Running out of K-dramas to binge? What do you say about crossing borders and trying out Japanese films for a change? While not every Japanese drama and film out there is friendly towards first-time viewers, many of their slice-of-life movies are easy to consume while also being thought-provoking and feels-igniting. Don't believe us? Scroll through our recommended watch-list and give these slice-of-life Japanese tearjerker movies a try to see for yourself.
Following the animé series and manga of the same name, ReLIFE is about Arata Kaizaki, an unemployed 27-year-old who navigates through the failures and pretentiousness of adulthood. On one fateful day, he was offered a chance to join the ReLIFE research program, where a medication reverts him back to his 17-year-old self. Here, he immerses himself into high school once again as the test subject of a one-year experiment aimed to re-establish confidence amongst failed adults. Should it succeed, the program is set to help these adults pick themselves back up and return as a functional member of society. Desperate for employment and rent, among other things, Kaizaki agrees and finds himself learning beyond what he already knows.
Offering a comedic start that slowly develops into a more wistful and dramatic storyline, ReLIFE gives something to both its teenage and adult audiences. Younger viewers are faced with realities they must face and power through in the next steps of their lives and adults are reminded that despite trying times, there is still hope.
Koe No Katachi (2016)
Known internationally as A Silent Voice, the story revolves around Ishida Shoyo, a highschool student living through the after-effects of being a former bully. Isolated and ostracised by his friends and classmates after deaf transfer student Nishimiya Shouko moved away due to his incessant actions, Shoyo developed self-loathing, mistrust, and the inability to connect with others in his own fear of doing them wrong and vice-versa. Years later, his paths crossed with Shouko once again and in his effort to make amends, he goes through a heart-tugging journey of forgiveness for both self and others.
What sets Koe No Katachi apart from Western films tackling this issue is that this boldly explores the effects of bullying for both the bully and the bullied. It doesn't justify cruel actions but shows that despite reasons like peer pressure or curiosity, hurting someone will have its consequences for both parties. It also uses deafness as a metaphor for isolation, miscommunication, and facing inner fears and demons. This film will have you shedding tears as it comes to its poignant conclusion.