The number of Japanese-made shows available on the global streaming services is growing exponentially as producers are noticing that the shows can bring new viewers to the platforms. Netflix bets heavily on Anime but it also produced Japanese TV shows like Underwear about a small high-class lingerie design house, yakuza drama Giri/Haji and probably one of the most popular shows which are not anime Terrace House. With so much content available, it is no wonder that Netflix is THE place to go to watch everything Japanese (we have a separate article about what you can watch on Netflix). However, there are other ones too and one of the most popular of them is Amazon Prime. For about 500 yen per month, you can get not only free delivery of products ordered on Amazon but access to the Amazon Video library as well. In this article, I am going to talk about the shows/films I highly recommend to watch on the service. Before you watch be aware that unlike Netflix, Amazon does not have any subtitles available for the Japanese shows so in order to understand you need a high level of Japanese proficiency. Also, some of the shows might not be available outside Japan (you can use a VPN to watch it).
Tokyo Vampire Hotel
Directed by one of Japan’s most provocative directors Shion Sono, Tokyo Vampire Hotel is a nine-part horror TV show which he made in partnership with Amazon Video. At the center of the story is a girl named Manami who has been targeted by a group of assassins who later turn out to be vampires. Of course, Manami also is not that easy. As vampires chasing Manami, other people are being invited to a hotel whose owner claims that apocalypse is coming and staying at the hotel is the only way to save themself. The series is quite violent but in a comical way so it is not scary at all. Just like the rivers of blood in the show, Sono’s dark sense of humor is flowing through the episodes.
Olympia Kyklos is a comedy anime series about Demetrios, an ancient Greek Olympian. Oh, almost forgot, he is also a time traveler. Every episode usually follows the same script – Demetrios gets in trouble in his time, travels in time to 1964 Tokyo (the year the first Tokyo Olympics took place), gets inspired by the modern Olympics, travels back to Greece with his new knowledge to solve his problem. Every episode is just around 10 minutes long but is filled with jokes and gags mostly based on the old times-new times contradictory dynamics. The animation is quite unusual too – the Greek characters are lool like as if they were made out of plasticine, whereas the Japanse ones are made of cardboard.
Not many horror films can be as beautiful as Kwaidan. The 1965 film might not scare you because of its age but it can give a dose of aesthetic pleasure. The film is three hours long and consists of four separate stories “The Black Hair” about an unfaithful man and his dead wife, “The Woman of the Snow” about a fisherman who fell in love with a snow demon, “Hoichi the Earless” about a priest who can see ghosts and “In a Cup of Tea” about a publisher who drank from a “wrong” cup of tea.
The film Love Letter evokes the same feeling real love letters usually do – a warm feeling somewhere around your chest. The film takes place in snowy Kobe but this feeling in your chest will keep you warm. It tells the story of Hiroko Watanabe who lost her fiancé in a climbing accident. She sends a letter to the house where he used to live and surprisingly gets a response from there signed by the name of her late fiancé. There is nothing mystical in the story though and it is rather melodramatic for my taste but the stunning camerawork will keep you engaged.
Big in Japan
Another documentary about the “internalization of Japan”, well kind of. The hero of this documentary is Dave who came to Japan from Australia with his two friends who film him on his quest to become a gaikokojin terento (a foreign star in Japan). Like many foreigners here, he works as an English teacher to make his ends while trying to become famous. The problem is, David is a simple looking guy without charisma. Guiding by more experience foreign stars like Lady Beard and Bob ‘The Beast’ Sapp, he creates a character to gain some recognition. Of course, this character has to be weird so he takes off his clothes, puts on an onigiri-shaped hat and goes to one of the crowdest places in the world, Shibuya.
Japan is not a very ethnically diverse country, I am sure that you know it. Nevertheless, you can find some diversity here. Hafu is the documentary where the authors are trying to show us the diversity that is sometimes hidden in homogenous Japan. The documentary follows five half Japanese people different in their citizenship, language abilities and life goals. All of them are telling the story of what it is like to be biracial in Japan. Watch if you want to see some new perspectives on Japan.
Have you watched any of these tv shows/films on Amazon Prime?
That was our favorite tv shows/films available on Amazon Prime. Have you watched any of these? Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comment below!