We’ve already had some scorching hot summer days this year, but things are going to get worse before they get better. While it’s great to catch some rays here and there, there’s no outdoor activity that’s worth risking heatstroke in this weather. Instead, why not kick back indoors and catch up on the latest Japanese titles to hit Netflix?
Alongside the latest seasons of ‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Umbrella Academy’, we’ve got a couple of notable Japanese shows and movies coming in July. These include a so-bad-it’s-good horror flick edited to make it as un-terrifying as possible, and a touching two-hander about a divorced couple reconnecting during Covid-19 stay home protocols. (Note that regional restrictions may apply.)
Love in May 2020
Synopsis: Yukiko (Yo Yoshida) and Moto (Yo Oizumi) have not spoken to each other since their divorce four years ago. One night, however, Moto accidentally calls Yukiko when he’s working from home. Yukiko, who now works for a supermarket, is initially reluctant to speak to her ex-husband, but engages him in conversation anyway.
As the minutes tick by, the former couple realize they no longer feel angry at each other for what transpired in their marriage, and they are able to talk to each other with ease after spending time apart to grow and heal independently.
Overview: When production for her series ‘Cold Case: Shinjitsu no Tobira’ was temporarily put on hold at the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, actress Yo Yoshida decided to make the best of a bad situation and begin her own project. Yoshida approached producer Yoshikazu Okada and screenwriter Makiko Okano, who penned this short and sweet yet beautifully intimate exchange, which imagines one of the millions of conversations that transpired during the pandemic. While the phone calls between the characters are depicted through the use of a split screen, Yoshisa and Oizumi do a masterful job of making the audience forget that they are in two separate places.
Available July 1.
Howling Village (the meme version)
Synopsis: Kanade is a psychologist who has the supernatural ability to see spirits. When her brother Yuma and his girlfriend suddenly disappear under suspicious circumstances, Kanade decides to go to the Howling Village – their last known location – to try and find out what happened to her brother.
Kanade’s mission isn’t an easy one. Howling Village reveals itself to be a cursed and dangerous place full of dreadful secrets and vengeful souls, but Kanade presses on. Later, she discovers that the connection between the haunted village and her family runs deeper than she could have ever imagined.
Overview: This J-horror will have you screaming… with laughter, that is. A heavily altered edition of the 2019 movie ‘Howling Village’, this 2020 release comes complete with comical sound effects, puppy ear filters and meme-like speech bubbles, among other corny effects. Stripped of everything that made it remotely haunting, this is a title for everyone who loves to ironically watch badly made gore films with their mates and heckle at the TV after every line.
Available July 23.
If I’d Kissed Her
Synopsis: Supermarket employee Nozomu Momochi (Tori Matsuzaka) is a simple, mild-mannered man who is more interested in reading manga at home than pursuing romantic encounters. There is an exception, however, for Tomoe Yuzuki (Kumiko Aso), who Nozomu meets by chance one day when Tomoe is shopping at the supermarket Nozomu works at. Tomoe is the author of Nozomu’s favorite manga series, and while she is n’t exactly who Nozomu imagined the author to be, he finds himself falling for her anyway.
Just as the two are hitting it off, Tomoe suffers from a terrible accident. Nozomu wonders if he’ll ever be able to get over losing someone so special, but that’s when a man he’s never met before approaches him claiming to be Tomoe.
Overview: Ah, yes, the age old question: Is love really blind? Tori Matsuzaka, Kumiko Aso and Arata Iura make a fun trio in this offbeat romance series where the relationship between two young lovers is thrown off course with a body swap. It’s got an absurd premise, but the series offers enough laughs and touching moments to make this journey worthwhile.
Available July 1.
The Eternal Zero
Synopsis: At their grandmother’s funeral, two siblings learn that the man who they had known as their grandfather was actually their grandmother’s second husband. When they find out that their biological grandfather was actually a kamikaze pilot who died at war, Kentaro and Kumiko are compelled to find out more about his life and who he was as a person.
When they track down their grandfather Kyuzo Miyabe’s former comrades, however, Kentaro and Kumiko are repeatedly told that while their grandfather was considered to be among the best fighter pilots, he was also a coward who always returned to base alive. Troubled by the conflicting reports of his grandfather, Kentaro becomes increasingly obsessed with understanding what it meant to be a kamikaze pilot.
Overview: It’s hard to make a meaningful film based on the perspective of the bad guys of World War II without coming across as an apologist, but ‘Eternal Zero’ manages to walk a fine line on a difficult subject without crossing into the offensive. With a strong cast and brilliant direction by Takashi Yamazaki, the film is a sober reflection of the atrocities committed by Japan during the war while at the same time contemplating the way the nation’s younger generations must now grapple with its dark and difficult history.
Available July 1.
My Isekai Life
Synopsis: Yuji Sano is an overworked corporate drone who has little time for himself outside of his professional life. One day, as Yuji is trying to get some work done on his computer at home, a peculiar message pops up on the screen calling on him to enter another realm. When Yuji tries to reboot the device, he accidentally transports himself to an alternate world of magic and mystical creatures. At first, all Yuji can think about is finding a way to return to his old life, but eventually he turns his attention towards his newfound superpowers and settles into his new identity as a powerful sage.
Overview: ‘My Isekai Life’ is a new anime adapted from a manga based on a literary series by Shinkoshoto. With vibrant coloring and artful animation by Revoroot, ‘My Isekai Life’ is expected to be one of the best anime releases this summer.
Available July 9.
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