Contemporary Japanese films are often extremely violent; the lives of ordinary Japanese, much less so. According to a multinational study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Japan's homicide rate in 2009 was 0.4 per 100,000 population, for a total of 506 deaths. Similar figures for the United States were 5.0 and 15,399, respectively.

Also, guns account for only a tiny proportion of killings here: eight in 2008, compared with more than 12,000 for the U.S. the same year.

The many Japanese films that show cops and gangsters spraying bullets with lethal abandon, including those by such acclaimed auteurs as Takeshi Kitano and Takashi Miike, have about as much relationship to Japanese reality as a zombie holocaust.