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5 Hilarious Japanese Movies You Shouldn't Miss

Updated on September 1, 2018
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Fairlane moved to California a little less than six years ago. She wants others who immigrate to have an easier time.

Japanese is never one to market their art extensively. It is a huge waste considering they make some of the best music, movies, and paintings out there. Getting your hands to whatever they have to offer has to be intentional which clashes to the spoiled of Western moviegoers who are used to being chased.

That’s why lists like this exist, so we don’t miss out on the eclectic, weird, downright hilarous but profoundly intelligent humor of the Japanese.

 The Story of Yonosuke
The Story of Yonosuke

1 - The Story of Yonosuke

There is no lack of movies that highlight and use someone’s naivete or social incapacity. It’s one of those issues that are far too familiar and undeniably embarrassing. Shuichi Okita is smart enough to explore it twice with The Chef of South Polar and The Woodsman and the Rain but it is with The Story of Yonosuke that he hit it home with such wit and heart that it’s almost impossible not to let the movie emotionally bring your back to the innocence of young fun and young love.


Yonosuke (Kengo Kora) arrives at a university in his wrinkled suit and uncombed hair. His eclecticism is in full display but it doesn’t outshine his charm that comes from the purity of vision of the world and people. It leads him to form friendships with some of the most popular students in school and prominent young people in the society including the beautiful and rich daughter of a businessman, Shoko (Yuriko Yoshitaka). As he unwittingly get people into one weird adventure after another, he also changes their lives, all for the better. In the end, we are left in amazement how someone who doesn’t seem to know how to live his own life can make such an impact on others.

A scene from What a Wonderful Family
A scene from What a Wonderful Family

2 - What a Wonderful Family

It is always hard to accurately depict the defiant nature of family members without losing the often opaque foundation of love in reel and real life. The commonality of anger can easily shroud the insipid actions of affection. It is, after all, a given that family is forever bonded. It disputes the need to make love tangible. So when director Yoji Yamad managed to do both in the movie What a Wonder Family and also make the audience laugh, it’s like finding gold in the land of Nod.


When Tomiko (Kazuko Yoshiyuki) told his husband of 45 years, Shuzo (Isao Hashizume), that she wants a divorce, he credited it to her wanting to stir some drama into the relationship, until she presented him with a divorce paper. News trickled down to their children. They decided to bring everyone together to sort out the mess but reaction has been varied. Some think she’s bluffing and others feel Shuzo needs to apologize while others seem to want the divorce to push through. It gets worse and worse until tiny issues within the marriage come to surface like a black hole and engulfs everyone around.

What is interesting is how the resolution came about. Unlike other films, the resolution of the film didn’t seem to happen by resolving the main conflict but by pulling away and bring the focus back to the whole family.

A scene from the movie Go find a psychic
A scene from the movie Go find a psychic

3 - Go find a psychic (Magare! Spoon)

You do have to suspend your disbelief if you want to enjoy a movie. Things don’t always happen in its proper plot logic in real life so questioning the authenticity of a movie is lunacy. There are certain movies, however, that pushes you further into vagary. Go Find a Psychic! (Magare! Spoon) is one such movie. It makes no pretense of being a more than a hilarious actualization of someone’s cracked imagination. This is not the first of its kind though but this is one of the few that manage to hilariously related the supernatural with reality.


When Yone Sakurai (Masami Nagasawa), a producer of a psychic show, is sent out to find real psychics, she finds lots of them but none is authentic. In her last gentle knock of persistence, she goes to a cafe that supposedly hosts an annual gathering of real psychics. Due to her disappointments, she starts out already discounting the authenticity of everyone and it was confirmed when everyone in the gathering fails to prove what they have is nothing beyond ‘tricks’. She give up until the tricks starts becoming too real.

A scene from the movie The Apology King
A scene from the movie The Apology King

4 - The Apology King (Shazai no Ousama)

It’s amazing how humanity continuously spot pods of man’s ineptness and turn it into money making ventures. Hallmark is one of the pioneers when it started writing poetry and created one size fits all cards that people simply has to sign and send. It has progressed since. Instagram has taken away a portion of make up artists’ business through preset filters that models can use for their headshots. Artificial Intelligence (AI) runs behind messaging apps to predict human behavior. Even finding true love may now be tindered. The Japanese is a little ahead in the game and Shazai no Ousama proves it… at least in movies.


Kurojima (Aba Sadao) runs a company that will apologize in people’s behalf. For a fee, they will apologize to your ex-wife for you for leaving her for another man. They will apologize for you for intentionally not paying off the money you borrowed from your friend. They will even apologize to every person in the bar you threw up on after a celebrating your promotion a little too hard. Whether you are scared that the person you offended will have a .45 caliber waiting for you or you are simply emotionally incapable of uttering the word ‘sorry’, he will do it for you and guarantees retribution. The problem starts when Kurojima finally encounters someone who doesn’t just dislike the apology but gets angrier each time he hears one. Kurojima can’t give up because it will ruin his reputation so he is forced to explore every trick in the book to work out an acceptable apology but when no amount of literature works, he is forced to examine himself and the

A Ghost of Chance
A Ghost of Chance

5 - A Ghost of Chance (Suteki na Kanashibari)

It is always challenging to bring absurdity to professions that are traditionally rigid but when a film does so while maintaining utmost respect, humility without losing the wit and undeniable crack, it becomes a gem of a tribute. That’s what director Mitani Koki managed to do just that with Suteki na Kanashibari. The cast’s great acting and witty script resulted to an effortlessly hilarious situational comedy that does more than make you laugh, it will also manage to shock you with its seeming familiarity despite the extraordinary premise.


Hosho Emi (Fukatsu Eri) is eager to prove she can be just as good as a lawyer as her father even if she’s too clumsy, too happy, and hasn’t won a single case. She gets one last chance when she was appointed to defend Yabe Goro who is accused of murdering his wife, Suzuko (Takeuchi Yuko). Goro claims he has a rock solid alibi, he was trapped in a hotel room, held hostage by Sarashina Rokubei (Nishida Toshiyuki). Emi goes to investigate and meets Rokubei. Finally ready to present the alibi in court, she realizes that Rokubei is a 400-year-old ghost.

Connect with me

I do not recommend or review movies I haven’t watched. Do connect with me on Twitter or on my website (link on bio) for access to movies I review and recommend that are not readily available on mainstream sites like Netflix.

You may also send me requests or questions if there are movies you want me to review or you want to access.


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