Japanese cinema has never gained widespread acceptance in the West, save for Godzilla and Kurosawa films. But those are only a tiny pinprick of Japanese films, which cover all genres, including war. Aside from Tora Tora Tora and Letter From Iwo Jima, there haven’t been many movies that show war from a Japanese perspective that have gained traction in the West. I’d like to change that with 5 Japanese war movie recommendations.
Shanghai 1928 – the body of blonde woman is found dead, washed up on the “Beach of Dead Babies.” The mutilated corpse is marked with the Chinese character for “justice.” It’s with this gruesome and foreboding atmosphere that Death in Shanghai by MJ Lee, and the Inspector Danilov series begins.
Shanghai Story by the great Alexa Kang is a historical epic in the vein of such classics as The Winds of War and War and Remembrance. Whereas those books concentrated on the well-represented European Theater of World War II, Kang’s trilogy will focus on the lesser-known Sino-Japanese War.
In modern-day Tokyo, an American businessman meets a grisly end underneath an oncoming subway train. But it was no accident. He was pushed, and furthermore, we know who did it. Michiko Suzuki, a seriously damaged young woman, is the murderer, but why did she do it? So begins The Last Train by Michael Pronko.
Calcutta, 1919 – In the sweltering Indian heat, a British civil servant is found brutally murdered with a note shoved in his mouth. The note is a warning to the British – quit India or else. Thus begins A Rising Man, a historical murder mystery and the first in the Sam Wyndham series by Abir Mukherjee.
1931 was an important year in Japanese history. Casual research of this era will have a brief overview of the invasion of Manchuria in September, and vague references to a coup d’état which put the Army in charge. In truth, there was no armed coup d’état in 1931, at least none that were successful. However, the March Incident (Sangatsu Jiken 三月事件) came close.