By: Leon Zhi Wei Chen
Source: Listen Notes
With the success of Bong Joon Ho’s Parasite along with the recently trending Squid Game, the growth in interest for Asian-created content has been rising. The recent success of these two productions put all eyes on Korea with global viewers looking forward to the next foreign international hit, often overlooking productions from other countries that produce equally riveting content.
As such, here are 10 Asian Productions to watch now, made easy as they are all in one place, Netflix.
10. Street Food Asia
Photo: Street Food Asia
A dive into the street food culture of cities around Asia, showcasing a chef and how they overcome hardship in their daily lives to provide the best food they can for the people around them. Though it is beyond the food, providing the social and historical context behind the dishes. With the prevalence of street food in Asian culture, this is a must-watch as there is no better way to experience a culture than through its food.
9. Rurouni Kenshin
Photo: Rurouni Kenshin
Based on a popular manga and anime series, Rurouni Kenshin is the first of five films, following the no longer killing assassin Kenshin Himura. With great choreography and homages to its anime origins, the series serves as an introduction to a popular period in Japanese history with a mixture of fantasy and action. For those who enjoy sword fighting or a character burdened with a regretful past, Rurouni Kenshin is a great series to watch.
8. Your Name Engraved Herein
Photo: Your Name Engraved Herein
The highest grossing LGBT film in Taiwan’s history, and its most popular film of 2020, Your Name Engraved Herein portrays two male students who fall in love amid family pressure, homophobia, and social stigma. A story that holds personal and social questions, depicting the struggles through themes of sexuality and coming of age while investigating the cultural values of Taiwan.
The South Korean TV series first released in 2019 was Netflix’s first original Korean series. Adapted from the webcomic Kingdom of the Gods, it explores the story of the Crown Prince who investigates the source of a plague that creates zombie-like creatures from dead bodies during the Joseon Dynasty. Another mix of fantasy and history, it is a must-watch for those who are a fan of these genres.
6. Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories
A Japanese anthology series, Midnight Diner: Tokyo Stories looks into the lives of Tokyo citizens who visit the late night Izakaya opened from midnight to 7am. Master, the owner of the Izakaya and the only recurring character in the series, provides advice to these lost individuals while eating his soulful dishes. An introduction to Tokyo lifestyle, its struggles, and many philosophical life lessons.
5. A Sun
Photo: A Sun
Another Taiwanese film that is critically acclaimed, earning multiple international awards, and selected as the Taiwanese entry for the 93rd Academy Awards, A Sun is a family drama that involves multidimensional characters in a slow emotional rollercoaster that constantly has you on the edge of the seat. A brutal, yet beautiful film, the film should be watched by all who appreciate storytelling with a focus on family dynamics.
4. Blackpink: Light Up the Sky
Photo: Blackpink: Light Up the Sky
A girl group that fought to be the biggest K-Pop group became the biggest Pop band in the world in 2020. Blackpink: Light Up the Sky details the 4 members and their rise to fame as a group, while also emphasizing each member’s individuality. With video footage from their training days to their life now, the documentary reveals some truths of the K-Pop industry and the price of fame, all while illuminating a different form of pop music that lights up the world.
3. Alice in Borderland
Photo: Alice in Borderland
The popularity of Squid Game is an exciting thing as it shines some light on the “Death Game” subgenre that is widely popular in Asia. For those who are looking for a high stake, darker themed death game series, Alice in Borderland is the perfect place to start. The Japanese series sees players who are forced to play games to extend their visa as they get eliminated when they run out of days. The lack of agency and the emphasis on survival creates a different atmosphere that places viewers on a constant high throughout the series.
2. Ip Man
Photo: Ip Man
The first of 4 martial art films and 1 spinoff, Ip Man is Hong Kong’s biographical depiction of the Wing Chun master of the same name. One of the most influential grandmasters of Chinese martial arts, Ip Man had several students including the pop culture icon of the 20th century, Bruce Lee. A film that explores the struggles of the Chinese population during the Japanese occupation while showcasing some of the best choreography of Hong Kong cinema.
1. A Family
Photo: A Family
A Family is a story of the glory and struggles of being a yakuza, a gangster of Japanese society. Amidst the decline of organized crime due to the crackdown by the law, Kenji Yamamoto finds purpose as a gangster but is also left with a heavy torment on his soul as he grows in age. A character study that pays homage to the popular yakuza genre of Japanese cinema, it really is a slow exploration on the concept of family as a basic human need.