The films on this list include those released in cinema in 2016 but coming to DVD in 2017 (**) as well as movies with cinema release in 2017.
These are not in any rank, however the titles marked red are top of the ‘must watch’ list.
(25) The Knitting Boy | Karera ga Honki de Amu Toki wa (2017)
2017 ‧ Family Drama ‧ 2h 7m Director: Naoko Ogigami
11-year-old Tomo (Rinka Kakihara) lives with mother Hiromi (Mimura), but Hiromi decides to give up on her and leaves their home. Tomo, now all alone, visits her uncle Makio’s (Kenta Kiritani) home. Makio lives with his beautiful girlfriend Rinko (Toma Ikuta). Rinko was born as a man and now works as a caregiver at a home for the elderly. Tomo is a little confused by the situation, but they begin to live as a family.
(24) Gintama (2017)
2017 ‧ Action ‧ ??? Director: Yuichi Fukuda
Set in a parallel universe around the Edo period.
Alien species Amanto attack planet Earth. The people on Earth fight back against the aliens for more than 10 years. The Shogunate sees the power of Amanto and decide accept their conquest. The Shogunate builds a puppet government for Amanto and carry out the Sword Abolishment Edict. Due to these actions, samurai, that fought against the Amanto for their country and their lord, fall into a decline.
Gintoki Sakata (Shun Oguri) is a samurai and happens to meet people. He has an extraordinary experience.
(23) March Comes in Like a Lion | San gatsu no Lion Zenpen (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Keishi Ohtomo
Rei Kiriyama (Ryunosuke Kamiki) is a 17-years-old shogi (Japanese chess) player. He debuted as a professional shogi player when he was in middle school. He lives by himself in Tokyo, because his parents and younger sister died in an traffic accident when he was little. One day, Rei Kiriyama meets three sisters who are his neighbors. The three sisters are Akari Kawamoto, Hinata Kawamoto and Momo Kawamoto. This is his first meeting with someone outside of the shogi world in many years. Having meals with the Kawamoto family brings warm feelings to Rei Kiriyama. As Rei Kiriyama continues his shogi career, his interactions with his neighbors allows him to grow as a shogi player and as a person.
(22) Sakurada Reset | Sakurada Risetto Zenpen (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Yoshihiro Fukagawa
In the town of Sakurada, where about half of the residents have special abilities, Kei Asai (Shuhei Nomura) is a high school student and is able to remember everything. Misora Haruki (Yuina Kuroshima) is also a high school student and she has the power to reset the world by 3 days. If they use both of their powers together, they can go back in time by 3 days and retain their memory. They are watched by the administrative bureau.
(21) Tokyo Ghoul | Tokyo Guru (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Kentaro Hagiwara
Ken Kaneki (Masataka Kubota) is a university student. He becomes injured by Rize, a human eating ghoul. Ken is saved from the ghoul when a steel frame falls on Rize. They are both sent to the hospital. Ken receives an organ transplant from Rize and becomes a half ghoul.
(20) Over the Fence | Oba Fensu (2016)**
2016 ‧ Drama film ‧ 1h 52m Director: Nobuhiro Yamashita
Yoshio Shiraiwa (Joe Odagiri) is dumped by his wife and goes back to his hometown of Hakodate. He then enrolls at a vocational school, while receiving unemployment payments. At the vocational school, he meets Kazuhisa Daishima (Shota Matsuda). One day, Kazuhisa Daishima takes him to a cabaret. There, Yoshio Shiraiwa meets a hostess, Satoshi Tamura (Yu Aoi). She possesses something different from other people. Satoshi Tamura and Yoshio Shiraiwa become close
(19) Someone’s Xylophone | Dareka no Mokkin (2016)**
2016 ‧ Drama film ‧ 1h 52m Director: Yoichi Higashi
Sayoko (Takako Tokiwa) is an ordinary housewife married to her husband (Masanobu Katsumura) and they have a daughter. Sayoko’s family moves to the suburb. There, she finds a beauty shop and gets her hair done by Kaito (Sosuke Ikematsu). Sayoko receives a thank you email from Kaito and replies back to him. Her daily life then changes. She frequently sends emails to Kaito and visits him at the beauty shop. She asks for Kaito to do her hair. Finally, she finds out Kaito’s address and visits his apartment. Sayoko gets her husband and Kaito’s girlfriend (Aimi Satsukawa) involved.
(18) Nakimushi Pierrot no Kekkonshiki (2016)**
2016 ‧ Comedy ‧ 1h 28m Director: Osamu Minorikawa
Kanami (Mirai Shida) is an apprentice pierrot and dreams of making people laugh. She falls in love with Yosuke (Ryo Ryusei) who is a dialysis patient. He forgets to smile. To make Yosuke smile, Kanami decides to have a smile no matter what. Yosuke begins to have feelings to her and they decide to marry. On the day before their wedding Yosuke collapses.
(17) Anonymous Noise | Fukumenkei Noizu (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Koichiro Miki
Nino Arisugawa (Ayami Nakajo) enjoys to sing. When Nino Arisugawa (Ayami Nakajo) was a child, she separated from her first crush Momo and Yuzu who composed music. Momo and Yuzu promised her that they would find her by her singing voice.
Now, Nino Arisugawa is in the first year of high school. She finally meets Yuzu at the high school. Yuzu belongs to the band “in No hurry to shout.” Nino Arisugawa becomes tempted to sing in their band and spends time practicing.
Meanwhile, Momo is also in the first year at the same high school that Nino and Yuzu attends. Momo already has a career as a composer. He tries to avoid Nino, because he feels guilty that he sold music for money. The music was made for Nino.
(16) Dias Police: Dirty Yellow Boys (2016)**
2016 ‧ Crime film/Thriller ‧ 1h 55m Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
About 150,000 illegal entrants live in Tokyo. They are not recognised as refugees and live in poor conditions. To protect themselves, the illegals create a secret organisation. The organisation has a bank which Japanese Financial Services Agency is not involved with, a hospital that is not authorized by Japanese Ministry of Health, Labour, and Welfare and an illegals police force called “Dias Police.” The only police officer in the organisation is Saki Kubozuka (Shota Matsuda). His age and nationality is unknown. Saki Kubozuka does not speak much, but he has a warm heart and strong sense of justice. He takes care of the weak and tries to maintain public order.
(15) Satoshi: A Move for Tomorrow | Satoshi no Seishun (2016)**
2016 ‧ Biography ‧ 2h 4m Director: Yoshitaka Mori
Satoshi Murayama (Kenichi Matsuyama) is a player of shogi (Japanese chess). He learned the game from Mori over a 10 year period starting at the age of 15. In 1994, Satoshi Murayama decides to move to Tokyo to get Meijin, which is one of the seven titles in Japanese professional shogi. His parents opposes his idea because he suffers from nephrotic syndrome (kidney disorder).
In Tokyo, Satoshi Murayama gets title of Meijin, but he is diagnosed with cancer. His doctor advises him to quit the game of shogi, have surgery and convalesce. Satoshi Murayama refuses his doctor’s advice and keeps playing shogi.
(14) Teiichi’s Country (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Akira Nagai
Teiichi Akaba (Masaki Suda) is a student at a prestigious private male high school known for producing important politicians and bureaucrats. His dream is to become the prime minster and make his own country. To help achieve his dream, he wants to become elected as his school’s student council president. The elected student president receives privileges and a better chance for promotions later in the political & bureaucrat world. A power struggle takes place surrounding the student election.
(13) Kamisama no Wadachi: Checkpoint of the Life (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Yu Sakudo
Set around Ide, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan, Yuri Sasaoka (Atsushi Arai) and Yosuke Ogawa (Amane Okayama) have been friends since they were children. They are crazed about bicycling. The two grow up through interacting with people in town.
(12) Kiseki: Sobito of That Day | Kiseki Ano Hi no Sobito (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Atsushi Kaneshige
Based on the true story of 4 member Japanese pop group “GreeeeN.” Jin (Tori Matsuzaka) is the producer of “GreeeeN” and his younger brother Hide is the lead member for the group. Their song “Kiseki” is released as their 7th single, becomes a huge hit. Hide and the other 3 members have others jobs including working as a dentist.
(11) Drowning Love | Oboreru Naifu (2016)**
2016 ‧ 1h 51m Director: Yuki Yamato
Natsume Mochizuki (Nana Komatsu) works as a teen model in Tokyo, but she learns that she has to move to her father’s hometown of Ukigumo. She is in a desperate situation because she can’t do the things she wants to do in Ukigumo. One day, she meets Koichiro Hasegawa (Masaki Suda). He is the successor of the Hasegawa family. His family is wealthy and is respected in the area. Natsume Mochizuki and Koichiro Hasegawa become attracted to each other, but something changes their fate.
(10) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Takashi Miike
Set in the fictional town of Moriou.
Josuke Higashikata (Kento Yamazaki) is the the illegitimate son of Joseph Joestar. He possess a Stand (super power) called Crazy Diamond. The power allows him to restore or fix broken objects or animals. Josuke Higashikata and his friends go to war with other Stand users.
(9) A Man Called Pirate (2016)**
2016 ‧ Drama film/History ‧ 2h 25m Director: Takashi Yamazaki
Shortly after World War II, Tetsuzo Kunioka (Junichi Okada) loses everything because of the war. Nevertheless, he doesn’t fire anyone at his company and finds success in the oil industry.
(8) Mokuku (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Kazuyoshi Kumakiri
Kengo Yatabe’s (Gou Ayano) mother passes away. His father was great at kendo, but he is now in a vegetative state. Kengo was also accomplished in kendo, but he stopped participating in the martial art activity after an incident. Now, he spends his days drinking and working as a security guard at a station building. One day, Tooru Haneda (Nijiro Murakami) appears in front of Kengo. Tooru is a high school student who likes rap music. Triggered by Tooru’s talent with kendo, Kengo resumes practicing kendo.
(7) HiGH&LOW THE RED RAIN (2016)**
2016 ‧ 1h 50m Director: Yudai Yamaguchi
The Amamiya Brothers, Masaki (Takahiro) and Hiroto (Hiroomi Tosaka), keep looking for their older brother Takeru (Takumi Saito) who disappeared one year ago. The three Amamiya brothers lost their parents when they were young. Since then, they relied only on each other. On the anniversary of their parents’ death, Masaki and Hiroto expect Takeru to appear. Instead, they meet a person who has a clue on Takeru’s whereabouts.
Why did Takeru leave Masaki and Hiroto ?
(6) Somebody | Nanimono (2016)**
2016 ‧ Drama film ‧ 1h 37m Director: Daisuke Miura
5 university students gather to exchange information on their job search activities. They encourage each other and post their thoughts & worries on Twitter, but behind that they have a lot on their minds.
Takuto Ninomiya (Takeru Satoh) observes those around him. His roommate Kotaro Kamiya (Masaki Suda) has a bright personality and communicates well with others. Mizuki Tanabe (Kasumi Arimura) is Kotaro Kamiya’s ex-girlfriend. Takuto Ninomiya has feelings for his roommate’s ex-girlfriend. Rika Kobayakawa (Fumi Nikaido) is determined to land a job. Takayoshi Miyamoto (Masaki Okada) is critical of job-seeking activities, but he later tries to get a job.
(5) The Disastrous Life of Saiki K (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Yuichi Fukuda
Kusuo Saiki (Kento Yamazaki) is a 16-year-old high school student. He was born with psychic powers, but he hesitates using his super powers in front of other people due to a childhood experience. Kusuo Saiki now tries to keep a distance from others to hide his psychic power ability, but his classmates with distinct individuality gather under Kusuo. Can Kasuo keep his precious ordinary daily life?
2016 ‧ Mystery/Drama film ‧ 2h 22m Director: Sang-il Lee
A man brutally murders a married couple and leaves behind the words “Ikari” (“Anger”) written with their blood. The killer undergoes plastic surgery and flees.
At 3 different locations in Japan, a male stranger appear. People there suspect that the stranger might be the murderer.
At a fishing harbor in Chiba, Yohei Maki (Ken Watanabe) works at the harbor and he has a daughter, Aiko (Aoi Miyazaki). Aiko begins to date Tetsuya Tashiro (Kenichi Matsuyama). Yohei begins to suspect that his daughter’s boyfriend might be the killer, because he is using a fake name.
In downtown Tokyo, gay male Yuma Fujita (Satoshi Tsumabuki) works at an advertising agency. He meets Naoto Onishi (Gou Ayano) and they begin to live together. While getting Naoto to open his mind, Yuma begins to suspect Naoto as the killer.
In Okinawa, Izumi Komiya (Suzu Hirose) and her mother move to an isolated island there. One day, she takes a walk and meets Shingo Tanaka (Mirai Moriyama). The young is backpacking alone. Izumi gets close to Shingo, but Shingo asks Izumi to not to tell others about him.
(3) Aa, Koya (2017)
2017 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Yoshiyuki Kishi
Set in the near future around Shinjuku, Tokyo.
Shinji (Masaki Suda) got out from a youth detention center. Barikan (Yang Ik-June) suffers from with stuttering and extreme shyness. These two men meet in a boxing gym. Shinji and Barikan become friends and pursue boxing under a hopeless situation.
(2) Ushijima the Loan Shark Part 3 and The Final (2016)**
2016 ‧ ??? ‧ ??? Director: Masatoshi Yamaguchi
Based on the manga series “Yamikin Ushijima-kun” by Shohei Manabe (first published 2004 by Weekly Magazine Big Comic Spirits)
(1) Shippu Rondo (2016)**
2016 ‧ Drama film ‧ 1h 49m Director: Teruyuki Yoshida
An illegal biological weapon K-55 is stolen from a university lab. The university lab can’t even call the police because the secret nature of the weapon. The school lab then receives a message stating that the entire country is now being held hostage and they must pay a ransom of 300 million yen.
Kazuyuki Kuribayashi (Hiroshi Abe) works as a senior researcher at the university lab. He agonizes over his difficult relationship with his adolescent son. Kazuyuki Kuribayashi is selected got a mission to take back the stolen biological weapon.