If you haven’t used up your 1 month free subscription for Netflix, I highly recommend you sign up for it now so you won’t be too bored over the long holiday weekend next week! The Singapore Netflix content has pumped up as compared to when it first started. It also has a decent selection of Japanese content, including Netflix exclusives.
Here’s my take on what’s good to watch!
1. 5 Centimeters Per Second (2007)
Runtime: 62 min
Synopsis: Inseparable fourth-graders Takaki Tonoo and Akari Shinohara – bonded by a love of books – begin to slowly drift apart when their families relocate.
You may not know who Makoto Shinkai is, but I believe you’ll at least know about Your Name (Kimi no Na wa)!! 5 Centimeters Per Second is one of his earlier works and has a charm that’s different from his latest box office hit. It might not be built to satiate the wider audience, but it’s definitely worth a watch and your attention.
The other works which are available also on Netflix are: The Voices of a Distant Star (2002), The Place Promised in Our Early Days (2004), Children Who Chase Lost Voices (2011) and The Garden of Words (2013).
2. Terrace House: Boys & Girls in the City (Netflix Original) (2015)
Runtime: 2 Seasons (18 + 46 episodes)
Synopsis: Six men and women begin living together under one roof in the heart of Tokyo City. All they get is a fabulous home and a shared car. They spend the summer together while the cameras roll. Watch the drama unfold – no script.
This is a reality series about strangers coming together to live. At the beginning, I was quite apprehensive about it, especially when they claim that there’s ‘no script’. Then I discovered the charm of the series having watched a few episodes into it.
It’s interesting because of three main reasons. First, the people come from different walks of life – they probably won’t cross path if not for this series. Second, the people on the programme are quite close to my age – they face the same struggles, stress and pressures. Last, the happenings unfold very spontaneously. There is this discussion back at the studio with talk guests – didn’t feel that was a great value add to the programme though. Still, a really fine play by attracting through this social voyeurism.
Upcoming on 24 Jan, the third season, Terrace House: Aloha Estate will be released. As the name suggests, this is documented at Hawaii.
3. HIBANA -Spark- (2016)
Runtime: 10 episodes
Synopsis: A dramatic series about friendship and conflict between two comedians who search meaning in life and comedy. Based on the prize-winning book.
Interestingly, the narrative on which this series is based on is written by Naoki Matayoshi, member of comedy duo Peace. HIBANA is his debut work, yet it has already achieved critical acclaims. The motivation to which he wrote this work is because even though people might not understand the life of the comedians, he would at least wish for people to have a peek into it.
At its core, the series is about the interaction between the two main characters and their passionate pursuit of a niche performance art. The journey and the manzai (Japanese stand-up comedy) topic makes it even more entertaining to watch.
4. Mischievous Kiss 1 & 2 ~ Love in Tokyo (2013, 2014)
Runtime: 2 Seasons (16 + 16, inclusive of Special Love in Hawaii on Season 2, Episode 1)
Synopsis: When high schooler Kotoko is forced to live in her crush Naoki’s house, she realizes she has a second chance to win his love, or to wind up in tears.
I’ve talked about this series in my previous Best of Shoujo post, this is a great remake! The main characters were well cast, and the onscreen chemistry was superb too.
5. My Little Lover ~ Minami-kun no Koibito (2015)
Runtime: 10 episodes
Synopsis: Shunichi Minami possesses good looks and does well academically in high school. Chiyomi Horikiri is a bright girl who likes dancing. They were childhood friends and also their first loves, but after Shunichi Minami’s father disappeared they hardly talk. On a storming night, Chiyomi Horikiri has an argument with her parents over her future course and leaves home. While trying to avoid the rain, Chiyomi Horiki wishes that she go back to her childhood. Suddenly, Chiyomi becomes 15cm tall. Shunichi Minami happens to see tiny Chiyomi Horikiri. She tells him that she doesn’t want anyone else to see her and Shunichi Minami takes her home.
This is a heartwarming story adapted from a Shoujo manga series of the same name. What’s most interesting to me was the intriguing adventure and point of view of the 15cm tall Chiyomi. The CGI went seamless with the story to complement it. The same manga was adapted years ago, but I felt this 2015 adaptation had more updated and modern content, which outdone its precesessor.
Other than these recommendations, there is a selection of anime available on Netflix too! Hopefully they will soon update the library of anime with more titles since Netflix Japan has a much wider variety!