films seen
35
average score
3.54*
nationality
Japan - 68 years old
status
Alive and kicking
more info

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.

Rare treats

It's Only Talk

Yawarakai Seikatsu
2005 / 126m - Japan
Drama
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.

The good stuff

Ride or Die

Kanojo
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.

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.

Vibrator

Vaiburêta
2003 / 95m - Japan
Drama
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.

Strobe Edge

Sutorobo Ejji
2015 / 115m - Japan
Romance
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

Keibetsu
2011 / 125m - Japan
Drama
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.

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
Drama
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.

L'Amant

2004 / 92m - Japan
Drama
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.

Yellow Elephant

Kiiroi Zo
2012 / 131m - Japan
Drama
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
Drama
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.

M

2007 / 110m - Japan
Drama
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.

Love on Sunday

Koi Suru Nichiyobi
2006 / 89m - Japan
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
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.

Locomotive Teacher

Kikansha Sensei
2004 / 123m - Japan
Drama
4.0*/5.0*
Locomotive Teacher poster

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

Solid pieces

Noise

2022 / 128m - Japan
Thriller, Crime
3.5*/5.0*
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.

It's Boring Here, Pick Me Up

Koko wa Taikutsu Mukae ni Kite
2018 / 98m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
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
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
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
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
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
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
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
3.5*/5.0*
Wolf Girl and Black Prince poster

Kabukichô Love Hotel

Sayonara Kabukichô
2014 / 135m - Japan
Drama, Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Kabukichô Love Hotel poster

Crying 100 Times: Every Raindrop Falls

100 Kai Nakukoto
2013 / 116m - Japan
Drama, Romance
3.5*/5.0*
Crying 100 Times: Every Raindrop Falls poster

Nobody's Perfect

Daijôbu 3 Kumi
2013 / 118m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
Nobody's Perfect poster

River

2011 / 89m - Japan
Drama
3.5*/5.0*
River poster

Bokura wa Aruku, Tada Soredake

2009 / 74m - Japan
Comedy
3.5*/5.0*
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
3.5*/5.0*
Tokyo Garbage Girl poster

The inoffensive

Marmalade Boy

Mamaredo Boi
2018 / 127m - Japan
Romance
3.0*/5.0*
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
3.0*/5.0*
Policeman and Me poster

The Lightning Tree

Raiou
2010 / 133m - Japan
Romance
3.0*/5.0*
The Lightning Tree poster

April Bride

Yomei 1-Kagetsu no Hanayome
2009 / 129m - Japan
Drama
3.0*/5.0*
April Bride poster
3.0*/5.0*
Female poster

I Am an S+M Writer

Futei no Kisetsu
2000 / 88m - Japan
Comedy, Drama
3.0*/5.0*
I Am an S+M Writer poster

Worthy but flawed

The Many Faces of Ito

Ito kun A to E
2018 / 126m - Japan
Comedy
2.5*/5.0*
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.

Big nopes

Captured for Sex 2

Kankin Sei no Dorei: Ikenie 2
1986 / 68m - Japan
Horror
1.0*/5.0*
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.