How I Got Into JMovies

So this is part two of introducing myself, and how I got into the topics I talk about on my blog. If you’re curious about anything you can check out my Jdrama post, and maybe a few more if I get ambitious. Now we’re rewinding for a longer journey then JDramas, so let’s dive into it.


I can’t remember the very first JMovie I watched. It’s tied between most likely the first life-action “Death Note” movie or the two life-action movies of “NANA”. Which, really is not surprising since I use to be obsessed with a series where I had to see everything from the series in order to consider my ‘experience’ complete. Yes, I really use to read the whole manga, then anime, and any live-action or other materials I could get my hands on. Not so much anymore, but I do still enjoy  a good life action adaptation.

In order to jump start learning Japanese, my research had led me to watching Japanese movies. I really had no idea where to start when watching movies, nor did I have my own laptop to surf and watch online often. Returning to where I got my live-action movies, the library I discovered that we also had a pretty solid collection of older, Japanese films.


My brain knew that older films were not the best idea, since slang changes, accents are different, etc. However, the language patterns, inflections, and how dialogues exchanges would still probably be accurate so I justified watching them. Coupled with how I could justify watching for ‘historical background’ and ‘context’ for modern movies and directing choices.

The movies I watched were a smattering of black and white films from the 1960’s and earlier, or more modern films from the past five years in color. I really picked at random, or based on cover images. So I watched the likes of “Kuroneko”, “Onibaba”, “The Bad Sleep Well” and “Stray Dog”. All of which were pretty similar in style, until I realized that “The Bad Sleep Well” and “Stray Dog” were by Akira Kurosawa.


(“Dreams” is still my favorite film of all time, probably.)

This lead into a spiral of watching Akira Kurosawa films, and some others. I ended up watching several films multiple times in a row, just so I was fully understanding the plot of the film and re-watching the directing choices. I completely forgot to ‘study’ Japanese watching these films, for better or worse.

Of course, I eventually realized that while I idolized Akira Kurosawa’s films that I should actually look into and watch newer films with directors that were still alive. I watched “Tokyo Sonata” which, I was so stunned by.

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 6.40.54 PM
The family dynamic is weird but well executed.

I mean, the plot was pretty realistic and relatable across borders. The way the family was composed, their relationships with one another all were striking to me. I still remember key points in dialogue, scenes and even the ending which is something I rarely remember about anything. The film really resonated with me as a whole.

The framing always struck me, and was really well done. I knew that it was exceptional for the film industry since Japan’s has been in a slump for awhile, but like an industry there is a shining diamond in there somewhere.

Thus, I ended up watching somewhat (I use that word specifically) more modern as in within the 2000’s forward. Then I really focused on dialogue, slang, and more. I even took notes and asked questions to my professor when I watched during college.

Again, I’m still on and off when I watch J-Movies. I’ve watched a few more recent movies and, which you can see reviews here and here. I even have a few actors that I follow now so I stay in the loop when it comes to movies.

As I can, I try to watch on legitimate sites but occasionally I still have to watched bootlegged versions. I can’t help it since I don’t live in Japan currently, and still, not a lot of titles get officially licensed.  I’ve been really excited that there’s a film festival in Chicago that has a mix of Asian Films to view in theaters in the Chicago area.

Screen Shot 2018-04-07 at 7.52.44 PM
The movie was alright.

Honestly, I also desperately want to watch more J-movies in theatre. I watched “Natsumi’s Fireflies” in theatre when lived in Japan, with a good friend. Granted, I didn’t fully understand all the dialogue in theatre, but the theatre experience makes a difference.

Now, I need to get out of my own way and sit down and watch some more movies! How about you? Any interesting ways you got into J Movies? Have any suggestions for what I should watch next?


  1. Well I don’t have any special approach to Japanese cinema but two of my favorite movies in general are Survive Style 5+ (absurdist and fantastically frenetic direction with the great Tadanobu Asano) and After Life (very heartwarming). I also think Love Exposure is an achievement but I hesitate to recommend it as it’s almost 4 hours – it says something that I found it cativating for just abut all 4 hours….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have never heard of Survive Style 5+ but it does sound incredibly interesting. After Life is near and ear to my heart, one of the few movies I recommend people often and have personally rewatched.

      My friend and I just earlier this year watched Love Exposure. She was constantly identifying the music and I adored the angles it was shot with. It’s so long, and the directors cut is even longer! Eventaully I’d want to watch it over again because there are so many details to review and talk about

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I watched Tokyo Sonata as a kid but didn’t understand what was going on-I’ve been meaning to give it a rewatch. I recommend Battly Royale and One million yen girl and Nobody Knows as well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey, thanks for visiting my blog, even though it was one of those rare times I review a movie. I got into JMovies because of sheer curiosity on these 2 movies – Battle Royale (the sequel ruined it for me though) and Suicide Club. And since then I got the impression that the Japanese has a weird take on high school life lol…

    Liked by 1 person

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