Japan’s two greatest filmmakers, Akira Kurosawa and Hayao Miyazaki, are known for their work in the jidaigeki (Japanese period drama) and anime film genres, respectively. Outside those genres, other Japanese movie directors have gained global prominence by helming dramas with a focus on family and contemporary life. Yasujiro Ozu’s "Tokyo Story," for instance, actually unseated "Citizen Kane" as the greatest film of all time in a 2012 poll conducted by the British Film Institute.
Let’s face it though: when you’re chilling at home, you’re not always going to be in the mood for a simple human drama. Sometimes you might be looking for a movie with an element of excitement to it, one that’s more thrilling or plot-driven. In short: a genre film.
For viewers whose tastes run that way, there are a number of Japanese directors who have established themselves as premium genre filmmakers. From anime to J-horror to samurai and yakuza films, the five filmmakers on this alphabetically ordered list hold continued popular appeal at home and abroad. If you missed this year’s Tokyo International Film Festival, these picks and access to a streaming or rental outlet might help you plan your own personal Japanese film festival at home.
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