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Japanese audiences love to cry — hence the decades-long stream of films featuring the terminally ill. The current outpouring, however, seems to be a byproduct of Japan’s aging society and improved standards of medical care.

Back in the day, movies here were seldom devoted to one character’s long, losing fight with a dreaded disease — be it cancer or Alzheimer’s. Now, however, that sort of struggle has become all too common in real life, and something of a formula on screen.

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