Best Free-to-Watch Content with Amazon Prime in Japan

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Best Free-to-Watch Content with Amazon Prime in Japan

Amazon Video is one of the major players in online streaming services, even as the number of players increases and value of any one service is gradually thinned. Watching video content from Amazon has benefits and hassles, just like all such services. But this posting isn’t a review of video streaming sites, this is a list of recommended titles available for free to Amazon Prime members. The titles available differ by country because of licensing issues, and some issues regarding subtitles and dubbing may not apply, so the Japanese and Korean versions of this post will have slightly different content.

The main point of Amazon Prime is purportedly the free (and fast) shipping on your Amazon goods without having to reach that $35 limit. It also comes with some benefits for Amazon Music and Amazon Video. While I consider Amazon to be among the worst of the streaming services for video and music based on the number and quality of (freely) available titles and the user (un)friendliness and (un)intuitiveness of the corresponding apps/websites, it occasionally comes through with some winners.

Some notes on strengths and weakness: If you are an English speaker outside America watching American movies (so you don’t need subtitles), then you are basically lucky because you can usually find non-dubbed versions and ignore the subtitles. If you want subtitles in any language besides the primary language of the country you are in, then too bad. If you are in a country, and you want to watch programming from that country with subtitles in a language you can understand, then forget it. For example, watching Japanese anime in Japan will only offer you non-subtitled versions of that content.

Next, I’m focusing on content that is free to watch if you are a Prime member. Most content that is available on Amazon Video does not fall into that category. In general, if there is some movie I want to watch (and it’s not on Netflix), and they are going to charge me $3 to watch it, then I think that’s pretty good. The quality is mostly reliable and it’s similar to what I used to pay at Blockbuster Video or a Red Box for rental. Again, if you want to watch something with specific subtitles or watch it over the course of a few days (as I often want to do), then it’s not going to work. If you want to watch a TV show from Amazon, then at $3 per episode it becomes insanely expensive and I don’t know what those fools are thinking with that pricing model.

Star Trek: Lower Decks

If you are a fan of Star Trek, and I mean real Star Trek, then I absolutely recommend the Star Trek: Lower Decks animated series. It’s a comedy, so it handles continuity lightly, but it takes place in the same “universe” as the Original Series, Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager, … with references to the Enterprise series too. And the references to canon Star Trek are plentiful and hilarious. There are many cameos of famous characters from those series, as well as cameos from famous an infamous scenarios, villains, planets, monsters, species, etc. Unlike other Star Trek shows that were forced to take themselves seriously even when they were ridiculous, The Lower Decks can just highlight the ridiculousness of various situations that will be familiar to any Star Trek viewer. This show currently has two seasons and is free for Amazon Prime members in Japan.

The Secret of My Success

This movie is pure 80s. The Secret of My Success is the story of a farmer boy from Kansas who went to business school and took the plunge to move to New York City with big dreams of making a name for himself in the corporate jungle. Through some luck, connections, fast wit, and lots of hilarious situations, he manages to … no spoilers. It’s a great movie that won’t make you think very hard, but will keep you thoroughly entertained and feeling warm and fuzzy and giggly. And the 80s scenery, music, thinking, and technology is a little bonus nostalgia for seeing it 35 years after it was made. As is often the case with movies this old on Amazon Video, there are Japanese subtitles even though they are not listed in the interface, because they are embedded directly in the video (rather than a digital overlay). You can also watch a dubbed version, if that’s your thing.

South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut

If you’re not already a fan of South Park (and I know it’s not for everybody), then you can skip this one. If you’ve never seen South Park, then I highly recommend you see the whole series, although it’s not available on Amazon, only the South Park Movie is. It is also available dubbed, but the original voice acting is part of the genius of South Park. Again, I don’t want to spoil the plot of the movie, but it doesn’t really matter; the point of this movie is the jokes and satire rather than the plot. It can be light comedy when you need a pick-me-up, although the social commentary runs deep and it can make you think, you don’t have to think to enjoy it. If you don’t like silly, raunchy and irreverent jokes that make fun of everybody and everything from all angles, then this certainly isn’t for you. But if that’s not you, and even if you haven’t seen the series in a long time, you will probably get a lot of enjoyment out of this film.


So, first, full disclosure, I don’t celebrate Christmas (because I’m not Christian) and I particularly hate Christmas music, but I still like this movie despite it being about Christmas characters and the power of Christmas music. That’s saying a lot, actually. Elf is a movie that follows the adventures of a human that was adopted into an elf family and raised as one of Santa’ elves until his adoptive elf father tells him about his real (human) father…who happens to be a jerk businessman in New York. The movie is aimed at kids, so it’s light and filled with messages and silly humor, but it’s enjoyable for warm-hearted and youthful adults as well.

The Mighty Boosh

The Mighty Boosh is a comedy series from BBC that is totally crazy and way too short. In total there are 3 seasons, and all of them are short (8, 6, and 6 episodes respectively). It is absolutely one of the most creative and bizarre shows I’ve ever seen. There is little continuity or progress in the story, but that’s not what it’s about. The characters, situations, music, costumes, voices, everything is a frenetic mix of concentrated insanity mixed with brilliant wit and high-speed jokes and one-liners. The word-play alone makes it worth watching, but if you are a fan of things that you just would never expect, then this is gold for the pure creativity of it all. I’ve seen the whole series a few times through, and it’s still amazing. Amazon Video currently only has seasons 1 and 2, which may violate the Geneva Conventions as a crime against humanity, but maybe they’ll fill in the final season to rectify this wrong.

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