese Movies on Netflix: FAQs

Who is the best Japanese director?

Since it first began, Japanese cinema has come across many brilliant directors. Some of the best directors in Japanese cinema are:
Hayao Miyazaki
Akira Kurosawa
Yasujiro Ozu
Seijun Suzuki
Takashi Miike
Shin’ya Tsukamoto
Kenji Mizoguchi
Isao Takahata

Which is the highest grossing Japanese movie?

Some of the highest grossing Japanese movies are:
Demon Slayer
Spirited Away
Your Name
Princess Mononoke
Howl’s Moving Castle
Bayside Shakedown 2
Ponyo
Weathering with You
The Wind Rises

Also Read:

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  3. Top TV Streaming Option in Japan
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