AFL: Year of Release 1999 ~ 1990

Year of Release: 1999
Nabbie's Love (ナビィの恋)
A comedy about an old woman's passionate love incubated for 60 years on a small tropical island off Okinawa.
Nanako quits her job in Tokyo to return to her home island where her grandfather, Keitatsu, and grandmother, Nabbie, still live. The ferry is captained by a young man she knew when she lived on the island as a child. Also abroad is a quaint fellow, SunRa, dressed in a dandy tropical outfit, who seems to have some nostalgic link to the island…
Duration: 92mins     Genre: Comedy
Director: Yuji Nakae (中江 祐司)
Cast: Naomi Nishida, Jun Murami, Tomi Taira and Reiko Kaneshima
Osaka Story (大阪物語)
© 1999 "OSAKA STORY" Film Partners
Osaka Story follows the life of Wakana, a troubled teenager, trying to find her parents interspersed with nicely scored montages of life in Osaka through the eyes of a young girl.
Wakana (Chizuru Ikewaki), 14, is the daughter of a couple who have been in show business for 20 years as a standup comedy act without ever making the big time.  While Wakana studies for her high school entrance exams, Mother and Father quarrel ceaselessly at home, with the latter always threatening to leave.
Duration: 119mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Jun Ichikawa (市川 準)
Cast: Chizuru Ikewaki, Kosuke Minamino, Kenji Sawada and Yuko Tanaka
Nodo-Jiman (のど自慢)
© Cine Quanon-Toho-Nikkatsu-Ponycanyon 
Reiko Akagi is an enka singer without much of a reputation. She and her manager, Sugai, are constantly on tour, doing small time appearances all over Japan and getting by on sales of the accompanying CDs. One day, they visit Kiryu City in Gunma prefecture where Reiko was born and raised. This time she notices the town is somehow different which he soon learns is because of the well-known NHK TV program, Nodo Jiman (Amateur singing contest) is about to be staged in Kiryu. Reiko, by this time desperate, takes an application card from her father's barber shop and decides to audition for the Nodo Jiman TV show. She has made up her mind to end her career is she does not receive the qualifying bell that marks a performer's acceptance by the panel of judges at Nodo Jiman.
Duration: 112mins     Genre: Comedy, Music
Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu (井筒 和幸)
Cast: Shigeru Muroi, Kohei Otomo, Isao Bito, Ayumi Ito and Miyuki Matsuda
Adrenaline Drive (アドレナリンドライブ)
© 1999 "Adrenaline Drive" Film Partners
After an unfortunate accident with a gangster in a black Jaguar, Suzuki, a meek and indecisive rental car clerk, is forced to visit the yakuza's lair. The thug stands ready to exact retribution by breaking all of Suzuki's fingers when a violent explosion rips through the den, killing off almost the entire gang.
Meanwhile, Shizuko, a plain, timid nurse, is stuck behind her glasses on the night shift at a local hospital. Drawn to the demolished building by the explosion, Shizuko discovers Suzuki, dazed and slightly wounded. A series of events finds the timid young pair savour their first real taste of life as they fall in love, dodging the yakuza's vengeance.
Duration: 112mins     Genre: Comedy
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi (矢口 史靖)
Cast: Hikari Ishida, Masanobu Ando, Yutaka Matsushige, Kazue Kadogae and JOVIJOVA
Haunted School 4 (学校の怪談 4)
© Toho
Yae and her elder brother, Ko, arrive in Tonozaki, a seaside town where they have relatives, for their summer vacation. The day they arrive a big typhoon also hits town.
Ayumu, their cousin, tells them a tale handed down from olden days. The townsfolk say that all souls lost at sea return with the typhoons. This story really frightens Ko and from the next day, strange things begin to happen in a deadly sequence.
Duration: 99mins     Genre: Horror, Drama, Thriller
Director: Hideyuki Hirayama (平山 秀幸)
Cast: Masatada Toyoda, Toshiki Hirose, Matsunosuke Shofukutei, Mieko Harada and Yuki Minakawa
First Love (はつ恋)
© Tokyo Broadcasting System, Inc.
The life of high school student Satoka is complicated by her mother's cancer and the fact that she and her father could never communicate well and now she is thrown in with him every day. In going through her mother's things Satoka discovers a love letter written to Shinichiro, her mother's first love. Satoka determines to fulfill her mother's wish to see him again. She finds him but he is no longer the man her mother knew. Still, she persists and eventually grooms him back to something like his former self. At the long planned reunion things do not turn out the way she expected them to.
Duration: 115mins     Genre: Romance
Director: Tetsuo Shinohara (篠原 哲雄)
Cast: Tanaka Rena, Sanada Hiroyuki and Harada Mieko
Year of Release: 1998
Ping Pong Bath Station (卓球温泉)
© 1998大映 日本テレビ 博報堂 日販
Sonoko Fujiki, an ordinary 42-year-old housewife, lives in a multi-story apartment in Tokyo. Her daily routine consists of cooking, washing, cleaning --- nothing more, nothing less. Although she seems to have a happy family life on the surface, she often feels empty and depressed. One day, Sonoko calls a disk jockey, Kanae for advice. While on air, she asks her "Why can't I be the wife or woman I used to be now that I'm a mother?" Kanae hears the pain in Sonoko's voice and irresponsibly suggests that she run away from home.
The next morning, her husband and her son are shocked to see on the family message board: "I am leaving home. Sorry, Sonoko."
Duration: 110mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Gen Yamakawa (山川 元)
Cast: Keiko Matsuzaka, Riho Makise and Keizo Kanie
Give it All (がんばっていきまっしょい)
© Fuji Television-Ponycanyon
Estuko, 15, lives with her reticent father and hardworking mother, fussy mother, who runs a small dry-cleaning shop. Also living with them is her grandmother who looks after the house and her “brilliant” older sister soon to leave the island to attend a prestigious university. Etsuko feels as if she has no role to play in the family. One day, Etsuko realizes that her high school has no girl’s rowing club and she begins a drive to start one. She manages to cajole four students to join the club, promising them it will only be until the term ends in October.
Duration: 120mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Itsumichi Isomura (磯村 一路)
Cast: Rena Tanaka, Mami Shimizu, Wakana Aoi, Kirina Mano and Emu Hisazumi
Bondage (絆-きずな-)
© Toho
A drama featuring a man who sacrifices himself to save those he loves
Takaaki Ise, president of the Ise Corporation, manages restaurants and clubs in Tokyo and also launders money for the Sasaki yakuza gang. Later we learn that Ise was actually born Yoshiro Haga and his new identity conceals a dreadful past which he has never revealed to a living soul.
Duration: 123mins     Genre: Crime, Drama
Director: Kichitaro Negishi (根岸 吉太郎)
Cast: Koji Yakusho, Ken Watanabe, Yumi Aso, Yosuke Saito and Hoka Kinoshita
Ah, Spring (あ、春)
© Shochiku
A suburban comedy. The story begins with the appearance of Hiroshi's father Sasaichi, who was long believed to have died two years ago. Sasaichi brings nothing but trouble to the well-ordered suburban life of Hiroshi and his family. Constant exasperation slowly turns to affection and recognition in spite of all, Sasaichi is Hiroshi's father and the patriarch of his family. When ill-health finally catches up with Sasaichi, the entire family mourns their loss, comforted somewhat by the rich memories that will live forever with them.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Comedy
Director: Shinji Somai (相米 慎二)
Cast: Koichi Sato, Tsutomu Yamazaki, Yuki Saito, Shiho Fujimura and Junko Fuji
Year of Release: 1997
Musashino High Voltage Towers (鉄塔武蔵野線)

© "Tetto Musashino-sen" Production Committee
Miharu is in the 6th grade of elementary school. His parents are divorcing and he will move to Nagasaki with his mother. This is his last summer living in a town in the suburbs of Tokyo. Most of his friends have gone on vacation and he can't bring himself to tell his remaining friend, Akira, that he will soon be gone. Remembering his father's passion for electricity and the times he would take him to admire the high voltage towers, Miharu sets off with Akira on a quest to find the source of the power lines that pass by his house.
Duration: 115mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Naoki Nagao (長尾 直樹)
Cast: Ito Atsushi, Uchiyama Masato, Aso Yumi, Hara Daikichi, Chikauchi Jinko and Taguchi Tomorowo
Abduction (誘拐)
© Toho Eiga
Atomiya Soichiro, an executive of the Tosho Bussan Corporation, has been kidnapped. The kidnapper demands 300 million yen ransom, to be carried by Kanazaki Mamoru to Tosho Kaihatsu, an affiliated company. He also demands that this be broadcast live on television. Meanwhile, unconventional young cop Fuji Ichiro has been brought back from the USA to help make a profile of the kidnapper.
Duration: 109mins     Genre: Action, Drama
Director: Takao Okawara (大河原 孝夫)
Cast: Watari Tetsuya, Nagase Masatoshi, Sakai Miki, Emoto Akira and Atarashi Katsutoshi
My Secret Cache (ひみつの花園)
© Toho + Pia
Suzuki Sakiko loves money. Her idea of a schoolgirl thrill was looking at a full bank book. When a boy would offer to buy her a meal, she would ask him to give her the money he would have spent as cash instead. After graduation, she worked as a bank clerk, just to be near money, but was still not satisfied because it was not her own. One day, she is abducted by bank robbers who take her to the Aokigahara forest near Mt. Fuji, famous for its confusing layout and magnetic soil that confuses compasses. There the robbers crash and burn: only Sakiko survives; going over the waterfalls and into an underground lake, kept afloat by a suitcase full of money.
Duration: 83mins     Genre: Comedy, Crime
Director: Shinobu Yaguchi (矢口 史靖)
Cast: Nishida Naomi, Riju Go, Kadokae Kazue, Tanaka Noriko and Tsuruta Shinobu
Don't Look Back (どこまでもいこう)
© Euro-space
Akihito Shiota's second film is a deeply nostalgic, quirky exercise in the boyhood mischief tradition of Truffaut and Susumu Hani. The kids, however, have been updated into the very contemporary, emotionally destitute variety.
Duration: 74mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Akihiko Shiota (塩田 明彦)
Cast: Yusaku Suzuki, Shingo Mizuno, Yuya Suzuki and Yuria Haga
Year of Release: 1996
Ghost Pub II (新居酒屋ゆうれい)

© Toho, TV Asahi, Tohoku Shinsha, Kei Factory
Sotaro runs a small, Japanese-style drinking establishment called Kazusaya with his second wife Satoko. One day, Sotaro is attending the funeral of his friend Kenzo when he sees a woman who looks exactly like his deceased wife Shizuko. At first, he wonders if she is a ghost, but it turns out her name is Yukie and was Kenzo's mistress.
Duration: 113mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Takayoshi Watanabe (渡邊 孝好)
Cast: Tachi Hiroshi, Suzuki Kyoka, Matsuzaka Keiko, Nakamura Yuji and Ubuse Katsuhisa
Cherish His Smile (微笑みを抱きしめて)

© Group Fudosha, Iwanami Productions
At first glance, Shota is having the summer kids in the fifth grade usually have. Staying with his aunt by the sea, he romps around with his friend Tetsuo on the beach and does his best to avoid playing with his little sister Sayaka. But this summer is different. His father Jun is in the hospital and those around him are talking about things he and Sayaka don’t fully comprehend: that the two of them are “pitiful” and that their father has only a “fifty-fifty” chance. They simply just want their father to return from the hospital. Cherish his Smile is based on a story by Canadian novelist Jean Little and tells the tale of death of a parent from a child’s perspective.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Drama, Feature
Director: Iwao Seto (瀬藤 祝)
Cast: Takeuchi Tetsuya, Miyazaki Yoshihiko, Katsuno Hiroshi, Nishimoto Kanami and Maeda Koyo
Night Train to the Stars (わが心の銀河鉄道、宮沢賢治物語)
© "Night Train to the Stars" Production Committee
Miyazawa Kenji is an idealist from the start, pledging with his friend Hosaka Kanai to work for the happiness of farmers and realize their utopia. He presses such ideals on his pawnbroker father who objects to such idealism. Hosaka’s idealism also hits the tick wall of reality when he is expelled from school for writing his revolutionary plans in an essay. The two renew their pledge to educate farmers before Hosaka leaves for Tokyo.
Duration: 111mins     Genre: Drama, Feature
Director: Kazuki Omori (大森 一樹)
Cast: Ogata Naoto, Mizuno Maki, Watari Tetsuya, Hoshi Yuriko and Hakamada Yoshihiko
A Class to Remember II (学校 II)
© Shochiku, Nihon Television, Sumitomo
While having his own problems with a daughter uninterested in going to college, Aoyama Ryuhei must deal with the fact that two of his students at a special high school for the learning impaired, Takahashi and Yuya, have disappeared. He sets out to look for them with his greenhorn fellow teacher, Kobayashi Daisuke. While driving there with Daisuke, Ryuhei begins to remember Takashi and Yuya when they first arrived in his class.
Duration: 122mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Nishida Toshiyuki, Yoshioka Hidetaka, Ishida Ayumi, Nagase Masatoshi and Kanbe Hiroshi
The Rainbow Seeker (虹をつかむ男)

© Shochiku
After having a fight with his father, Ryo leaves home and wanders around Japan doing odd jobs. His travels eventually take him to Hikari-machi in Tokushima, where he finds a job at a small theatre run by Shirogane Katsuo, a man who lives and breathes the movies. Not only does he show classic films every Saturday, he can recount almost any scene from any famous movie if the occasion demands it. One of the first people he introduces Ryo to is Tonari Yaeko, a widow who runs a local coffee shop and is the object of Katsuo’s secret admiration.
With no prospect of pay and forced to sleep in a haunted room, Ryo soon tires to quit, but his mind is changed when Yaeko, who explains to him Katsuo’s dedication to making people happy through the movies.
Duration: 120mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Nishida Toshiyuki, Yoshioka Hidetaka, Tanaka Yuko, Tanake Kunie and Suma Kei
Year of Release: 1995
Tora-San To The Rescue (男はつらいよ-寅次郎紅の花)

© Shochiku
As he usually does, Kuruma Torajiro continues to wander around the country selling knick-knacks at fairs as his family in Tokyo’s Shibamata worries about his whereabouts. Months have passed with no word from Tora when Sakura, his sister, just happens to watch a TV program on the recovery after the earthquake in Kobe. To her shock, there on screen is Tora leading volunteer activities and standing next to none other than Prime Minister Murayama. Soon thereafter a resident of Nagata Ward in Kobe comes calling on the Kuruma house to convey his thanks for all Tora’s help and to tell Sakura that Tora has once more set out on the road due to yet another failed love affair.
Duration: 110mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Atsumi Kiyoshi, Asaoka Ruriko, Yoshioka Hidetaka, Goto Kumiko and Baisho Chieko
A Brief Message From The Heart ( 日本一短い「母」への手紙)
© Toei
Maki works for a design company in Matsumoto, Nagano prefecture and Hiroshi is a university student in Tokyo. Their father has recently died of a heart attack. He never spoke about his divorce from their mother, who left the family 18 years previously to live with another man. The children meet in Matsumoto for their father’s memorial rites and Hiroshi decides to search for his mother.
Duration: 112mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Shin'ichiro Sawai (澤井 信一郎)
Cast: Toake Yukiyo, Yuki Nae, Harada Ryuji, Suzuki Sawa and Bessho Tetsuya
Goodbye for Tomorrow (あした)
© Amuse, PSC, Imagica, Pride 1
Three months after the small passenger boat “Yobuko-maru” sand off the coast of Onomichi, killing all 9 abroad, various lovers, husbands, wives and family members receive mysterious messages from the dead telling them to meet at midnight on Yobuko beach.
Duration: 142mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Nobuhiko Obayashi (大林 宣彦)
Cast: Takahashi Kaori, Hayashi Yasufumi, Shumon Mizuho, Hosho Mai and Minegishi Toru
August in the Water (水の中の八月)
© "August in the Water" Production Committee, Hill Villa
August in the Water provides a curious mix of Japanese animism, New Age spirituality, and science fiction that in the end centers on how a teenage girl comes to understand her place in the universe. As Genkai City suffers from both a drought and the spread of a mysterious illness, Kuwajima Mao first meets Hazuki Izumi, a champion high diver, when she emerges, school uniform and all, from a dolphin pool.
Duration: 117mins     Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Coming of Age, Sci-fi
Director: Sogo Ishii (石井 聡亙)
Cast: Komine Rena, Aoki Shinsuke, Takarai Masaaki, Matsuo Reiko and Toda Naho
Haunted School (学校の怪談)
© Toho + Sundance Company
It’s the last day of school before the summer vacation, traditional season for Japanese ghost tales. The children scare each other with tales of haunting as they walk to school. Meanwhile, 5th grade home room teacher Komukai Shin-ichi rushes to school and crashes into Yumiko, a somewhat wild young woman who has brought her son Kensuke to school by scooter. The two adults have known each other since elementary school. One day, a red handprint appears on the ceiling of Shin-ichi’s homeroom. The students are convinced it’s a ghost.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Comedy
Director: Hideyuki Hirayama (平山 秀幸)
Cast: Nomura Hironobu, Toyama Masumi, Atsuta Hajime, Tsunoda Jun'ichiro and Machida Kohei
Year of Release: 1994
Ghost Pub (居酒屋ゆうれい)

© Suntory, TV Asahi, Tohoku Shinsha, Kitty Films
Sotaro runs a small, Japanese-style drinking establishment called Kazusaya in Yokohama. A kind and loving man, he sincerely promises his wife Shizuko on her deathbed that he will never marry again. But left to run his busy business alone, he soon buckles under his insistent brother’s pressure to consider an arranged marriage with a lovely young woman named Satoko. When it is clear that Sako is also interested in him, Sotaro Soon agrees to the marriage.
Satoko is immediately popular with the Kazusaya regulars, but no sooner does she move in than Shizuko returns as a ghost to haunt the scared new couple.
Duration: 110mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Takayoshi Watanabe (渡邊 孝好)
Cast: Hagiwara Ken'ichi, Yamaguchi Tomoko, Muroi Shigeru, Miyake Yuji and Nishijima Hidetoshi
Free and Easy, Special Version (釣りバカ日誌スペシャル)
© Shochiku
Hamasaki Densuke, a happy-go-lucky, less-than-average employee of a construction company is devoted to two true loves: fishing and his family. He is such an expert in the art of fishing that he has, in secret, become a “teacher” to one very special pupil: Suzuki Ichinosuke, the president of his company, who he treats with no particular deference. Unexpected matchmaking and well-meaning chaperones set in motion a chain of interesting and unforgettable events within, and around, the company.
Duration: 106mins     Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Azuma Morisaki (森崎 東)
Cast: Nishida Toshiyuki, Ishida Eri, Mikuni Rentaro, Tani Kei and Tomita Yasuko
Uneasy Encounters (怖がる人々)
© Shochiku, Suntory
Uneasy Encounters is composed of five short stories. The five stories deal with the strange, unsettling and sometimes supernatural encounters between different individuals.
Working from stories by famous writers like Tsutsui Yasutaka, Shiina Makoto, Hikage Jokichi, and Hirayama Roko, director and script writer Wada Makoto  offers a witty rendition of “scared people” (the direct translation of the Japanese title)
Duration: 118mins     Genre: Comedy, Horror
Director: Makoto Wada (和田 誠)
Cast: Sanada Hiroyuki, Harada Mieko, Kumagai Mami, Shimizu Michiko and Sugimoto Tetsuta
Summer Holiday Everyday (毎日が夏休み)
© Pioneer LDC, Sundance Company
The Rinkaiji family, by all appearances, is a well-to-do Japanese family. The father, Nariyuki, works in an elite corporation, something which gives his wife Yoshiko status in their suburban neighborhood. But their daughter Sugina, who herself has secretly stopped going to school because she is being bullied, discovers one day that her step-father has quit his job. As Nariyuki decodes to find a new job along with Sugina, Yoshiko, a firm believer in a life based on the company, soon finds her world falling apart. Job hunting does not go off well, however, so he decides to start his own company with Sugina as vice-president: a do-anything service. This only causes further embarrassment for Yoshiko; feelings Nariyuki does not quite understand.
Duration: 94mins     Genre: Comedy
Director: Shusuke Kaneko (金子 修介)
Cast: Sano Shiro, Saeki Hinako, Fubuki Jun, Takahashi Hitomi and Masuoka Toru
What Will Tomorrow Bring? (先生、あした晴れるかな)
© Nakayama Eiga
What Will Tomorrow Bring? Is based on the real-life account of a Kanagawa teacher, Sakata Kazuko, and efficiently takes on the increasingly pressing problem of even lower school students being forced to forego the pleasures of childhood to attend late into the night special cram schools to prepare for the one exam that will supposedly determine their entire life, a test that will get them into the middle school that will set them on course to a good university and a successful job.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Setsuo Nakayama (中山 節夫)
Cast: Watanabe Azusa, Han Bun Jaku, Kurakata Yosuke, Morimoto Leo and Okamoto Rei
Year of Release: 1993
We Are Not Alone (僕らはみんな生きている)

© Shochiku
We Are Not Alone is set against a historical background of Japanese, self-described as an island-bound people, increasingly traveling abroad with the spread of Japan's economic influence. As such, the film addresses some of the issues of Japan's relationship to Asia, but to non-Japanese viewers, its attitude towards the Talckistanis may seem patronizing if not chauvinist. In the end, this is less a film about Japan coming to grips with another culture than a comic male fantasy both parodying and bemoaning and the travails of the long-suffering Japanese businessman.
Duration: 115mins     Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Director: Yojiro Takita (滝田 洋二郎)
Cast: Sanada Hiroyuki, Yamazaki Tsutomu, Kishibe Ittoku, Shimada Kyusaku and Kovit Wattanakun
Maadadayo - Not Yet (まあだだよ)
© Daiei, Dentsu, Kurosawa Productions
Internationally the best known of the masters of Japanese cinema, Kurosawa Akira based his latest film on the life and works of Uchida Hyakken, a professor and writer famous for his close relationship with his students. The master-disciple relationship is a central motif in Kurosawa's work, but some have wondered if Uchida here is not meant to be Kurosawa himself, still trying to teach us the meaning of film in his old age.
Duration: 134mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Akira Kurosawa (黒澤 明)
Cast: Matsumura Tatsuo, Kagawa Kyoko, Igawa Hisahi, Tokoro George and Yui Masayuki
Bloom in the Moonlight (わが愛の譜、滝廉太郎物語)
© Toei, Nippon Television Network
In April, 1895, the talented young Taki Rentaro comes to Tokyo from his home in Kyushu to enroll in the prestigious National Academy of Music. Hoping to become a pianist, he meets another student there, Nakano Yuki, who shares the same aspirations. Bloom in the Moonlight follows the lives of Yuki and Rentaro as they strive to make a mark in the world of music.
Duration: 125mins     Genre: Biography, Drama, Music
Director: Shin'ichiro Sawai (澤井 信一郎)
Cast: Kazama Toru, Washio Isako, Amamiya Ryo, Fujitani Miki and Asano Yuko
Many Happy Returns (教祖誕生)
© Pony Canyon + Yamada Right Vision Corporation
On the way back to his home town, a young man named Takayama Kazuo runs across a religious group proselytizing their new faith. While not usually interested in such things, Kazuo is amazed when he sees the elderly founder of this religion cure an old woman in a wheelchair, restoring her power to walk simply by touching her. Kazuo continues on his way, but by chance, he ends up hopping on the same train as the religious group. He sees the old woman and soon realizes that her "cure" was a put-on, a performance just to get believers and donations. Far from repelled by the trickery, however, Kazuo grows more interested in this new religion and asks to join.
Duration: 95mins     Genre: Comedy
Director: Toshihiro Tenma (天間 敏広)
Cast: Hagiwara Masato, Tamaki Koji, Kishibe Ittoku, Beat Takeshi and Shimojo Masami
A Class to Remember (学校)
© Shochiku, Nippon Television Network, Sumitomo
Kuroi is a teacher at a different kind of school: a middle school which operates at night, offering classes to working people, many of whom are not Japanese, who have not yet finished school. Kuroi so enjoys working at this school that he repeatedly refuses the principal's offer to promote him to a much better position elsewhere.
With graduation close at hand, Kuroi begins to recall his experiences with each of his students as he asks his class to write essays in commemoration of graduation. A Class to Remember is less social realism than bitter-sweet wish for a reality that is long since disappeared.
Duration: 128mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Nishida Toshiyuki, Takeshita Keiko, Hagiwara Masato, Nakae Yuri and Shin'ya Eriko
Dying at a Hospital (病院で死ぬということ)
© Japanese Workers Cooperative Union, Opt Communications, Space Mu, Shufu no Tomo, Television Tokyo
Four patients suffering from cancer come under Dr. Yamaoka's care at the hospital, each undergoing terminal care in a different fashion. Dying at a Hospital is a very unique film in many ways. Produced with the cooperation of medical groups, it is a much an educational film on the problem of terminal care as a fictional dramatization of the challenge of death. By underplaying the drama, the film paradoxically brings home with greater force the pressing issue of dealing with cancer in a nation where the rule for doctors is still to lie to patients about their terminal illness.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Jun Ichikawa (市川 準)
Cast: Kishibe Ittoku, Shionoya Masayuki, Ishii Ikuyo, Yamanouchi Akira and Hashimoto Tae
Moving (お引っ越し)
© Yomiuri Television
When sixth grader Urushiba Renko's parents, Ken'ichi and Nazuna, decide to separate, Renko is at first happy about the turn of events. The reality that they might divorce no having really sunk in, Renko is simply pleased that she now has two homes. She starts to feel uneasy when her mother, Nazuna, draws up a strict "contract" for their life together which asserts their independence from her father.
Duration: 124mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Shinji Somai (相米 慎二)
Cast: Tabata Tomoko, Sakurada Junko, Nakai Kiichi, Shofukutei Tsurubei and Tanaka Taro
Year of Release: 1992
Sumo Do, Sumo Don't (シコふんじゃった)

© Daiei, Cabin
Yamamoto is called to the office of Professor Anayama. The professor points out the anomalous fact that even though the role says he was present at every class, he’d never set eyes on the student before. He then announces that he has been appointed Yamamoto’s thesis advisor, and points out that, even though Yamamoto has a job arranged, he needs to pass the thesis to graduate. With the power relations thus defined, he strikes a deal with Yamamoto: join the sumo club, or you won’t graduate.
Duration: 103mins     Genre: Comedy, Sport
Director: Masayuki Suo (周防 正行)
Cast: Motoki Masahiro, Shimizu Misa, Emoto Akira, Takenaka Naoto and Taguchi Hiromasa
Kodayu (おろしや国酔夢譚)
© Daiei, Dentsu
In 1782, a cargo ship manned by Captain Daikokuya Kodayu and his crew of 17 leaves the port of Shirako in Ise bound for Edo. On the way, the ship runs into a storm which sends it off-course and helplessly adrift. After drifting northward for 8 months, Kodayu and his 11 remaining crew members set foot on a remote Aleutian island where they encounter natives and a group of Russian fur traders. Completely unfamiliar with any culture other than their own, the Japanese must learn a different language and set of customs if they are to gain the Russian’s cooperation in surviving the harsh winter.
Kodayu is based on Inoue Yasushi’s best-selling account of the true story of Daikokuya Kodayu, one of Japan’s many “reluctant ambassadors” who ended up in foreign lands by accident during an age when the Japanese shogunate punished travel abroad with death.
Duration: 125mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Jun'ya Sato (佐藤 純弥)
Cast: Ogata Ken, Nishida Toshiyuki, Oleg Yankovskii, Marina Vlady and Yurii Solomin
Faraway Sunset (遠き落日)
© 1992 Shochiku Co., Ltd./TV-ASAHI/Tokyu Agency Inc. 
Many know the story of Hideyo Noguchi, a man who, despite his handicap of a severe burn on his left hand suffered when a child, enhanced the reputation of his native Japan as a celebrated authority on bacteriology.
Faraway Sunset” does not portray Noguchi as a bronze statue in a park dedicated to the memory of his genius. Instead the drama focuses, through Noguchi’s relation with his mother Shika, on his true nature as a studious doctor and a flesh-and blood human being. It shows the deep affection between a mother and her son, two individuals in our vast world who found themselves inseparable linked by unseen bonds.  
Duration: 119mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Seijiro Kohyama (神山 征二郎)
Cast: Mita Yoshiko, Mikami Hiroshi, Nakadai Tatsuya, Makise Riho and Kawarasaki Choichiro
The River With No Bridge (橋のない川)
© Galeria, Seiyu
Raised by their widowed mother Fude and their grandmother Nui, Hatanaka Seitaro and his brother Koji come from Komori, a village peopled by “eta.” Considered “unclean” and “non-human” in feudal times, the eta boys suffer daily abuse from their non-eta classmates despite the fact that eta had officially been emancipated from legal discrimination.
Duration: 139mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Yoichi Higashi (東 陽一)
Cast: Otani Naoko, Nakamura Tamao, Sugimoto Tetsuta, Watabe Atsuro and Yasunaga Ai
Kohei's Race (福本耕平かく走りき)
© "Fukumoto Kohei Kaku Hashiriki" Executive Production Committee
As a boy, Fukumoto Kohei once rode on his brother Kyoichi’s motorcycle as Kyoichi tried to escape from a pursuing squad car. Because of Kohei’s cowardice, the two were captured by the police. At 18, however, Kohei no longer has an older brother; Kyoichi died in a motorcycle accident a few months before, leaving their father Inazo depressed over the prospect that, with Kohei reluctant to become a farmer, no one will take over the family farm. Kohei, who used to love running, refuses to participate in the school sports festival and on the track team.  He always starts his sprint late and never gives his all. One day, he is surprised to see a painting in the school hall of him running naked.
Duration: 113mins      Genre: Drama
Director: Suguru Kubota (久保田 傑)
Cast: Mineno Ktsunari, Komatsu Miyuki, Nanase Natsumi, Hidari Tokie and Watabiki Katsuhiko
Twinkle (きらきらひかる)
© Fuji TV
One of several films from 1992 that addressed the often taboo subject of homosexuality in Japan, Twinkle seems to fit into the tradition of Japanese girl's comics that present male homosexuality at the epitome of sexless, pure love. Twinkle is then less a realistic exploration of gay life than a fairy tale of three young Japanese trying to construct an alternative to the sexual and familial roles given to them by a society turning increasingly emotionally barren. Director Matsuoka Joji's skillful blend of comedy and drama rejects melodramatic conventions to present from a distance the emotional uncertainties facing today's youth.
Duration: 103mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Director: Joji Matsuoka (松岡 錠司)
Cast: Yakushimaru Hiroko, Toyokawa Etsushi, Tsutsui Michiaka, Oshima Tomoko and Sibata Rie
The Family Secret (ひき逃げファミリー)
© Kitty Film, Suntory
Driving home late at night, Motomura Hiroshi accidentally hits a young woman with his car. He panics and flees the scene for home where he confesses to his wife Yoko, signaling his desire to turn himself in. Yoko, however, convinces him that his arrest would mean the end for their already damaged family. Their daughter Azusa is having an affair with a married man, the son Rikuo, the victim of bulling at school, refuses to go to class, and the senile grandfather is getting harder to manage. Yoko urges the family to move the car into the living room and there take it apart to destroy the evidence.
The Family Secret uses black humour to cast a sharp, satirical eye at the modern Japanese family. Suffering various contemporary ills, the family can only be saved through covering up a crime and becomes normal only when it totally escapes the reality of Japanese life.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Comedy
Director: Toshiyuki Mizutani (水谷 俊之)
Cast: Nagatsuka Kyozo, Nakao Mie, Chiharu, Hashimoto Mitsunari and Nakaya Noboru
Kappa (カッパの三平)
Sampei lives in the beautiful countryside with his grandfather. His schoolmate calls Sampei a "river goblin" because of how he looks, but in reality, Sampei is never a good swimmer. One day, while he is sneakily practicing for the swimming competition in the river, he is caught in the muddy stream. When he gains his consciousness, he realizes that he is now in the land of goblins. Sampei makes friends with Gartalow the river goblin who looks identical to Sampei, and they decide to escape the land of goblins together and return to Sampei’s village. When they find out the traces of Sampei’s missing mother, their great adventure to the Mount Deamonshead begins…
Duration: 90mins     Genre: Fantasy, Animation
Director: Toshio Hirata (平田 敏男)
Cast: Tanaka Mayumi
Year of Release: 1991
Rainbow Kids (大誘拐)

© Kihachi Productions, Nichimen Corp., Fuji Eight Co.
One summer morning, Kenji goes to Osaka to discuss a kidnapping with his friends, Masayoshi and Heita. At first the latter two are opposed to the idea, but Kenji’s prospective prey is Mme. Yanagawa, an outlandishly wealthy land owner in the countryside of Wakayama Prefecture. When Kenji convinces the others to join him, the three young men begin to plot their crime.
Duration: 119mins     Genre: Comedy, Crime
Director: Kihachi Okamoto (岡本 喜八)
Cast: Kitabayashi Tanie, Ogata Ken, Kazama Toru, Uchida Katsuyasu and Nishikawa Hiroshi
My Sons (息子)
© Shochiku
The film focuses on the relationship between a father and his two sons. The elder son went to college and got a good job, while the younger son, Tetsuo, stopped his student at high school and began low-paying manual labor. Tetsuo falls in love with Seiko, who is deaf and mute. On introducing her to his father and elder brother, he announces that they plan to marry. Tetsuo worries that his father will be upset, but instead he accepts and supports his proposal.
Duration: 121mins     Genre: Comedy, Romance
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Nagase Masatoshi, Mikuni Rentaro, Wakui Emi, Tanaka Ryuzo and Harada Mieko
The Passage To Japan (福沢諭吉)
© Toei
This film is a biography of Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835 – 1901), the founder of Keio University. The film follows the life of this intellectual leader as Japan underwent massive, violent change. Fukuzawa is known as one of the prime propagators of Western knowledge in the Meiji Period. He devoted his life to showing that traditional Japanese ideas and values were wrong and to replace them with Western positivism and liberalism would propel Japan onto the world stage as a leader. To this end, he defined a new concept of jitsugaku, or practical knowledge, and propounded new views of history, ethics, and international relations. He proposed a new scheme of family relationships, championing particularly the cause of women. By focusing on the changes in the life of this leader of the new Japan, this film provides a window on the violent transition of the entire society.
Duration: 123mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Shin'ichiro Sawai (澤井 信一郎)
Cast: Shibata Kyohei, Enoki Takaaki, Suzuki Mizuho, Wakamura Mayumi and Nakamura Toru
The Shimanto River (四万十川)
© Yamada Right Vision Corp, Vap
The Shimato River is based on an autobiographical novel written by Sasayama Kyuzo. Sasayama grew up in rural Kochi prefecture and witnessed firsthand the gradual abandonment of traditional village life. In particular, the sense of solidarity with the land and its patron saints was lost as Sasayama’s kin moved to the city and took on its pragmatic, secular ways. This theme is alluded to in the film’s portrayal of Atsu’s confusion about the legends and folklore told to him by village elders.
Duration: 111mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Hideo Onchi (恩地 日出夫)
Cast: Yamada Teppei, Takahashi Kaori, Higuchi Kanako, Kobayashi Kaoru and Kojima Sachiko
Nowhere Man (無能の人)
© KSS, Shochiku Daiichi Kogyo
Sukezo used to be one of Japan’s premiere manga comic artists. Now he sells rocks. This is somewhat misleading, for there is a long tradition in Asia of appreciating the subtle colours and forms of stones. These art works of nature are placed on hand-crafted pedestals and handed down through the generations. Being somewhat obsessive compulsive, and not a little cheap when it comes to money, Sukezo hates to throw away anything, so the rock business suits his personality. Sukezo does everything he can to be successful at rocks.
Duration: 107mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Naoto Takenaka (竹中 直人)
Cast: Takenaka Naoto, Fubuki Jun, Santo Kotaro, Maruse Taro and Yamaguchi Miyako
Year of Release: 1990
A Summer Page (夏のページ)

© Nikkatsu
Ippei is hovering between boyhood and young manhood. His best friends, Hiroshi and Taiheiyo, already seem to be well on their way in this transition. One morning, the three boys set out for Mt. Myojin-dake on their bicycles on what turns out to be an adventurous camping trip.
Duration: 92mins     Genre: Adventure, Drama
Director: Yoshihiro Oikawa (及川 善弘)
Cast: Seiki Izumi, Daiki Kondo, Masanobu Matsuda, Koichi Miura, Shiro Sano and Kaori Kobayashi
Universals Laws (宇宙の法則)
© Daiei
After constantly being in conflict with his father, the owner of a textile mill, Yoshiaki left his home in Ichinomiya. Now, he has worked his way up to become a leading fashion designer. On learning of his father’s death, however, he returns home – only to get into an argument with his brother Kazuya about who will succeed their father and how. Yoshiaki eventually makes up his mind to return to his home permanently, and give up his position and status as a top fashion designer.
Duration: 120mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Kazuyuki Izutsu (井筒 和幸)
Cast: Masato Furuoya, Fujio Tsuneta, Kyozo Nagatsuka, Mari Torigoe and Haruko Mabuchi
Tora-San, My Uncle (男はつらいよ-ぼくの伯父さん)
© Shochiku
Well-intentioned, kindhearted but awkward Tora-san makes on of his periodic visits to his sister and her family in Tokyo. His nephew, Mitsuo, is depressed because he failed his university entrance exam. So Sakura, Tora-san’s sister, asks him to talk to the young man.
Duration: 108mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho, Hidetaka Yoshioka, Kumiko Goto and Gin Maeda
Tora-San Takes A Vacation (男はつらいよ-寅次郎の休日)
© Shochiku
Mitsuo is Tora-san’s nephew. He has finally entered college, and like most college students spend his days doing nothing much of anything. One of these days, he meets Izumi, his old flame from years back. Izumi is now living in Nagoya with her mother. Her father is off living somewhere with his lover, but she wants to find him and persuade him to return. She comes to Tokyo alone, but discovers only that her father has left for Kyushu. Mitsuo takes her as far as Tokyo Station, but ends up joining her and travelling to Kyushu in the far Western reaches of Japan. Returning from one of his trips, Tora-san finds his sister Sakura distraught over Mitsuo and the way he simply ran away from home.
Duration: 106mins     Genre: Comedy, Drama
Director: Yoji Yamada (山田 洋次)
Cast: Kiyoshi Atsumi, Chieko Baisho, Gin Maeda, Hidetaka Yoshioka and Kumiko Goto
Tokyo Heaven (東京上空いらっしゃいませ)
© Directors' Company, Shochiku Daiichi Kogyo, Bandai
Yu is a “campaign girl.” Her face adorns all the advertising for a new product. Her biggest problem is the managing director of the advertising agent, Shirayuki, whose sexual advances offend her. Mid-campaign, while riding in the car, he starts harassing her and tries to feel her up. Attempting to escape his advances, she jumps out of the car. Unfortunately, there’s a car in the back of them, and she’s immediately run over. Yu’s spirit haunts in all the posters, billboards, photographs, and jingles remaining across the city; she flies over the skies of Tokyo.
Duration: 109mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Shinji Somai (相米 慎二)
Cast: Makise Riho, Nakai Kiichi, Shofukutei Tsuruhei, Igaya Tomoko, Takeda Takatoshi and Fujimura Shunji
Takeshi: Childhood Days (少年時代)
© Fujiko Studio, Shogakkan, Asahi Television, Chuokoron-sha, Asahitsushin-sha, Shinei Films
Set in 1944 in the Toyama countryside, this is a portrait of friendship and friction between young boys in a village and the new boys who have fled there from the city during World War II.
In October 1944, as war conditions worsen with the Allied bombing of Japanese cities, Kazama Shinji evacuates to his relatives home in Toyama. He is first approached by Takeshi, the local leader of kids his age. Although Shinji is uncomfortable with the idea of life in a farmhouse, he immediately feels Takeshi’s friendship.
Duration: 117mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Masahiro Shinoda (篠田 正浩)
Cast: Fujita Tetsuya, Horioka Yuji, Yamazaki Katsuhisa, Kobinata Noritake and Koyama Atsuko
Tsugumi (つぐみ)
© Shochiku-Fuji, FM Tokyo, Yamada Right Vision Corp
Born with a weak heart and spoiled from the word go, Tsugumi is a precocious 18-year old girl. Her daily life is clouded by a fear of death and she always behaves selfishly, making her friend Maria feels sorry for her. Off in Tokyo studying at a university, Maria is invited by Tsugumi and her sister Yoko for summer vacation to meet at Izu where they all grew up and went to high school.
Walking around the streets, the girls calmly drift in nostalgic memories. As they bathe in their nostalgia, a young boy named Kyoichi goes by, capturing their collective attention.
Duration: 105mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Jun Ichikawa (市川 準)
Cast: Makise Riho, Nakajima Tomoko, Shiroshima Yasuyo, Sanada Hiroyuki and Watanabe Misako
The Sting Of Death (死の棘)
© Shochiku
In 1944, a year before the end of the Pacific War, Toshio, the young commander of a navy unit, met the lovely Miho on the tiny tropical island of Kakeroma just north of Okinawa.  They soon fell in love, although because he was on duty, he knew he would have to sacrifice his life for his country. Miho was determined to follow him in death. Fortunately, however, the war ended without them having to take that drastic step. Ten years and two children later finds them happily married – or so Miho thought.
Duration: 115mins     Genre: Drama
Director: Kohei Oguri (小栗 康平)
Cast: Keiko Matsuzaka, Kazunori Kishibe, Shikinori Matsumura, Yuri Chikamori and Midori Kiuchi
Swimming Up Stream (バタアシ金魚)
© JVC (Nihon Victor)
This is one of the many films in Japan directly adapted from manga, or Japanese comics. More than most films, Swimming Upstream reveals its origins through its bald manipulation of adolescent desires. The story primarily centers around a love triangle between young boys and girls. While Sonoko has her little schemes, the boys are competing over traditional male turf – sports and women. Who gets the girl turns out to be the more pressing question, turning the film into one of those whimsical stories of the pure love of youth
Duration: 95mins     Genre: Romance, Sport
Director: Joji Matsuoka (松岡 錠司)
Cast: Tsutsui Michitaka, Takaoka Saki, Sato Orie, Shirkawa Kazuko and Azuma Motohisa
The Pale Hand (白い手)
© Kansai Television
This 5th grade class has five “bad boys”, and is headed by a female teacher. One day, a new student called Matsui Takakiyo, from Tokyo, joins the class. Takakiyo suffers from a sphincter problem which causes him to dirty his pants whenever he becomes nervous. This is exactly what happens on the first day at the new school. As a result, the bad boys immediately give him the moniker “The Bum.” Masaru joins his pals in taunting Takakiyo, but after he is confronted by Takakiyo’s  mother, who begs him tearfully to be her son’s friend, he finds himself with no choice but to walk to school with him the following day. Masaru doesn’t want his friends to see him walking with Takakiyo, so he takes another route to school, one which he hasn’t used for a long time.
Duration: 100mins     Genre: Drama, Family
Director: Seijiro Kohyama (神山 征二郎)
Cast: Minamino Yoko, Nakagaki Katsuma, Fukuhara Manabu, Sakurada Junko and Ogawa Mayumi