This influential sci-fi/action film is probably still the high-water mark of Japanese animated cinema. More than any other film, Akira proves that there are things you can do with hand-drawn animation that can't be achieved with computers or live-action filmmaking.
Good Morning (1959)
This lighthearted gem, directed by the great Yasujiro Ozu, presents an insightful and funny look at modernization in postwar Japan, as two young boys take a vow of silence after their parents refuse to buy them a television set. It may be the only work in the cinematic canon that includes a running fart gag.
High and Low (1963)
A masterful crime thriller about a wealthy businessman who must decide whether to pay a ransom when his chauffeur's son is kidnapped in mistake for his own. Director Akira Kurosawa is best known for his historical samurai epics, but this film shows that his films set in contemporary Japan are equally as good.
The story of a young, recently-widowed mother, who remarries and moves with her son to her new husband's seaside village. This film marked the feature directorial debut of Hirokazu Kore-eda, who has gone on to become one of Japan's most celebrated filmmakers.
Throne of Blood (1957)
Akira Kurosawa's visually stunning re-telling of Shakespeare's Macbeth, about a samurai lord in feudal Japan who kills his master and usurps his power.
When a Woman Ascends the Stairs (1960)
This film from legendary director Mikio Naruse, about a young widow who must choose whether to go into business for herself or marry in order to support her family, is an incisive examination of the social and economic pressures faced by many women in postwar Japan.
Our collection of Japanese films is an embarrassment of riches, so stop by the library and check one out today!