The Japanese film industry is one of the largest and oldest in the world. The history of cinema in Japan can be traced back to almost 100 years. Movies were first shown in Japan way back in 1896. And since then, the art has become integral to Japanese popular culture. The fascinating thing about Japanese cinema is that despite being so modern and innovative in its presentation, camerawork, editing, and designing, they are deeply rooted in Japanese culture and can act as a gateway into knowing the history and philosophy of the country better. The quality of films made in Japan, both artistically and technically, can easily be regarded as among the finest in the world. To illustrate this point, we can look at the Sight and Sound magazine’s list of the best Asian films. We shall see that there are eight Japanese films in the top 12.
Japan has also produced many seminal filmmakers who can well be regarded as some of the greatest directors to have ever stood behind the camera. The first name which comes to mind is definitely Kenji Mizoguchi. Some of the films he has made can be considered textbooks of filmmaking. His greatest films include, ‘The Life Of Oharu’ (1952), ‘Sansho The Bailiff’ (1954), and ‘Ugetsu’ (1953). Mizoguchi’s framing of each shot is impeccable, and the camera captures the realities of Japan of the Middle Ages. Another filmmaker who we all know about and love is none other than the great Akira Kurosawa. It was Kurosawa who made the world sit up and take notice of the films being made in Japan. His movies like ‘Rashomon’ (1950), ‘Seven Samurai’ (1954), ‘Yojimbo’ (1961), and many others are masterpieces of world cinema.
The influence of Japanese movies have been far and wide throughout the world of cinema. Several iconic filmmakers like Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Sergio Leone are heavily inspired by films of this country. With all that said, here’s the list of really good Japanese movies on Netflix that are available to stream right now:
7. Little Witch Academia (2013)
This short film produced in 2013 gave birth to a massive franchise of the same name. The film is about a little girl called Akko who is a huge admirer of a witch called Shiny Chariot. Wanting to be like her idol, Akko decides to join a school to train as a witch. The school she joins is called the Luna Nova Magical Academy. Though a shy girl, Akko does manage to make two friends – Lotte Jansson and Sucy Manbavaran. The problem with Akko is that she is not at all a good student. She has problems performing magic in class. Moreover, Akko’s great love for Shiny Chariot also makes her an object of ridicule among her classmates.
One day, Akko gets an opportunity to prove her worth when a teacher sends their class inside a magical dungeon in order to retrieve some magical objects. Inside the dungeon, Akko manages to find Chariot’s magical instrument called the Shiny Rod. In the meantime, the best student of the class, Diana Cavendish, mistakenly awakes a dragon which was there inside the dungeon. The only person who can stop the dragon from getting more powerful and destroying the school is Ako with her newfound instrument.