Netflix is a great way to watch shows and movies – and watching movies you enjoy can be a great way to get in some listening practice for your language of choice. My parents have Netflix, so when I’m at their house I like to try and watch some of the movies or shows available for streaming. Unfortunately, as far as I’ve found, the only Japanese TV shows available are anime, and they’re often stuck on the dubbed version. I hope some day they’ll add some actual J-Dramas, since I noticed Hulu also doesn’t have any. It’s kind of strange since they both have K-Dramas.
Another unfortunate aspect is, even though all the movies I’ve watched so far are subtitled and not dubbed, the subtitles cannot be removed. Hopefully in the future they’ll add that option too.
Anyways, in case any of you are looking for some entertainment where you can also practice your Japanese, here are my thoughts on some of the ones I’ve watched. They are roughly in the order of how much I enjoyed them (As you will see, Love Collage was impossible to place).
This post is part I because there are many other Japanese movies on Netflix I have yet to watch, but would like to. The Japanese title for each movie is in parentheses, and I found a trailer for each one except Looking for Cherry Blossoms. Other than Quill, they all also have English subtitles.
- Fish Story (フィッシュストーリー) – You’re going to call me a thief and liar because…it’s not actually on Netflix anymore. But it was before, and I hope that maybe somehow me writing this will bring it back. I love love loved it. If you can find another way to watch this, you definitely should. It’s a very complicated story stretching across decades. It seems really confusing at first, but in the end it all connects and it’s just so good. Waaatch iiiiiit.
- Adrift in Tokyo (転々) – This one has a bit of a slower pace to it, as the word ‘adrift’ would suggest. I really enjoyed it though. The characters were all really intriguing and kept my interest. A very character-driven story and definitely worth a watch.
- Quill (クイール) – It is the story of a seeing eye dog from his life as a pup to, well, you know how dog movies always end. I enjoyed it. And I cried.
- Love Collage (恋愛寫眞) – This movie. I honestly don’t even know what to rate it. I have never loved the beginning and hated the end of a movie as much as I did this one. Without spoiling anything, I really wish they had gone in a different direction for the latter half of the movie. The first part was really well done, and I fell in love with the characters. They felt so real, and the photography made me want to go get out in the world and take some more photos. I would recommend watching it, mostly because of the the characters and their connection. The main girl character also has some manic-pixie stuff going on, but for some reason it worked for me in this movie. But once the story moves to America, it’s more than just the (not-so-)subtle stereotypes of America that got me down. It pretty much switches genres completely a little over halfway through the film. Couldn’t find a trailer, but this part got me into the movie, so hopefully it grabs your interest as well.
- Looking for Cherry Blossoms – After watching this myself, I’d say the best way to watch this movie is while drunk with a bunch of friends, taking a shot every time you’re confused. It’s pretty slow moving at the beginning, and the acting is not the best. I’m pretty sure I caught the actors/actresses laughing a few times. With some weird editing and angles, and long scenes of characters simply walking (accompanied by strange music), it sort of seemed like it was trying really hard to be an art film. The side characters also seemed to be trying as hard as possible to be quirky. And then it just turns weird. Not quite Sy-Fy-sharknado weird, but two characters do leap out of a car with a clearly animated fire trail as they roll along…only to enter a dream-like world that looks like the front of a greeting card…and then return back to the car…to casually hit someone. And then that someone, whose arm is stuck in the air for most of the movie, proclaims that they are even because the driver took his keys out of the car, because he knows how hard that must have been. There’s even an odd scene where I can’t tell if the driver hit a foreign girl and they managed to move past it, or he hit her and pretended to marry her. The latter seems more likely since we only see a glimpse of her lying on the road after being hit, while he lies to his friends and says he was ‘introduced.’ Maybe I just didn’t get it and it’s a brilliant movie under all the slop. But it also only has two stars, so I’m guessing a lot of other people didn’t understand it either. Oddly enough, Joe Odagiri, one of the main characters in Adrift in Tokyo, was quite involved with this movie, including writing, directing, cinematography, music and editing.
If you end up watching any, let me know what you think!