Fun and laughter make a film memorable, and the Japanese comedy movies have a unique contribution to that. Aiming to bring happiness, comedy films bring meaningful messages as well from the big screen.
Check out the 22 Best Japanese Comedy Movies below and see which makes you laugh out loud.
22. No More Cry (Nakumonka) – 2009
Nakumonka is a comedy film that will not just make you smile but also touch your heart.
Taken by his father, Shimoigusa Yuta left his mother and unborn sibling at a young age. His father brought him to the Yama-chan family. One day, Yuta woke up with his father gone with all the money of the Yama-chan. As Yuta was growing, his sibling Yusuke grew with their mother who died leaving Yusuke alone. He hated being laughed at yet he decided to be a comedian. As Yusuke began to become famous, Yuta realized that he is his long lost brother.
21. Maiko Haaaan!!! – 2007
The young Onizuka Kimihiko got lost in Kyoto during his high school trip. He was then assisted by a Geisha. Since then, Onizuka grew a big admiration for Geisha. Now that he is a grown-up man working, he was assigned by his boss to work in Kyoto. He then started dreaming of entering a Geisha house. He even made a Geisha fansite using the name Bon.
With jokes of every kind, Maiko Haaaan!!! will definitely leave with a good laugh.
20. The Apology King (Shazai no Ousama) – 2013
One tough act to pull, Sadao Abe makes the world see the talent in him. Directed by Nabuo Mizuta, The Apology King is one big production of sure entertainment.
Ryoro Kurojima leads a Tokyo apology. His job is to teach people how to apologize. He uses his apology styles to bring reconciliation from simple problems to national issues.
The Apology King presents scenes that will really make you laugh hard, but behind the laughter is the heartfelt message that you should not miss.
19. A Ghost of a Chance (Suteki na Kanashibari) – 2011
You are accused of a crime and you only have one witness – a ghost. A Ghost of a Chance really takes comedy as a serious matter.
A not so good lawyer, Emi Hosho gets involved in an unusual case. She needs to prove the innocence of her client accused of murder of his rich wife. Her client details that when his wife died, he was sleeping while suffering from “kanashibar” or sleep paralysis. Emi finds the job more challenging as her only witness is a 500-year-old military commander Rokubei Sarashira.
Murder and ghost do not look like elements of a comedy film, but sure that A Ghost of a Chance is one of the Japanese comedy movies that finds its way to bring laughter to you.
18. University of Laughs (Warai no Daigaku) – 2004
One rejection means nothing to the determined. University of Laughs may be a comedy, but it does tell a story of perseverance.
Sakisaka gets assigned to check all scripts used in theaters. Japan is at war and needs to apply strict censorship, especially to its entertainment. He meets the playwright Tsubaki. Tsubaki has been submitting his theater play script but keeps on being rejected. He changes the script as Sakisaka keeps on seeing corrections. As Tsubaki revises his original work, he sees the improvement in his work and the genius in Sakisaka.
17. Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers – 2005
Nobody likes a boring day so much more than a boring life. Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers reminds its viewers that one’s adventure is one’s choice.
Suzume is a bored housewife. Her husband leaves for a job assignment in Paris that makes his experiences look fun. Her husband regularly calls but is mostly concerned about his pet turtle, Taro. One day, Suzume sees an ad about a job for a spy. Wanting to experience some adventure, Suzume tried to apply for the job.
If you want to get inspired by trying something new, Turtles Are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers is a good movie to motivate you.
16. Kamome Diner (Kamome Shokudo) – 2006
The 5th Best Film at the 28th Yokohama Film Festival, Kamome Diner shares a story of finding friends and fun.
Sachie lives alone in her house in Helsinki. She opens a cafe, but no one has ever tried for a month that she has opened. Finally, a young Finnish who likes anime arrives and becomes her first customer. She gives the order for free thanking him for eating.
Meanwhile, Midori arrives in Helsinki with no clear plan at all. Sachie and Midori meet in a bookshop and become friends. Sachie meets another Japanese woman, Masako, who lost her luggage in the airline. Midori offers her place for them to stay. Midori and Masako then stayed in Sachie’s place and helped out in the cafe.
Life is different when you have friends beside you. They are sure to add color and laughter in your days!
15. Tampopo – 1985
A 1985 film that gets released again in 2016, Tampopo is one of the Japanese comedy movies that gives you more than just fun.
Tampopo owns a ramen restaurant. He meets Goro, a truck driver, who knows a lot about noodles. Goro tells stories about how people turn a regular ramen into a ramen you will never forget. Goro decides to help Tampopo turn his noodle shop into the best ramen soup restaurant
Tampopo is one of the Japanese comedy movies that don’t just make you laugh, but also makes you appreciate hard work.
14. Bang! – 1991
Winner of Best Actor and Best New Director award, Bang! is a movie that begins and ends with a bang!
A serious policeman catches TV audiences. In a training operation, he takes the role of a bank robber. His fellow policemen try their best to catch him, but he is so good he always manages to escape. TV networks broadcast the training nationwide and make him a celebrity in an instant.
This hilarious comedy-chase movie will make you laugh while you hold your seat!
13. Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t – 1992
Best Film at the Japan Academy Prize ceremony, Sumo Do, Sumo Don’t is one of the Japanese comedy movies that values culture and of course, fun.
College graduating student Shuhei finds no reason to join his school’s sumo club. He was blackmailed by his professor, Anayama, to join the sports club or he will not graduate. Shuhei, together with a pro wrestler, a chubby guy, and Gajin, trains for an upcoming competition. Soon they all understand and develop a love and respect for Sumo.
12. I Are You, You Am Me (Tenkōsei) – 1982
A classic film that received Best Film, Best Screenplay, and Best Newcomer, I Are You, You Am Me is a big treat in our list of best Japanese comedy movies.
Falling down temple stairs, Kazumi and Kauo switch bodies. Both are high school students hitting puberty which makes the switching and adjustments difficult yet funnier.
I Are You, You Am Me is your comedy and romance movie in one.
11. Fancy Dance – 1989
Adaptation of an award-winning manga series, Fancy Dance is a comedy film rich in Japanese culture and tradition.
The rocker Yohei leaves his rock ‘n’ roll background in order to become the owner of a mountain temple. He must become a Buddhist monk. His behavior and beliefs are greatly challenged by the new set of disciplines he needs to learn. With rock ‘n’ roll and monastic discipline, will he acquire the temple?
With light tone and comedy together, Fancy Dance is your chill fun film.
10. The Family Game – 1983
The Best Movie of 1983, The Family Game is a movie you should not miss.
The father, Kosuke, leads his typical Japanese Family. He hires a tutor to help his son Shigeyuki to perform better in school and to prepare for the upcoming high school entrance exam. Yoshimoto, his tutor, seems strange but doing his job in helping Shigeyuki. Shigeyuki improves his studies and soon passes the entrance exam. Yoshimoto starts a commotion in the family during the celebration of Shigeyuki’s entrance exam result.
9. Hula Girls – 2006
Inspired by true events, Hula Girls is a comedy movie that is real to many.
A group of Japanese girls gathers and plans on how to save their village from poverty. They decide to join Madoka Hirayama, dance instructor, and learn the hula. The girls perform in places and are able to save their town establishing a Hawaiian spa resort.
Winning five major awards, Hula Girls is not your ordinary girl-empowering movie.
8. Our Little Sister – 2005
With 12 nominations and 4 awards, Our Little Sister tells a story about a family in a funny and heartwarming style.
Three sisters attend the funeral of their father who they have not seen since their parents’ separation. To their surprise, they meet their half-sister, Suzu Asano. As the three sisters are going home, they invite Suzu to live with them. Later, Suzu moves in.
Our Little Sister is one of the Japanese comedy movies that will not just make you smile but also touch your heart.
7. Fine, Totally Fine – 2008
Things are better when shared with a friend. But what if you both fall in love with the same girl? Fine, Totally Fine might have the answer to that.
Teruo Tooyama and Hisanobu Komori are still lost at the age of 29. These two close friends have no idea what they really want in their life. Everything changes for them when Akari Kinoshita, a mysterious woman, arrives. They both find themselves in love with the same woman.
Winning the Audience Award at the 2008 New York Asian Film Festival, Fine, Totally Fine is one of the promising Japanese comedy movies.
6. Suite Dreams – 2006
One of the highest-grossing domestic films at the Japanese box office in 2006, Suite Dreams is a film filled with a lot of fun.
At midnight on New Year’s Eve, people in a five star Tokyo hotel meet in an unexpected, dramatic, and hilarious way. The annual peaceful celebration becomes a night of riot. A suspected mistress, a suicidal theater actor, a hiding senator, and many more characters make this film colorful and exciting.
5. Oh! My Zombie Mermaid – 2004
With many twists along the way, Oh! My Zombie Mermaid keeps its viewers waiting for the next scene.
The popular wrestler ShiShioh builds a mansion which is destroyed by another rival wrestler. Shishioh’s wife, Asami, gets hospitalized and catches a rare virus turning her into a mermaid. Shishioh joins a reality TV show that makes him fight weird opponents.
Oh! My Zombie Mermaid is not your typical comedy movie that brings a new experience on the big screen.
4. What a Wonderful Family! – 2016
What if a family member’s happiness is painful to the rest? What a Wonderful Family! is a movie that will make you laugh hard but will also make you cry.
The old couple Shuzo Hirata and Tomiko Hirata have been married for 50 years. On Tomiko’s birthday, Shuzo asks his wife about the present she wants. Tomiko says she wants a divorce. The whole family reacts resulting in chaos.
3. Waterboys – 2001
Passion will always find a way out. Waterboys is about one’s pursuit of passion.
Suzuki aspires to be a professional swimmer. When a new swimming teacher arrives in his school, he joins with many other students. When the teacher told them she teaches synchronized swimming, many members of the club quit.
Suzuki found another problem when the swimming teacher takes maternity leave. He then asks a dolphin trainer to train them but gets rejected. Soon after, the trainer decides to help them, especially that competition is approaching.
2. Funky Forest: The First Contact – 2006
An out of this world comedy, Funky Forest: First Contact brings back memories of childhood of pure joy.
The brothers Masaichi, Masaru and Masao want attention from girls. They finally have a picnic with some beautiful girls. Daydreaming, sci-fi, comedy and many other elements, Funky Forest takes comedy into a new different level.
1. Too Young To Die! – 2016
Top on the list of Japanese comedy movies is the musical comedy Too Young to Die.
Daisuke wakes up from an accident. He finds himself in hell. He meets Killer K, the lead guitarist and vocalist of the rock band Hells. Killer K tries to help Daisuke return to the land of the living and finally confess his feelings to the girl he loves.
The Japanese definitely bring new stuff to the big screen. With their colorful and rich tradition and culture, their movies give a fresh experience to everyone. So, if you are looking for something new to add to your comedy experience, go back to this list of Japanese comedy movies for your satisfaction.