Kaneko's "Pyrokinesis" is a fun movie, and very well made, although there is one sappy moment near the climax of the film (with slo-mo lovers running towards each other, which garnered laughs when it screened in San Francisco two years ago), but its a wonderful movie -- with good characters. I enjoyed it, and bought the Media Blasters DVD, which has a lot of extras and the audio commentary is subtitled!
As for other Japanese film recommendations, I would urge people to check out the films of Takashi Miike, which are now being released on R1 DVD from a number of companies (snapping them up like hotcakes) -- there's DEAD OR ALIVE (2 and 3 are coming, too), VISITOR Q, HAPPINESS OF THE KATAKURIS, AUDITION, CITY OF LOST SOULS, and others. Miike's films are REALLY out there.
"Beat" Takashi Kitano's BOILING POINT, THE SUMMER OF KIKUJIRO, VIOLENT COP, SONATINE, and HANA-BI (Fireworks). You might want to check out his Japan-US co-production of BROTHER, but I would get the Foreign Version over the US version.
Media Blasters is coming though with other great titles, such as SAMURAI FICTION -- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! -- PISTOL OPERA, VERSUS, the aforementioned VISITOR Q, ICHI: THE KILLER and more coming in 2004.
Home Vision Entertainment has released 11 of 17 Daiei-owned ZATOICHI: THE BLIND SWORDSMAN films from 1962-1970, starring the great Shintaro Katsu. This is an excellent film series that you can catch on IFC, too (as well as other Chamabara and Jidaigeki movies). There were 26 films produced, all together (the rest owned by Toho, except for one by Shochiku). These are anamorphic, feature movie trailers, are excellent prints, and are inexpensive, retailing at $19.95 each -- cheaper if you go with Deep Discount DVD or other on-line retailer.
Seven of the Toho-owned ZATOICHIs are being released by AnimEigo [http://www.animeigo.com], with the first already in release: ZATOICHI MEETS YOJIMBO, where Katsu squares off with Toshiro Mifune! This film is awesome -- really excellent -- with many supporting players you can spot from Godzilla films, including Hideo Tsunazuka (who played Niita in G VS. THE SEA MONSTER), Daigo Kusano (who played the Black Hole alien on the ship in G VS. MECHAGODZILLA), and Shin Kishida (who played in the two "Dracula" movies and Agent Nanbara in G VS. MECHAGODZILLA). Also, the score is by none other than, Akira Ifukube, who scored many ZATOICHI films.
I also recommend all of AnimEigo's upcoming Samurai Cinema DVDs -- all are anamorphic -- including the first two (of six) LONE WOLF & CUB movies and LADY SNOWBLOOD (coming in 2004). The video quality, restoration and footnoted subtitles (!) are the best we're likely to see given to any Japanese film in North America. Avoid the cheap knock-offs with terrible picture quality and subtitles. AnimEigo's titles are a little pricey ($29.95), but are worth every penny -- the production is superb. Again, you can always go to Deep Discount or other sites for lower prices.
For fun, I can also recommend ADV's release of Daiei's YOKAI MONSTERS trilogy. These are colorful, lots of fun, and were made during the twilight of the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema (the late 1960s). The third film ALONG WITH GHOSTS features Kojiro Hongo (star of many Showa Gamera films) as the heroic lead. These are inexpensive, and worth checking out!
Showa GAMERA Special Features Producer