Netflix's movie library features a plethora of Japanese, Chinese and Korean films, ranging from superhero films and space adventures to heartwarming stories about womanhood and growing up. Despite being live-action, many of them have strong anime "vibes" that otaku will appreciate. Here are six such films that should be on your radar.
Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy
Hot Gimmick: Girl Meets Boy, based on Miki Aihara’s popular shojo manga, is a 2019 Japanese coming-of-age teen romance drama directed by Yuki Yamato. The story centers around a passive and insecure 16-year-old girl named Hatsumi Narita, who ends up being the object of affection of three guys: her older brother Shinogu Narita, the popular model Azusa Odagiri and her neighbor Ryoki Tachibana.
Hot Gimmick is filled with teenage drama and deals with issues like school bullying, depression and family dynamics. If you enjoy romance anime series with twisted relationships such as Peach Girl and Scum’s Wish, this is a movie to check out.
Psychokinesis is a 2018 South Korean superhero comedy film directed by Yeon Sang-ho, best known for Train to Busan. Shin Roo-mi runs a popular fried chicken restaurant but is forced to shut down due to a real estate battle against the mobster-run construction agency Tae-san. One night, Roo-mi is forcefully evicted from her restaurant and home by a group of thugs hired by Tae-san, and the resulting violent confrontation sends Roo-mi’s mother to the hospital. When Roo-mi’s mother passes away in the hospital, a meteor strikes down on a mountain in Seoul.
One day, Roo-mi’s father Shin Seok-heon drinks the mountain water where the meteor hit and gains psychokinesis. Seok-heon uses his powers to help Roo-mi and her fellow neighbors defend their homes against Tae-san. The film's comedic take on superpowers will appeal to fans of One-Punch Man and Samurai Flamenco, and the clueless dad protagonist can be compared to anime father figures like Daikichi Karachi from Bunny Drop and Kōhei Inuzuka from Sweetness and Lightning.
The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity
The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity is a 2020 Chinese fantasy film directed by Guo Jingming and based on the Onmyōji novel series by Baku Yumemakura. Master Qing Ming, a recently appointed Yin-Yang Master, travels to the Imperial City to stop the Evil Serpent demon in the Empress’ body from emerging and causing destruction once again.
This fantasy film is filled with demon-hunting action that fans of Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba and Jujutsu Kaisen. should enjoy. The borderline-romantic bond between Master Qing Ming and Master Bo Ya can be compared to the relationship between Wei Wuxian and Lan Zhan in Mo Dao Zu Shi (Grandmaster of Demonic Cultivation).
The 2019 Japanese film 37 Seconds, written and directed by Hikari, focuses on the life of Yuma Takada, a 23-year-old with cerebral palsy who has dreams of becoming a manga artist. One day, Yuma submits her work to an erotic manga editor but gets turn downed due to her lack of experience when it comes to sex. The editor tells Yuma that she should resubmit her manga once she gains some experience in romance. Yuma goes on a journey of self-discovery, living as a woman with a disability.
37 Seconds is up there with A Silent Voice in terms of films that capture what it's like to live with a disability. Yuma constantly deals with the struggles of not being accepted in society, but her world opens up when she befriends an older woman named Mai who teaches her how to be feminine. Yuma’s relationship with Mai is like Tsukimi Kurashita and Kuranosuke Koibuchi’s relationship in Princess Jellyfish, where Kuranosuke helps Tsukimi gain confidence in herself.
Us and Them
Us and Them is a 2018 Chinese romantic drama directed by Taiwanese singer-actress Rene Liu. The film explores the relationship of two individuals, Lin Jianqing and Xiaoxiao Fang, who come from the same rural town and are trying to achieve their dreams together while living in Beijing. However, they face socio-economic adversity that greatly affects their relationship as a couple. The film switches between the past and present, the past being shown in full color while the present is depicted in black and white.
Us and Them shows viewers the excitement of being young and in love but also the challenges of “adulting,” which is similar to the storyline of Makoto Shinkai’s Weathering With You. The movie also exposes viewers to the harsh realities of poverty, so fans of Tokyo Godfathers and Binbō Shimai Monogatari will likely find Us and Them to be a similarly touching story.
Space Sweepers is a 2021 South Korean space opera film directed by Jo Sung-hee. In 2092, the entire Earth become nearly uninhabitable. To save humanity, the UTS corporation built an orbiting home in space, replicating the natural resources on Earth. However, only a select few were chosen to live and become citizens in the orbiting home, while the rest of the human population must survive on a polluted Earth.
To maintain order in space, UTS regulates taxes and set harsh rules and punishments for non-citizens. Many non-citizens become space sweepers who clean up debris in space in exchange for money. The story follows the space sweeper crew of the spaceship Senguri (Victory). The crew happens to find a child in a space car floating in orbit and goes on an adventure to return the child to her father -- only to learn the kids has the power to save humanity.
The movie is a hybrid of Cowboy Bebop and Astra Lost in Space. Like Cowboy Bebop, the characters of Space Sweepers are no-good selfish vigilantes who are more focused on themselves and are willing to sacrifice others to achieve their goals. However, the crew members of Space Sweepers eventually have a change of heart when they encounter the young girl; they become humble, selfless and willing to save the world like the characters of Astra Lost in Space.