31 Japanese Crime Dramas To Watch in 2022

Published Categorized as List No Comments on 31 Japanese Crime Dramas To Watch in 2022
japanese drama

Who wouldn’t enjoy a good movie, right? Especially crime dramas; they are a fan favorite. The shock to the core or be it the dopamine release or making us rethink our morals, and crime dramas perfectly hit the spots because of the way the makers mix the action with darker real-life issues like shady politics, bigotry, xenophobia, and corruption. Or it’s just plain exciting to watch how criminal masterminds carry out their schemes is indeed intriguing. 

Japanese Crime Dramas are on another level which reflects the great creativity of the directors and the actors, and the storylines perfectly mixed with dialogues capture our attention to keep us engaged for hours, as the suspense and anticipation of guessing what’s coming next keep our brain whirring, there is much that we crime fanatics can appreciate. But don’t fret if you haven’t watched them yet, as here’s a list of 31 Japanese Crime Drama To Watch for you to catch up and get that dopamine rush, so now… less talk, more crime! 

1. Rashomon (1950)

Director : Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Machiko Kyo, Masayuki Mori, Takashi Shimura

Rating: 8.2 on IMDb


In the remains of a former gatehouse called Rashomon, a priest, a woodcutter, and another person sought shelter during the rain. The priest and the woodcutter were discussing the murder of the samurai warrior whose body was found just three days prior by the woodcutter.

The priest had also run into the samurai and his wife before their murder. Three other people, along with them, who testified at the court are supposedly the only direct witnesses. All three of them make up a similarly structured story about a bandit, Tajomaru, who allegedly killed them and raped his wife but ended up contradicting each other.

Rashomon 1950, MUBI
credits: MUBI

The woodcutter reveals that he knows more about the matter than he let on at the trial, which brings questions on his actions, but that isn’t anything compared to another discovery there later. This Oscar-nominated movie sheds light on how much humanity is lacking in people now and the depths they would go to deny admitting their own mistakes.

2. Hana-bi (1997)

Director:  Takeshi Kitano

Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Kayoko Kishimoto, Ren Osugi, Susumu Terajima

Rating: 7.7 on IMDb


The protagonist, Nishi, a police detective, had to deal with a plethora of emotional downs recently as his only kid had passed away two years ago, his wife has been identified with terminal leukemia, and his co-worker was brutally murdered during a stakeout where he was covering in place of Nishi while he was seeing his wife at the hospital.

After these paraplegic losses, Nishi became increasingly reckless, which hampered his work so much that he had to borrow money from the Yakuza to make ends meet. This recklessness makes him take the matter into his own hands when he tries to get their lives together for as long as they have left and make it special.

3. Black Rain (1989)

Director:  Ridley Scott

Cast: Michael Douglas, Andy Garcia, Ken Takakura, Kate Capshaw

Rating: 6.6


The plot of this Oscar-nominated movie basically revolves around a gang tug between two New York cops, Nick and Charlie, with members of the Yakuza. The cops manage to arrest one of the members of the Yakuza, Sato, who kills a person in a bar. Both the cops apprehend the assailant and are supposed to bring him back to Japan. But he somehow manages to escape; hence to track him down, the cops have to scour deep into the mafia scene there, searching for their fugitive.

4. Mask Of The Ninja

Director: Bradford May

Cast: Casper Van  Dien, Kristy Wu, Dana Lee, Bellamy Young

Rating: 3.6 on IMDb


With an hour and thirty-five minutes long playtime, this movie shows Casper Dien playing Jack Barrett, a detective, who helps a young woman, Miko,  who witnessed the murder of her rich father, Kenji Takeo, by a band of ninja assassins at his private estate in the Malibu Hills.

When Jack arrives at the crime scene and encounters Miko, all she does is repeat only one word, “kokushibyu,” which translates as Black Death in her native language.

5. Brother (2000)

Director:  Takeshi Kitano

Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Claude Maki, Omar Epps, Masaya Kato

Rating: 7.1 on IMDb


With such impressive ratings and a meta score of 47 on IMDb, this film explores multi-layered depths of how violence spawns violence, and the cycle, once fueled, is impossible to stop. This is Takeshi Kitano’s first American film and is based around an exiled gangster.

Brother,2007, IMDb
credits: IMDb

After being abandoned by his Yakuza clan, Yamamoto leaves for Los Angeles in search of his half-brother,  Ken. Where he discovers Ken lives with a small but respectable multi-racial gang. Yamamoto inspires them to expand their influence and tries to take over the local drug trade.

6. War (2007)

Director:  Philip G. Atwell

Cast: Jet Li, Jason Statham, Nadine Velazquez, John Lone

Rating: 6.7 on IMDb


John Crawford, an FBI agent, gets into a spiral of depression when his partner Tom Lone, and his family are murdered by an infamous and elusive rogue assassin, and he becomes obsessed with getting revenge. When the rogue finally resurfaces to settle his scores, that sets off a tug-war between an Asian mob Chang of the Triad, and Yakuza’s leader, Shiro. But during their face-off, Jack and Rogue see the truths of their past unraveling in front of them.

Read:   New on Netflix August 2022 That You Should Watch
japanese drama
credits: Modern Neon Media

Both Statham and Jet Li are known for their action sequences and martial arts skills, but sadly there isn’t any hand-to-hand fight between the two, but the action is served in doses that will hit your jaws like a train for sure. There is a slight plot twist accentuating the fact that it is a bit different than the movies of the same genre, so it has its flavor and succeeds in its own way.

7. Shield of Straw (2013)

Director: Takashi Miike

Cast: Takao Osawa, Nanako Matsushima, Garo Kishitani

Rating: 6.2 on IMDb


A psychopath, Kunihide Kyomaru, kills a 7-year-old girl who is the daughter of the country’s wealthiest man, Ninagawa. Kyomaru turns himself to the police, but Ninagawa declares to give hefty rewards to anyone who kills the man.

So basically, it’s open season on Kunihide, so he gets protection from five dedicated cops led by a lieutenant of security police Kazuki Mekari.

8. Sympathy for the Underdog (1971)

Director :  Kinji Fukasaku

Cast:  Koji Tsuruta, Tomisaburo Wakayama, Tsunehiko Watase, Akiko Kudo

Rating: 7.4 on IMDb


Gunji, an old Yakuza, is released from prison after ten years and realizes that the code he used to live by isn’t there anymore in Tokyo’s new modern corporate gangs. So he reforms his former gang and gets a new lease on life by taking over the whiskey trade on the island of Okinawa and is forced to make a fateful stand against the mainland gang that sent him to lock up, and there’s a lot to the bloodshed.

Sympathy for the Underdog, IMDb
credits: IMDb

Although this got mixed reviews, in my opinion, the pace of the movie, groovy music, and the sense of uber-coolness that is spread over the film influenced gangster mafia movies for years to come.

9. Confessions (2010)

Director:  Tetsuya Nakashima

Cast: Takao Matsu, Masaki Okada, Yoshino Kimura, Yukito Nishi

Rating: 7.7


A junior high teacher Yuko Moriguchi brings her four-year-old daughter, Manami, to her class as her father is sick. But one day, Manami was found dead in the school swimming pool.

 Yoko was swift enough to figure out two suspects, but turning them in wouldn’t make a difference as they were minors and protected by juvenile law. So she believes she would teach them a lesson by making them amend the mistakes they made. Things take a turn and get full of vengeance as Yuko turns into a cold-blooded avenger with her twisted master plan.

japanese drama
credits: IMDb

You’re definitely in for a thrilling ride with this.

10. Cold Fish (2010)

Director : Sion Sono

Cast:  Makoto Ashikawa, Denden, Mitshuru Fukikoshi, Asuka Kurosawa

Rating : 7.1


Nobuyuki Shamoto, an unambitious owner of a tropical fish shop, once was summoned when Mitsuko, his daughter, was caught shoplifting at a local supermarket. Yukio Murata, an owner of a bigger fish shop, convinces the patron of the supermarket to drop the charges and later asks  Mitsuko to join his shop as a worker.

Later on, the gruesome hobbies of the man are brought into the open, and Shamoto is lured into a twisted world of depravity and murder.

11. Proof Of The Man

Director :  Jun’ya Sato

Cast: George Kennedy, Mariko Okada, Yusaku Matsuda, Broderick Crawford

Rating: 6.6 on IMDb


This murder mystery revolves around Jonny Hayward, a black American who was murdered when he was in Japan during his travel there. Detective Munusue is one of the team members of the investigating team who suspects the involvement of fashion designer Kyoko Yasugi in the murder. Munusue leaves for America right after Yasugi’s son Kyohei flees there after a hit-and-run killing.

Munsue teams up with NYPD detective Ken Shuftan to find Kyohei and gather information on Jonny Hayward’s father, who was stationed in Japan after the war.

japanese drama
credits: MUBI

The situation gets a quandary for Munusue because he has to confront his vengeful antagonism against the U.S. soldiers as his father was beaten to death by these American G.I.s in order to solve the case.

12. Pistol Opera (2001)

Director : Seijun Suzuki

Cast: Makiko Esumi, Sayoko Yagamuchi, Hanae Kan, Masatoshi Nagase

Rating : 6.3 on IMDb


Followed by drama, action, mysterious visitors, Japanese costumes, and a pre-teen girl comes this movie where the assassin ranked third is on the lookout to kill the one ranked first in order to move up the hierarchy.

Who would’ve guessed there is a ranking of the best assassins, right?

13. 9 Souls (2003)

Director :  Toshiaki Toyoda

Cast: Yoshio Harada, Ryuhei Matsuda, Genta Dairaku

Rating: 7.2 on IMDb


Nine convicted murderers manage to escape from prison. They commandeer a red van from a strip joint and plan to stay together, traveling across Japan seeking out places where each one of them wanted to be, a version of home or somewhere they feel connected. Their plan also included finding a stash of counterfeit money, dividing it, and parting ways, which one deranged prisoner informed them about.

9 Souls, Opus
credits: OPUS

Now every time the van stops, each of the prisoners tries to escape their past to build up a new future but is unable to do so. Though a pessimistic plot but it isn’t dark, and the movie is beautifully amalgamated with pretty pictures, elements, and sarcasm.

14. The Yakuza (1974)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Cast: Robert Mitchum, Ken Takakura, Brian Kieth, Herb Edelman

Rating: 7.2 on IMDb


The protagonist, Harry Kilmer, a real estate broker and detective who has ties to Japanese culture, was ordered to stay in the country during world war 2. Meanwhile, he falls in love with Eiko Tanaka, a pretty Japanese woman. But Harry gets heart crushed when Eiko denies his proposal even though she has feelings for him.

Read:   47 Anime Movies To Watch If You Love Suzume no Tojimari

Harry returns back to the USA after providing Eiko and her daughter with a modest restaurant by borrowing some money from his friend. Several years later, Kilmer returns to Japan to help his friend, whose daughter was kidnapped by Yakuza, to return his favor.

The Yakuza, 1974, IMDb
credits: MUBI

Although they manage to get his daughter out but end up getting into an even bigger mess, and things unfold with a massive twist for which you should see the movie.  

15. It’s Your Turn (2021)

Director : Noriyoshi Sakuma

Cast: Towa Araki, Kodai Asaka, Yoshihiko Hakamada

Rating : 5.2 on IMDb


The plot revolves around two newlyweds, Nana and Shota Tezuka, who move into a new apartment where they get involved in a game of playing murder swap game. But unfortunately, the same night, the property manager dies, which leads to the beginning of a series of murders, exactly similar to the order in how the names were being pulled out in the swap game.

It's Your Turn 2021, IMDb
credits: That Japanese Drama Guy

Everyone looks suspicious and weird, so that follows a thrilling cat-mouse chase filled in with lies and madness as Nana and Shota, being murder mystery enthusiasts, decide to investigate the matter.

16. Signal: The Movie

Director :  Hajime Hashimoto

Cast: Kentaro Sakaguchi, Kajuki Kitamura, Nao, Michiko Kichise

Rating: 5.7 on IMDb


This is a spin-off of the successful T.V. series, Signal, which tracks two police officers, Saegusa and Ooyama, who are just connected by a pair of walkie-talkies in an attempt to stop terrorists from carrying up high-profile assassinations, but the twist is they belong to two distinctively different times.

It plays fast and loose with the predetermined laws with regard to multiverse and time travel. The protagonists tinker with events on both ends, causing the butterfly effect to disrupt the space-time continuum. It’s definitely worth giving a watch.

17. Liar Game (2007-2010)

Cast: Erika Toda, Shota Matsuda, Michiko Kichise, Kazuma Suzuki

Rating: 8.1 on IMDb


Nao, a gullible and trusting girl, unexpectedly finds herself playing a mysterious Liar Game, where the player receives a vast amount of money that they must cheat out of each other. Few get rich, but the remainder struggles with debt for life.

Nao’s former teacher was her opponent, who she goes to for help but gets scammed into giving him all his money. Now in debt, Nao has no idea how to pay off her debt and gets a whiff of a tip that Shinichi Akiyama, a con artist, is likely to be released from jail and turned to him for help. Akiyama finally agrees, after some initial reluctance, to be her right hand in the game. As with every passing level, the difficulty increased, and it gradually became clear that their merging wasn’t coincidental.

18. How to Eliminate My Teacher (2020)

Cast: Yuki Yamada, Marika Matsumoto,  Fumiya Takahashi, Kei Tanaka

Rating : 4.6 on IMDb

japanese drama


Teichi Gakuen, a top-tier school in Tokyo, where a large portion of the students enrolled continue to go on to The University of Tokyo. The third-year D group students have stellar records in academics, but however, all the teachers in charge retired recently, claiming due to personal issues, which in fact, was due to the mental torture and bullying the teachers faced by the students who did this without getting their hands dirty in a nearly criminal way.

Keio Yoshizawa, the new homeroom teacher, arrives in this bizarre situation, but he beams a smile even when someone comments something derogatory or even physically assaults him, which even goes as extreme as the students deciding to murder him.

So what unravels next in the plot is interesting and answers why did Yoshizawa enroll here and how long is he gonna put up with this trap?

19. Mr. Hiiragi’s Homeroom (2019)

Cast: Masaki Suda, Mei Naganoo Ryota Katayose, Rina Kawaei

Rating : 7.4 on IMDb


Horagi Ibuki, an art teacher, has been employed by his current school for two years. He is class 3A’s homeroom teacher. Hiiragi stands in front of his 29 students and declares, “From now onwards, all of you are my prisoners,” with only ten days to graduation day. He begins his lesson, which will only be completed if anyone identifies the cause of the suicide of a former student who did it a few months prior. If they provide the incorrect response, someone will perish.

Mr Hiragi's Homeroom, Netflix
credits: Netflix

20. Tokyo Dogs (2009)

Cast: Shun Oguri, Hiro Mizushima, Yuriko Yoshitaka, Ryo Katsuji

Rating: 7.1 on IMDb

japanese drama
Tokyo Dogs, credit: Google Images


Young Takakura So was present when his father was killed. He vowed to find the murderer, and as he grew older, New York City’s premier police force saw him achieve this goal. He has a calm, disciplined demeanor but is also a good adapter. He is sent to Tokyo to conduct a combined investigation with the Japanese police because of significant narcotics dealings.

There, he joins forces with Kudo Maruo, a police officer with extraordinary investigative skills. Due to his past as a miscreant, Kudo is a hot-blooded combat specialist, but he also creates a big impact with his fashionable style and is constantly interested in going on group dates. His interests, mentality, and investigative tactics are utterly at odds with Takakura’s, but the two manage to work together to crack the case.

21. Ankokugai no bijo/Underworld Beauty (1958)

Director :  Seijun Suzuki

Cast: Michitaro Mizushima, Mari Shiraki, Shinshuke Ashida,

Toru Abe

Rating: 7.0 on IMDb

underworld beauty, IMDb
credits: Google Images


The noble gangster Miyamoto finds the stolen gems he had hidden before being captured as soon as he is released from prison. The avaricious boss Oyane and his ravenous appetite for Miyamoto’s rare stones divert him when he goes to his haunt to make amends for the comrade who took a bullet for him. “Underworld Beauty,” one of Suzuki’s greatest homages to the American gangster genre, is dripping with film noir flavor.

22. High and Low (1963)

Director: Akira Kurosawa

Cast: Toshiro Mifune, Yutaka Sada, Tatsuya Nakadai, Kyoko Kagawa

Rating: 8.4 on IMDb 


A successful businessman is informed that his son has been abducted and that he must pay a hefty price for his safe return. The kidnapper accidentally took his chauffeur’s son, who is now found to be safe at home. This is irrelevant, according to the kidnapper: either you pay up, or the kid dies. He now finds himself in a moral bind because he desperately needs the cash to complete a crucial business transaction.

Read:   ‘I Mean, I Want to Say I Like It’ Episode 11: Yukino and Fujishiro Are Forming A Bond

23. The Blood of Wolves (2018)

Director: Kazuya Shiraishi

Cast: Koji Yakusho, Junko Abe, Yosuke Eguchi, Goro Ibuki

Rating: 7.0


In the middle of a raging yakuza turf war in 1988, detective Ogami Shogo of the Hiroshima Police and his partner Hioka Shuichi are looking into the disappearance of a company’s employees. There is a lot of death, blood, and gunfire. There is also a rumor that the previous man may have personal connections to the thugs. Undoubtedly, many of his techniques and behaviors are violent and thuggish, and they should be forbidden.

Blood of The Wolves, IMDb , The Hollywood Reporter
credits: The Hollywood Reporter

24. Legal High (2012)

Director:  Ishikawa Junichi

Cast: Sakai Masato, Aragaki Yui, Satomi Kotaro, Tuguchi Junosuke

Rating: 6.8 on IMDb

Legal High IMDb
credits: Google Images


When it comes to his legal matters, attorney Komikado Kensuke has a 100% success rate and loves money, prestige, and ladies. Mayuzumi Machiko is a young lawyer who is committed to defending the weak and maintains a strong sense of justice. She also has a stiff and awkward work style.

Unexpected events force Mayuzumi Machiko to start working at Komikado Kensuke’s law firm one day. Although the two attorneys frequently argue, they work together to battle as a team in court.

25. Legal High 2 (2013)


Former prosecutor Haruki Hanyu (Masaki Okada) switches sides and works as an attorney. He inaugurates “NEXUS,” his law firm. In court, he looks for resolutions that allow the plaintiff and defendant to understand one another. Kensuke Komikado (Masato Sakai), who thinks only the victor is correct, is utterly at odds with this. At work, Haruki Hanyu confronts Machiko Mayuzumi (Yui Aragaki), who he still has feelings for personally.

26. Keiji Senmon Bengoshi (2016)

Director:  Kaneko Fuminori, Kimura Hisashi, Okamoto Shingo

Cast: Matsumoto Jun, Kagawa Teruyuki, Eikura Nana

Rating: 6.8 on IMDb

Keiji Senmon Bengoshi, 2016, IMDb
credits: IMDb


Hiroto Miyama is an inexperienced criminal defense attorney who struggles to make ends meet. For the 0.1% of Japanese convictions that are not true, he searches for the truth. Haruhiko Madarame one day conducts a search for Hiroto. One of the four major legal companies, Madarame Law Firm, which is one of the largest, is led by Haruhiko Madarame. Atsuhiro Sada and Hiroto Miyama start working together. Atsuhiro Sada is a highly successful civil litigation attorney who brings in big bucks for the firm. Criminal situations that don’t yield financial gain don’t interest him.

27. And Then There Were None (2017)

Cast: Yuki Nakama, Osamu Mukai, Toshiro Yanagiba, Mao Daichi

Rating: 5.9 on IMDb

And Then There Were None 2017, IMDb
credits: Google Images


One of the “whodunit” type mysteries is this Agatha Christie-based novel of the same name. This drama depicts a mysterious incident that takes place at a hotel located on a secluded island. Ten people who were invited after arriving find out that the person who invited them was nowhere to be found, and murders begin to happen ominously. Several days later, the police arrive and try to figure out what happened.

28. Ship of Theseus (2020-)

Cast: Ryoma Takeuchi, Ryohei Suzuki, Masanobu Ando, Juri Uneo

Rating: 6.8 on IMDb


Shin and his family’s lives are forever altered after his father is charged with murder because they must live in secrecy and endure public ostracism. Shin unexpectedly travels back in time to the moment just before the murder occurs one day. He embarks on an investigation to learn the truth and rewrite history since he believes his father is innocent.

29. Osoi Hito (2004)

Director :  Go Shibata

Cast: Ariko Arita, Toshihisa Fukunaga, Naozo Hota, Sumiko Shirai

Rating : 6.4 on IMDb


Sumida Masakiyo, a man with a serious disability, manages to live independently with the use of an electric wheelchair, a voice assistant, and a caregiver. Sumida works hard to portray the “attacker Sumida” by using his true name. When college student Nobuko (Torii Mari), looking to obtain some experience in care, appears, Sumida is living a peaceful existence in the company of musician Take (Hotta Naozo), a good listener and caregiver.

osoi hito 2004, IMDb
credits: IMDb

Sumida starts to feel attracted to Nobuko, but he also starts to feel uneasy, which he finds difficult to accept, and he gradually gives in to madness. The narrative moves towards a gruesome conclusion as Sumida conducts a series of murders.

30. Akunin/Villain (2010)

Director :  Lee Sang-il

Cast: Satoshi Tsumabuki, Eri Fukatsu, Masaki Okada, Hikara Mitsushima

Rating : 7.0 on IMDb


A young guy named Yuichi Shimizu (Satoshi Tsumabuki) looks after his elderly grandparents in a run-down fishing community in Nagasaki. Instead of his mother, Yuichi was raised by his grandparents. Yuichi is now employed by the government. He is an isolated man. One day, Yuichi runs into Fukuoka-based insurance agent Yoshino Ishibashi (Hikari Mitsushima).

They originally connected on a dating website. As they finally meet, tragedy strikes when Yuichi kills Yoshino. Unexpectedly, Keigo Masuo (Masaki Okada), a wealthy young university student from Fukuoka, turns out to be the main suspect. Yuichi goes about his regular activities while hiding his anxiety and suffering. Then Yuichi gets an email one day. The sender of the email is a Saga resident named Mitsuyo Magome (Eri Fukatsu). Mitsuyo and Yuichi exchanged words.

Akunin, 2010, IMDb
credits: IMDb

Yuichi then gets an email one day. A woman from Saga named Mitsuyo Magome (Eri Fukatsu) sent the email. After meeting on an online dating site, Yuichi and Mitsuyo previously exchanged emails. Working at a men’s clothing store and residing with her younger sister, Mitsuyo presently leads a routine life.

After a long period without correspondence, Mitsuyo decided to get in touch with Yuichi in search of companionship. The two lonely individuals eventually cross paths and experience a brief moment of love. Now that Yuichi is a wanted criminal, his image can be shown on the news. But Mitsuyo convinces Yuichi to flee with her instead of turning himself in. Families of those who run away bear a huge burden along with the victim’s family.

31. Outrage (2010)

Director:  Takeshi Kitano

Cast: Takeshi Kitano, Kippei Shina, Ryo Kase, Fumiyo Kohinata

Rating: 6.8 on IMDb


The story revolves around a power struggle between the Sanmo-kai clan and the other Yakuza clans in Tokyo, which is currently just as likely to involve manipulating the stock market as it is to involve robbing pachinko parlors.

Outrage, 2010, credits IMDb
Credits: IMDb

The Sanmo-kai chairman, who is not particularly thrilled, to put it mildly, discovers that his henchman Ikemoto formed a partnership with the drug-dealing Murase family. Law enforcement officials are too corrupt to become involved, which leads to a chain reaction of homicides, territorial invasions, and score-settling.

By Soumyajeet Routray

the could haves, if they should have, they would have ‘ing my way through life.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

10 − one =