Now screening... J-dramas

With only a few days for the Japanese Film Festival Online 2024 to conclude, viewers still have a chance to catch acclaimed TV dramas
A still from Baby Assasins
A still from Baby Assasins

BENGALURU: Over the last decade, the advent of streaming has made global cinema increasingly accessible in India. Japanese cinema, in particular, has captured the attention of a youthful Indian audience with its range from cult classics by Hayao Miyazaki to action-packed hits like Battle Royale and Sonatine.

Despite this growing popularity, much of Japan’s film repertoire remains largely undiscovered by global audiences. The Japanese Film Festival Online 2024, organised by the Japan Foundation India, aims to introduce these ‘hidden gems’ to Indian viewers.

The festival began on June 5 and until June 19, a curated selection of 23 films were showcased. This lineup included everything from remastered anime classics to heartwarming narratives. “Viewership has nearly doubled compared to the previous edition,” notes Aoi Ishimaru, Director of Arts and Cultural Exchange at The Japan Foundation.

This year, Japanese cinema has enjoyed substantial international attention, with the successes of Godzilla Minus One and The Boy and the Heron. Ishimaru says the festival’s diverse offerings, spanning animation, horror, drama, and romance, have been praised for their quality and uniqueness.

“We aim to uncover hidden gems – excellent films that are lesser-known and not available on major OTT platforms,” she says. Highlights included the premiere of the digitally remastered 1997 animated adventure film Jungle Emperor Leo and popular hits like Baby Assassins.

As the festival enters its final days, cinephiles still have the opportunity to explore compelling TV dramas, a first for the festival, available until its conclusion on July 3. Since June 19, audiences have been able to stream two critically-acclaimed dramas: Downtown Rocket and Riku-Oh.

Each series, consisting of 10 episodes, explores themes of perseverance and ambition. “The decision to include TV dramas stemmed from a desire to broaden our audience’s exposure to different formats of Japanese storytelling,” Ishimaru explains.

“While TV dramas are slowly gaining popularity in India, they are not as well-known as films. This year, we chose two blockbuster TV dramas from Japan that were very popular but not available on any OTT platform, aiming to showcase the quality of Japanese TV dramas alongside films.”

(The JFFO 2024 is available at watch.jff.jpf.go.jp. The showcases are free and include subtitles in up to 16 languages)

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