Crowning Music of Awesome: The theme song, which shares the title of the film, was written by Ryuichi Sakamoto himself. A vocal version, featuring David Sylvian, is known as "Forbidden Colours". Both musicians have released new recordings of both versions of this song over the 30 years since the song was originally released, and is a perennial feature of Sakamoto's live performances.
Foe Romance Subtext: Buckets and buckets of it. Enough, in fact, that it drives the entire plot.
Heartwarming Moments: The "Father Christmas" scene, in which Hara orders for Celliers and Lawrence to be released from execution. It's even sweeter because Hara is incredibly drunk, and is laughing merrily the whole scene through. The others's amused and slightly bewildered reactions fall into this too.
I Am Not Shazam: People who are not familiar with the film tend to assume that Bowie's character is named Mr. Lawrence.
Irony as She Is Cast: "I wish I could sing" and "I've had no romantic interludes of any real importance" from the mouth of David Bowie. Well, the film was made before he met Iman...
Nightmare Fuel: The scene with the Korean being forced to commit seppukku, followed by the Dutch soldier choking to death on part of his tongue which he has bitten off and swallowed. Way to ram home just whose side you're supposed to be on in this film.
Squick: Hara's description of the incident with the Dutch soldier and the Korean falls into this category.
Tear Jerker: The epilogue, taking place four years after the events of the film. Hara has been imprisoned for war crimes. The night before his execution, Lawrence, now free again, comes to visit him. The whole scene is both sweet and very sad. Especially in Lawrence's case. He may have survived as one of the winners, but that also means that he loses someone he has become quite close with. The heartbroken look on his face after he bids farewell, clearly on the verge of tears, really does it.
Lawrence: There are times in which victory is very hard to take.
Celliers's little brother, a talented singer who's spirits were crushed by brutal mockery during his initiation ceremony at school. As a result, he never sings again. The worst part is that his older brother, whom he looked up to, didn't do a thing to help him even though he had the power to spare him the ritual.