films seen
average score
Japan - 69 years old
Alive and kicking
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Very few male directors manage to capture the female psyche like Ryuichi Hiroki does. His best work is raw and honest, while keeping a very humane and respectful approach. No doubt one of Japan's prime drama directors.


It's Only Talk

Yawarakai Seikatsu
2005 / 126m - Japan
It's Only Talk poster

Hiroki delivers one of the most natural, confident, and empathic dramas I've ever laid eyes on. On the outside it appears to be a simple film, but underneath lies a wealth of emotions.

Locomotive Teacher

Kikansha Sensei
2004 / 123m - Japan
Locomotive Teacher poster

I became transfixed by the soothing island atmosphere, the laid-back pacing and the nice surroundings.

Ride or Die

2021 / 142m - Japan
Romance, Thriller
Ride or Die poster

Hiroki's adaptation of the Gunjō manga is a tricky project. It's quite long, it doesn't feature the most accessible leads, it's rather blunt and it's set up in such a way that the intensity of the film decreases. But the performances are superb, Hiroki's lens is perfect and the core relationship intrigues from start to finish. The reception has been rough, then again that's no surprise when you release a film like this on a global platform like Netflix.

Strobe Edge

Sutorobo Ejji
2015 / 115m - Japan
Strobe Edge poster

In many ways, Strobe Edge is a typical manga adaptation as much as it is a typical romance. But Hiroki builds upon that to make a sweet, cute and genuine little love story.

The Egoists

2011 / 125m - Japan
The Egoists poster

Keibetsu turns out to be another strong addition to Hiroki's oeuvre. It's not his best film to date, but it's nice to see him try out new stuff, even when it's not all that radical.


2003 / 95m - Japan
Vibrator poster

A vintage Hiroki drama. It may not look like much from the outside, with only a sliver of narrative and limited genre influences (it's a road movie, though without the usual traits of the genre), but the characters are intriguing, and the performances are stellar (with Terajima as the absolute standout). Hiroki generally does very well with female characters and Vibrator is one of the films that earned him that reputation. I wasn't quite sure if the film would up after a rewatch, but the film hasn't lost any of its appeal. It had me smitten from beginning to end.


2004 / 92m - Japan
L'Amant poster

It's probably a good thing Hiroki was able to make this film 20 years ago, it's difficult to imagine he'd get away with it nowadays. And that's a real shame, as his unabashed take on a tricky/taboo subject is what makes this film stand out. Great performances, an intriguing premise and a splendid blend of hard and soft turn this into a unique and accomplished drama. If you're easily triggered it's probably best to approach this film with caution, more mature audiences will find a drama where there's a lot to unpack.


2007 / 110m - Japan
M poster

If you want another character drama, M might prove to be a too big a challenge and there are plenty of other Hiroki films you could and should be watching instead.

New Type: Just For Your Love

New Type: Tada Ai no Tame Ni
2008 / 90m - Japan
Drama, Fantasy
New Type: Just For Your Love poster

Hiroki made a pretty brave move here, incorporating new elements from other genres into his movies without changing anything of his trademark style.

Girlfriend: Someone Please Stop The World is a solid, smart drama that serves as a good entry point to his oeuvre. The film showcases his talent and houses many of his trademark elements.

Love on Sunday: Last Words

Koi Suru Nichiyobi Watashi. Koishita
2007 / 97m - Japan
Love on Sunday: Last Words poster

For Western audiences the themes of Last Words may be quite sad and depressing, but Nagisa's acceptance of her nearing death paints a very different picture.

Her Granddaughter

Otoko no Issho
2014 / 119m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Her Granddaughter poster

Her Granddaughter is a beautiful, serene and heart-warming little drama with no false notes, no overt sentimentality and no obvious tear-jerking.

Yellow Elephant

Kiiroi Zo
2012 / 131m - Japan
Yellow Elephant poster

Thanks to its slightly magical touches and its strong shifts between feel-good and drama, Yellow Elephant rises above the majority of other Japanese dramas out there.

Your Friends

Kimi no Tomodachi
2008 / 125m - Japan
Your Friends poster

It's not a wildly original film but it introduces enough elements to differentiate itself from other Japanese dramas while keeping the usual traits firmly in place.

Love on Sunday

Koi Suru Nichiyobi
2006 / 89m - Japan
Love on Sunday poster

Like most of Hiroki's films, this is small and delicate, but still manages to pack a punch. It's a very sweet, laid-back tale about moving away to a bigger city, saying goodbye to your childhood and your best friends. Things get a little trickier when secret crushes need to be confessed, but that drama is light and the mood is breezy. Very nice.


2022 / 128m - Japan
Thriller, Crime
Noise poster

With all the talent involved, I expected a slightly better film. Not that Hiroki's Noise is bad, there's plenty of quality on display here. It's just that it never quite felt like true cinema, just a manga/story brought to the big screen. That's one of the downsides when you're working with too much talent and popular IP I guess.

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Shishikari is a small island where nothing exciting ever happens. A local farmer starts a fig farm and receives national recognition, which puts the little island in the spotlight. Outsiders take an interest in the place, and before the little community living on the island knows what hit them, they have their first murder on their hands.

The characters have little room to shine, which is Hiroki's strong point. Instead, a lot of time is spent on the plot, which is decent enough, but not all that special. The cinematography is pleasant, and the soundtrack adds a little extra class, but in the end, there's just not all that much there that sets it apart from other films.

You've Got a Friend

Yugata no Otomodachi
2022 / 115m - Japan
Drama, Romance
You've Got a Friend poster

Hiroki's latest drama harks back to his early days, back when the subjects for his films were riskier and more taboo. It's good to see that he hasn't forgotten about his past, at the same time I'm not sure if the blend of old and new is really the best way to handle films like these. While a fine drama, I did miss the edge that made his early work stand out.

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Yoshida is a masochist, who finds solace in a local S&M club. He got hooked after seeking out a club in Tokyo and has been hoping to revisit that initial pleasure ever since. A local election is hoping to close down the existing clubs in an attempt to clean up the city, meanwhile, Yoshida is starting a relationship with his mistress outside of the club.

The drama is solid, the subject matter adds an extra dimension and the characters are pleasant, warts and all. The cinematography felt a bit basic though and Hiroki usually gets a bit more out of his actors. Small details keep this film from becoming the next gem in Hiroki's oeuvre, but fans won't be too disappointed watching this.

It's Boring Here, Pick Me Up

Koko wa Taikutsu Mukae ni Kite
2018 / 98m - Japan
It's Boring Here, Pick Me Up poster

Celebration of youth. A typical Hiroki drama, that languishes in the mundane, but manages to hit several deeper themes along the way. The actors are great, Hiroki's style is fitting and the light-hearted tone makes this a very easy watch. Not one of his best films, but a very fine drama that will effortlessly appeal to Hiroki fans.

Side Job

Kanojo no Jinsei wa Machigaijanai
2017 / 120m - Japan
Side Job poster

Solid drama from Ryuichi Hiroki, where he returns to the Fukushima disaster area to see how many people are still struggling with the aftermath. It's a little too disjoined for its own good, but there some poignants moments and surprising insights that make this worth the while.

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store

Namiya Zakkaten no Kiseki
2017 / 129m - Japan
The Miracles of the Namiya General Store poster

Sweet and endearing drama with a slightly fantastical touch. The film is beautifully shot and feels like a warm blanket, an ideal watch for a warm and summery day. It gets a little too dramatic at times and personally I prefer Hiroki's more serious work, but this is two hours well spent.

Natsumi's Firefly

Natsumi no Hotaru
2016 / 108m - Japan
Natsumi's Firefly poster

A very solid but slightly unremarkable Hiroki. I liked the first half best, as the drama is very light and the narrative is almost fleeting. The second half is a little too heavy-handed in comparison, but Hiroki's base quality is definitely there. A few beautiful scenes, good acting and a complete lack of forced sentiment make this an easy recommend for fans of Japanese drama.

Wolf Girl and Black Prince

Ohkami Shôjo to Kuro Ohji
2016 / 116m - Japan
Comedy, Drama, Romance
Wolf Girl and Black Prince poster

Kabukichô Love Hotel

Sayonara Kabukichô
2014 / 135m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Kabukichô Love Hotel poster

Crying 100 Times: Every Raindrop Falls

100 Kai Nakukoto
2013 / 116m - Japan
Drama, Romance
Crying 100 Times: Every Raindrop Falls poster

Nobody's Perfect

Daijôbu 3 Kumi
2013 / 118m - Japan
Nobody's Perfect poster


2011 / 89m - Japan
River poster

Bokura wa Aruku, Tada Soredake

2009 / 74m - Japan
Bokura wa Aruku, Tada Soredake poster

Hiroki and Ando combining forces means instant quality. Sadly neither of the two goes beyond to make this film truly special, but what remains is a very warm and touching drama with a few stand-out scenes. Ando's acting chops and Hiroki's aptitude for drama are unmistakable, an easy recommend if you're in the mood for a Japanese drama.

Tokyo Garbage Girl

Tôkyô Gomi Onna
2000 / 88m - Japan
Comedy, Romance, Adventure
Tokyo Garbage Girl poster

Maternal Instinct

2022 / 116m - Japan
Maternal Instinct poster

A story about three generations of women. They are daughters and mothers, but not always in equal measure. It's an interesting premise delivered with a level of openness and honesty that is quite surprising, Hiroki is also the perfect man for the job, but the plot tends to get in the way of the drama.

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Married life isn't exactly what Rumiko expected, but with the help of her mom, she is able to cope. When Rumiko gets a daughter she doesn't feel the same kind of love for her and still chases the validation of her mom. One fatal night will change the lives of these three women forever.

The performances are strong, the drama is intriguing (and rather original too) and Hiroki's touch is visible. The plot is a little overworked though and the film gets too sentimental in places, where a more subtle approach would've worked better. Not bad at all, but I expect more from Hiroki.

Marmalade Boy

Mamaredo Boi
2018 / 127m - Japan
Marmalade Boy poster

Not of one Hiroki's best. There are moments where his talent shines through, but the story is a bit too convoluted and the theme is handled in a way that seems to reference the manga a bit too literally. Overall it's not a bad film with a couple of worthwhile scenes, but Hiroki has shown he can do better.

Policeman and Me

P to JK
2017 / 124m - Japan
Comedy, Romance
Policeman and Me poster

The Lightning Tree

2010 / 133m - Japan
The Lightning Tree poster

April Bride

Yomei 1-Kagetsu no Hanayome
2009 / 129m - Japan
April Bride poster

I Am an S+M Writer

Futei no Kisetsu
2000 / 88m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
I Am an S+M Writer poster

Phases of the Moon

Tsuki no Michikake
2022 / 128m - Japan
Phases of the Moon poster

An interesting drama that gets a bit too sentimental. The premise is fun and this might've been a perfect match for Hiroki if it hadn't been one of his more commercial outings. Phases of the Moon is one of his crowdpleasers, and because of that, it lacks the edge that makes his work stand out.

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Kei is a happy man, living a good life together with his family. That is all turned upside down when his wife and daughter die in a car accident. Kei has a hard time processing what happened, but then one day an unknown man stands on his doorstep. He has an unbelievable story to tell, that involves Kei's daughter.

The performances are a bit uneven, the drama could've been more subtle and the premise isn't used to its fullest. The styling is polished though and there are moments when Hiroki's craft shines through, it's just that he is capable of so much more. Not a bad film, just not good enough considering the talent involved.


2005 / 118m - Japan
Drama - Anthology
Female poster

800 Two Lap Runners

1994 / 110m - Japan
Romance, Sport
800 Two Lap Runners poster

An essential Hiroki, but one that's been unavailable to us mere Westerns until very recently. It's one of the first films where he shifts his focus from pinku to purer drama. There are still some pinku influences left, but 800 Two Lap Runners is very much a typical and capable early 90s sports romance.

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When Ryuji is caught with a female student, his principal forces him to join the track team. He sees a great athlete in Ryuji, but so far he's been a bit lazy and frivolous. He joins the 800m runners and quickly establishes himself as one of the top runners on the team. He only has one big rival, and they're both eyeing the same girl.

The performances are solid, Hiroki's eye for drama is already present and the pacing is fine. Other than that though, it's a pretty basic Japanese affair. It's not comparable to the amazing films he would direct at a later stage in his career, but if you're looking for a solid drama and you're a completionist like me, this is a superb film.

The Many Faces of Ito

Ito kun A to E
2018 / 126m - Japan
The Many Faces of Ito poster

A rather poor Ryuichi Hiroki film. It lacks his knack for properly fleshing out characters and it looks a little too slick. Not too surprising since this is the film-sequel of a popular J-Drama, but still I expected more from him. It's not a terrible film, just that Hiroki could've done a lot better with this material.

Captured for Sex 2

Kankin Sei no Dorei: Ikenie 2
1986 / 68m - Japan
Captured for Sex 2 poster

I'm a big Ryuichi Hiroki fan and am well aware of his pinku past. I went in with low expectation based on previous experiences (Sono and Kurosawa came to mind), but got something worse than I was expecting. This is not your typical pinku film, instead it felt more like early Wakamatsu meets Guinea Pig.

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There isn't much plot beyond what the title already explains. A couple has car trouble while driving through the countryside. When they ask people in a nearby house for help, they are captured and held as sex slaves. The men there have a taste for S+M and their games become progressively vile.

This film is extremely unpleasant, as it's little more than a 70-minute extended rape scene. There is no plot, no relief, just a dry observation of perversions and rape. The film's cinematic qualities are poor and the runtime excessive, it's hard to believe one of the directors behind this film would be capable of so much nuance and tenderness in his later career.