“Tokyo Vice”, the new neon series HBO Max, set in Japan’s largest city in 1999, is the subject of a journalistic investigation mixed with a mafia conspiracy to kill, rolled into a brutal neo-noir. Being a fan of noir films and books, in-depth investigative journalism and Japanese literature, the chances of me enjoying this show were extremely high – and he was not disappointed.
At one point in the show, two characters even recite the haiku of my favorite Japanese poet Matsuo Basho. It seems that my only interests that are not shown in the first three episodes of the show are baseball, which is huge in Japan (actually there is a scene in a cage with batting), and Fish, who toured Japan in 1999. So the hope for “Tokyo Vice” is still there ”to completely tick all my“ personal favorites ”.
A series like “All the People of the President,” and “The Zodiac” meets “The Sopranos” and “The Good Guys,” with a little “Lost in Translation” added to the mix.
On April 7, HBO Max released an eight-episode crime drama, releasing three nearly hour-long episodes. HBO Max will release two episodes each Thursday until the finale comes out on April 28th.
Like many good noir, Tokyo Vice focuses on specific trails, creating a unique perspective to tell its story.
“Tokyo Vice” is based on the memoirs of journalist Jake Adelstein in 2009 “Tokyo Vice: American reporter about the beating of police in Japan.” The series follows a fictional version of Adelstein (played by Ansel Elgort, “West Side Story”), a novice reporter-emigrant for the largest Japanese newspaper, who finds his way and is looking for a great, meaningful story to write. In real life and on the show, Adelstein was the first U.S. citizen to be hired as a reporter for a Japanese newspaper written in Japanese that revealed the secrets of the Japanese underworld and the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia.
Elgort well shows Adelstein a little awkward and naive, but ambitious, serious and idealistic. In the second episode, Adelstein tells another young reporter how the words of his coroner’s father inspired him to become a reporter: “Every day the knowledge of the world increases a little, and this newspaper is a testament to that.” He then adds, “And that’s what we need to do. We can increase our knowledge of the world every day. “
The pilot episode was directed by perhaps the most skilled man who directed a crime and journalism series in which the name of the city and the word vice appeared in the title: Michael Mann. Mann produced Weiss Miami (TV series) and directed the 2006 film Vice Miami. More importantly, he made the crime films The Thief (1981), The Hunter for People (1986), Heat (1995) and Insider (1999) about journalists and the tobacco industry.
Mann perfectly organizes the scene, throwing us directly into a tense showdown between Adelstein, Detective Hirata Katagari (Ken Watanabe, “The Last Samurai”, “Godzilla”) and some members of the Yakuza gang. The show then returns for two years to 1999, where the action of the first three episodes takes place to present some of Adelstein’s prehistory, showcasing the cool, dramatic noir landscape of Tokyo’s nightlife. “Tokyo Vice” also features Rachel Keller (TV series “Fargo”) as Samantha, an immigrant who works as a hostess at a nightclub, and Shaw Kasamatsu as Sato, who is a growing member of the Yakuza.
The real story begins when Adelstein appears to shed light on the crime scene where the man was stabbed to death, but a police officer later said: “There is no murder in Japan.” Adelstein later sees a man commit suicide by setting himself on fire in public, and discovers the connection between the two incidents. Like any stubborn reporter, Adelstein is not so easy to keep. Despite the desire of the authorities to write only what the police tell him, he begins to investigate suspicious deaths and finds sources in the Tokyo Police Department and below the city.
As a good part of journalistic investigations, “Tokyo Vice” captures you with its ice – a journalistic term to start a story – then turns on a flashlight and takes you into a dark world you didn’t know existed.
Mike Andrelczyk is a full-time LNP writer. “Without a Script” is a weekly entertainment column prepared by a group of writers.