10 Best Japanese Movie Trailers

Tuesday, November 30 by William Gish

The 10 best Japanese movie trailers are perfect showcases for the demented and absurd genius of Japanese cinema. From severed heads to dancing zombies, you’ll have a raucous time perusing the madness.

  1. “Sukiyaki Western Django” It’s difficult to accurately describe the madness that transpires in the best Japanese movie trailer, for Takashi Miike’s “Sukiyaki Western Django.” The trailer is narrated by Quentin Tarantino and features Japanese cowboys using all manner of weapons, from six shooters to machine guns, samurai swords, and crossbows, to destroy each other. ‘Nuff said.
  2. “Invasion of Astroman” The trailer of “Invasion of Astroman” begins with a slow motion shot of Godzilla, a giant mutated pterosaur (Rodan), and a colossal three-headed monster colliding. That alone is enough to make it one of the ten best Japanese movie trailers. It also features worried discussion about something called Planet X and maniacal villains. Can’t go wrong with that.
  3. “Samurai Assassin” Few trailers capture the mood of a film as well as that for “Samurai Assassin,” one of the ten best Japanese movie trailers. The short clip is filled with flurries of snow, torrential rains, stark violence, derelict buildings, and evil scheming. It’s all very bleak, but very captivating.
  4. “The Happiness of the Katakuris” Judging the film’s trailer, “Katakuris” is a family-oriented musical farce featuring graphic murders and reanimated dead. For those who don’t speak Japanese, it’s difficult to know just exactly what's going on, but it is a very glorious confusion indeed.
  5. “Zebraman” “Zebraman” tells the tail of an introverted schoolteacher who dresses up as his favorite superhero in his spare time, only to be accidentally pitted against a real live alien invasion. The film’s trailer, one of the ten best from Japan, is a tongue-in-cheek montage of guns, creatures, costumes, and surreal humor, all without subtitles, making it that much weirder.
  6. “Battle Royale” “Battle Royale” is a film about a group of school children turned against one another in a bullet-riddled battle to the death. One of the best Japanese movie trailers, the chaotic clip transposes very dark humor (the teacher is heard to say “It’s against the rules to kill me”) with bombastic music and shots of children in school uniforms running amok with automatic weapons.
  7. “Tokyo Gore Police” As is implied by the film’s title, the trailer for “Tokyo Gore Police” is not for the faint of heart. For splatter aficionados, it’s a veritable masterpiece, a two-minute orgy of raining blood (literally), arterial spray, gaping wounds, flying body parts, melting flesh, sword-wielding school girls, and severed heads. It’s all extremely graphic, disturbing, and hilarious.
  8. “My Neighbor Totoro” “Totoro” is one of many masterpieces from Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. The film’s trailer is a must-see for its alarming admixture of creepy 80’s music, laughing children, and gigantic creatures.
  9. “Seven Samurai” The trailer for Akira Kurosawa’s epic “Seven Samurai” is rife with heroic imagery, triumphant music, and the maniacal laughter of star Toshiro Mifune. At over three minutes, the trailer is nearly as bombastic as the film itself. There are burning buildings, flying arrows, galloping horses, collapsing bodies, and cascading rains.
  10. “Gojira” “Gorjira” is the original Godzilla film and it boasts one of the ten best Japanese movie trailers. The short clip is filled with action, drama, and the titular monster, though is also interesting from a film history perspective, as it the film, and it’s trailer, serve as a bridge between more artistic fare like “Seven Samurai” and the absurd kitsch of “Invasion of Astroman.”  
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