A Guide to the Best Japanese movies: Past and Future. Reality and Fantasy. Ready for a Journey?

  • J-dramas, J-movies, What comes in mind when you think of it?

    For me, it’s something that makes me relate to the characters somehow.
    I feel that most of the Japanese movies I’ve seen so far give off a mysterious feeling like Haruki Murakami’s novels, a fantasy world with aspects of real life, that make you want to take refugee into their world and once you get inside, it’s hard to find escape, nor do you want to; characters of the mundane that make you feel like you’re seeing yourself, mysterious but yet realistic plots, a strange, nostalgic feeling that makes you keep watching, sometimes hints of romance, comedy, however aspects of real life.

    The movies I will introduce in this article are movies that have this nostalgic feeling to it and allow you to be part of the story; movies that exceeded my expectations and left me deeply impressed, so hopefully, it will pique your interest, as well. Maybe not as mysterious as Murakami’s novels, but movies that have their own unique charm.

    Sunny: Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai (Sunny: Our Hearts Beat Together)

    I’ll start by introducing a movie that had lots of success in Japan and it appeared in 2018, so you can find it to rent/buy or even watch it online. It is called Sunny:Tsuyoi Kimochi Tsuyoi Ai ( Strong Mind Strong Love) and is a movie about friendship, life, that left quite an impression on me.
    The story revolves around a group of high school friends from the “Sunny” club that, at some point, grow apart from each other.

    The story begins with Nami (Ryoko Shinohara in 2018 and Hirose Suzu in 90s), our main character, now a 40-years old housewife, where she meets Serika(Yuta Itaya in 2018 and Maika Yamamoto in 90s) , one of her high school friends after several years and, because Serika has terminal cancer, her last wish is to gather together with her friends one more time before she dies. The story is presented in parallel with the past, describing the girls’ world back in 1990s and their present, now 2018 and shows Nami’s attempt to reunite with the girls for Serika’s sake.

    Besides Hirose Suzu, Ryoko Shinohara, Yuta Itaya and Maiko Yamamoto, Miura Haruma, Naomi Watanabe, Lily Franky,Eiko Koike, Rie Tomosaka and many other famous Japanese actors and actresses are part of the cast.

    Even if it’s the 90s of Japan, it kind of brought back many nostalgic feelings while watching it and at the same time, I could take a look at the fashion, music, vibe of the Japan’s 90s ; Watching it, I felt I was part of their world, crying with them, laughing with them, worrying with them. They took me with them in their journey and it felt fantastic.

    A warm and familiar feeling surrounded me and I was reminded how important is to keep in touch with your friends, with your dear ones. Even though time passes by and many things happen along the way, there are ups and downs and we gradually start prioritizing other things over friendship and tend to leave it to another time or just forget contacting the people that were once our most valued friends, making time for the ones that have been there for you in either good or bad times, it’s something we should never stop doing.

    I believe that everybody can relate to this movie and can discover once again the bond people share and the importance of life itself.
    This movie is a lesson of life, it is comedy, music, drama and everything you could wish for, so I hope you’re ready for a journey of the past and future along the “Sunny” girls.

    Destiny: Kamakura Monogatari (The Tale of Kamakura)

    This movie instantly got a place in my top favourites.

    Kappa, Shinigami, fantasy, comedy, Kamisama(Gods), romance, mystery, it simply has everything you could wish for.
    A mix of Japanese culture, fantasy and romance that you can’t miss.

    The story follows Masakazu Isshiki (played by Masato Sakai), a mystery novelist and also a good detective, now based in Kamakura together with his wife Akiko(Mitsuki Takahata). Both of them and are acquainted with the creatures and gods who are of, from or passing through the town.

    Destiny is a movie that will leave you deeply impressed with fantastic creatures that slowly make their appearance into the real world.
    It kind of reminded me of the “Kappa” novel and the kappa country written by Ryunosuke Akutagawa. Although the novel is actually a satire of corruption, the elements from the Japanese folklore elements and mystical creatures that suddenly show up during the plot of the story made me remember Akutagawa’s novel.

    Besides Masato Sakai and Mitsuki Takahata, other famous Japanese actors such as Sakura Ando, Shin’ichi Tsutsumi, Jun Kunimura, Min Tanaka(that also played in 47 Ronin) are portraying different characters in this amazing movie.
    Destiny is definitely a movie you shouldn’t miss!

    Miracles of the Namiya General Store (Namiya Zakkaten no Kiseki)

    Inspired by Keigo Higashino’s fantastical novel, Namiya Zakkaten no Kiseki is such a heartwarming movie. A few words of courage can change a life, the feeling of never giving up and the circle of helping each other is mainly the premise of the movie. A link between past and present, the plot’s details and all the well-structured characters make this movie a masterpiece.

    The story revolves around the General Store Namiya that gains popularity after its owner, Yuuji Namiya (played by Toshiyuki Nishida) accepts letters from people seeking advice. People come to the store and drop their letters through a mail slot when the shop is closed and receive an answer when in a milk box hung outside.

    Many years later, three orphans(portrayed by Yamada Ryosuke (part of Johnny’s Entertainment and one of Hey Say Jump’s members) , Nijiro Murakami and Kanichiro) find the shop and take shelter after some wicked deeds. As time passes by, someone inserts a letter in the mail box addressed to the store, however they couldn’t spot anyone around. One of the boys decides to reply and that is the beginning of the adventure.

    These are only 3 of my recommendations and I am sure you will fall in love with all three as each of the movies I described are amazing masterpieces that will sprint all the way to your top list!

    If you watch any of them, comment down below and share your opinion with us!