Japanese movies are in a different league of their own. Many Japanese movies are adapted from manga/animes that are extremely famous in Japan and worldwide. The Japanese movies have their own way of storytelling and possess a certain charm that makes fans fall in love with the story and the characters. Some movies are really good, while some might leave a bitter aftertaste for fans.
The live-action movies mostly stay faithful to the original material - manga source and give the fans the pleasure and satisfaction to cherish and enjoy the movies. Japanese movies are certainly alluring and combined with the aesthetic visuals and compelling storyline, albeit a bit exaggerated sometimes, you can’t stop yourself from happily binging the Japanese movies.
Here are some of the best must-watch live-action movies with trailers that every fan needs to watch if they love manga and anime. This movie list is compiled on the basis of the overall storyline, plot, cast, and feel of the movie.
11. Kimi ni Todoke
Kimi ni Todoke was released in 2010. This Japanese movie is based on the manga written by Karuho Shiina. The series is also known as “From me to you” is based around a schoolgirl who is treated like a Japanese ghost Sadako due to her hairstyle resembling the ghost.
Sawako’s life changes completely when the school’s famous guy take a notice of her and starts to fall in love with her. The beautiful movie stars the late actor Haruma Miura as Shota Kazehaya and Mikabo Tabe plays the role of Sawako or Sadko. Kim ni Todoke is a must-watch best live-action movie that fans should watch if they loved the manga and the anime series.
10. Crows Zero
Crow Zero movie is based on the manga on the name Crows written by Hiroshi Takahashi. The story revolves around the Suzuran High school, infamous for the delinquents who fight to reach the top and seize power and control in the school. The main characters revolve around Genji Takiya played by Oguri Shun, and the third-year student Serizawa played by Yamada Takayuki.
Crows Zero was released in 2007 and it is a highly recommended movie. Crow Zero is followed by a sequel Crow Zero 2 (2009)where all the main casts reprise their roles. The second part stars the late actor Haruma Miura playing Bitou Tatsuya. Miura’s role is short, but he leaves a strong impression through his role.
Crows Zero is a three-part installment and all three of them are highly recommended. The Third part centers around a new character, after Genji (Shun), graduates from Suzuran High. the third installment Crows Explode was released in 2014 where Masahiro Higashide plays the main role as Kazeo Kaburagi. Gintama famed Yuya Yagira plays a notable film in the third movie.
9. Laughing Under the clouds
Donten ni Warau or Laughing Under the Clouds is based on the manga of the same name written by Karakara Kemuri. The movie is set after the Meiji restoration and the story revolves around the Kumo family.
It was endearing to see the movie and fans of the series will love to see this live-action adaptation. The main casts include Sota Fukushi, Ren Kiriyama, Yuki Furukawa, Yum Nakayama, and Shunsuke Daito.
8. Chihayafuru Trilogy
Chihayafuru is a popular Shoujo manga anime series written by Yuki Suetsugu. The famous shoujo series is immensely popular and was turned into a three-part movie series. Chihyafuru movie Trilogy is highly recommended to fans whether you like the series or not. The movie is a fresh breath of feelings and emotions that makes the movie highly enjoyable. The movie had few changes from the anime but was similar in most areas.
The story revolves around Chihaya, Taichi, and Arata and their love for the card game Kurata. Chihayafuru part 1 was released in 2016 followed by the release of the second installment in 2016. Chihayafuru Musubi or part 3 released after two years in 2018 where the main characters are high school seniors. Suzu Hirose, Shūhei Nomura, and Mackenyu star as the main casts in the Chihayafuru series.
7. I want to eat your pancreas
I want to eat your pancreas starred Oguri Shun, Keiko Kitagawa, Takumi Kitamura, and Minami Hamabe in the main roles. The 2017 movie is based on the popular novel turned anime movie. The live-action movie was a bit different from the anime movie, but the central theme was well maintained.
The flow of the movie was good and the movie has a feel-good theme that makes it highly recommended and one of the best movies that is highly rated and recommended for fans.
Bakuman is a 2015 movie based on the work of Tsugumi Ohba. The movie shows the journey of two high school students who aspire to make a name for themselves in the Manga world.
Satoh Takeru and Ryunosuke Kamiki play the main role in Bakuman. It was nice to see Satoh Takeru play an entirely different role in this movie. It is a highly recommended movie that fits the category of Best Live Action movie.
5. Death Note (2006)
The Death Note live-action series is a trilogy released in 2006 and 2008. The first two death note movies Death Note and Death 2: The Last Name are a must-watch if you’re a Death Note fan. The movie changed certain elements from the manga/anime, but it still was one of the best adaptations that were perfectly done.
Tatsuya Fujiwara stars Light Yagami and Kenichi Matsuyama stars as L and did a phenomenal job. If you’re unaware of the story, Death Note revolves around Light Yagami, a guy who receives the Death Note and decides to cleanse the world of evil by playing god, and L who is a clever detective in charge of catching Kira. The third movie, L: Change the world wraps up the movie perfectly and cannot be missed either.
Gintama is a popular Shonen series that needs no introduction. The Yorozuya gang, the Shinsengumi, and the Joui rebels are back to create trouble in the Edo Japan coexisting with the Amanto aliens.
Warner Bros produced Gintama in 2017, the most are definitely one of the best adaptations that strictly followed the anime/manga to a tee. It was amazing to see the main casts as they portray the roles of the anime counterparts and bring the characters to life.
The main casts were Oguri Shun, Masaki Suda, Kanna Hashimoto, Yuya Yagira, and Ryo Yoshizawa, and Masaki Okada. Gintama: Rules are meant to be broken was released in 2018 and gave the fans sheer happiness as Gintoki and other characters come back on the silver screen. Another additional cast member in Gintama 2 was Haruma Miura playing the role of the main antagonist.
3. The Fable
The Fable is based on the manga series written by Katsuhisa Minami and the manga was the winner of the 41st Kodansha Manga Award in 2017 in the general category. The story revolves around a boy who was trained to be a skilled contract killer.
He is infamous in the world and has earned the reputation of “The Fable.” Junichi Akada plays the role of Fable, the mythical contract killer, who starts over his life in Osaka as an ordinary man. The second part The Fable: A Contract Killer Who Doesn't Kill is scheduled to release on 18th June 2021.
Kingdom is based on the manga by the same name written by Yasuhisa Hara. The movie was the highest-grossing movie of the year at the box office. The main cast includes Yamazaki Kento, Yoshizawa Ryo, and Kashimoto Hanna in the lead roles. Kento Yamazaki is phenomenal in this movie as he plays the role of Shin, a war orphan who dreams of becoming a great general and has a fateful encounter with King Eisei, who aims to unify China. Kingdom is slated to release a sequel soon!
1. Rurouni Kenshin
Rurouni Kenshin is the best Live action movie made by Japan. The series has 5 installments in the franchise and two of the sequels are releasing in 2021. The franchise is based on the popular manga created by Nobuhiro Watsuki that describes the story of the powerful assassin Battosai from the Bakumatsu in the Meiji Period.
Satoh Takeru is amazing as he plays the role of Kenshin Himura. Other casts include Emi Takei, Yu Aoi, Munetaka Aoki, Yosuke Eguchi, and Koji Kikkawa. Mackenyu stars in Rurouni Kenshin: The Final (4th part). Tatsuya Fujiwara starred as the main antagonist in the second and third installment of the series. This movie is the best movie ever made and is highly recommended whether you’ve watched the series or read the manga or not.