The 8 Best Japanese Movies of 2023, Ranked SuperNayr

With the discharge of giant hits like Godzilla Minus One and The Boy and the Heron, 2023 has been a robust yr for Japanese motion pictures. Naturally, some options stand out greater than others, and some are missed — whether or not that be as a result of they’re onerous to seek out on streaming or just weren’t marketed sufficient — regardless of deserving all of the love and appreciation.

Given how distinctive and beloved Asian cinema is (understandably so), it solely is smart to look again at among the important, must-see movies that got here out this yr. From science fiction gems like River to absorbing thrillers like Monster, these are 8 of the perfect Japanese motion pictures of 2023, ranked from nice to biggest.

8 ‘Name Me Chihiro’

Director: Rikiya Imaizumi

Kasumi Arimura in Call Me Chihiro
Picture through Netflix

Whereas Studio Ghibli’s Spirited Away might come to thoughts when listening to the title “Name Me Chihiro for the primary time, the 2 movies couldn’t be extra totally different (although each absorbing and engrossing). This compelling drama follows the titular character (Kasumi Arimura), a former intercourse employee, as she lands a job at a small seatown store and turns into a well-liked determine within the metropolis, sweeping everybody off their ft together with her free spirit, real nature, and quirkiness.

Rikiya Imaizumi’s endearing movie, which is offered for streaming on Netflix, is the right feel-good Japanese characteristic — it gives audiences with a very entertaining and comforting time in entrance of the display whereas illustrating Chihiro navigating by her journey, which might really feel lonely and messy typically. Crammed with significant moments and metaphors all through, Name Me Chihiro displays on human connection and kindness.

Watch on Netflix

7 ‘River’

Director: Junta Yamaguchi

The cast of River clapping in a film's still
Picture through Tollywood

Foolish and inventive, Junta Yamaguchi’s River is the right decide for many who benefit from the time loop film subgenre. By way of an creative screenplay, the movie tells the story of a one-hundred-year-old mountain inn, Fujiya, that turns into trapped in a time loop on a random winter’s day.

Out of all of the missed motion pictures of 2023, River certainly deserves moviegoers’ consideration. Moreover its participating narrative, what makes it a lot enjoyable is its consideration to element — each scene is 2 minutes lengthy to match the time loop. With such a minimal funds, Yamaguchi’s hilarious, genre-bending movie is undeniably a good time in entrance of the display, managing to offer audiences with a refreshing tackle the beloved subgenre and a novel, authentic story.

Watch on Amazon Prime

6 ‘Evil Does Not Exist’

Director: Ryusuke Hamaguchi

Evil Does Not Exist
Picture through TIFF

Met with constructive reception because it premiered on September 4th on the eightieth Venice Worldwide Movie Pageant, this Japanese characteristic was understandably chosen to compete for the Golden Lion. It tells the story of Takumi (Hitoshi Omika) and his daughter Hana (Ryo Nishikawa), who reside in a village near Tokyo just like the generations earlier than them. The village inhabitants worry the worst after they find out about a plan to construct a tenting website close to Takumi’s home for metropolis residents, which can have a destructive impression on the native water provide.

From the gifted director of final yr’s Oscar contender Drive My Automotive, Evil Does Not Exist is an totally compelling characteristic with a touching story that resonates. This ecological drama rigorously meditates on themes comparable to morality, rural versus urbanization, and nature versus civilization, cementing Hamaguchi as one of the attention-grabbing storytellers working right this moment.

Evil Does Not Exist will not be obtainable for streaming, renting, or buying presently.

5 ‘The First Slam Dunk’

Director: Takehiko Inoue

A still from The First Slam Dunk, featuring all 5 members of the Shohoku Basketball Team
Picture through Toei Firm

Following 17-year-old Ryota Miyagi (Shugo Nakamura), who’s haunted by the tragic lack of his elder brother and makes an attempt to perform his want of turning into a basketball star, this 2023 Japanese film is a must-see for many who get pleasure from totally participating but additionally touching animated movies.

Whereas launched in 2022 in Japan, The First Slam Dunk solely hit United States and Canadian cinemas in July this yr. It isn’t onerous to grasp why Inoue’s film is the fifth highest-grossing anime characteristic of all time (incomes over $152 million worldwide); amazingly paced, the fashionable The First Slam Dunk is an immersive and intense film that can have audiences on the sting of their seats rooting for the fictional basketball workforce it holds at its middle. Total, it’s a surprisingly affecting sports activities drama with memorable characters and incredible execution.

Watch in theaters

4 ‘Good Days’

Director: Wim Wenders

Kôji Yakusho and Arisa Nakano in Perfect Days
Picture through Neon

Wim Wenders’ character research sees Hirayama (Kôji Yakusho), a middle-aged man, as he finds contentment main his easy life as a rest room cleaner in Tokyo. Outdoors his work life, he additionally enjoys music and books. By way of a collection of sudden occasions that unfold all through, viewers slowly get to study extra about his previous.

Whereas it’s going to hardly enchantment to everybody, the heartwarming Good Days is a considerate meditation on each the significant and the monotonous. It sheds a constructive gentle on the mundane, with a healthful protagonist who finds magnificence in all that surrounds him. Wenders’ film finally serves as a reminder of how beneficial and weak life is and the way one ought to totally savor it to the fullest.

Good Days
Solid
Kôji Yakusho
Score
PG
Runtime
123 minutes
Important Style
Drama

Watch in theaters

3 ‘Monster’

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda

Two boys in Monster looking at the camera.
Picture through Effectively Go USA

From the thoughts behind Shoplifters and No one Is aware of, Monster is informed from totally different views. It follows a suburban mom (Sakura Ando) who suspects that there may be one thing flawed after noticing that her younger son (Soya Kurokawa) has begun appearing in another way. After discovering that his trainer is in charge, she naturally calls for solutions. The reality slowly emerges because the story unfolds by the eyes of three central characters.

This devastating, nail-biting Hirokazu Kore-eda thriller is an extremely layered and completely structured film that’s assured to maintain audiences invested from begin to end. That includes a stupendous ultimate act that can stick to anybody who dares to look at it, Kore-eda Hirokazu’s film is an unforgettable 2023 effort that certainly deserves a spot among the many finest Japanese motion pictures of the yr.

Watch in theaters

2 ‘The Boy and the Heron’

Director: Hayao Miyazaki

A side profile of Mahito Maki in Hayao Miyazaki's The Boy and the Heron
Picture through Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli’s extremely anticipated The Boy and the Heron was rumored to be the ultimate movie directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Whereas this turned out to not be true, it certainly would’ve been a strong final effort from the gifted filmmaker. The story chronicles the adventures of a younger boy named Mahito (Soma Santoki) as he makes his method right into a world shared by the residing whereas grieving the tragic loss of life of his late mom.

As anticipated, Miyazaki’s magical final movie didn’t disappoint — particularly not visually-wise. With a robust, gripping storyline that very a lot resembles Spirited Away in a method, The Boy and the Heron is a contemplation of affection and grief, shedding gentle on these two matters which can be typically current in most Ghibli movies. Whereas maybe not as compelling as his earlier options, the 2023 movie is nonetheless a fantastically crafted self-discovery journey value testing.

The Boy and the Heron
Launch Date
December 8, 2023
Solid
Soma Santoki , Masaki Suda , Takuya Kimura , Aimyon
Score
PG-13
Runtime
124 minutes

Watch in theaters

1 ‘Godzilla Minus One’

Director: Takashi Yamazaki

Aerial shot of Godzilla wreaking havoc in Godzilla Minus One
Picture through Toho

The truth that Godzilla has been a cultural icon in Japan and your entire world for over seventy years is not any information to anybody. As such, it is just pure that Minus One was so lengthy awaited. The film is about in post-war Japan and illustrates the emergence of the legendary big monster amid all of the chaos and devastation.

Takashi Yamazaki’s movie is objectively an incredible watch, even for these not accustomed to the franchise, because it gives audiences with action-packed scenes and a totally intriguing storyline from the start, tackling delicate themes comparable to PTSD and survivor’s guilt within the meantime. Godzilla Minus One efficiently offers the treasured franchise a brand new lease of life, proving that Japan is the one nation that ought to be making these movies.

Godzilla Minus One
Launch Date
December 1, 2023
Solid
Ryûnosuke Kamiki , Minami Hamabe , Yûki Yamada , Sakura Andō
Score
PG-13

Watch in theaters

NEXT: The ten Finest Japanese Films of the 2020s So Far, Ranked

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