Thinking about flying to Japan? The Japanese film industry is one of the biggest in the world, and it has been around for over a century. With a powerful combination of Japanese technology and artistic skill, it is not surprising that the world takes notice when Japan produces movies. Here is a sampling of some great Japanese movies on Netflix and other streaming services that showcase Japanese artistry at its finest.


Co-written and directed by Shinsuke Sato, Bleach is based on Tite Kubo’s manga of the same title. Also known as Bleach: The Soul Reaper Agent Arc, it tells the story of Ichigo, a teenager who could see ghosts. He gets the powers of Rukia, a Soul Reaper, as she fights a Hollow. Ichigo diligently trains as he acts as a Soul Reaper to defeat the Hollows that plague his village. This live action was distributed by Warner Bros. and Netflix. It came out in Japan and the US in July 2018. It was streamed at Netflix starting September 2018. The film earned USD 4 million.

Conan: Zero the Enforcer

Another manga turned into film is Conan: Zero the Enforcer. This Japanese animation was helmed by Kobun Shizuno and penned by Takahiro Okura. Gosho Aoyama wrote the manga series on which this film was based on. The movie belongs to the Case Closed film series, and is the 22nd installment. TMS Entertainment is the production company behind this animated film, while Toho Company, Ltd. acts as the distributor. It came out in April 2018 and grossed USD 105.1 million worldwide. Detective Conan investigates the explosion at the venue of a summit meeting, days before the summit was to happen. He finds this odd and uncovers a conspiracy.

Watch Shoplifters online

From Aoi Pro, Inc. and under the direction of Hirokazu Kore-eda come a family drama called Shoplifters. Osamu and Nobuyo live in poverty and steal from others in order to survive. They took in an orphaned boy, Shota, whom they treat as their own son. As they go through life with difficulty, they continue shoplifting until they reap the consequences of their ways. It premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2018 where it won the coveted Palme d’Or award. It was later distributed in Japan by GAGA Pictures. The production grossed USD 55 million.


Studio Chizu presents another Japanese animated film. Written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda, Mirai is a tale about family and relationships. Kun, a young boy, became jealous of his baby sister, Mirai, and is resentful towards his mother. Traveling through time allows him to see his family in a different light, therefore, appreciating them more. The movie was distributed by Toho and came out in Japan in May 2018. It also enjoyed a theatrical run in Australia, New Zealand, the UK, Ireland, the US, and Canada. It grossed USD 24.1 million worldwide.

Many Japanese films demonstrate Japanese creativity and fondness for fantastical themes. Whatever the genre, Japanese film productions are always stamped with excellence, as it is reflective of their culture and values as a people.