• L - R ('After The Storm', 'Departures', 'Shoplifters', 'Blade of the Immortal') (SBS)Source: SBS
With family dramas, comedy, manga adaptations, horror, both an Oscar winner and a Palme d'Or winner, the Japanese cinema collection at SBS On Demand has something for every cinephile.
By
SBS Movies

19 Jun 2020 - 1:52 PM  UPDATED 19 Jun 2020 - 1:52 PM

Shoplifters

M
Japan, 2018
Genre: Drama, Crime
Language: Japanese
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Lily Franky, Sakura Ando, Mayu Matsuoka, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki, Kirin Kiki, Sosuke Ikematsu
What's it about?
Winner of the Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or in 2018, Shoplifters was also nominated for the 2019 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. Modern master Kore-eda turns his eye to a makeshift family on the fringe of Tokyo. After one of their shoplifting sessions, Osamu and his son come across a little girl in the freezing cold. At first reluctant to shelter the girl, Osamu’s wife agrees to take care of her after learning of the hardships she faces. Although the family is poor, barely making enough money to survive through petty crime, they seem to live happily together until an unforeseen incident reveals hidden secrets, testing the bonds that unite them. 

Palme d'Or Winner 'Shoplifters' Asks: What Makes A Family?
Hirokazu Kore-eda's 'Shoplifters' wins Palme d'Or at Cannes

The cast of 'Shoplifters', written and directed by Hirokazu Kore-eda

 

Departures

M
Japan, 2008
Genre: Music, Drama
Language: Japanese
Director: Yojiro Takita
Starring: Masahiro Motoki, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Ryoko Hirosue
What's it about?
Winner of the 2009 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film of the Year. Daigo Kobayashi (Masahiro Motoki) is a devoted cellist in an orchestra that has just been dissolved and now finds himself without a job. Daigo moves back to his hometown with his wife to look for work and start over. He answers a classified ad entitled "Departures" thinking it's a travel agency only to discover that the job is actually for a "Nokanshi" or "encoffineer," a funeral professional who prepares deceased bodies for burial and entry into the next life. While his wife and others despise the job, Daigo takes a certain pride in his work and begins to perfect the art of "Nokanshi," acting as a gentle gatekeeper between life and death, between the departed and the family of the departed. The film follows his profound and sometimes comical journey with death as he uncovers the wonder, joy and meaning of life and living. 

Departures Review

 

Nobody Knows

M
Japan, 2004
Genre: Drama
Language: Japanese
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Yûya Yagira, Hanae Kan, Momoko Shimizu, Hiei Kimura, Ayu Kitaura
What's it about?
It's no coincidence the prolific Kore-eda features heavily in this list. Nobody Knows marked a shift in his storytelling, to focus on the stories of family and in particular, children. In present-day Tokyo, young single mother Fukashima Keiko moves into a new apartment with her 12-year-old son Akira. With them are Akira's three younger siblings, all from different fathers, whose existence has been hidden from the landlord and much of the outside world. When their mother disappears, Akira continues to manage the household as usual, though survival becomes more difficult as the days and weeks roll on. Yûya Yagira won the Best Actor award at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, where the film was also nominated for the Palme d'Or.

Nobody Knows leaves SBS On Demand on 30 June 2020.

 

Tokyo Ghoul

MA15+
Japan, 2017
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror, Thriller
Language: Japanese
Director: Kentaro Hagiwara
Starring: Masataka Kubota, Fumika Shimizu, Nobuyuki Suzuki, Yo Oizumi, Yu Aoi, Hiyori Sakurada, Kunio Murai 
What's it about?
In modern-day Tokyo, society lives in fear of Ghouls: creatures who look exactly like humans, yet hunger insatiably for their flesh. None of this matters to bookish Ken Kaneki, until a violent encounter turns him into the first-ever Ghoul-human half breed. Trapped between two worlds, Ken must survive the violent conflicts of warring Ghoul factions, while attempting to learn more about his powers. Tokyo Ghoul is the live-action adaptation of the Japanese dark fantasy manga series of the same name written and illustrated by Sui Ishida.

Tokyo Ghoul leaves SBS On Demand on 30 June 2020.

 

Shin Godzilla

M
Japan, 2016
Genre: Science Fiction
Language: Japanese
Director: Hideaki Anno
Starring: Shinya Tsukamoto, Satomi Ishihara, Jun Kunimura, Hiroki Hasegawa, Takahiro Miura
What's it about? 
Japan is plunged into chaos when an enormous monster emerges from Tokyo Bay and terrorises the city, leaving a path of destruction and casualties. This is the 31st instalment in the 'Godzilla' franchise and became the highest-grossing Japanese-produced 'Godzilla' film in the franchise when it was released. It also went on to win 7 Japan Academy Film Awards including Best Picture.

Shin Godzilla leaves SBS On Demand on 30 June 2020.

 

Our Little Sister

PG
Japan, 2015
Genre: Drama, Family
Language: Japanese
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Ryô Kase, Masami Nagasawa, Haruka Ayase
What's it about?
Another appearance by Kore-eda, Our Little Sister revolves around three sisters, Sachi, Yoshino and Chika, who live together in a large house in the seaside city of Kamakura. When their father, absent from the family home for the last 15 years dies, they travel to the countryside for his funeral and meet their shy 14-year-old half-sister, Suzu. Bonding quickly with the orphaned Suzu, they invite her to live with them. Suzu eagerly agrees, and a new life of joyful discovery begins for the four siblings. Before winning the Palme d'Or for Shoplifters Kore-eda's Our Little Sister was also nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival (he's a frequent inclusion in the Official Competition lineup).

Our Little Sister review: Shades of Ozu in classic family drama

 

Blade of the Immortal

MA15+
Japan, South Korea, United Kingdom, 2017
Genre: Action, Drama
Language: Japanese
Director: Takashi Miike
Starring: Takuya Kimura, Hana Sugisaki, Sota Fukushi, Hayato Ichihara, Erika Toda, Ebizo Ichikawa 
What's it about?
Manji, a highly skilled samurai, becomes cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. Haunted by the brutal murder of his sister, Manji knows that only fighting evil will regain his soul. He promises to help a young girl named Rin avenge her parents, who were killed by a group of master swordsmen led by ruthless warrior Anotsu. The mission will change Manji in ways he could never imagine. Based on the hugely successful historical epic manga series by Hiroaki Samura, the film covers the first two arcs of the series.

 

K-20: Legend of the Mask

M
Japan, 2008
Genre: Crime, Adventure, Action
Language: Japanese
Director: Shimako Sato
Starring: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Takako Matsu, Tôru Nakamura
What's it about?
Set in 1949 and an alternate past where World War II never happened, in the fictional capital of Teito, aristocrats continue to thrive as they have since the 19th century. There is a wide gap between rich and poor with aristocrats owning 90% of the wealth. In the city there are rumours about a mysterious thief, who only steals from the rich; they call him K-20. Circus acrobat Hekichi Endo is framed for the crimes of K-20, but he breaks out of prison to avoid a death sentence and takes on the guise of his now enemy – K-20, the "Fiend with 20 Faces" – to clear his name and seek revenge. Based on the 'Kaijin Nijū Mensō Den' novels by Sō Kitamura.

 

After the Storm

PG
Japan, 2016
Genre: Drama
Language: Japanese
Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda
Starring: Hiroshi Abe, Yōko Maki, Kirin Kiki
What's it about?
Dwelling on his past glory as a prize-winning author, Ryota wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay child support. After the death of his father, his ageing mother and beautiful ex-wife seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a lasting place in the life of his young son – until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again. Kore-eda is racking up the films on this list and the nominations at the Cannes Film Festival. After the Storm was nominated for Un Certain Regard Award in 2016.

 

Fireworks

MA15+
Japan, 1997
Genre: Crime, Drama
Language: Japanese
Director: Takeshi Kitano
Starring: Takeshi Kitano, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi, Susumu Terajima, Tetsu Watanabe
What's it about?
Nishi is a police detective. His child has died and his wife has terminal cancer. When his partner Horibe sends him to his wife in hospital, Horibe gets gunned down and is paralysed. With guilt and despair Nishi quits the police. As there is no hope for his wife's recovery, he takes the doctor's advice and plans a trip for them. But he needs money for that, as well as for sending gifts to his ex-partner (who takes up painting) and the widow of a colleague. He disguises himself as a policeman and robs a bank. With the money he repays his debt to gangsters and takes his wife on their last journey, but the gangsters sniff him out and give chase. Winner of the Golden Lion at the 1997 Venice Film Festival.

Fireworks leaves SBS On Demand on 30 June 2020.

 

Love and Peace

M
Japan, 2015
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Drama
Language: Japanese
Director: Sion Sono
Starring: Hiroki Hasegawa, Kumiko Asô, Toshiyuki Nishida, Kiyohiko Shibukawa, Motoki Fukami
What's it about?
Tokyo, summer of 2015. A man, who once dreamed of becoming a punk rocker, is working as a low salesman at a musical instruments parts company. He’s secretly in love with his equally awkward colleague, Yuko. One day, he finds a little turtle on the rooftop, naming it Pikadon. Too timid to talk to Yuko, he instead confides in his new pet turtle and only friend, Pikadon. Together they share many adventures and finally conquer the world, making this a surprising fantasy film for all ages.

'Love & Peace': Delightful Wish-fulfillment Pop Musical

Hiroki Hasegawa in 'Love & Peace' (2015)
 

 

Vampire Clay

MA15+
Japan, 2017
Genre: Horror
Language: Japanese
Director: Soichi Umezawa
Starring: Ena Fujita, Asuka Kurosawa, Yuyu Makihara
What's it about?
After studying in Tokyo, Kaori returns to Aina Academy to finish her prep classes for art school. Quickly outshining her jealous classmates, she soon becomes the star of the class when she discovers a bag of old, mysterious clay and uses it for sculpting assignments. Things begin to get strange, however, when one of Kaori’s classroom rivals disappears. As the students uncover that the clay is possessed by a starving artist who died tragically in the building years ago, the school finds itself attacked by a gang of murderous clay “vampires". Directed by Japanese special effects master Soichi Umezawa, this Japanese horror film definitely leans towards the absurd.

 

 

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