Jake Adelstein was a long way from home when he first arrived in Tokyo as a crime reporter. Tokyo Vice, based on Aldstein’s memoirs of the same name, follows his character (played by Ansel Elgort) as the first foreign reporter at Japan’s biggest newspaper in the early 90s, Yomiuri Shimbun.
During this time, he enlists the help of Tokyo’s Police Vice Squad to uncover the city’s dark underworld of crime. Jake’s work as a journalist is not easy as he is often called a ‘gaijin’ which is a negative term used towards a foreigner as he works on overcoming these barriers and gaining more knowledge about the Yakuza- Tokyo’s crime syndicate.
There are plenty of reasons to be excited about this show. As per Malay Mail, Ansel’s role of Jake Adelstein required the most preparation he’s ever done for a character which involved learning Japanese for four hours everyday for a month. In addition, Ansel also practiced Aikido (Japanese martial art). With his performance, Ansel elevates the role of Jake Adelstein to a relentless journalist in contrast to his simple appearance. He is also complemented by Oscar nominee Ken Watanabe, who plays the role of vice cop Hiroto Katagiri and really elevates the show to a higher level with his performance.
Tokyo Vice is executive produced by Miami Vice, Heat and Collateral fame Michael Mann who also directed the pilot of the series. There are similar elements of the relationship between different characters seen in this series and in Mann’s 1995 film Heat. However, the main point of difference between this series and Mann’s previous work is that Tokyo Vice, as its name suggests, is more of a slow burn drama rather than an action thriller.
One of the most exciting parts to look forward to is the city of Tokyo. Michael Mann effectively uses the neon-lit vibe of Tokyo to establish a moody atmosphere and give the city its own distinct role in the show as an entity itself. As Jake digs deeper, he learns of the underworld’s involvement in the city and how the law enforcement tends to look the other way as long as they keep it silent; this way of storytelling makes us learn more about Tokyo as the show progresses. This also makes the 90s setting feel livelier.
Tokyo Vice’s film-noir storyline, gritty characters and its nostalgic setting give us a lot to look forward to and certainly make it a series that one would enjoy watching.
Written by Paramveer Singh Sethi, Northeastern University
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