Japanese cinema has always been valued by film theorists as an alternative filmic expression of the highest quality. Nevertheless, Japanese cinema is never described with the same respect as European and American filmic paradigms. Classical cinema, Russian montage, German expressionism, Italian neorealism and the French new wave are all regarded as distinctive filmic paradigms of their time. So why isn’t Japanese cinema discussed with the same reverence as above mentioned paradigms? Many attempts have been made to describe the style of Japanese cinema. And equally there has been much criticism of these attempts. The biggest problem lies in the opposing of Japanese cinema to European and American cinema based on cultural differences between Japan and those regions. By justifying Japanese cinema’s difference on the basis of its cultural ties, Japanese culture is subordinated to European and American cultures. This thesis tries to approach the style of Japanese cinema at its most basic roots. A reappropriation of theoretical works is made in an attempt to single out the quintessential stylistic features of Japanese cinema. Cultural dichotomizing is avoided, while Japanese cinema as an expression of art is analyzed in its most basic form. To narrow down the field of research, the Japanese melodrama has been chosen to exemplify the quintessential features of Japanese cinema. Few genres have been more consistently upheld within Japanese cinema than melodrama. Both contemporary family melodrama and historical period melodrama have long traditions within Japanese cinema. As such, theoretical discussions on the Japanese melodrama are related to contemporary cinema through film analyses. The theoretical content is first reappropriated, and secondly utilized as a tool in analyzing melodramas from the last few years. In utilizing this historical view on contemporary Japanese melodrama, the style of Japanese cinema is outlined in its most basic form. The consistency in combining certain stylistic features is pointed out, from prewar cinema till recent productions. Hopefully, this thesis might provide the first step towards a serious description of Japanese cinema: a description in which the paradigmatic style of Japanese cinema might get the appropriate reverence it deserves.