Umibe no Étranger (The Stranger by the Beach, 2020)
Shun finds himself drawn to Mio, a schoolmate who spends his evenings alone on a bench overlooking the tranquil sea below. When he learns about the death of Mio’s mother, Shun cautiously reaches out to the boy. But just as the two make their interest in each other known, Mio announces that he’s moving to an orphanage off the island.
Three years later, 20-year-old Mio returns, passionately declaring his unwavering feelings for Shun. However, the other man, who has experienced alienation and discrimination for being true to himself, proves hesitant about giving in to the pull between them. As he keeps shoving Mio toward the socially acceptable life he thinks will make the other man happier, Mio’s patience begins to wear thin.
The 59-minute movie tells a wonderfully tender story about two men overcoming the trepidation that comes with consciously going against the norm. Above all, the spellbinding visuals, pace and atmospheric setting create the illusion of being transported to Japan for a lazy summer in blistering heat.
No. 6 (2011)
In a dystopian world divided into sectors, No. 6 is regarded as the most utopian by its citizens, but equally the most oppressive by those, who have been cast behind its walls. Rat (Japanese: Nezumi), an aloof and self-sufficient boy, considers seeing to the destruction of No. 6 his only goal. And yet, he finds his world tilted by the reappearance of Shion, the boy who saved his life years before.
Alerted to the existence of parasitic wasps inhabiting the bodies of all No. 6 citizens, warm-hearted Shion hatches a plan to save them. But as romantic feelings deepen between the two boys, so does the distance between them.
BANANA FISH (2018)
Set in New York, this crime thriller takes on heavy themes and unsettling mysteries. All the while, a net of intricate relationships between gang leaders is woven, then torn apart, keeping its threads in constant motion. And in the midst of the chaos and bloody fight scenes is the slow, all-consuming and heart-wrenching connection between Ash, the 17-year-old prodigy everyone fears and respects, and Eiji, a 19-year-old Japanese boy with the right disposition to rebalance Ash’s life.
Yamishibai: Japanese Ghost Stories (2013)
Get a good set of headphones and get ready for short spooky stories based on Japanese urban legends and myths. Each episode is around 5 minutes long, produced in the kamishibai style of popular street theatre storytelling from the 1930s.
A series of unexplained deaths occur in a small town, and a doctor tries to investigate what lies behind the morbid demises. Featuring iconic Buck Tick songs and stellar music themes that will haunt you for days, Shiki will mess with your head and make you think hard about where your loyalties lie.
Full of twists, bloodshed and supernatural secrets, this horror anime will keep you on the edge of your seat. When Koichi meets uncanny Mei, a series of gruesome and senseless deaths connected to their class 3-3 will start to make sense. Plot, artwork and music design will draw you in instantly.
Not to be confused with Princess Mononoke (1997), this series will transport you to feudal Japan, where only one person has the power to fight the mononoke – the evil spirits. Building on psychological horror, this unique animation boasts detailed art and a rare look at Japanese traditions.
Parasyte: The Maxim (2014-2015)
Alien shapeshifters can compete with ghosts in terms of inflicting terror. In this sci-fi horror series, the monsters prey on humans by devouring heads and feasting on their bodies – great nightmare material to upset your subconscious. However, Parasyte is not just gore and screams. It poses serious questions about humanity, including our impact and place in the world.