Even though real-life romance is on the decline in Japan, there are still a lot of romance movies that cover a wide range of situations. Cinema Escapist has put together a list (updated for 2020) of the top 16 Japanese romance movies for you to watch, whether you need a movie for a date night or something to help you get over a breakup.
Even though many Japanese romance movies use the same plot devices, they are not all the same. There are animations, live-action movies, strange stories, tearjerkers, and more. This list tries to show that variety so that you can find a good movie no matter what your tastes are.
Want to find a recently released movie? You've come to the right spot. Want to see an even better love story? We also have those. Lastly, since romance movies often show the values of a society, we'll talk about how these movies can teach you more about life in Japan. Look through this list to find a movie that will warm your heart and maybe your mind as well.
Best Japanese Romance Movies List
10. My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday
My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is a Japanese romantic drama movie that came out in 2016 and was based on the same-named novel. It was directed by Takahiro Miki. Sota Fukushi and Nana Komatsu are in the movie. It was put out by Toho on December 17, 2016, in Japan.
On February 15, Takatoshi Minamiyama, a visual arts student and satirist in Kyoto who is 20 years old, meets Emi Fukuju on the train to college. He falls in love with her at first sight. After their first meeting, which was awkward, they agreed to get together again in a few days.
Takatoshi asks Emi out on a date with the help of his friend Shoichi Ueyama. At the end of the date, he tells her he loves her. Emi seems strange to Takatoshi because she can predict what will happen to him and she tends to cry when he does something nice for her. She doesn't want to see him after midnight either.
After they make love on March 1, Takatoshi finds Emi's journal on the table, which she had left there on purpose. Emi wrote them backward, making him very confused. The first page is dated March 16, and the last page is dated February 15.
Orange is a Japanese teen romance story that is based on a popular slice-of-life manga series. The main character of the movie is Naho Takamiya, a 16-year-old high school student. Naho starts getting letters from her future self one day, and these letters start to change how she talks to her friends and classmates.
With time travel, transfer students from Tokyo, and characters who might get hit by cars, Orange creates a story that will feel familiar to anyone who likes Japanese teen romances that are easy to get lost in. When came out, it quickly became the most popular movie in Japan. Maybe many Japanese people saw it as a familiar escape.
8. From Me to You
The plot of this Japanese love story makes a reference to The Ring, a well-known Japanese horror movie. From Me To You isn't scary at all, so don't worry. Instead, the main character, Sawako Kuronuma, has a name that sounds like “Sadako,” the name of the famous female ghoul from The Ring.
Because of this, Sawako's classmates avoid her, except for Shota Kazehaya, who is a pretty boy. Because of Shota's kindness, Sawako starts to like him more. The movie does a good job of showing how each character feels and how they change as the story goes on. From Me to You is a good choice if you want a simple Japanese love story. Don't let the connection to The Ring put you off!
7. One Week Friends
Matcha Hazuki's One Week Friends is a series of manga books. Between January 21, 2012, and January 22, 2015, it was published in Square Enix's Gangan Joker magazine. It was first put out as a one-shot manga in the September 2011 issue of the magazine.
Since then, the series has been put together in seven tankbon volumes. From April 6 to June 22, 2014, Brain's Base aired an anime TV series based on the book. In North America, the rights to the show were given to Sentai Filmworks. In Australia and New Zealand, the rights were given to Madman Entertainment. In February 2017, a real-life movie with the same name came out.
Yuki Hase, a high school student, notices that his pretty classmate Kaori Fujimiya is always by herself and doesn't seem to have any friends. After talking to her and getting to know her better, Kaori told her that every Monday she forgets who her friends are. Even though Yki knows this, he tries to make friends with her every week.
6. I Give My First Love to You
The movie I Give My First Love to You came out in Japan in 2009. It was based on Kotomi Aoki's manga with the same name. It came out in Japanese theatres on October 24, 2009. The story is about a boy named Takuma Kakinouchi who is told he will die before he turns 20. He is in love with a girl named Mayu Taneda.
The movie is directed by Takehiko Shinjo, and the main characters are played by newcomer Masaki Okada and actress Mao Inoue, who played Makino Tsukushi in the TV drama and movie versions of Hana Yori Dango. Ken Hirai, a Japanese singer, sang the theme song for the movie.
5. The 100th Love With You
The 100th Love with You is a Japanese romantic fantasy film starring Miwa and Kentaro Sakaguchi. Satomi Oshima wrote the original screenplay, and Sho Tsukikawa directed it. It was shown for the first time in Japan on February 4, 2017, and it was also shown in China and South Korea.
On July 31, Aoi Hinata (Miwa), a college student, was in a car accident. When Aoi Hinata wakes up, she is in a classroom a week earlier. Riku Hasegawa, a childhood friend of hers played by Kentaro Sakaguchi, then tells her that he can change the past.
At the start of the movie, a young Aoi Hinata is upset about the broken record she is holding. All of a sudden, a young Riku shows up and says he can fix the record. Right away, it's the present day, and Aoi Hinata (Miwa), a college student, drops the book she's holding and jolts awake, disturbing the class.
This is Aoi's last summer before she goes to London to study abroad. Aoi plays in a band with her friends Naoya, Tetta, and her old friend Riku outside of school (Kentaro Sakaguchi). Rina isn't in the band, but she goes to rehearsals. Riku and Aoi seem to like each other.
After that, the practice goes well, and Riku quickly tells his band members that he has to leave because he has other things to do. The rest of the crew wonders if he's a perfect man and asks Aoi if Riku has any flaws. She can't come up with even one.
4. The Liar and His Lover
Do you yearn for more musical passion in your life? There is no better place to look than The Liar and His Lover. There is also a Korean drama that was released in 2017 that is based on the same source material as this live-action movie, which is based on a manga with the same name.
The main character of the movie is an introverted and successful singer by the name of Aki Ogasawara. She battles sadness with the help of her music. He comes into contact with Riko Koeda, a high school student who possesses a stunning singing voice.
Liar is a fitting nickname for Aki because he deceives Riko about his true identity, which leads to their romantic involvement. As the two get closer to one another, it is up to Aki to deal with the repercussions of the lie.
3. Crying Out Love in the Center of the World
Crying Out Love in the Center of the World is a 2004 Japanese drama film directed by Isao Yukisada. It is based on the novel Socrates in Love by Kyoichi Katayama. In the story, Takao Osawa goes back to his hometown to listen to audio diaries that his high school sweetheart, Masami Nagasawa, made before she died.
When the movie came out in Japan on May 8, 2004, Nagasawa became known as an actress. It made a lot of money, and “Hitomi o Tojite” (With My Eyes Closed) by Ken Hirai, which was the theme song, became a hit single.
Ritsuko finds an old cassette tape with the audio diary of a teenage girl in a forgotten box in her Tokyo apartment. Saku, who is engaged to Ritsuko, sees her on TV at Takamatsu Airport when a typhoon is coming.
He finds out that she has gone to Shikoku, where they grew up, and goes after her. He finds a box of audio cassettes at his family's house. He listens to them while he thinks about what he did at school.
2. Your Name
Your Name is a Japanese animated romantic fantasy movie that came out in 2016. It was made by CoMix Wave Films and was sold by Toho. It's about a high school boy in Tokyo and a high school girl in the countryside of Japan who all of a sudden start to switch places.
Makoto Shinkai was hired to write and direct the movie in 2014. Ryunosuke Kamiki and Mone Kamishiraishi give their voices to the characters. Masashi Ando directed the animation, Masayoshi Tanaka made the characters, and Radwimps made the orchestral score and soundtrack. A light novel by Shinkai with the same name came out a month before the film's premiere.
Your Name was shown for the first time at the 2016 Anime Expo in Los Angeles on July 3, 2016. It came out in theatres in Japan on August 26, 2016, and in the U.S. on April 7, 2017. The animation, music, visuals, and emotional weight of the movie were all praised by critics.
The movie made more than 41.44 billion (US$380.15 million) all over the world. It broke a lot of box office records, including being the third highest-grossing anime movie of all time, not taking inflation into account.
The movie won Best Animated Feature at the 2016 Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards, the 49th Sitges Film Festival, and the 71st Mainichi Film Awards. It was also nominated for Best Animation of the Year at the 40th Japan Academy Prize. As of 2021, Paramount Pictures is making a live-action remake of the movie in the United States.
1. Whisper of the Heart
Whisper of the Heart is a Japanese animated musical coming-of-age romantic drama movie from 1995. It was directed by Yoshifumi Kond and written by Hayao Miyazaki, and it was based on a manga by Aoi Hiiragi with the same name from 1989.
It was animated for Tokuma Shoten, Nippon Television Network, and Hakuhodo by Studio Ghibli. The film stars Yoko Honna, Issei Takahashi, Takashi Tachibana, Shigeru Muroi, Shigeru Tsuyuguchi and Keiju Kobayashi.
Before he died in 1998, Kond only directed one movie, Whisper of the Heart. Studio Ghibli had hoped that Kond would take over from Miyazaki and Takahata.
It was the only Ghibli movie shown in theatres that weren't directed by Miyazaki or Isao Takahata for seven years, until The Cat Returns, which was about a minor character in the movie, Baron, came out in 2002.
Even though real-life romance is getting less common in Japan, there are still a lot of romance movies that cover a wide range of situations.
This list tries to show how many different kinds of movies there are so that you can find a good one no matter what you like.
Use this list to find a movie that will make you feel good and maybe even make you feel good inside.