We love movies here at TW. We’re avid Netflix consumers and theatergoers. In the era of COVID-19, many have found some sense of comfort and normalcy in browsing the catalogue of their favorite streaming service. Documentaries, especially, have been one of the genres many turned to in their period of self-isolation, some still providing entertainment long after their initial release (Tiger King, anyone?)

We took on the humble sacrifice of perusing Netflix Japan to find the best documentaries to liven up your evenings and maybe even to teach you something new.

Little Miss Sumo

Follow Hiyori Kon, 21-year-old sumo prodigy as she takes on her biggest challenge yet: fighting sexism in the realm of this traditional Japanese sport. You don’t need to know much about sumo to be awed by Kon’s head-on approach to changing the industry and the image of women in sport. The documentary holds an even more powerful message about the future of women in Japan.

Kon appeared among the BBC’s 100 most inspiring and influential women of 2019, along with Yumi Ishikawa, the leader of the #KuToo movement. (Source)

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Shimaneko Biyori – Setouchi Aoshima no Nekotachi

Did you know that Japan is home to 11 cat islands? A true cat lover’s paradise. Shimaneko Biyori is a short and simply adorable docuseries set in Ehime’s Aoshima island. This residential island is mostly home to elderly citizens, along with more than 100 cats with the latest ratio approximated to 8-to-1. While this title doesn’t come with English subtitles, we recommend giving it a watch if only for the amazing footage of nearly perfect cohabitation.

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We all have time to cook and experiment with a limited pantry at the moment. Now might just be the perfect time to change our diet for the better. Rotten is a series about the food industry, highlighting the dark sides of mass agriculture. The information presented in its two seasons is particularly catered towards an American audience, but we hope it can encourage you to think about where your food comes from.

The series was criticized for lacking clear solutions to the problems it exposes, but, as Steve Green wrote, “it puts forth these stories with the idea that a more informed audience is a healthier one.”

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Our Planet

Who doesn’t love a good nature documentary? Not only is it the perfect way to humble oneself, but it’s also great to have on in the background while working from home. This documentary continues the BBC’s Planet Earth and Blue Planet; in other words, you can expect incredible, powerful and emotional imagery. Our Planet, however, also takes on a clear political spin, not only showing the beauty of nature, but also its disappearance.

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Tell Me Who I Am

Tell Me Who I Am tells the haunting story of Marcus and Alex Lewis and how one brother protected the other from the horrifying truth when he saw a window of opportunity after a near-fatal motorcycle accident. The style of this documentary is significantly more cinematic than your average documentary, which creates a compelling and engaging story with the ultimate cathartic effect.

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Miss Americana

Whether you love or hate Taylor Swift (though you might find yourself with a new appreciation of her after this one), Miss Americana is absolutely worth a watch if you have a connection to music, the record industry and artistry. Even more so, the documentary sheds a light on the world of entertainment, the relationship between a global star and their fans, and the realities of growing and living in the public eye.

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Explained (Series)

The Explained series takes on a much lighter approach to relatively complicated subjects. It’s got poppy graphics, celebrity narrators and comes in a more digestible format than your average documentary. This isn’t to say that it can’t be informative. In fact, it’s a great way to introduce certain themes to a younger audience or if you’re in the mood for something a little lighter in tone (not everything has to be dramatic, after all). Covered subjects include everything from diamonds and K-pop to sex and pandemics.

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