38 Best Japanese Movies on Netflix to Watch in March 2024

When I was growing up, Japanese horror movies were all the rage, with massive hits like “The Grudge” and “The Ring.” A lot of Japanese films have even become cult classics outside the country, including the wonderfully gory “Battle Royale.” 

Watching Japanese movies immersed me in the language and culture and offered me an interesting perspective on how cinema differs between countries. 

It’s no wonder that movie buffs and language learners alike turn to Netflix to check out Japanese movies. 

So, here’s a list of some of the best Japanese movies on Netflix that should keep you entertained for many hours to come!

Contents

1. “In Love and Deep Water” (2023)

Japanese Title: クレイジークルー
IMDB Score:
 4.9/10
Director: Yusuke Taki
Genre: Romantic, Thriller

This film follows Suguru Ubukata, a devoted butler on a luxury cruise ship, and Chizuru Banjaku, a mysterious woman who boards the ship with a hidden agenda. The two team up to investigate a murder that takes place on the ship, which leads to some hiliarious mishaps and shenanigans. As the pair get closer to the truth, they also start to develop feelings for each other.

2. “Once Upon a Crime” (2023)

Japanese Title: 赤ずきん、旅の途中で死体と出会う。
IMDB Score:
 5.4/10
Director: Yuichi Fukuda
Genre: Mystery, Thriller

This ridiculous—and ridiculously fun!—twisted fairy tale follows Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella and a number of other beloved storybook characters. On the way to the royal ball, our two heroines have an accident that may have fatal reprecussions. Once at the ball, they realize trouble is afoot! Now Little Red has until the clock strikes midnight to sovle the mystery and prevent more trajedy. 

3. “Call Me Chihiro” (2023)

Japanese Title: ちひろさん
IMDB Score: 6.9/10
Director: Rikiya Imaizumi
Genre: Drama, Animation

Chihiro takes up a job at a bento shop in a seaside town after falling in love with the food there. This job gives her the opportunity to strike up heartfelt conversations with all types of customers, which helps her feel less lonely in her everyday life. Unafraid to be herself and open up about her past, Chihiro connects deeply with many of the people she meets and changes their lives. 

4. “Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead” (2023)

Japanese Title: ゾン100 ~ゾンビになるまでにしたい100のこと~
IMDB Score:
 6.0/10
Director: Yusuke Ishida
Genre: Action, Comedy

Based on Haro Aso’s manga by the same name, an ordinary young man suddenly finds himself amidst a zombie apocalypse. Unprepared and disillusioned with his mundane life, he decides to seize the opportunity and live life to the fullest by completing a bucket list of crazy and adventurous goals, all while trying to survive the zombie onslaught.

5. “Hard Days” (2023)

Japanese Title: 最後まで行く
IMDB Score:
 7.1/10
Director: Michihito Fujii
Genre: Action, Thriller

The film follows Detective Yuji Kudo, a man already struggling with a mountain of problems. One night, while driving to see his sick mother, Kudo accidentally hits and kills a man. In his desperation he decides to try and cover up the accident, but there’s just one problem: There’s a witness. 

6. “The Village” (2023)

Japanese Title: ヴィレッジ
IMDB Score:
5.8/10
Director: Michihito Fujii
Genre: Thriller, Drama

This film takes us to a once-scenic secluded village, which has now become dominated by a vast trash disposal site. A young man living in the village yearns to break free from his life there and escape to the outside world. When a mysterious stranger comes to the village, she brings with her a sense of hope and the potential for change—and a chance for the man to find a new meaning to his life. 

7. “Love Like the Falling Petals” (2022)

Japanese title: 桜のような僕の恋人
IMDB Score: 6.5/10
Director: Yoshihiro Fukagawa
Genre: Drama; Romance

Haruto, an aspiring photographer, falls head over heels in love at first sight for Misaki, a vibrant hairstylist. Their initial awkwardness blossoms into a beautiful love story as they get to know each other. But their idyllic romance is tragically interrupted when Misaki reveals she has a rare disease causing her to age rapidly, throwing their future together into uncertainty. The film explores themes of fleeting beauty, cherishing the present moment and the resilience of love in the face of adversity.

8. “Re/Member” (2022)

Japanese title: カラダ探し
IMDB Score: 5.1/10
Director: Eiichiro Hasumi
Genre: Horror, Drama

Six high school students find themselves trapped in a time loop, reliving the same day over and over again. Each night, they’re hunted down and brutally murdered by a vengeful ghost known as “The Red Person.” To escape the loop and break the curse, they must find and reassemble the scattered body parts of a dismembered corpse hidden within the school grounds. As they search for the body parts, they uncover dark secrets about themselves and their classmates, and must confront their own fears and weaknesses.

9. “Hell Dogs” (2022)

Japanese Title: ヘルドッグス
IMDB Score:
6.7/10
Director: Masato Harada
Genre: Action, Crime

A traumatized ex-cop haunted by a past mistake is tasked with going undercover in the Yakuza. To gain their trust, he must befriend their most unpredictable member, a trigger-happy gangster known for his violent outbursts. As he navigates the treacherous world of organized crime, the undercover operation pushes him to his limits, forcing him to confront his own demons and face the consequences of his actions.

10. “Drifting Home” (2022)

Japanese Title: 雨を告げる漂流団地
IMDB Score:
6.3/10
Director: Koji Yamamoto
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Animation

A group of childhood friends are mysteriously transported to an abandoned apartment building adrift at sea. As they explore the strange and seemingly endless structure, they encounter supernatural phenomena and hidden dangers. They must work together to unravel the mysteries of the drifting apartment and find a way back home, facing their deepest fears and rekindling the bonds of friendship.

11. “Hell Dogs—In the House of Bamboo” (2022)

Japanese title: ヘルドッグス
IMDB Score: 6.7/10
Director: Masato Harada
Genre: Action, crime, drama

Shogo Kanetaka is a traumatized ex-police officer consumed by revenge for his loved one’s murder. He spends years cultivating his skills as a fighter, and finally gets recruited for a risky assignment: to infiltrate the notorious Yakuza clan, “The House of Bamboo.” His mission? To get close to Hideki Murooka, a ruthless and unpredictable member known for his violent outbursts and insatiable hunger.

Shogo must navigate the treacherous world of the Yakuza, blurring the lines between loyalty and betrayal as he seeks his ultimate goal: vengeance.

12. “The Violence Action” (2022)

Japanese Title: バイオレンスアクション
IMDB Score:
4.7/10
Director: Tôichirô Rutô
Genre: Action, Thriller

A seemingly innocent college student named leads a double life as a skilled assassin for hire. By day, she blends in with her classmates but by night, she takes on dangerous assignments for a mysterious organization. When she receives a contract to eliminate a powerful gangster, she finds herself in over her head.

Her target is not only heavily guarded, but he also possesses a dark secret that could have devastating consequences if exposed. With her life on the line, Kei must decide how far she’s willing to go to complete her mission.

13. “Bubble” (2022)

Japanese Title: バブル
IMDB Score:
6.3/10
Director: Tetsurō Araki
Genre: Action, adventure

This story takes place in Tokyo after a mysterious rain of bubbles has defied gravity and rendered the city isolated from the rest of the world. The city’s youth have formed parkour teams and turned the cityscape into their playground, engaging in gravity-defying battles. When a mysterious girl with special powers appears, she leads them to face not only the dangers of the gravity-defying world but also the secrets of their own pasts.

14. “Ride or Die” (2021)

Japanese title: 彼女
IMDB Score: 5.6/10
Director: Ryūichi Hiroki
Genre: Drama, romance, thriller

Rei, a stoic and determined woman, impulsively kills Nanae’s abusive husband. This sets off a chain of events that entangles them in a dangerous spiral of love, guilt and violence. Nanae, initially horrified by the act, slowly finds herself drawn to Rei’s unwavering devotion and fierce protection. As they embark on a fugitive journey, their emotions intertwine, blurring the lines between desperation and obsession.

15. “Asakusa Kid” (2021)

Japanese title: 浅草キッド
IMDB Score: 7.1/10
Director: Gekidan Hitori
Genre: Biography, drama

Before he became a comedy legend in Japan, Takeshi Kitano got his start as an apprentice to Fukami of Asakusa, another big name in Japan’s comedy world. Asakusa Kid tells the story of Takeshi’s youth and the strong bond he shared with his master before the two had to part ways.

16. “Rurouni Kenshin: Origins” (2021)

Japanese title: るろうに剣心
IMDB Score: 7.2/10
Director: Keishi Ohtomo
Genre: Action, adventure, drama, history, war

Kenshin Himura was a legendary assassin during the Shogunate era, but vows to never take another life after the Meiji government is instated. Ten years later, Kenshin seeks to help Kaoru Kamiya fend off a powerful drug lord and his gangsters, only to find his determination to not kill put to the test.

17. “Bright: Samurai Soul” (2021)

Japanese Title: Bright: Samurai Soul 
IMDB Score:
5.5/10
Director: Kyohei Ishiguro
Genre: Action, Adventure, Animation

In a fantastical world where humans and mythical creatures coexist, a lone ronin and an elf warrior team up to protect a young girl who possesses a powerful and coveted artifact. Their action-packed journey takes them through stunning landscapes and thrilling battles, exploring themes of loyalty, honor and the power of diversity.

18. “The Door into Summer” (2021)

Japanese title: 夏への扉
IMDB Score: 6.4/10
Director: Takahiro Miki
Genre: Sci-fi

This movie is an adaptation of an American sci-fi novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It revolves around Soichiro Takakura, who is played by popular Japanese actor Kento Yamazaki. After the loss of his company, Soichiro places himself in a “cold sleep,” then wakes up 30 years in the future.

The storyline explores interpersonal relationships through a slice-of-life setting with some sci-fi elements thrown in. 

19. “Child of Kaminari Month” (2021)

Japanese Title:神在月のこども
IMDB Score:
 5.9/10
Director: Kyohei Ishiguro
Genre: Romance, Comedy

The film is based on the Japanese folktale of the Izumo no Okuninushi (Great Deity of Izumo), and follows a young girl named Kanna. After losing her mother, Kanna must travel across Japan to the annual gathering of the gods in the sacred land of Izumo. Along the way, she’s joined by a mischievous yokai and a wise old woman. 

20. “Mother” (2020)

Japanese title: マザー
IMDB Score: 6.8/10
Director: Tatsushi Omori
Genre: Thriller, Drama

Akiko is a single mother who lives in poverty while trying to raise her son, Shuhei. She leads her son along an unconventional lifestyle on the streets of Japan and exposes him to the darker sides of life. This movie portrays a chilling tale of how an emotionally unstable mother affects her child.

21. “A Family” (2020)

Japanese title: ヤクザと家族 The Family
IMDB Score: 7/10
Director: Michihito Fujii
Genre: Crime, drama

After his father dies, a young Kenji is taken by the Yakuza and he develops a strong bond with the crime syndicate’s boss Hiroshi Shibasaki. The film follows the development of their father-son relationship, along with Kenji’s rise in the Yakuza and the changes in Japan following Yakuza exclusion ordinances passed in the early 2010s.

22. “Violet Evergarden: The Movie” (2020)

Japanese Title: 劇場版 ヴァイオレット・エヴァーガーデン
IMDB Score:
 8.3/10
Director: Taichi Ishidate
Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Animation

A young woman who’s brought up to be a war machine must find her place in the world at the end of the war. She’s employed as a letter writer, helping people to express their emotions through beautifully crafted letters. As she delves deeper into the complexities of human relationships and grapples with her own past, she embarks on a journey of self-acceptance and healing.

This beautiful movie will almost definitely make you cry happy tears. And if you enjoy it, there’s much more to love—the title has an anime series where every episode packs an emotional punch.

23. “A Whisker Away” (2020)

Japanese title: 泣きたい私は猫をかぶる
IMDB Score: 6.7/10
Director: Junichi Sato, Tomotaka Shibayama
Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Miyo “Muge” Sasaki is a lonely and unhappy middle schooler who harbors a crush on her classmate Kento Hinode. Struggling to express her feelings, she encounters a mysterious mask seller who grants her the ability to transform into a white cat named Tarō. As Tarō, sh’s able to get closer to Kento and even spend time with him at his grandfather’s pottery studio. However, as she spends more time as a cat, the line between her human and feline identities begins to blur, with potentially dangerous consequences.

24. “Words Bubble Up Like Soda Pop” (2020)

Japanese title: サイダーのように言葉が湧き上がる
IMDB Score: 6.8/10
Director: tbd
Genre: tbd

Kouichi “Cherry” Sakura accidentally swaps phones with Smile, a popular social media influencer. A friendship begins to blossom between the two after they return each others’ phones, and the pair decides to help vintage record shop owner Fujiyama find a record of “Yamazakura.” The hunt for the record takes the two on a journey that brings them closer together. Together, they navigate the ups and downs of teenage life, learning to overcome their insecurities and express their feelings for each other.

25. “Dragon Quest: Your Story” (2019) 

Japanese Title: ドラゴンクエスト ユア・ストーリー
IMDB Score:
 6.5/10
Director: Takashi Yamazaki, Ryuichi Yagi, Makoto Hanafusa
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

In a world inhabited by monsters and magic, a young village boy embarks on a quest to save his mother from the clutches of an evil sorcerer. This animated adventure film reimagines the “Dragon Quest” video game series, featuring stunning visuals and a heartwarming story of courage and self-discovery… with a nod to anyone who grew up playing the classic games.

26. “37 Seconds” (2019)

Japanese title: 37セカンズ
IMDB Score: 7.4/10
Director: Hikari
Genre: Drama

Yuma is a 23-year-old woman who becomes disabled because she lost consciousness for 37 seconds when she was born. She has great aspirations to become a manga artist, but her editor believes she lacks worldly experience and implores her to lose her virginity so she can breathe life into her depictions of sex. Yuma decides to embark on a journey of sexual exploration to better understand her subject matter.

27. “The Forest of Love” (2019)

Japanese title: 愛なき森で叫べ
IMDB Score: 6.3/10
Director: Sion Sono
Genre: Crime, drama

Joe Murata, a manipulative conman, exploits the vulnerabilities of Mitsuko and Taeko, two girls dealing with the trauma of a group suicide pact from their high school years. An aspiring film crew starts documenting Murata’s eerie exploits, which eventually spiral into violence and madness as Murata takes control of the film.

28. “The Fable” (2019)

Japanese Title: ザ・ファブル
IMDB Score: 6.5/10
Director: Kan Eguchi
Genre: Action, Comedy

A legendary hitman known only as “The Fable” attempts to leave his violent past behind and live a normal life as a regular citizen. However, his efforts are constantly challenged by his former associates and his own inherent instincts. This action-packed comedy-drama explores the themes of redemption and the difficulty of escaping one’s past.

29. “Kingdom” (2019)

Japanese Title: キングダム
IMDB Score:
6.7/10
Director: Shinsuke Sato
Genre: Action

“Kingdom” is a live-action historical action film based on the popular manga series of the same name by Yasuhisa Hara. The film depicts the rise of China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, and the role of two young warriors in his quest to unify the warring states. 

The film follows the story of Li Xin, a young orphan who dreams of becoming the greatest general under heaven. After witnessing the death of his friend, Xin swears revenge and joins the Qin army. There, he meets Ying Zheng, the young and ambitious king of Qin who shares his dream of unifying China.

30. “Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy” (2019)

Japanese title: ホットギミック ガールミーツボーイ
IMDB Score: 4.4/10
Director: Yûki Yamato
Genre: Drama

Hatsumi Narita lived life as an ordinary high school girl until she got involved with Ryoki Tachibana, a tenant in her apartment building. Her life takes a turn for the worse as she finds herself being blackmailed and bullied by Ryoki.

31. “Flavors of Youth” (2018)

Japanese title: 詩季織々
IMDB Score: 6.6/10
Director: Yoshitaka Takeuchi, Haoling Li, Jiaoshou Yi Xiaoxing
Genre: Animation; Drama; Romance

This animated movie uses three stories to express the Chinese concept of “Si Shi Wei Mei” (Four Necessities of Life)—clothing, food, shelter and transportation—and uses three stories to highlight each aspect.

The first focuses on a San Xian noodle dish that the protagonist links to his childhood and love for his grandmother. The second storyline revolves around the struggles of a model to stay relevant in the fashion world. The third storyline focuses on a romance between two high school students that may be cut short by having to relocate for school.

The stories capture the fleeting beauty and poignant nostalgia of growing up, showcasing the power of memory and the enduring spirit of human connection.

32. “River’s Edge” (2018)

Japanese title: リバーズ・エッジ 
IMDB Score: 6.2/10
Director: Isao Yukisada
Genre: Crime, drama

High school student Haruna Wakagusa grows close to Ichiro Yamada after telling off her ex-boyfriend, Kannonzaki, for bullying him. Ichiro decides to take Haruna to a river’s edge to share a secret with her—a dead body. Rather than reporting it to the police, Haruna confides in her best friend Kanna about the situation, and this incident unites the three in a peculiar friendship.

33. “Fullmetal Alchemist” (2017)

Japanese title: 鋼の錬金術師
IMDB Score: 5.3/10
Director: Fumihiko Sori
Genre: Action, adventure, fantasy, sci-fi

This is an adaptation of the beloved manga and anime series of the same name. It delves into the exciting world of alchemy and follows the Elric brothers, Edward and Alphonse, on their quest to regain their bodies after a failed attempt to bring their mother back to life through alchemy.

Edward, a brilliant young alchemist, loses his left arm and Alphonse loses his entire body in the failed transmutation. The brothers embark on a journey to find the Philosopher’s Stone, a mythical object believed to be able to amplify alchemy beyond its normal limits and potentially undo their mistake. Along the way, they encounter alchemists, military forces and dangerous homunculi, all with their own agendas and secrets.

34. “Blame!” (2017)

Japanese Title: ブラム
IMDB Score:
 6.6/10
Director: Hiroyuki Seshita
Genre: Sci-fi, Animation

In the a dystopian future, humans have been hunted down to near extinction by robots. Now, what’s left of humanity resides within a vast and self-replicating megastructure known as “the City.” The film follows the story of Killy, a mysterious man with enhanced cybernetic abilities, who’s searching for the “Net Terminal Gene,” a key to restoring human control over the City. Along the way, he encounters various characters, including a young woman who’s trying to survive in the City and a rogue AI entity that seeks to destroy the City and its inhabitants.

35. “HiGH&LOW” (2016)

Japanese title: HiGH&LOW〜THE STORY OF S.W.O.R.D.〜 
IMDB Score: 6.4/10
Director: Shigeaki Kubo
Genre: Action

The Mugen clan dominated a town in Japan until the Amamiya Brothers refused to submit to their rule. This created a split among the members, causing the town to be broken up into five districts run by different gangs. The five gangs, known by their acronym S.W.O.R.D., clash with each other in a tussle for power.

36. “Stand by Me Doraemon” (2014)

Japanese Title: ドラえもん
IMDB Score:
7.3/10
Director: Takashi Yamazaki, Ryuichi Yagi
Genre: Sci-fi, Adventure

A young Nobita Nobi dreams of a better future and seeks help from his robotic cat Doraemon. With the aid of Doraemon’s gadgets, they embark on a heartwarming journey through time, revisiting key moments in their lives and learning valuable lessons about friendship, courage and self-acceptance.

37. “We Couldn’t Become Adults” (2021)

Japanese title: ボクたちはみんな大人になれなかった
IMDB Score: 6.5/10
Director: Yoshihiro Mori
Genre: Romance, Drama

Sato, a middle-aged graphic designer, sinks into depression after realizing that his life has become completely ordinary. But when he receives a message from an old flame, it triggers a series of nostalgic flashbacks about his past relationships. These force Sato to confront the growing pains of becoming an adult and the mistakes he has made along the way.

38. “Maboroshi” (2023)

Japanese title: アリスとテレスのまぼろし工場
IMDB Score: 7.2/10
Director: Mari Okada
Genre: Romance, Anime

This anime movie follows Masmune, a third-year middle school student, as she navigates her new life in Japan after a major explosion.

The explosion caused time to stop, and every exit to the town has been closed down. The town’s solution to returning to normal is forbidding the citizens from ever changing, so every day they live out the same day as before.

One fateful day, Masmune and his friend meet a wild, energetic girl who can’t speak when visiting the steelworks factory where the explosion happened.

Because meeting this girl was not part of their every day routine, the world suddenly becomes imbalanced and is about to be destroyed.

 

These Japanese Netflix movies cover a wide range of genres, plus their plots can be wildly original and unpredictable, so you’re in for a ride!

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