Yup, this is about to come to larger blows, you see, there is Netflix (of course), Apple, Amazon Prime, Canal Plus/Foxtel and Disney Plus. There are a few more, but in many cases HBO is added to the film channels of Foxtel, and so on. Yet these players never took a serious look at the treasure of the east, Japan particularly. Yes they all look at the manga, yet there is a lot more. The Zatoichi series, which was followed by an amazing movie with Takeshi Kitano. There are a lot more, and even as there are some really good movies around that are done in
Japan (Earthquake bird with Alicia Vikander), Japan has a lot of original non manga material to offer. In the horror section there is the Audition and Oldboy, the second one is also seen as a remade English version, but it is nowhere near as good as the original, perhaps it was the atmosphere. There is of course the setting of Ju-On and that video that kills within 7 days, but those are the visible ones that made the press. A lot of people got interested in Japan as a provider of entertainment after Kill Bill part 1, that is fair enough, we all have our moments. For me it was the 1980 TV-series Shōgun with Richard Chamberlain, based on the novel by James Clavell with the same name. A series where we see giants like Toshiro Mifune, Yoko Shimada, Frankie Sakai, and Hideo Takamatsu (and many more). Not just that, even the Middle-Earth trusted Gimli (John Rhys-Davies) was already amazing 40 years ago. I reckon it might be time for a remake, if only the 1980 version was not so darn perfect. Yet there is more in Japan than just remakes. To see that we merely have to look at the Playstation 4 and the almost perfect Ghost of Tsushima. Until the game was there, I know nothing of this place and the setting it had. And I know I am not alone. We might want to travel back to 2006 when Clint Eastwood release the second part, Letters from Iwo Jima. As Flags of our fathers showed us the American side, Clint took a gander and showed us the other side as well. What we ended up with is a near complete view of a war no-one really wanted, but we were all forced to fight it, because there was no other way.
Yet as we see the roll call of movies in Japan, we see the western view of it and some of it is really good, there is the Forest with Natalie Dorner who is pretty amazing (for those who merely know here from her ways to excite Henry VIII, or be the sweet dear in GoT), this is the movie to watch her in). We need to acknowledge that a movie about Japanese in Japan can only be made by the Japanese. We do not deny that Lost in Translation is a gem, yet who knows of 100 Yen Love, and before you think that this is mere love movie, think again, in this particular case it is Billion dollar baby on steroids. A slob turning her life around and it is that underdog fight that for some reason is a lot better when it is done in Japan. There is another example, The Ramen Girl, underestimated and a little shallow, but it shows us a side of Japan we rarely see, their strife for excellence, a spiritual side perhaps, perhaps not. But there is a multitude of sides to Japan we always seem to ignore. The technologists look at Japan, because what we see there now will hit our borders in about 5 years. Yet in all that, we seem to forget that Japan has a soul and even if we do not understand it, some wall parts are shown in their movies and TV-series. With the world wanting more and wanting something different, there is every chance that Japanese entertainment goods will b e fought over by the streaming giants. And if these parts do not convince you, take a look at Gokusen (2002) and I can tell you right now, the plot twist that hits you at the end of season one, is one you we’re never ready for.
You could say: Only in Japan!