This list will introduce 5 of the best series on Netflix Japan. While every region has their own rich Netflix library, Japan is an especially difficult market for the streaming giant to crack. In America and Canada, almost everyone watches Netflix regularly or knows someone who does. In Japan, the Netflix name is only starting to gain traction. Most of the Japanese population still watches shows on cable television. Furthermore, Amazon Prime video seems to be the more popular streaming service.
Netflix has to somehow cater to the large English-speaking population in the country while maintaining a library interesting to the Japanese as well. That may seem like a tall order. However, the Netflix library in Japan is large and there is something to watch for everyone.
Best Series on Netflix Japan (2019)
Warning: Since Netflix often updates their library, the items on this list may not be available at the time of your reading. This will be a regular post so please subscribe to keep up to date with the latest on Netflix Japan.
1. Derren Brown: Infamous
Many people outside of Europe will not heard of Derren Brown, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a variety of his shows on Netflix Japan.
Derren Brown is one of the best illusionists and stage performers of our time. He mixes psychology, hypnotism, and magic to create shows and performances unlike anyone else out there today. Best of all, whether it be that the negative stories we tell us about ourselves aren’t true, or that happiness is about acceptance, Derren’s shows always have a message. You come away from them thoroughly entertained and also feeling like you’ve learnt something important.
For those new to Derren Brown, Infamous is a great place to start. It is a recording of his live performance in London. During this show he is at an age where he has honed his skill and is much better than he was 10 years ago. The show brings together all the elements that make Derren great: showmanship, humour, audience participation, unbelievable illusions, and a worthy message.
2. Black Summer
As a die-hard lover of the zombie genre, I’ve seen almost everything under the sun when it comes to zombie films and television shows available in English or with English subtitles. After The Walking Dead pulled the genre into the mainstream, the industry became somewhat saturated with zombie content.
A lot of the films being released were more of the same or included small gimmicks to try to make them slightly unique, which is why I was so surprised with Black Summer. A Netflix original series Black Summer is produced by the same team that brought us Z Nation only Black Summer is incomparably their better work. Following five survivors, the story is told in chapters, each chapter following a single survivor and how they handled the outbreak. What surprised me about Black Summer is how raw and unapologetic the story was.
Thrust into a world where survival is all that counts, there is no right or wrong. Black Summer is perhaps the best-paced zombie television show of recent years. The series creates suspense almost effortlessly. This perhaps might be weird for me to say, but it is also one of the most realistic takes on the zombie genre I’ve ever witnessed. Characters act with logic, which is sometimes rare in the horror genre. The relationships are real, forged in the oddest and most horrific circumstances. For zombie fans, this is 100% a must-see series and the best zombie piece since 28 Days Later.
3. Mind Hunter
If you enjoyed crime series like Criminal Minds, True Detective, or Making a Murderer then you are sure to enjoy this Netflix show. Loosely based on true events and the lives of real serial killers, Mind Hunter is about the beginning of the FBI’s behavioral science unit. This is the unit that employs profilers, the people that catch serial killers based on statistics and psychology.
In this series you can learn about real-life criminals like Charles Manson and Ed Kemper. Furthermore, the show dramatizes real FBI cases such as the BTK Killer and The Atlanta Child Murders.
4. Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories is my all-time favorite Japanese series. Set in a tiny diner in Kabukicho, Shinjuku, the diner’s patrons represent Tokyo residents in all walks of life. Since the diner only opens at midnight and is located in a place famous for bars, clubs, and hostess bars, you are introduced to Tokyo’s various forms of vice. The diner’s patrons range from Yakuza members, strippers, and professional gamblers to nurses and grocery shop owners.
The episodes are short and sweet, with each story focused around a food sold at the diner, which is anything under the sun. That’s right. The house rule is the chef will make anything you want, so long as he has the ingredients. Furthermore, with this series you can try your hand at learning the Japanese language and learn about popular Japanese foods. Honestly, I can’t recommend this series enough. For anyone remotely interested in Japan this is a great series to start with.
I have watched countless anime titles across every genre. However, I have to say that Aggretsuko is one of the most unique anime of all time. Aggretsuko is about Retsuko, a lesser panda salary woman who hates her job and struggles with her love life. All the characters in the show are Tokyo citizens represented as anthropomorphized animals. Just like everyone does at some point in life, Retsuko struggles to find her purpose and romantic partner.
What does Retsuko do to relieve her stress? She doesn’t go to the bathroom to cry. Instead, she goes to the bathroom stall to scream death metal songs at the top of her lungs. She sings about the problems going on in her life and vocalizes her true thoughts. The best thing abut Aggretsuko is, although sometimes stereotypical, its portrayal of Tokyo social culture and work culture. It accurately shows the delicacies and annoyances of office politics. The show explores the difficulties of young adults trying to find love while juggling their work and social lives.
It’s rare that an anime with cute characters can be so appealing to adults. Aggretsuko is a new and refreshing take on the anime medium to appeal to an almost unexplored audience.