Broadcast this Thursday on Canal+, the Tokyo Vice series offers an exciting dive into the yakuza, members of organized crime in Japan.
What is it about ?
In Tokyo, 24-year-old American reporter Jake Adelstein joins the police and justice department of “Meicho Shimbun”, the largest Japanese daily. While collaborating with the local police, he is contacted by the mafia. He becomes an interlocutor of the yakusas while continuing to be an informer for the police. But this ambivalent position is not without danger.
Tokyo Vice, a series created by JT Rogers with Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe, Rachel Keller… Two episodes from Thursday September 15 at 9:10 p.m. on Canal+ and MyCanal. Episodes viewed: 3 out of 8
Who is it with?
To be the headliner of tokyo viceHBO Max (the original broadcaster) chose Ansel Elgort in the role of Jake Adelstein, this American journalist who recounted his impressive investigation in a book of the same name. The 28-year-old actor is currently on a roll after starring in the West Side Story by Steven Spielberg.
Facing him, the legend of Japanese cinema Ken Watanabe plays the policeman Hiroto Katagiri who will help him navigate within the highly codified Japanese culture, and within the even more codified yakuza culture. To Western audiences, he is best known for playing in Letters from Iwo Jima, The last Samourai or Batman Begins.
Finally, Rachel Keller – revealed by the series Legion and Fargo – plays Samantha Porter, an American expat living in Tokyo who makes a living as a hostess at the Onyx Club in the Kabukicho district. She accompanies many people, from employees to high-end clients and yakuza.
Well worth a look ?
In one of his best recent roles, Ansel Elgort plays Jake, a young journalist straight out of Missouri. A boy with humor, talent and an excellent level of Japanese which allows him to become the first foreign journalist ever hired in the largest daily newspaper in the country.
But he became disillusioned very quickly after his hiring, having to face uninhibited racism in a country where immigration is reduced to a bare minimum, and to methods that are curious to say the least, where journalists specializing in news items must content themselves with copy the press releases of the police and above all do not ask the questions that annoy.
But Jake is tenacious and enduring. He wanders the dark streets of the Kabukicho district and befriends Samantha, an American bar hostess with a mysterious past, and Sato (Sho Kasamatsu), a young Yakuza who raises money at the club where Samantha works against the protection of his organization. But above all, Jake ends up finding a solid ally in the person of Inspector Hiroto Katagiri.
He too is frustrated with his service’s lack of drive and ambition and becomes both Jake’s source and mentor.
Michael Mann on camera
Without doubt, tokyo vice is a really fun series to watch. The driver is signed Michael Mann who also wears the producer cap. He knows how to capture the treacherous seduction of cities, whether in miami vice or the Los Angeles of Collateral. By making the pilot, the aesthetic charter of the series, his keen eye captures the whirlwind of Tokyo, its shady alleys and its glamorous neon bars that split the night.
For those unfamiliar with Japanese organized crime, Tokyo Vice is the perfect introduction to the world of yakuza. Starting with the spectacular tattoos that dress the bodies of these mobsters and that the series is eager to show. The drama perfectly describes their hierarchical structure based on the notions of loyalty and honor samurai.
We also see how the yakuza have infiltrated almost every structure of Japanese society to such an extent that the authorities are ready to do anything to avoid gang wars. It’s this whole part that makes Tokyo Vice fascinating. The influence of the yakuza then becomes omnipresent leaving a permanent threat hanging over Jake, Samantha, Katagiri or even Sato.
In no time, we let ourselves be sucked into this Tokyo of the 90s and this fascinating world of yakuza. With the comfort of not being faced with these impressive mafia.