Japanese movies are great ways to entertain yourself, gain cultural awareness, and improve your Japanese language skills. One such option is watching J-films on Netflix.
Fans of Japanese content tend to gravitate toward movies and TV shows available on different streaming services. But recently, Netflix added new Japanese flicks to stream for subscribers. As a Japanese learner, you’ll love these flicks on Netflix.
Today, you can enjoy hundreds of Japanese films on Netflix from home. There are also many flicks and TV series for learning Japanese.
So whether you have good reasons to know Japanese for a career or are just a fan of J-drama, you can watch for fun and learn too!
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- How do Japanese movies on Netflix help you learn Japanese?
- 31 Must-Watch Japanese Films on Netflix Right Now
- 1. Love Like the Falling Petals (桜のような僕の恋人, 2022)
- 2. Hell Dogs (ヘルドッグス, 2022)
- 3. The Door Into Summer (夏への扉 キミのいる未来へ, 2021)
- 4. Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, 2001)
- 5. Godzilla- Planet of the Monsters (ゴジラ怪獣惑星, 2017)
- 6. Homunculus (ホムンクルス, 2021)
- 7. Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心, 2012)
- 8. The Violence Action (バイオレンスアクション, 2022)
- 9. The Fable (ザ・ファブル, 2019)
- 10. Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ, 1986)
- 11. High & Low the Worst (クロス, 2019)
- 12. We Couldn’t Become Adults (ボクたちはみんな大人になれなかった, 2021)
- 13. A Silence Voice – The Movie (聲の形, 2016)
- 14. Blue, Painful, Brittle (青くて痛くて脆い, 2020)
- 15. Cinema Fighter (ウタモノガタリ, 2018)
- 16. My Love Mix-up (消えた初恋, 2021)
- 17. Blame! (ブラム, 2017)
- 18. Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師, 2017)
- 19. 37 Seconds (37セカンズ, 2019)
- 20. Shoplifters (万引き家族, 2018)
- 21. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (ぼくは明日、昨日のきみとデートする, 2016)
- 22. Your Name (君の名は。, 2016)
- 23. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
- 24. Departures (おくりびと, 2008)
- 25. Harakiri (切腹, 1962)
- 26. Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル, 2000)
- 27. Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森, 2010)
- 28. The Third Murder (三度目の殺人, 2017)
- 29. Bleach (ブリーチ, 2018)
- 30. A Family (ヤクザと家族, 2021)
- 31. A Whisker Away (泣きたい私は猫をかぶる, 2020)
- Wrapping Up on Netflix’s Japanese movies
How do Japanese movies on Netflix help you learn Japanese?
Watching Japanese movies can be an effective way to learn the language. By listening to native speakers in real-life scenarios, learners can improve their listening comprehension. You also gain valuable exposure to diverse dialects and accents.
Also, learners can expand their vocabulary by encountering unfamiliar words and phrases used in the context. Further, learners can better understand Japanese culture and customs by seeing films.
Incorporating movies into their study routine can make learning more engaging and exciting. Overall, it’s a fun, interactive, and efficient way to learn and improve Japanese language skills.
While watching the above movies, you can always use the tips below to learn the language effectively.
- Watch Japanese movies with subtitles in Japanese to help with vocabulary and grammar.
- Try to watch movies from different regions of Japan to expose yourself to different dialects and accents.
- Note unfamiliar words and phrases and look them up later to learn their meanings and usage.
- Try to pay attention to the context in which unknown words and phrases are used to understand their meanings better.
- Repeat scenes or dialogues you have difficulty understanding to improve your listening comprehension.
- Watch movies of different genres to learn about Japanese culture and customs.
- Watch movies appropriate for your Japanese proficiency and gradually increase the difficulty level as you improve.
- Try to watch the movie at least once in the original audio and once with English subtitles to compare and understand better.
- Use the pause and rewind buttons to re-watch and understand the context better.
- After watching the movie, try to relate it to your life to improve retention.
31 Must-Watch Japanese Films on Netflix Right Now
There are many great Japanese movies available to watch on Netflix across genres. So whether you are an anime fan or crave a thriller or romance, there is something for everyone.
Here are the 31 best Japanese movies on Netflix you can watch now. All these can also help you understand and know more about the languages of Japan.
1. Love Like the Falling Petals (桜のような僕の恋人, 2022)
Directed by Yoshihiro Fukagawa and written by Tomoko Yoshida, “Love Like the Falling Petals” is a romantic drama. This is based on the 2017 novel of the same by Keisuke Uyama. It stars Honoka Matsumoto and Kento Nakajima.
An amateur photographer, captivated by the beauty and skill of his hairdresser, asks her out on a date. They seem to have a strong connection, but fate intervenes when they discover she is aging rapidly.
2. Hell Dogs (ヘルドッグス, 2022)
If you love the thriller genre, Hell Dogs is a fantastic revenge flick with all the ingredients to keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. You will witness nonstop action, crime drama, and mystery.
Shogo Kanetaka, a police officer haunted by the murder of his loved one, goes undercover as a yakuza member to seek revenge. To his dismay, he is paired with Hideki Murooka, an unpredictable and emotionally volatile yakuza member with constant hunger.
3. The Door Into Summer (夏への扉 キミのいる未来へ, 2021)
The Sci-Fi Japanese movie on Netflix is loosely based on Heinlein’s novel. The film is directed by Mori Masaki and produced by Madhouse Studios.
In 1996, Soichiro Takakura was a scientist working on developing robots. Sadly, he is betrayed by his business partner and girlfriend, leading him to take advantage of cryogenics to seek revenge.
Then, he enters a cryogenic sleep experiment for a better future and wakes up 30 years later in a dystopian future. He then tries to adjust and return to his time there.
4. Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し, 2001)
Hayao Miyazaki directs this beloved anime classic about a young girl stuck in a magical realm who sets out to rescue her parents.
Chihiro and her family stumble upon an abandoned amusement park, where they discover demons, spirits, and evil gods inhabit it. Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs, and she must rely on a boy named Haku to save them and return to the human world.
If you love animation and family adventure, spirited Away is a perfect J-movie on Netflix.
5. Godzilla- Planet of the Monsters (ゴジラ怪獣惑星, 2017)
This is a classic action, adventure, and animation monster movie about a giant creature that terrorizes Tokyo and the scientist who tries to stop it.
The film is set in the future, where Godzilla and other giant monsters have ravaged Earth. Desperate for survival, a group of humans embark on defeating the King of Monsters and reclaiming their planet.
The story follows a group of human refugees who return to Earth 20 years later to defeat Godzilla and reclaim their planet. This is the first part of a trilogy, followed by “Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle” and “Godzilla: The Planet Eater.”
6. Homunculus (ホムンクルス, 2021)
The 2021 film “Homunculus” is a Japanese psychological thriller and fantasy directed by Takashi Shimizu and adapted from Hideo Yamamoto’s manga series.
The story follows a young man named Susumu Nokoshi, who agrees to undergo experimental brain surgery for money. The surgery drills a hole in his skull to see people’s thoughts and desires, which helps him face his suppressed memories and traumas.
As he uses his newfound ability to help others, he becomes involved in a dangerous web of secrets and lies. The J-movie stars “Go Ayano” as Susumu Nokoshi and premiered on Netflix worldwide in April 2021.
7. Rurouni Kenshin (るろうに剣心, 2012)
Based on the popular manga series, this is a fully action-packed, dramatic flick on Netflix. This samurai film tells the story of a former assassin who becomes a wandering swordsman.
In 1868, former assassin Kenshin Himura, who had pledged to defend without killing, traveled to Japan from the samurai age to the new generation. He helps an idealistic Kaoru Kamiya protect her school from the opium drug lord Kanryuu Takeda and takes shelter there.
As a drug chemist, Megumi Takani also seeks refuge there. Meanwhile, a killer, Battosai, is murdering police officers and leaving messages on their bodies.
Kenshin and street fighter Sanosuke Sagara team up to take down their common enemy, Kanryuu, who has poisoned the population to get to the school.
8. The Violence Action (バイオレンスアクション, 2022)
“The Violence Action” is a Japanese action-thriller film released in 2022 and is available on Netflix. The movie is directed by Issei Shibata and stars Tak Sakaguchi, who also co-wrote the screenplay.
The film follows a young woman, Hiroshi, who leads a secret life as an assassin for hire. For her job, she excels and never seems to be intimidated. However, a challenging request comes her way one day, which changes everything.
The Korean flick on Netflix got mixed reviews, with some praising the action scenes and others criticizing the plot and pacing. And if you enjoy action movies with martial arts and intense fight sequences, you may like it.
9. The Fable (ザ・ファブル, 2019)
The Fable is a Japanese action comedy movie released in 2019. It is a live-action adaptation of a popular manga series of the same name by Katsuhisa Minami.
The story follows a hitman named Akira, known as “The Fable,” who has been raised and trained by an underground organization since childhood. One day, he was tasked with assassinating a target in Osaka.
He must pose as a regular citizen to complete his mission. Yet, things get complicated when he starts building relationships with people around him, such as a convenience store girl and a former yakuza member who becomes his friend.
10. Castle in the Sky (天空の城ラピュタ, 1986)
“Castle in the Sky” is a Japanese-animated movie released in 1986. The film is set in a fictional world where humans and robots coexist.
It follows the adventure of a young girl named Sheeta and a boy named Pazu as they search for a legendary floating city called Laputa.
They go on an epic adventure through different flying machines to discover Sheeta’s identity and locate a forgotten civilization’s lost, floating castle.
Together, they embark on an epic adventure that takes them through various flying machines as they try to uncover Sheeta’s true identity and find a lost, floating castle of a long-forgotten civilization.
The story is full of action, adventure, and magic as Sheeta and Pazu encounter pirates, government agents, and various creatures on their journey.
The movie has stunning animation, and the soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi is beautiful and memorable. It is considered a classic of Japanese animation and has received universal acclaim for its storytelling, anime, and music.
11. High & Low the Worst (クロス, 2019)
“High&Low The Worst” is a Japanese action film released in 2019. It is part of the “High&Low” franchise, which includes a TV drama series, movies, and various spin-offs.
The film is set in Demon High School, divided into a part-time and a full-time system. The plot centers around Yoshiki Murayama, the school principal, and Kaede Hanaoka, a driven student who aspires to compete with Murayama in the future.
This Japanese film on Netflix won’t let your expectation at all. Worth watching!
12. We Couldn’t Become Adults (ボクたちはみんな大人になれなかった, 2021)
“We Couldn’t Become Adults” is a Japanese romantic drama film released in 2018. The movie is based on a novel by author Hirotaka Akagi and directed by Junichi Ishikawa.
The movie tells the story of two people who, in 1995, meet and want to do their best for the first time. They worked hard to be recognized by each other, but in 1999, the girl left without saying goodbye.
Years later, the man, who has now lived in harmony with society, remembers “then” when he never returned, triggered by some bittersweet reunions. Yet, they discover they still carry emotional scars from the past and struggle to move on from their unresolved feelings for each other.
As the two characters reconnect and spend more time together, they confront their past traumas and regrets. The movie explores guilt, lost opportunities, and the search for redemption, as Noguchi and Tamura grapple with their feelings and try to come to terms with their past.
13. A Silence Voice – The Movie (聲の形, 2016)
The film centers on Shôko Nishimiya, a grade school student with impaired hearing.
She transferred to a new school where her classmates, particularly Shôya Ishida, bullied her. The bullying becomes so intense that she transfers to another school, and Shôya is ostracized and bullied.
Shoya tries to apologize to Shoko and realizes the challenges she endured as a deaf student.
He also acknowledges the adverse effects of his bullying on her life. The movie explores forgiveness, empathy, and redemption themes as Shoya and Shoko try to face their past and move forward.
14. Blue, Painful, Brittle (青くて痛くて脆い, 2020)
Blue, Painful, Brittle is a tale of adventure, drama, and many twists and turns. The J-movie on Netflix is based on the novel “Aokute Itakute Moroi” by Yoru Sumino.
It follows two unique university students, Hisano and Kaede. Both are university students with poor social skills.
For their goal to change the world, they made a secret club called Moai. Thus, they created a club to chase their aspirations. Still, Kaede must fight to keep the club true to its roots when Hisano disappears.
15. Cinema Fighter (ウタモノガタリ, 2018)
Cinema Fighter is a Japanese drama that features six different stories based on six songs directed by six renowned filmmakers. If you learn Japanese through songs, this is an excellent choice.
Starring Takayuki Yamada, Anna Ishii, Akira, Kika Kobayashi, and Ayame, this film is one of the best Japanese dramas. This is available on Netflix to stream.
16. My Love Mix-up (消えた初恋, 2021)
“My Love Mix-Up!” is a 2021 romantic drama directed by Shogo Kusano and Tadaaki Horai. This is an adaptation of the manga of the same name written by Wataru Hinekure.
My Love Mix-up is a rom-com that explores the complications of first love through the story of Aoki and his confusion over the girl he likes. This is one of the good films for learning Japanese.
17. Blame! (ブラム, 2017)
Blame! is an animation, drama, and action story in a distant technological future where civilization has reached its ultimate Net-based form.
An “infection” in the past has caused automated systems to spiral out of order. As a result, the defense system known as the Safeguard hunts humanity down.
This is a good movie on Netflix for lower intermediate-level learners like Japanese JLPT N3.
18. Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師, 2017)
Fullmetal Alchemist is an action-packed fantasy set in the early 1900s, where alchemy exists and is highly regarded.
While alchemist Edward Elric searches for a way to fix his brother Al’s body, the military government and mysterious monsters are watching closely.
The story tracks the journey of Edward and Alphonse Elric, who seek the philosopher’s stone to heal themselves after attempting forbidden human transmutation.
19. 37 Seconds (37セカンズ, 2019)
The film tells the story of Yuma, a young woman with cerebral palsy who dreams of becoming a manga artist. Despite her disability, she is determined to succeed in the competitive manga industry.
With the help of a supportive friend and a wise mentor, she sets out to create her own adult manga. Along the way, Yuma confronts societal prejudices and misconceptions about disability and learns to assert independence and pursue her dreams.
The film was praised for its sensitive and authentic portrayal of disability and sexuality. As a result, it was well-received by audiences and critics alike. It premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2019 and has since been released on Netflix.
20. Shoplifters (万引き家族, 2018)
“Shoplifters” is a 2018 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. The film tells the story of a poor, unconventional family living in Tokyo who rely on shoplifting and other petty crimes to survive.
When the family shelters a girl they found on the street, their secrets are revealed, causing them to reevaluate their beliefs and integrity.
This film was critically acclaimed for its heartfelt portrayal of family dynamics and social commentary on poverty and societal inequality in modern Japan. The movie won the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival and several other awards and nominations.
21. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (ぼくは明日、昨日のきみとデートする, 2016)
“My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday” is a drama, fantasy, and romance story is a 2016 Japanese romance film directed by Takahiro Miki and based on a novel of the same name by Takafumi Nanatsuki.
The story follows a young man named Takatoshi Minamiyama, who is majoring at a university in Kyoto.
He falls in love with a woman named Emi Fukuju, who claims to be from the future. Yet, as their relationship deepens, Takatoshi learns that Emi’s secret will change their lives forever.
22. Your Name (君の名は。, 2016)
“Your Name” (君の名は。) is a 2016 Japanese animated film directed by Makoto Shinkai. The film follows the story of two teenagers, Taki and Mitsuha, who live in different parts of Japan and mysteriously swap bodies one day.
As they navigate each other’s lives, they form a deep connection. When a comet threatens to destroy Mitsuha’s hometown, they must find a way to save it.
This critically acclaimed anime film, directed by Makoto Shinkai, follows two teenagers who mysteriously switch bodies and try to find each other.
23. Tokyo Godfathers (2003)
“Your Name” (Kimi no Na wa) is a 2016 Japanese animated film directed by Makoto Shinkai and produced by CoMix Wave Films.
The film follows two teenagers, Mitsuha and Taki, who suddenly begin swapping bodies with each other intermittently. As they try to adjust to each other’s lives, they form a strong emotional bond and eventually decide to meet in person.
However, their reunion is complicated by a strange natural phenomenon that threatens to keep them apart forever. This Japanese flick on Netflix has many day-to-day conversations.
24. Departures (おくりびと, 2008)
This Oscar-winning drama, directed by Yojiro Takita, follows a young man’s journey as a mortician and realizing the significance of life and death.
The Japanese title refers to a group whose duty is to prepare the bodies of the deceased. The film is heartbreaking, thought-provoking, and compassionate despite its gruesome-sounding meaning.
The movie follows a cellist who loses his job. To survive, he was forced to become an employee of a company that prepared bodies for cremation as a part of his work. This is a moving flick to find meaning in life and death.
“Departures” is one of the best movies for Japanese learners.
25. Harakiri (切腹, 1962)
Directed by Masaki Kobayashi, “Harakiri” (Seppuku) is a classic samurai film that tells the story of a ronin who seeks to restore his family’s honor by committing ritual suicide.
The film is set in 1630, during the peaceful Edo period. It tells the story of a ronin (masterless samurai) named Tsugumo Hanshiro, who arrives at the Iyi clan’s house and requests permission to commit Harakiri (ritual suicide) in their courtyard.
The clan’s officials are initially skeptical of his request, believing it to be a bluff to secure financial help. However, they soon realize the tragic truth behind his intentions. It is streaming on Netflix now!
26. Battle Royale (バトル・ロワイアル, 2000)
Kinji Fukasaku directs this dystopian thriller about high school students compelled to kill each other on a deserted island. This is based on a novel of the same name by Koushun Takami.
The movie occurs in a dystopian future where the Japanese government randomly selects a high school class to compete in a televised battle royale on a deserted island.
The students are forced to fight to the death until only one remains, with explosive collars around their necks, to ensure their compliance.
27. Norwegian Wood (ノルウェイの森, 2010)
“Norwegian Wood” is a 2010 Japanese romantic drama directed by Tran Anh Hung. It is based on the novel by the same name, Haruki Murakami.
Set in 1960s Tokyo, the film tells the story of Toru Watanabe, a university student navigating through romantic relationships with Naoko and Midori while coping with the aftermath of his best friend’s suicide.
The film was praised for its visual style, music, and the performances of its lead actors. It explores themes of love, loss, and coming of age. It was well-received by critics and audiences and is available on Netflix.
28. The Third Murder (三度目の殺人, 2017)
“The Third Murder” is a 2017 Japanese legal drama film directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda. This is one of the best Japanese legal thriller movies.
The film tells the story of a defense attorney, Shigemori, appointed to represent a murder suspect, Misumi, who has confessed to the crime.
As Shigemori investigates the case, he doubts the official version of events. Instead, he must confront truth and justice’s complex and ambiguous nature.
29. Bleach (ブリーチ, 2018)
“Bleach” is a 2018 Japanese action-fantasy film directed by Shinsuke Sato. This is based on the manga series of the same name as Tite Kubo.
Ichigo Kurosaki, a high school student with the ability to see ghosts, becomes a Soul Reaper after encountering Rukia Kuchiki, a member of a supernatural organization that guards the living world against evil spirits.
The film was praised for its faithful adaptation of the source material, stunning visuals, and thrilling action sequences. Also, the J-movie on Netflix captures the spirit of the original manga with its mix of humor, drama, and supernatural adventure.
30. A Family (ヤクザと家族, 2021)
From young thug to weary veteran, conveying three eras of organized crime, Kenji swears allegiance to his old-school boss, vowing to adhere to the family code even in ever-changing times.
During this period, an older, weary Kenji seeks to reconnect with the woman he used to like and his fellow yakuza members. Instead, he discovers a much different world, one that is anti-yakuza.
In A Family, the yakuza presence in Japan is explored very distinctively. There is a slow transition away from gangs in this film, depicting the changing landscape of teams in a country.
31. A Whisker Away (泣きたい私は猫をかぶる, 2020)
“A Whisker Away” is a Japanese-animated film directed by Junichi Sato and Tomotaka Shibayama. The film tells the story of a teenage girl named Miyo Sasaki, secretly in love with her classmate Kento Hinode.
When she discovers a magical mask that can turn her into a cat, she uses it to get closer to Kento. Still, she risks losing herself to the cat form forever.
This is a sweet, honest movie about friendship, family, and appreciating what you have rather than what you lack. Definitely one of Netflix’s best anime films for Japanese learners.
Wrapping Up on Netflix’s Japanese movies
If studying becomes boring, why not entertain it with flicks? Watching Japanese movies on Netflix is an effective way to learn Japanese.
These are just a few of the great Japanese movies available on Netflix. But, of course, there are many more to discover and enjoy!
That list of 31 J-films on Netflix will be a stepping stone in your language-learning quest. It will also help you get accustomed to Japan’s traditions and culture.
With the proper focus and investment of time, enjoyable things like movies can offer valuable learning opportunities. So now is the time to get started on your Japanese learning journey!
If you have questions or want to share recommendations, write in the comment section below.