Following J-Film Pow-Wow‘s Top 10, with no particular order;
# Lone Wolf & Cub (1972, Kenji Misumi)
• What is it? This is the opening sequence of the best Lone Wolf film, and what a bloody way to open the festivities! It is outrageously violent (for that time, at least), and it reveals the creativity of this series. We’ve dedicated an article to explain further why this film is worth watching!
# Mind Game (2004, Masaaki Yuasa)
• What is it? The kind of animated film that can completely change the way you understand or see animation. Mind Game is a crazy ride to awesomeness (and happiness), but it’s not stupid at all. In the scene, the main character is basically meeting what we humans calls God. It’s possibly the most intelligent depiction of God ever seen on screen – “it” is everything and nothing and the same time! The film offers many more beautiful scenes to discover!
# Throw Away Your Books (1971, Shuji Terayama)(NSFW)
• What is it? Shuji Terayama was a poet-writer-director-artist, as such, he had many weird, funny, provocative ideas to express. I mean, the title of this film already sounds quite intriguing! It was only his second feature-film, and Terayama created an inspiring, experimental & crazy anarchist-rock-musical dealing with many taboo subjects while showing the underground culture of that time. This scene reflects part of this rebellious spirit.
# Sex & Fury (1972, Norifumi Suzuki) (NSFW!)
• What is it? Once again, an opening sequence with blood everywhere! Except here, it’s a woman fighting naked under the snow, for what is a beautiful yet violent ballet. It’s pinky film at its best, in other words, exploitation films with gorgeous young women, nudity, violence & artistic creativity.
# Love Exposure (2009, Sion Sono)
• What is it? When the director of Suicide Club creates an epic wild love-story about voyeurism, religion… It gives Love Exposure! In the following scene, the main character must become the master of the art of upskirt photo. Yes, you read that right! Voyeurism as a (martial) art, that’s pure genius! Sion Sono FTW!
# Extreme Private Eros (1974, Kazuo Hara)(NSFW!!)
• What is it? Kazuo Hara is a documentarist, who has always decided to tackle difficult and controversial subjects in his films. Here, he filmed the intimacy of an independent woman, who’s absolutely not interested in marriage, and doesn’t care about social traditions. This scene is both remarkable & stunning, she’s giving birth to her child at home. If needed, during the scene, the director is just saying that during the process, he forgot to check the focus of his camera. Still stunning.
# Profound Desire of Gods (1968, Imamura)
• What is it? Japanese director Shohei Imamura’s company went bankrupt after the commercial failure of this epic film using mythology & metaphors to portray the Japanese society of that time. In this scene, set during the opening sequence (again), an old wise man is just sharing the (cool sounding) song that explains the story of the film. Somehow, this is the director’s note of intent. Simple & beautiful.
# Ryoma Sakamoto (1928)
• What is it? Sakamoto is an historical figure, who played an important role in the overthrow of feudalism in Japan. He was assassinated before he could see the results of his actions. Many movies based on his story have been produced. In this version, you could see the assassination. And what’s great about this scene is how the steam is used to show his death, it’s like his soul is leaving.
# Hanzo The Razor (1972, Yasuzo Masumura)
• What is it? Actor Shintaro Katsu is still best known as Zatoichi, the blind swordsman. Hopefully, as a successful actor, he had the opportunity to play many different roles, such as Hanzo The Razor. Which is kind of a samurai version of Dirty Harry, with one really special skill (can’t reveal it here though). This character was created by manga artist Kazuo Koike – Lone Wolf, it’s also him. So, is it surprising to discover that Hanzo’s home is filled with many traps?
# Branded To Kill (1967, Seijun Suzuki)
• What is it? This is director Seijun Suzuki making an inventive absurd crime thriller, that will cost him his job at Nikkatsu studios! Branded to Kill is about a killer who wants to become the “number one.” In the following scene, he’s forced to live with the actual “number one,” who shows him what it takes to become that. It’s hilarious, strange, unexpected, and visually astonishing.