films seen
17
average score
4.05*
nationality
Japan - 56 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

One of Japan's hidden gems. Tanaka's work is quirky, stylish and refined, with a strong focus on atmosphere and rhythm, not so much on structure and plot. His oeuvre has little to no weak entries, which is quite unique.

Beyond exceptional

Blessing Bell

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Kofuku no Kane
Specifics
2002 / 87m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
5.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Blessing Bell poster

Tanaka's gentle and loving approach and Terajima's superb portrayal of his character take you along on an amazing trip, full of endearing, funny and warm moments.

Rare treats

Monday

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Specifics
2000 / 100m - Japan
Genre
Comedy
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Monday poster

The film consists of nothing but memorable scenes, contains some genuinely laugh out loud funny moments and slaps on a stylish finish to make the package complete

Miss Zombie

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Specifics
2013 / 85m - Japan
Genre
Drama, Horror
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Miss Zombie poster

It's certain to disappoint a few zombie fanatics who end up watching this without knowing what to expect, but people who've grown tired of the grovelling undead may find a welcome reboot of the genre.

Chasuke's Journey

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Ten no Chasuke
Specifics
2015 / 106m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Chasuke's Journey poster

It seems Tanaka is back where he belongs, after going through some rougher patches in the late 00's. Chasuke's Journey is visually stunning, well acted, original and most of all unique.

Bunny Drop

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Usagi Drop
Specifics
2011 / 113m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Bunny Drop poster

Bunny Drop is a lovely film with lots to smile about. Wonderfully acted, creatively visualized and aptly scored, you can't really go wrong with this one.

Postman Blues

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Posutoman Burusu
Specifics
1997 / 110m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Drama
More info:
rating
4.5*/5.0*
toplist position
Postman Blues poster

It was more than 10 years since I first watched this film and so I wasn't quite sure if it would still hold up after all this time.

The good stuff

Jam

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Specifics
2018 / 102m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Crime
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Jam poster

An oldskool Tanaka. Different stories intersect to tell a bigger plot, some scenes have a tendency to venture off into a direction of their own and there's an underlying layer of dark comedy that keeps things interesting. It's not Tanaka's best film, but he's so skilled that he can make a film like this extremely entertaining without having to make a real effort. Good fun.

The Crab Cannery Ship

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Kanikosen
Specifics
2009 / 109m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
The Crab Cannery Ship poster

Kanikosen is a solid come-back for Tanaka. Visually impressive, boasting a superb setting and a strong cast.

Dead Run

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Shissô
Specifics
2005 / 124m - Japan
Genre
Drama
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Dead Run poster

Hold Up Down

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Hôrudo Appu Daun
Specifics
2005 / 96m - Japan
Genre
Comedy
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Hold Up Down poster

Hard Luck Hero

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Specifics
2003 / 79m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Action, Crime
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
Hard Luck Hero poster

Dancing Mary

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Specifics
2019 / 105m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Fantasy
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Dancing Mary poster

Dancing Mary is a superb blend of so many genres that it's nearly impossible to categorize. Fantasy, horror, crime, comedy and drama seamlessly mix together to tell a beautiful story about a long-lost romance that ended in tragedy. The cinematography is beautiful, the editing is excellent. Add a great score and a fine cast and you have another Tanaka masterpiece.

Mr. Long

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Ryu San
Specifics
2017 / 129m - Japan, Taiwan
Genre
Drama, Crime
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Mr. Long poster

Another quality Tanaka film. More in line with Bunny Drop, combining drama and comedy to great effect. Mr. Long also introduces some crime elements, though they are very limited. Well shot, perfectly acted, dramatically impeccable. It's not as unique as some of his other films, but well worth a watch.

Drive

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Specifics
2002 / 102m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Crime
More info:
rating
4.0*/5.0*
toplist position
Drive poster

Trademark Tanaka film. Drive is quirky and frivolous, not held back by rigid plot conventions and sporting a killer cast that knows how to deal with the dry comedy on display. The film has aged a little, but it still feels fresh and easygoing. Tanaka is one of Japan's hidden gems, Drive may not be his best film, but it's still better than most of its peers.

Solid pieces

Unlucky Monkey

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Anrakki Monki
Specifics
1998 / 106m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Action
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
Unlucky Monkey poster

My Blood & Bones in a Flowing Galaxy

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Kudakechiru Tokoro O Misete Ageru
Specifics
2020 / 127m - Japan, Germany
Genre
Drama, Thriller
More info:
rating
3.5*/5.0*
My Blood & Bones in a Flowing Galaxy poster

Tanaka's latest is pretty peculiar, though also one of his lesser films. It starts off as a sweet but slow drama, only to take a drastic turn during the final half hour. Tanaka is known for the way he can quickly switch between different genres, so that's not really the issue. It's just that the (longer) drama segment is a bit pedestrian.

When Hamada arrives late to a school meeting, he sees how Hari, a freshman student, is bullied quite harshly by her classmates. The bullying grows worse and Hamada decides to protect the girl to the best of his ability. The two enjoy each other's company, but Hamada is about to find out that Hari hides a dark secret.

The performances are solid, the drama is decent, but decent isn't good enough for Tanaka. Maybe if the bullying part had been reduced a little the balance would've ended up more satisfactory. The ending is pretty great though, it's there that Tanaka's talents surface again, but it's too little, too late to make this a true masterpiece.

Worthy but flawed

D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner

by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Also known as
Dangan Ranna
Specifics
1996 / 82m - Japan
Genre
Comedy, Action, Crime
More info:
rating
2.5*/5.0*
D.A.N.G.A.N. Runner poster