A List of Must-Watch Japanese Movies with Time(Travel)Related Theme

I know I have posted about Japanese movies with time(travel)related themes before, but now that I have watched more, I guess I can list them here, just because. I mean, I can’t help it. It’s really one of my most favorite themes. Stories about time travel will always fascinate me. [Btw, apologies in advance for the so many watch pics I post here. After all, we talk about a “time” related theme, right? 😆]

Ok, first, let me list some movies that I have posted before, so I can direct you to their post.

1. Be with You [2004] (here, no. 3)
2. Kimi to 100-kaime no koi [2017] (here, no. 2)
3. ReLIFE [2017] (here, no. 3)
4. Orange [2015] (here, no. 4)
5. My tomorrow, your yesterday [2016] (here, no. 5)
6. Before the coffee gets cold [2018] (here, no. 6)
7. Kimi no nawa [2016] (It’s an anime, but I really must list it here, you can read more here, no. 1]
8. 56-nenme no shitsuren/56-year heartbreak [2020] (here, no. 3)
9. Second Summer, Never See You Again [2017] (here, no. 7)
10. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time [2010]
Previously I watched only the anime, I have briefly reviewed it before (here, no. 10). But it looks like there was live adaptations for that, a movie, and a 5-episode drama. I haven’t watched the live adaptations yet so I can’t tell how different it is from the anime.

And here are some that I just watched 🙂

One of my fav watches: Timex

11. Tokyo Girl [2008]
I found someone recommending this movie randomly, and when I checked I felt like I’ve watched it but I wasn’t sure, so I just went ahead and watched it (again). After watching it, I feel some scenes were familiar but I completely forgot the whole story, so maybe previously I only watched the trailer and not the whole movie, I don’t know. LoL But, wow, I actually loved this movie. I loved how it connected the past and the future, and how the connection to the past affected the future but did not change the future. Not sure if I explained it well, but it was just portrayed really well. I mean, the future happened because of that connection to the past, and the past happened because of its connection to the future. Does it make sense? If not, perhaps you could watch it yourself 😀 But I mean, it’s like a cyclical causal and correlational relationship. It was just amazing.

Summary: A girl dropped her phone during an earthquake. That phone fell into a “wormhole,” taking it to fall on the same place but in the past. The girl couldn’t find the phone, the guy from the past, when the cellphone wasn’t even invented, found it. The girl tried to call her phone, but it got connected only the moon wasn’t covered by clouds. Soon they learned that they were from a different era, with around a 100year difference. The guy bought her something in the past, he asked the shopkeeper to keep it, telling them that 100 years from that time a girl would come to pick it up. The girl later picked it up. The shopkeeper, who was just a kid when the gift was bought but had now been very old when the girl picked it up, was actually saved by the guy in an accident. Isn’t it amazing? Like, imagine you’re now talking to someone from the past and then they told you to come to a store to pick something they bought for you, and you could actually pick that 100-year-old gift intact. Just wow. I find it really amazing and mind-blowing. This kind of imagination. Fiction writers really have amazing imaginations, I respect them a lot.

12. The Devil Wears Juni-Hitoe Kimono [2020]
I love this movie because of the characterization. I mean, it told a story about the past, but the character was quite progressive. The “devil”, actually the main character, who was the emperor’s wife, had quite progressive thoughts as a woman. I remember when she was told that she was feared, she said, “That’s fine. A feared woman. Any fool can be lovable but being feared requires brains. I don’t care what the idiots think of me.” Or when she reflected on how her love life was, she said, “People think I’m a pathetic woman without a man to love her. They are wrong. I go after what I want. I protect what’s important to me. I am going to keep deciding how I live my life. I’ll keep reaching beyond my limits.” I love how in the midst of patriarchal society, in which men were often considered second to me, having to be submissive and all, the queen was actually a girl of her own. She defined herself and didn’t succumb to how people saw her. She had her own goals, and she was determined. At the same time, she was kind enough and actually a good mother-and person.

I also love this movie because Rai, the main character who traveled to the past, actually learned his lesson and became a better person when he went back to the future, facing all of his problems gently and more responsibly, and with more determination. And, [spoiler], I love how he was faithful to the girl he loved, not only in the past but also when they were “reunited” in the future.

Summary: A guy with an inferiority complex could not get a regular job so he just took part-time jobs. When he was working to set up an exhibition of “The Tale of Genji,” he was interested as he felt some kind of connection to the story, with him being the ordinary older brother with an excellent younger brother. That day, her girlfriend dumped him and he had to celebrate just another success of his younger brother. He felt down and passed out on the road, and when he woke up, he was in the past, in the time “Tale of Genji” actually happened. He worked for the emperor and learned a lot of things. He wished to stay there forever but somehow he was transported back to the future/his present time. 

13. Honnouji Hotel [2017]
Summary: A girl was contemplating her marriage and accidentally stayed in the Honnouji hotel. When she got in the elevator, she was taken back to Nobunaga Oda’s era. She met Nobunaga Oda and lived in that era once in a while as she could go back and forth between the present and the past only in certain right times and when the bell rang.

My thoughts: What I love about this movie is perhaps how entertaining it is? Like, it is kinda hilarious and some scenes will definitely make us laugh. What intrigued me, however, is the interaction between the past and the present. Like, the girl somehow was trying to “save” the characters from the past because she already learned in history, i.e. who would die when, how, and why. When she informed them, people from the past, would it change it? Or would it actually be the cause of those historical events? I think, time-travel movies such as this would always be intriguing especially because of the “what if” thinking. Like, what if the time travel did not happen, would it have been different? Did it happen like written in history because of the time travel? Did the time travel actually change something? Etc. And we can’t be sure of the answers because, well, maybe because it’s fictional so that it’s hard to imagine and use our logic to get a clear explanation. Or maybe because I’m not smart enough to think of or understand the theory. Hhe

The first “branded” watch that I bought for work.

14. Calling you [2007] (Kimi ni shika kikoenai)
Summary: An introverted girl had trouble holding normal or regular conversations with people. She had difficulty making friends so she ended up being alone and thus created imaginary phone conversations. One day, someone actually picked up and joined her imaginary phone calls, and they started to talk to each other.

My thoughts: I’m not sure if this can be included in time-travel-themed movies or if it simply involves magic. Well, okay, it’s fiction so anything can happen. But I mean, I’ve got some questions because 1) the phone was imaginary so basically the girl was just talking in her mind, 2) let’s say it’s more like mind-reading, how did the other person read the mind from a different place which is far away? So yes, it’s interesting.

15. The Miracles of the Namiya General Store [2017]
Summary: Three friends ran into an old general store and decided to stay the night there. They found a mailbox and even saw a letter dropped from outside. The letter was asking for advice about their worries. When they saw the letter, they noticed that it was actually written and sent from 32 years ago. They decided to reply and left a letter themselves.

My thoughts: I love how simple this movie is, yet also intriguing. I mean, three boys stayed a night in a seemingly abandoned old general store and found a letter written years ago. So simple, right? But it’s amazing how their actions on it were actually connected to their present, like how what they did was actually what caused their “existence” and “survival.” Like, how what they did was actually what caused them to have a place to exist, live, and survive? You know, like, how it was actually a history that affected their life indirectly. One occurrence led to another and it led to another, etc. so that it looked causally cyclical and impactful? Well, I don’t know how I should explain without giving spoilers. LoL But it’s amazing. I guess you should watch it yourself 😉

16. Brave: Gunjyo Senki [2021]
Summary: A school ground was transported into the past when thunder strikes. The students within the prestigious school found themselves traveled to the wartime era. As the students, becoming members and experts at their respective student clubs (i.e. archery, baseballs, boxing, etc), used their strength and worked together to find a way to save their friends who were caught hostages by the samurai and to bring them and their school back to the present era.

My thoughts: This is the last movie of the late Haruma Miura, so I had a mixed feeling when watching this. But aside from that, I love the movie. I might have said it before and again, but I really love how Japanese movies/anime/dramas often present their history through a movie like this. I’m not into history, but by watching such movies/anime/drama, I actually find history kinda interesting. In fact, I think I get familiar with some Japanese historical figures through movies like this. I wish my country’s history can be presented in a movie or drama like this. I think it will help us to get interested and learn more histories. I mean, movies like this tell us what happened in history without burdening our brain with memorization. It’s different from school, where we are often to memorize it. Watching history-related movies like this can help us learn and enjoy it at the same time.

A gift from a dear friend 🙂

17. Erased [2016] (Boku dake ga inai machi)
Summary: A guy has the ability to “repeat” a time to prevent an incident from happening. He’d keep going back in time to a time before the accident happened until he solved the mystery and prevented it from happening. One day, he found his mother stabbed to death. Afraid he’d be suspected of the murder, he ran and tried to go back to the past to prevent his mom from dying. Unexpectedly, he went back to his old body, to a time when he was still a kid, when a serial murder was taking place. He kept going back to living his life as a child until he solved the mystery behind the serial murder case.

My thoughts: I don’t know what to say. Hahaha I mean, it’s really great. The idea of going back to prevent something bad from happening. How the future changed because we did something different in the past. Wow. I am just curious about the other characters, though. Like, when we prevented something from happening by going back to the past, does it mean all incidents after that are canceled and non-existent? Or did they still happen in another timeline? But, well, a 120minute movie won’t be enough to discuss it all. LoL It’s a fiction after all ^^ But I mean, the idea is really superb. And I always appreciate amazing ideas like this ‘cause I know it’s nearly impossible for me to come up with such marvelous ideas myself 😉

I made a poll about this movie on Instagram, and I was kinda surprised with the result. It’s a “no” for me, so I found it interesting that some people answered “yes” and would do exactly like what happened in the movie…

18. Enoshima Prism [2013]
Summary: A guy went to the death anniversary of his childhood friend, and on his way home, when boarding the train, he was brought back to the past, right before his friend’s death. He found that he could travel to the past and so he was determined to change the past and went back there several times in attempt to prevent his friend from dying. There was a price he had to pay, though. Do you want spoilers? Haha

My thoughts: I couldn’t believe I had not watched this movie, until it was recommended to me. Like, how come? It’s such a great movie with a time-travel theme, how could I not decide to watch it the first time I read or saw the poster? Jeez. But, well, love is about timing and momentum, so perhaps the timing and my momentum with this movie is only this year but not before. But, well, it was intriguing. SPOILERS: He actually succeeded in preventing his friend’s death but then he was forgotten by them because any change in the past was said to rewrite everyone’s memory so everyone lost the memory about and with him including himself. Yet, that’s what he chose. He thought it’s ok that way, he believed it’s better as long as his friend was alive. Well, if it were me, I really am not sure if that’s what I want to choose. Like, they’re significant and important for me because of the memories I had with them, right? If nobody remembers, then it means nothing, right? After all, we live only as long as we’re remembered even after our death, once we’re forgotten, that’s death, right? But, well, I don’t know. It’s an interesting movie, though. If you could travel to the past and could prevent someone precious to you from dying but they’d forget you, would you choose that?

19. Summer Time Machine Blues [2005]
Summary: The members of high-school sci-fi student club found something that looks like a time machine. They decided to give it a try and go back to the day before to prevent the AC remote from getting broken. It turned out that the time machine was brought by a sci-fi club member from the future who traveled to the present. Some events happened and they were connected, i.e. what they did caused something to happen in the past, and the time travel from the future caused them to change the present in attempts to create the said future. Overwhelming? It’s great, though. I’ll recommend anyone who loves time-travel movies to watch this one^^

My thoughts: So I have actually watched this, but all I remember was the Kappa thing. The rest I forgot. So when someone recommended it to me, I decided to watch it, and I was like, “Right, I had watched this before.” But, ugh, it’s actually a great time-travel movie, how they connect the past, the present, and the future. How they made it look like everything was planned (by God) right from the beginning, including the time travel. Like, what happened now was the result of the people from the future traveling to the present which caused people at the present to travel to the past, which in effects impacted the present. Confusing? But I mean, it’s really great. Somehow “it makes sense.” I don’t know how to explain it, but if you watch it, I think you’ll understand. At the beginning, it might be boring, like you try to find what’s so special about the movie but you can’t really find any, but if you keep watching without trying to find anything, it’s actually exciting. It’s “idle” but it makes you

Well, I think that’s all today. Anyway, here are some that are recommended to me but I haven’t watched. I might update them later when I have watched them.
1. Sakurada Reset
2. Nobunaga Concert [Ok, I think I watched this but kinda dropped it, so I can’t really tell. Might rewatch later].

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