I don’t usually reveal my guilty-pleasure bingewatches here, but pandemic is pandemic, and Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) is the best Japanese drama I’ve ever seen (even though it was produced by the BBC for Netflix GO FIGURE).
This is more like it:
Top five reasons to watch:
1: All the Japan & such
2: But actually, RODNEY
4: To be honest, there could never be too much Rodney.
5: Okay, also, Yuto (the curiously appealing fugitive brother), Kenzo (the stranger-in-a-strange-land Japanese cop), and Sarah (the perpetually-worried but occasionally deadpan-funny London detective).
Seriously, even though Giri/Haji is slightly hobbled by being infested with yakuza (the world’s most predictable bad guys, ugh, YAWN) they are more than made up for by hilariously unpredictable & nasty British lowlifes/clock-punching hitpersons and main characters who keep doing all the wrong things for the right reasons, so
Also me: OMG, please, make it out of this alive
All that, plus the plot twists, script wittiness and gorgeous production values we’ve come to expect from the BBC, and best of all (the miracles keep on coming) the Japanese characters are actually played by Japanese actors, and they use real Japanese that doesn’t sound like it was lame Google-translated from English.*
The British bits and the Japanese bits are BOTH pitch-perfect. Even the main detective’s family back in Tokyo is hair-pullingly Japanese. And while the idea of a cop with a gangster brother isn’t new, this take on it is surprisingly nuanced. It’s rare to find a production that leaves me knowing that the bad guys are a little good, and the good guys are a little bad, and loving them all the more for it.
I’m telling you: Watch it.
*The Japanese dialogue is all excellently subtitled in English, of course
Here’s the official trailer, which gives you a general idea of what’s it’s about, but kinda misses the best parts, which are not the shooty & stabby bits, but the characters’ relationships, which entertain thoroughly as they deepen:
If you need a little break from the relentless asks in your usual stack of email, it’s not too late to get a little entertainment instead
It’s my new newsletter, and every month it’s got a Beyond Tokyo destination, a Seasonal Secret, Japanese Home Cooking recipe and other features you won’t see anywhere else. And best of all? It’s free!
Click the button and sign up to get yours・° ♪・☆
(Still deciding whether to join me? Here’s where you can browse the features from previous issues. And just so you know, I hate spam too, so I’ll never share or sell your info.)
Writing mystery books set in Tokyo is mostly what I do, but I also blog about the odd stuff I see every day in Japan. I'm a graduate of Stanford University and the Sendagaya Japanese Institute in Tokyo, and a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, and Sisters In Crime. When I'm not in Tokyo, I live in San Francisco. I also host a travel site called The Tokyo Guide I Wish I'd Had, so if you're headed to Japan and want to check out the places I take my friends when they're in town, take a look!