Japanese cinema is one of the fastest growing film industries in the world. What sets it apart from its contemporaries is its indulgence in the different forms through which it presents various stories. No world is unfathomable and no tale unbelievable. Japanese storytellers know no bounds when it comes to creating a new universe from scratch. Sci-fi, supernatural, magic, time travel, teenage romance, star-crossed lovers- there is nothing that hasn’t been explored in Japanese films. Their manga and anime have received wide popularities just because of this factor- their unique premise and exciting storylines. Their ideas have been frequently adapted into films and TV series not just by Hollywood but other film industries as well. Whether you watch these films because you want to learn the language or because you are a connoisseur of Japanese cinema, the following is the list of upcoming new Japanese film releases coming out in 2019 and 2020. We hope that some of these latest Japanese movies are as good some of the recent ones.
17. Birthday Wonderland (April 26, 2019)
‘Birthday Wonderland’ is an animated film that follows the story of a young girl, Akane. Imagine the shiest, most unconfident person you have ever known. Compare them to Akane and you’ll see that they are not really the worst. Spending most of her time in her basement, she spends most of her days alone and without friends. And then a wonderful opportunity knocks on her door, something that will require immense courage from her part. When an alchemist and his student magically appear in front of her, demanding her help to save the world, will Akane rise up to the occasion?
16. The Confidence Man JP: The Movie (May 17, 2019)
A beautiful, and equally deadly, assassin possess a diamond that can make one rich beyond their wildest dreams. For Dako, this is a perfect excuse to plan a heist. Stealing from someone who kills people for a living doesn’t leave much ground for her to question her morality. Joined by Boku-Chan, a man who is still attending “how to be a perfect conman 101”, and Richard, a veteran who could very easily be the dean of the conman university, Dako hatches a plan to get that diamond. But, stealing from a member of the Triad comes with its consequence. Also, they need to be faster because there’s someone else who’s planning to do the same.
15. Newspaper Reporter (June 28, 2019)
Based on Isoko Mochizuki’s 2017 novel, ‘Newspaper Reporter’ follows the story of a woman who makes a startling discovery about the government. The protagonist is a young reporter, Erika, who directs her energy towards bringing the truth out of the public, no matter how dark it might be. She gets her chance to do so when she stumbles upon the conspiracy of a government cover-up. She faces opposition from Sugihara, a bureaucrat who will use everything in his power to stop her because he seriously believes that the cover-up is the right thing to do.
14. Weathering with You (July 19, 2019)
Moving away from your hometown to a big city is a huge step. Several parameters need to be considered before you make this decision and finding a job is the most important of them. But Hodaka Morishima didn’t put much thought into his action when he decided to move to Tokyo. Without a job and living in the most expensive city in the world, he is soon left with no food on his table. In fact, his situation is so far gone that he can’t even afford a table! But things take a bright turn when he takes the job of a writer for an occult magazine. In contrast to his life, the weather becomes gloomy and it rains every day. The weather starts to change when he meets Hina, who has a certain secret that no one knows about.
13. Toshimaen: Haunted Park (May 10, 2019)
Everyone has a phone these days, and the number of people who actually use it for some useful thing is very less. The plethora of social media apps have wound everyone up in their charm, which in retrospection, is almost always a waste of time. The story of ‘Toshimaen: Haunted Park’ follows a group of young women whose lives revolve around their phones. They are addicted to the point that it has begun to have some very adverse effects on their lives. It’s too late before they realise that they need help because bad things have already started happening.
12. For Whom the Alchemist Exists (June 2019)
Masanori Takahashi is set to direct ‘For Whom the Alchemist Exists’, based on a popular computer game of the same name, adapted for the screen by Toshizo Nemoto. It follows the story of Kasumi (voiced by Inori Minase), a high school girl whose ordinary life is upturned when she discovers that magic is real. She discovers a secret world, situated right beneath the Tower of Babel and explores the mysteries of alchemy.
11. Love Stoppage Time (September 2019)
“Time stood still” is a phrase commonly used by people to describe something a beautiful moment, often related to their experience of love. For us, it is just a metaphor, but for Takashi Aiba, it is a routine! Every day, at 12:05 pm, everything in the world comes to a complete stop for exactly one hour. Everyone freezes in their position, the birds hang in the air, the wind doesn’t blow. It’s like looking at a picture. And Takashi is the spectator of this phenomenon. He is the only one who can function normally in this time window, while no one else has a whiff of it. Why does it happen? And who else is it happening to?
10. Kakegurui the Movie (May 3, 2019)
If you have a gambling problem, then first, and most importantly, you need to get some help. Secondly, you should watch this film! It is set in an academy that is made exclusively for gamblers. It was established more than a century ago, and since then, it has been producing and refining the best gamblers in the country. The only way the students are graded is through their gambling wins. The added bonus of your victories is that the loser becomes your slave.
9. A Long Goodbye (May 31, 2019)
As we grow old, our brain begins to falter with memories and hence, we easily forget things. It is a common problem, something that comes along with the package of old-age. In its worst form, the problem of memory loss comes as the disease named Alzheimer. The deterioration is much more pronounced and ultimately wipes everything off. When Shohei’s family discovers that he has been diagnosed with it, they feel pity for him. That doesn’t stop Shohei from teaching them the most important lesson of their lives.
8. Love’s Twisting Path (April 12, 2019)
Tajuro Kiyokawa was a celebrity in his world of samurais. But life took a toll on him, and one day, decided to pack everything up and leave. The life of a Ronin didn’t come as easily to him as he had expected. He is broke, lives in an apartment that is barely holding itself together and has a neighbour who keeps bothering him. What he doesn’t know is that she has feelings for him. Further complications arise when his younger stepbrother comes to him. He believes that Tajuro is working on a coup against the shogun.
7. Cheer Boys!! (2019)
What comes to your mind when I say, cheerleader? A girl with a ponytail wearing a costume with the emblem of the team she is supposed to cheer for. Obviously, this, because that’s what a cheerleader does. But the image is of a girl. Have you ever imagined boys cheerleading? Me neither! And that’s because most of us haven’t seen one. Well, this film aims to change this situation. Based on the novel written by Ryo Asai, ‘Cheer Boys!!’ follows the story of a team of cheerleading boys. At the centre of the story is Haruki Bando, who joins the team for two reasons- because of his best friend and because he isn’t good at anything else.
6. Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (May 10, 2019)
‘Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress’ is an anime series that is set in a world where a mysterious virus has overtaken humanity and the victims have turned into cannibals, called Kabane. Anyone bitten by them turns into one of them. Also, the task of killing them isn’t so easy. Ikoma develops a weapon and with the help of his friend, kills the kabana. One day, in a struggle, he is bitten by a kabane. Quick action helps him to resist the virus, though not completely. He is turned into a human-zombie hybrid, and must now find a way to bring the turmoil in the world to an end. The film picks up the story six months after the events of the last series.
5. Sadako (May 24, 2019)
The story of ‘Sadako’ centres around two people. The first one is a girl suffering from amnesia and being held under the care of a counsellor. The reason behind her house arrest type of situation is not known to anyone, including the girl. The other person of interest is a boy, who happens to be the girl’s counsellor’s brother. He is tech-savvy, and like everyone else these days, wants to become an Internet celebrity. This leads him to do something that proves why the episodes of ‘Black Mirror’ aren’t so far-fetched from reality. A violent ghost and a deadly virus are let loose on the world.
4. Parallel World Love Story (May 31, 2019)
I think the title does a pretty good job of hinting what this movie is about. Takashi Tsurug works for a company that specialises in brain research. His colleague Tomohiko Miwa is his long-time friend and confidant. Mayuko Tsuno is Takashi’s girlfriend. Their love story has come straight out of a rom-com story! To sum it up, everything is great in his life. The problem arises when Tomohiko disappears. A couple of events pile up on that and make Takashi wonder- what is reality and what’s a dream? If you love films that confuse and delight you at the same time, then this is something to look forward to.
3. Kingdom (April 19, 2019)
Based on the manga series of the same name, ‘Kingdom’ follows the story of an orphan who dreams of becoming something great. Li Xin, whose character is based on the life of a real man who lived sometime around 200 BC, was born in a low stratum of the society. The war made him an orphan and most of his childhood was spent trying to fend for himself in any way possible. These hardships fuelled him to rise above his station. A chance encounter with the future emperor allows him that opportunity.
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2. A Gambler’s Odyssey 2020 (April 5, 2019)
Major or minor, every one of us is plagued by one vice or another. For Boyatetsu, it is playing mah-jong. Living in 1945 Tokyo, the world is a bit of a mess, he believes that the future will be a simpler time. By an opportunity, he travels forward in 2020. But before he can rejoice on this achievement, he discovers that this world isn’t so better off than the one he just left behind. His world could very well be in the same universe as Margaret Atwood’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’. The world is suffering from infertility, and as a result of a very few number of children being born, the population has met a sharp decline. And yet, the problem of unemployment continues to exist.
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1. Human Lost (2019)
This anime film is based on the novel ‘No Longer Human’ by Osamu Dazai. It is considered the author’s best work and is one of the most popular books of all time in Japan. The story handles various emotional aspects of a troubled human with acute perfection and leaves the reader with a message that will stay with them for the rest of their life. It follows the ups and downs in the life of a character who keeps his real feelings hidden under the façade of jokes and sarcasm. But he can’t fool everyone, and the people who see through him, change the course of his life.
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