Japanese Science Fiction Movies

Sunday, March 20 by Joshua Wade

Featuring everything from the disturbing imagery and bizarre stories of Japanese Cyberpunk to the visually stunning interpretations of acclaimed Japanese manga and anime series, this list of Japanese science fiction movies encompasses some of the most noteworthy films in the genre, including the 1954 classic “Godzilla.”

  1. "Tetsuo: The Iron Man" One of the best Japanese science fiction movies ever made, this movie follows an unnamed man as he begins to literally transform into a horrifying machine. The film introduced the genre of Japanese Cyberpunk, characterized by characters who go through bizarre changes in a low-tech industrial setting.
  2. "Big Man Japan" One of the best, if not strangest, Japanese science fiction movies in recent years, this film stars writer-director Hitoshi Matsumoto as Masaru Daisato, a man who can grow several stories high through the power of electricity. He uses this power so that he may defend his city from giant monsters. The highlight of the film is it’s strange, almost hallucinogenic ending.
  3. "Death Note" This dark psychological thriller based on the anime series of the same name follows Light Yagami, a boy who comes into possession of a Death Note, a supernatural notebook used by a death god to list, and subsequently kill any person on earth.
  4. "Casshern" A visually stunning Japanese science fiction movie based on the 1973 anime “Neo-Human Casshern,” this film follows Tetsuya, a man given extraordinary powers through an experimental battle armor. Tetsuya must stop a group of genetically modified humans from destroying humanity.
  5. The "20th Century Boys" Trilogy One of the best depictions of a future world on the brink of chaos, this series of films produced in 2008 and 2009 follow the 1999 manga series of the same name about an apocalyptic world ruled by a tyrannical character known only as Friend.
  6. "Godzilla" Seen as an allegory about the devastation caused by World War II, “Godzilla” was the first of the Japanese “Kaiju” or monster films about an enormous lizard awoken by atomic testing who wrecks havoc on an unsuspecting Tokyo. Though the franchise has produced many sequels and even an American remake, the 1954 original is one of the best Japanese science fiction movies ever produced.
  7. "Battle Royale" A strange film about a dystopian society who send their troublemaking teens to a deserted island so that they may kill each other off one by one, this 2000 movie was based on an equally disturbing 1999 novel by Koushun Takami and even produced a 2003 sequel.
  8. "Tokyo Gore Police" Director Yoshihiro Nishimura’s first commercial film, this movie stars “Audition” actress Eihi Shiina as Ruka, an anti-social loner who leads a special team of police against genetically engineered monsters.
  9. "964 Pinocchio" A bizarre film about a memory-wiped sex slave who is let out into the world, this cyberpunk film delivers insane, nightmarish imagery as the man known simply as Pinocchio realizes what has been done to him, only to mentally and physically explode with disastrous results.
  10. "The Face of Another" A faithful 1966 interpretation of acclaimed Japanese novelist Kobo Abe’s 1959 novel, this classic Japanese science fiction movie follows Okuyama, a man who must grapple with his identity when he receives a new face after his own is horribly burned in an accident.
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