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TMOT: You will totally thank me for making you watch “Giri/Haji”

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).

Giri/Haji drama title graphic
Ignore how boring it looks from the title graphic

This is more like it:

“Whilst I do not consider myself to be in any way in your debt––you will be paying for breakfast, FYI––I do begrudgingly acknowledge the fact that you stood guard outside my room, like a sad Alsatian.”

Top five reasons to watch:

1: All the Japan & such

2: But actually, RODNEY

3: 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

Me: <facepalm>

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:

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
The Last Tea Bowl Thief was chosen as an Editor’s Pick for Best Mystery, Thriller & Suspense on Amazon!

“I don’t know when I’ve been more caught up in a story. A masterful achievement.”—Terry Shames, award-winning author of An Unsettling Crime for Samuel Craddock

In modern-day Tokyo, Robin Swann’s life has sputtered to a stop. She’s stuck in a dead-end job testing antiquities for an auction house, but her true love is poetry, not…read more

Jonelle Patrick writes novels set in Japan, produces the monthly newsletter Japanagram, and blogs at Only In Japan and The Tokyo Guide I Wish I’d Had 

Jonelle Patrick View All

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!

8 thoughts on “TMOT: You will totally thank me for making you watch “Giri/Haji” Leave a comment

    • I heard that “Why Women Kill” is awesome! It’s been on my airplane list for ages (I have to negotiate with my co-Netflixers for what we watch on the TV, so some shows I have to save for when I’m traveling). Are you liking it?

      • Yesssss especially Ginnifer Goodwin and Lucy Liu! They are my favorite . It’s full of surprises but there is only ONE episode on French TV every Thursday… 😥

      • Hihi It’s nice to have an evening where I know I’m going to enjoy what ´si on TV. Oddly enough I haven’t binged on series on TV during the confinement I need to do things so unless I really like the show TV is there while I sew

  1. Thank you for that recommendation!
    I am binging “How to become a god on southern Florida” right now but love to have this new series on my list!

  2. Thanks for putting this on my radar Jonelle. I have seen How to be a god in Southern Florida, I second what Marij is saying, its very good. It has a creepy but funny David Lynch vibe

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