11 Best Japanese Movies on Netflix

11 Best Japanese Movies on Netflix

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From grindhouse gore to Oscar-winning drama, these are the 11 best Japanese movies available for streaming on Netflix Instant.


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From Kurosawa to kaiju, Netflix has tons of great Japanese movies for you to stream to your dorm room while you down Sapporo and read manga and bang J-pop singles. I don't know how you would do all of that while also watching movies but it seemed like a cool thing to say.

It's the 11 best Japanese movies on Netflix!

If you're watching this video, you probably already have a Battle Royale hoodie. But in case you need reminding, Battle Royale is the proto-Hunger Games master piece of teen violence that is, for some reason, banned only in Germany. And if you already love this, you'll probably like the rest of this list.

Ju-on: The Grudge is scary. It's actually the third film in the Ju-on series but it's the best, and you don't need the others to get spooked. You may have seen the American version with Sarah Michelle Geller. It sucks.

If you're hoping to have a classier evening, Departures won the 2009 Best Foreign Film Oscar. It's about morticians, and for some reason, Wikipedia lists a former Chinese Premier as being a fan. So, there is that.

Godzilla vs. Mothra might be the best Godzilla movie that isn't the original Godzilla movie. And it's just sitting there. You know what it looks like, go watch it.

You might want to be high for this -- Deadball is total splatter nonsense but if you liked Machine Girl or Mutant Girls Squad, this is your kind of nonsense.

You're going to want to pack another bowl for Helldriver, a pile of insanely gory craziness from Yoshihiro Nishimura, the special effects genius who directed Mutant Girls Squad and did all the effects for Machine Girl. I mean really pack that bowl tight.

13 Assassins is more understated than Takashi Miike's most imfamous film, Ichi the Killer. But it might be better. Might be. It's a sprawling period drama and a remake of a 1963 film of the same name and honestly, the name kind of says it all.

Takeshi Kitano is popping up a lot here -- he stars in Battle Royale and two of his own supremely bad ass yakuza films, Outrage and Sonatine, are available on Netflix. Watch Outrage first. It's bleak and funny and will prepare you for Sonatine more Kitano nihilism.

The Wes Craven-helmed 2006 American remake of Pulse has 10% on Rotten Tomatoes. The Japanese version is legit good as hell. If you like the themes of Black Mirror but wish there were, you know, ghosts, you will like this.

Eventually, you get to the master -- Akira Kurosawa, the man behind Seven Samurai and one of the most important filmmakers of all time, has had several films available for streaming in the past, but his 1980 crime epic Kagemusha is your best bet right now. It was co-produced by George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola, and like all Kurosawa movies, it is great and important and just huge.

Apparently Cold Fish is loosely based on two real Japanese serial killers, which is super spooky and makes me never want to go shopping for tropical fish again. Sion Sono is the man behind Suicide Club, so prepare for horrifying violence with barely-concealed social criticism at its core.

When your recommended movies are all bizarre splatterfests and Japanese period dramas, you are welcome. Let us know what other genres we should explore in the comments -- cyborg movies or movies with dogs who talk or whatever. And subscribe to Film School for new Netflix recommendations every week, plus other shows like our cult worship weekly, Video Clerk.
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