6 Best Movies to Watch From Bandai Visual

Staff & contributors
There are many movies by the much-celebrated Japanese auteur director Hirokazu Koreeda on A Good Movie to Watch. Why? Because, like all the movies we showcase here, his work is often little-known, but unbelievably good. After the Storm is no different. Much like his other works, notably Like Father, Like Son, Shoplifters, and Nobody Knows, it deals with the topic of family dynamics, regret, and disappointment. But his movies are never dramatic downers but delicate dioramas, understated in tone. Once a successful writer, Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) is now a private detective who spends the little money he makes on gambling instead of paying child support. His ex-wife and son are increasingly alienated by his behavior until one day, during a storm, they all find themselves trapped in Ryota's childhood home. Subtly touching on notions of inter-generational bond and tension –⁠ Koreeda's works are mesmerizing and stick with you long after you've finished watching.

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Aju Makita, Daisuke Kuroda, Hiroshi Abe, Isao Hashizume, Izumi Matsuoka, Jun Matsumoto, Kanji Furutachi, Kazuya Takahashi, Kensuke Ashihara, Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, Maki Yoko, Makoto Nakamura, Michie Ikeda, Mickey Curtis, Rie Minemura, Ryoko Tateishi, Satomi Kobayashi, Shôno Hayama, Sosuke Ikematsu, Taiyo Yoshizawa, Yôko Maki, Yukiyoshi Ozawa, Yūko Fukui, Yuri Nakamura, 蒔田 彩珠

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Hirokazu Koreeda

Rating: Not Rated

Koreeda is a master of the tender gaze. He deals so softly, elegantly, and emphatically with the characters in his films, it will make you feel like you're watching life itself in all its complex, emotional splendor. Maybe this is particularly true for this movie because it has been inspired by Koreeda's memories of his own childhood and the passing of his mother. Still Walking is a quietly toned movie spanning a period of 24 hours in the life of the Yokoyama family, as they gather to commemorate the passing of their eldest son. At the center of the story is the father, an emotionally distant man who commands respect both from his family and community. Opposite from him sits the other son, the black sheep, who seeks his father's validation. Directed, written, and edited by Koreeda, this dynamic is one of many in this slice-of-life movie about how families deal with loss. And, however distant the culture or setting in Japan may seem to the outsider, you're bound to recognize either yourself or your family among the tender scenes of this masterful drama.

Genre: Drama, Family

Actor: Haruko Kato, Hiroshi Abe, Hotaru Nomoto, Kazuya Takahashi, Kirin Kiki, Ryoga Hayashi, Shohei Tanaka, Susumu Terajima, Yoshio Harada, You, Yui Natsukawa

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Hirokazu Koreeda

Rating: Not Rated

“It is better to live miserable than to die happy,” or so says one of the characters in Jia Zhangke’s anthology film A Touch of Sin. On its surface, the “sin” referenced in the title might pertain to the acts of murder that the four protagonists commit, but in the context of China’s rapidly changing capitalist landscape (a theme explored in the director’s other pictures), it reveals itself as a malady shared by Chinese laborers treated as dispensable resources by the powers-that-be. Murder, then, is explored as an extremity, the effectual breaking point of people no longer able to contain the injustice within themselves. Beneath the splatters of blood is a plea for empathy and understanding, at once remorseful and full of conviction.

Genre: Action, Crime, Drama

Actor: Baoqiang Wang, Han Dong, Han Sanming, Jia Zhangke, Jiang Wu, Jin Zhang, Li Meng, Lu Liu, Luo Lanshan, Qiang Wang, Wang Baoqiang, Wang Hongwei, Wang Qiang, Zhang Jiayi, Zhang Jin, Zhao Tao

Director: Jia Zhangke

A very touching film about Japanese children who are abandoned by their mother in their apartment and left on their own. It's movie that perfectly encapsulates the world of kids and its alignment with this story is both heartbreaking and joyful. Their innocence will make you smile from ear to ear until moments come where you will shed tears. This is a film everyone should have watched, it breaks my heart how little-known it is.

Genre: Drama

Actor: Ayu Kitaura, Hanae Kan, Hiei Kimura, Kazuyoshi Kushida, Ken'ichi Endô, Momoko Shimizu, Ryō Kase, Sei Hiraizumi, Susumu Terajima, You, Yuichi Kimura, Yukiko Okamoto, Yûya Yagira

Director: Hirokazu Kore-eda, Hirokazu Koreeda

Rating: PG-13

Best known for landmark cyberpunk anime Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo crafted strange and terrifying visions of a world that has not yet come, imagining technology that surpassed that of today, but in much pessimistic light compared to that of the genre. Three of his manga short stories are depicted in Memories, with Otomo partnering with Kōji Morimoto and Tensai Okamura to direct each segment, and with Satoshi Kon in writing, just before Kon’s own iconic surrealist films. Kon-written Magnetic Rose has been universally acknowledged as the best of them, being much more emotionally poignant, but the other two does have its charms, as Stink Bomb takes a relatively silly premise to its fairly logical, but scary conclusion, and Cannon Fodder takes the beauty of Otomo’s art into such a hollow and ugly world. All three deliver terrifying omens of death through technology used against the everyday man, whether by accident or design.

Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Actor: Ami Hasegawa, Gara Takashima, Hidetoshi Nakamura, Hideyuki Hori, Hisako Kyoda, Hisao Egawa, Kayoko Fujii, Keaton Yamada, Keiko Yamamoto, Kenichi Ogata, Koichi Yamadera, Masato Hirano, Michio Hazama, Nobuaki Fukuda, Osamu Saka, Ryoichi Tanaka, Ryuji Nakagi, Shigeru Chiba, Shozo Iizuka, Takkô Ishimori, Tetsuya Iwanaga, Tomoko Ishimura, Tsutomu Isobe, Yuu Hayashi

Director: Katsuhiro Otomo, Koji Morimoto, Tensai Okamura

Rating: PG-13

If I must imagine strange creatures to process grief over a parent, I would rather have it be the fluffy Totoro rather than three creepy looking Gollum-esque yokai creatures that lick legs, steal random food items, and overall act like terrible roommates. Still, there’s a certain gremlin-like charm to A Letter to Momo that could captivate animation fans. As these yokai spirit creatures push Momo to explore her new quaint island town, and as Momo eventually befriends them or force them to act better through threats, it’s precisely the sort of chaotic, whimsical adventure that can get a girl to open up, to hope again, and to be open to what life still has to offer. The pacing might deter some viewers, but A Letter to Momo still works as a touching coming-of-age journey marked by loss.

Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama, Family, Fantasy

Actor: Cho, Daizaburō Arakawa, Ikuko Tani, Karen Miyama, Koichi Yamadera, Takeo Ogawa, Toshiyuki Nishida, Yoshisada Sakaguchi, Yuka

Director: Hiroyuki Okiura

Rating: PG