Japanese New Wave cinema erupted in the late 1950s, a time of great social and political turmoil in Japan.

The country was still recovering from the devastation of World War II, which had ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Japanese people were questioning their culture, their values, and their place in the world. They were also questioning film.

Japanese cinema had a long-standing tradition of popular entertainment films that catered to an audience’s desire for familiar stories.

These films were largely formulaic but well-made, usually boasting spectacular production values and strong acting performances.

They appealed to a mass audience and proved incredibly successful both domestically and internationally.

But by the mid-1950s, filmmakers began to experiment with new styles of storytelling and new cinematic techniques in an effort to challenge the old ways of making movies.

This movement soon became known as the Japanese New Wave (Nuberu Bagu). It lasted into the 1970s.


Japanese New Wave Cinema

What Is Japanese New Wave Cinema?.

Japanese New Wave Cinema is a film movement that emerged in the late 1950s. Themes of alienation, the relationship between the past and the present, and sex have become a staple of this movement.

In the 1960s, many Japanese avant-garde filmmakers were pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable in cinema.

Many were influenced by French New Wave directors such as Jean Luc Goddard and Francois Truffaut. These filmmakers started making films that did not follow traditional narrative structure. They began to focus on individual scenes rather than on plot or character development.

Many Japanese New Wave movies focused on themes related to post-war Japan. They often portrayed disaffected youth and characters who were unable to find meaning or purpose in life.



What Is Japanese New Wave?

Japanese New Wave cinema is a style of filmmaking that emerged in the late 1950s and into the 1970s. It was known as something of an underground movement in the country and was established in opposition to the traditional film styles that existed at that time.

Its primary focus was on depicting the social realities of life in Japan during that period, including issues relating to class and gender.

As the movement began to fade away in the mid-1970s, director Nagisa Oshima is credited with helping to start a second Japanese New Wave, which focused on more controversial topics than the first.

Tatsumi Kumashiro and Masahiro Shinoda were two of the primary figures involved with Japanese New Wave cinema. They both worked primarily as directors, although Kumashiro also worked as a screenwriter.

The films generally contained experimental visual and sound elements, along with avant-garde filming techniques.


The dialogue was often sparse and disjointed, serving more to complement individual scenes than progress a coherent narrative arc.

The films’ characters and narratives often displayed an ambivalent attitude toward social norms, which reflected the counterculture nature of the movement itself.

Japanese New Wave cinema reached its peak between 1967 and 1971, before fading away as it became more accepted within mainstream society.

How The Japanese New Wave Began

The roots of the Japanese New Wave lay in the immediate post-war period, when many of Japan’s filmmakers were forced to confront the traumas of their recent past.

The country was still struggling with the aftermath of defeat and occupation, and the director Kaneto Shindo found himself wondering how this experience would shape his generation’s response to the world.

A year later, he offered an answer with his directorial debut, Unpei (1952), a lyrical meditation on a woman who returns to her hometown after 10 years away.

The film is remarkable for Shindo’s use of non-professional actors, but it is also shot through with melancholy and loss.

The title refers to a local festival that takes place at the end of summer, when people mark the end of the season by burning paper lanterns in memory of those who have died since last year’s event.

For Shindo, Unpei was both a commemoration of those who had died and a celebration of life itself.

The film was greeted rapturously by critics upon its release, and it helped launch Shindo on a career as one of Japan’s most celebrated directors.

He went on to make more than 100 films throughout his long career, including three other documentaries chart.

Where To Begin With The Japanese New Wave

The Japanese New Wave (or “New New Wave” if you want to use a hyperbolic title) is the current trend of retro-style animes that have been coming out in the past 5-6 years.After hitting its peak around the time of 2012, it has since begun to recede and become a subgenre within anime itself.

While many of these series have since come and gone or are still ongoing, they all have something that sets them apart as a whole in their own right. So, where do you begin with such an expansive genre?

What shows should you watch? Well, first off, it’s important to know that there are three distinct “eras” of the Japanese New Wave: the Revival Era, the Retro Era, and the Contemporary Era.

The Revival Era ran from 2007-2012 and was just the beginning of this period of anime; there were only a few notable entries into this era, but it set up a lot of what was to come afterwards. The Retro Era ran from 2010-2013; this was when most of the big hits came out and most people became aware of this genre in anime.

The Contemporary Era is just a brief period that started in 2013 and continues on today.


A Film Movement That Shook The World: Japanese New Wave

The Japanese New Wave was a movement that lasted from the mid-1950s to early 1960s and it resulted in some of the most important films of post-war Japanese cinema, some of which are still considered to be landmarks in world cinema today.

Nagisa Ōshima’s film, “Cruel Story of Youth” (1960), is often credited as the first major work of the Japanese New Wave movement, though some other filmmakers (such as Hiroshi Teshigahara) would release films before him.

The movement was made possible by the film industry being liberalized due to the occupation forces’ encouragement of freedom of speech. This led to writers, directors and producers working outside of the studio system, which had previously dominated Japanese filmmaking.

The studios suddenly found themselves in fierce competition with each other and with television. The result was a sudden blossoming of artistic freedom and creativity.

The New Wave movement was characterized by an overall rejection of traditions that had been cultivated within classical Hollywood narrative structure. Writers and directors were heavily influenced by French novelists such as Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre as well as by Italian neorealism.

They also focused on subjects that were not commonly addressed in popular cinema such as drug abuse and suicide.

History Of Japanese New Wave Cinema

The history of Japanese New Wave Cinema is a fascinating story, one that began in the 1950s and lasted until the 1990s.It is one that saw many experimental filmmakers, some of whom are still active today, battle censorship with their work, while simultaneously fighting to define a new kind of cinematic art. The history of Japanese New Wave Cinema is often divided into four major periods:

The Early Period (1954-1959),  of Japanese New Wave Cinema was mostly characterized by directors who were either working within the studio system or those who had been strongly influenced by studio filmmaking.The most important example of this would be Yasujiro Ozu, who pursued an incredibly deep style of realism in his films.

Ozu’s films are often concerned with family dynamics and generational differences. In fact, Ozu’s style was so influential to the New Wave filmmakers that they would often refer to his films as “classic” rather than “contemporary.” Ozu also had a very distinct cinematography style.

He almost always shot on location, he had a very minimalist approach to editing, and he rarely used music — all techniques which influenced the young filmmakers of this period. Another reason why Ozu’s films were so important was because his films were not censored.

Essential Filmmakers Of Japanese New Wave Cinema

The Japanese New Wave was a movement in Japanese cinema from the 1950s to the 1970s. The term refers to an era of young filmmakers and the first generation of directors who were born in the 1930s.

They were influenced by French New Wave and Italian Neorealism, and their work was characterized by social realism, as well as a tendency to depict individuals or small groups struggling against larger social forces.Tatsumi Kumashiro’s debut film, “The Sun and Her Flowers” (1958), about two sisters in a poor rural fishing village, is considered the first entry in the New Wave movement.

Three years later, Hiroshi Teshigahara’s debut feature “Pitfall” won the Golden Bear at the 1961 Berlin International Film Festival. In 1964, Kihachi Okamoto’s classic samurai film “Samurai Banners” was nominated for a Golden Lion award at the Venice Film Festival.

Other notable examples of this new genre included works by Nagisa Oshima (“Death by Hanging”), Seijun Suzuki (“Branded to Kill”), Teruo Ishii (“The Warped Ones”, “Kill! Kill! Kill!”), and Masahiro Shinoda (“The Pornographers”).The Japanese New Wave was a movement in Japanese cinema, lasting from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

It heralded a period of innovation in Japanese film-making and an international re-evaluation of the country’s film industry.

Essential Films Of Japanese New Wave Cinema

The New Wave movement emerged in Japan during the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a social phenomenon that affected not only cinema, but theatre, music, literature and other art forms as well.

Toshio Matsumoto’s 1966 film Funeral Parade of Roses was one of the first major works of the New Wave era. The film is a mixture of documentary and fiction revolving around a bar, the Shinjuku Dori no Odoriko (Shinjuku Road Boys), and its inhabitants.

The documentary portions of the film were shot by Hideo Nakata in 1967. These portions are imbued with realism as they capture real events happening at the time.

The film explores themes such as life, death, masculinity and sexual preference through a series of vignettes and it uses several avant-garde techniques including long takes and jump cuts.The film divided Japanese audiences at the time, who were not yet used to such bold cinematic expressionism.

The film is often ranked alongside Nagisa Oshima’s 1967 film Night and Fog in Japan as one of the leading films of the New Wave movement in Japanese cinema.The New Wave movement emerged in Japan during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was a social phenomenon that affected not only cinema, but theatre, music, literature and other art forms as well.

Importance Of Japanese New Wave Cinema

If you’ve ever wanted to get a better understanding of the history of Japan’s New Wave Cinema, then read on! We will be exploring techniques such as radical camera angles, abstract storytelling and other techniques that make this genre so different from many others.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Japan was experiencing a tremendous economic boom known as the “Japanese Miracle”.

As this was occurring, a new generation of artists began arising in the country.They were very different from previous generations of Japanese artists because they were heavily influenced by western culture.

These new artists began experimenting with new styles of art and music. The result was a cultural revolution that became known as the “Japanese New Wave Cinema” movement.

A lot of the films produced during this period were shocking to many Japanese viewers because they had never seen anything like them before.This was due to the fact that many of these filmmakers were experimenting with abstract storytelling, radical camera angles and other experimental methods.

Many people have since gone on to call these films “groundbreaking” and one of the greatest achievements to come out of Japan’s film industry.They are also important because they helped introduce some revolutionary technical advancements into the art form, including handheld cameras and other features that are now common place in modern cinema.

The End Of Japanese New Wave Cinema

The end of the 1950s wasn’t a particularly great time for Japan. The country had only recently recovered from the destruction of World War II, and it had done so with the help of the United States.

It was natural for there to be a resurgence in nationalism, and this led to rising tensions between Japan and much of the world.The Japanese new wave era began in the late 1950s and ended in the late 1960s.

During that time, young film artists rebelled against traditional cinema and attempted to create something new.The movement was heavily influenced by French cinematic efforts. The new filmmakers were heavily influenced by auteur theory, which stated that every film should be made by one director and that director should have complete control over the finished product.

They also tended to use improvisation on set, although they usually stuck to scripts written by others.So how did all this lead to the end of Japanese new wave cinema? The most obvious answer is that many of its most talented participants went on to other things after a few years.

Some, like Yuzo Kawashima and Shinji Sōmai, went off to Hollywood, where they made a few films during their decade-long stays abroad before returning home again. 

Japanese New Wave Cinema – Wrapping Up

If you’re looking to get into Japanese New Wave cinema, there are a few other films that I feel deserve a mention:The first is Kaneto Shindo’s Onibaba, which is something of an oddity in the collection. It’s set in the Heian period and tells the story of two women surviving on the fringes of society by killing samurai and stealing their armor.

The main characters are played by Nobuko Otowa and Kyoko Kishida, both of whom are brilliant in their roles. It’s almost impossible to describe Onibaba without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that it fits perfectly with the rest of this collection.

Takashi Miike’s Audition was also released in 1999, but its roots stretch back to a short film he made at Nihon University in 1994 called Onryo.Audition was controversial upon release because it was marketed as a horror film, but many felt that it crossed the line into torture porn.

It’s very hard to get hold of anywhere outside of Japan, but if you can track a copy down I strongly recommend doing so.Miike followed Audition up with Dead or Alive 2: Birds in 2000, which I consider to be his most underrated work.

Ready to learn about some other Film Movements or Film History?