Romance comes in all shapes and varieties, with many Japanese romantic films and shows having a flair for the melodramatic and the somber. This Valentine’s Day, we decided to focus on the funny side of romance: the comedy, the misunderstandings, the sweet embarrassments, the strangeness of love. With that in mind, here are six Japanese romantic comedies that you can enjoy on Netflix and Hulu this Valentine’s Day.
Jinx!!! is unlike any other rom-com of recent years, taking an international and multicultural approach to love and romance. It’s a Japanese movie with three protagonists, one of them a Korean exchange student. Set at a Japanese university, the story follows the budding and awkward romance between Kaede and Yusuke. Having dreadful trouble expressing their feelings properly, and therefore destined to run in place without ever getting anywhere, their relationship is eventually intervened by Korean exchange student Ji-ho, a young woman who promises to inject their love story with some Korean love drama flair. She hopes that, by teaching them the Korean way of romancing one another, the relationship between Kaede and Yusuke can properly grow into something great.
One Week Friends (Netflix)
Kaori is an aloof young transfer student about to enter her second year of high school. While on a train, she saves a French dictionary from being left behind by fellow high-schooler Yuki. This meet-cute lights Yuki’s heart on fire and he is thrilled to learn that they share a class. So begins a quest for Kaori’s friendship, though she continues to snub his advances and remains aloof; an attitude that has earned her a reputation at school since her transfer there. What is the reason for Kaori’s peculiar attitude? What’s her story? Can Yuki earn Kaori’s attention and even her affection? And how will he do so?
My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday (Netflix)
Based on a novel by Takafumi Nanatsuki, My Tomorrow, Your Yesterday is another romantic Japanese film that begins with a meet-cute on a train. This one takes a supernatural sci-fi twist akin to the story of Doctor Who and River Song. Takatoshi and Emi, both ages 20, meet on a Kyoto train and, for him, it’s love at first sight. For her, however, things are more complicated as Emi comes from a world where time runs in the opposite direction. This is both a romantic comedy and a bittersweet tale of love for the ages.
Good Morning Call (Netflix)
Originally a girls’ shoujo manga, the series was adapted into a Netflix show of the same name in 2016. Good Morning Call has two seasons and tells the story of Nao and Hisashi, two young people who have been scammed into renting the same apartment. Somehow, they have to make this awkward and unexpected living situation work. They fight to keep it a secret and continue to make ends meet while Nao finds herself slowly falling for Hisashi the longer they live together. This is a sweet, goofy, comic romance series that reflects the difficulties of modern living wonderfully.
The Could’ve-Gone-All-The-Way Committee (Netflix)
Based on the manga series ‘Yareta kamo Iinkai’, The Could’ve-Gone-All-The-Way Committee centers around a panel of judges — a martial artist, musician, and CEO — who gather together to listen to stories of missed love and lust opportunities. Think the ‘missed connections’ section on Craigslist but live on TV and judged by a panel. What are they judging? Simply whether or not that missed connection would ever have blossomed into something more; whether or not it would have resulted in a sexual encounter. The premise alone is over-the-top hilariously awkward with the deadpan judges listening to these dramatic, often comical tales from Japan’s lonely hearts. Each story is its own contained episode, an easy watch with no extra frills.
Ito-kun A to E (Netflix)
Also known as The Many Faces of Ito, this is a series that was originally based on a novel by Asako Yuzuki. It follows protagonist Rio Yazaki, a woman in her early thirties who once wrote screenplays for popular romantic comedies, but has since found her pool of imagination a little dried up and her spark flickering out. She decides on a new tactic: pretending to offer romantic advice to a group of women, each of them lovesick in their own way. Rio is looking for inspiration in their stories when she spies a commonality that these women’s experiences all share. That commonality is a man: the titular Ito. Rio tells her producer about this man, and the women left lovesick by him, and that producer gives Rio the push she needs to write about their experiences. Ito-kun A to E approaches love from a very different angle and having an experienced rom-com writer as our protagonist gives the show a pseudo-meta angle that really sets it apart from the rest of the Japanese romantic comedies.
Want to watch more Japanese movies and series? Check out other TW recommendations:
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- 5 Less-Known LGBT Movies To Watch on Netflix Japan This Year
- 5 of the Best Japanese Kids’ Shows on Netflix
- TW ScreenCap: The Best Documentaries on Netflix Japan
- 14 Netflix Shows To Binge Watch (And Study Japanese With) Now
- Top Japan Netflix Shows for Improving Your Japanese
- 10 Films And Documentaries On Black History And Systemic Racism You Can Watch In Japan