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Seven Samurai seconded by the Japanese

In a recent online poll the Japanese DIMSDRIVE Research asked what domestic movies the Japanese participants would recommend to foreigners.

Altogether 5,537 members answered the question, voting Seven Samurai the second most recommendable film. The film series Otoko wa Tsurai yo (“It’s Tough Being a Man”) beat Kurosawa’s classic for the first place, in fact with a rather clear margin (275 votes against Seven Samurai’s 197, i.e. 75 votes more).

The all-over Top 10 was:
1. 男はつらいよ(シリーズ) [It’s Hard Being a Man (Series)] 272 votes
2. 七人の侍 [Seven Samurai] 197 votes
3. となりのトトロ [My Neighbour Totoro] 151 votes
4. 武士の一分 [Love and Honour] 131 votes
5. 火垂るの墓 [Grave of the Fireflies] 81 votes
6. Always 三丁目の夕日 [Sunset in the Third Street] 77 votes
6. 風の谷のナウシカ [Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind] 77 votes
8. 硫黄島からの手紙 [Letters from Iwojima] 76 votes
9. どろろ [Dororo] 66 votes
10. Death Note [Death Note] 64 votes

There is actually quite an interesting choice at number 8, as well.

Curiously, there is a difference between male and female voters, with 5.8% of males indicating that Seven Samurai would be the most recommendable film, and 1.2% that Rashomon would be the most suitable, while only 1.7% of women thinking Seven Samurai worthy of recommendation, and Rashomon not making the women’s top 10 at all.

Seven Samurai was in fact the most popular choice among men in their 20s and those in their 60s. Men in their 40s, 50s and 60s, meanwhile, collectively listed as many as three Kurosawa movies in their top 10s, with Rashomon and Ikiru following Seven Samurai.

Finally, a nod should also be made for WhatJapanThinks.com, which is where I stumbled upon this rather interesting set of data.




Jeremy Quintanilla

With all the Japanese movies out there, this is the best they can think of. The Japanese need to watch better movies of their own. Of course Seven Samurai I agree, but I think its only on there because its popular among everybody.

Letters from Iwojima is a real surpise,
I find to be the worst film about the Japanese and WWII. It plays on manipulating the audiences’ emotions for America to feel sad and sorry for the Japanese. Its basically “Passion of the Christ” replaced by Japanese and set in WWII

I would think Ichikawa’s Fire on the Plain would give a real perspective to the Japanese during WWII, it give a real story behind the men that did the actually fighting and there thoughts as to why the hell they are even fighting in the first place.



I would like to add that while I find Miyazaki/Ghibli’s movies sweet, and unoffensive, I am not sure they are anything more than pretty fluff. Yasujiro and Mizoguchi, two directors I adore and have opened my eyes are ignored. But in defense of the Japanese, I’ll bet a list of American films (as selected by the average Joe) would be awful in comparison.



Odd, odd list, but then again the Japanese have alwats said they are the worst judges when it comes to their own cinema. Glad Miyazaki has two entries on there. Nausicaa is anything but fluff and one of the best enviromental cautionary tales ever IMO. The Takahate/Ghibli film, Grave Of The Fireflies is the furthest thing from sweet. Much harsher and more depressing then most live action films about war. That is the best film about WW2 on that list.



Honestly I have watched most of the Ghibli films, and own them all. Sorry the messages you write about went by me. Two different views I suppose. Again nice films, but not anything close to the power of Ugetsu. BTW, sorry I forgot Grave of the Fireflies was a Ghibli film, I did not mean to include it in my comment.


Vili Maunula

Perhaps those who answered the questionnaire were not quite so concerned with the artistic qualities of these films, but rather about what they say about the Japanese themselves. This is the only way I could justify, for example, “It’s Hard Being a Man” occupying the number one spot.

Similarly, perhaps “Letters from Iwo Jima” is on the list precisely because, as Jeremy points out, “It plays on manipulating the audiences’ emotions for America to feel sad and sorry for the Japanese.” It is, of course, also a rather recent film, which lists like these are traditionally quite biased for.

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