3 Thought-Provoking Japanese Movies That Will Change The Way You Look At Love | CoolJapan

Movies about love are always popular because who doesn’t love a feel-good romantic story? But sometimes, life doesn’t always go the way we want, blurring the lines of what society accepts.

Here are three thought-provoking Japanese movies that are nowhere near a fairytale romance. The controversial protagonists of these films are intense and may be disturbing to some extent, but their stories will change the way you look at life and love.

Ride or Die (2021)

Would you kill for love? Even for an unrequited love from 10 years ago?

Ride or Die is a “Thelma & Louise” female buddy road crime film with a twist. Rei (Kiko Mizuhara), a beautiful young woman, seduces a man in a bar and then violently murders him in his own home. This seemingly random victim is the abusive husband of Nanae (Honami Sato), Rei’s high-school classmate for whom she had a huge crush. In a most destructive declaration of love, Rei readily agrees to kill for Nanae, even though they had lost touch for 10 years.

Ditching her existing girlfriend, Rei then hits the road together with her long-lost lover, in order to escape their crime. Armed with sexy stilettos and a swanky red car, they go on a truth-seeking journey where revelations about their past are slowly disclosed.

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After lots of crying and hysterical screaming, the reunited lovers spend an intimate night at an abandoned hut. The intense sex scene here is not just about desire, it reveals the fragility and honesty between the two protagonists. Rei then sneaks out to surrender to the cops, putting an end to the make-belief happy future they had viewers thinking would happen.

It is an emotional journey that is filled with love, pain, sexuality and a touch of freedom.

37 Seconds (2019)

It took only 37 seconds of not breathing when Yuma was born. This resulted in cerebral palsy, robbing a spirited young woman of a normal life.

Yuma lives with her mother, who loves her to the extent of being overprotective. And just like any typical young person, Yuma has big dreams and she wants to become a professional manga artist one day.

Along the road of job rejections, she meets an editor of an erotic manga magazine, who tells her she needs real-life sexual experience. This pushes Yuma to embark on a self-discovery journey of a lifetime. She attempts to have sex with a male escort, makes new friends along the way and even discovers that she has a long-lost sister in Thailand. Her adventures will make you cringe, cry and laugh.

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Much of the credit goes to the main protagonist, played by Mei Kayama, an amateur actress who has cerebral palsy in reality. Through her realistic performance, we experience Yuma’s joys and pain, her desires and yearning to break free of life’s shackles.

This multiple award-winning movie is one of the most intense coming-of-age stories ever. 37 seconds talks about sensitive issues such as the challenges surrounding disabilities and sexuality. At the same time, it is uplifting and portrays the extraordinary spirit of one woman’s triumph over disability.

MOTHER マザー (2020)

Mother-and-son relationships can be tricky but Netflix’s original Japanese movie Mother portrays a toxic love so great that it is disturbing.

Akiko (Masami Nagasawa) is a single mother who neglects her son Shuhei (Sho Gunji). She spends most of her time gambling and manipulates him to extort money out of her family. When Akiko is not wasting her life away, she wantonly has casual sex with other men in order to get what she wants. Akiko is on so many levels a terrible mother and she has an unbreakable control over Shuhei.

From a young child until a teenager (Daiken Okudaira), Shuhei endures all the mental and physical abuse that is thrown at him. At times, he shows his frustration, wanting to escape the clutches of this toxic relationship for his own survival.