‘Tokyo Vice’ is a crime drama series set in the Japanese capital at the turn of the century, based on investigative journalist Jake Adelstein’s 2009 memoir ‘Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.’ Adelstein (Ansel Elgort) is an American expatriate who works as a beat reporter for the Japanese-language daily Meicho Shimbun and attracts the interest of both the yakuza and the police. If you enjoyed ‘Tokyo Vice,’ here is a list of suggestions that might suit your tastes. Most of these shows related to ‘Tokyo Vice’ are available on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
Deadline (2000 – 2001)
‘Deadline,’ created by Dick Wolf, is an unjustly underappreciated short-lived drama series. It follows Wallace Benton, a prominent columnist for the fictional tabloid New York Ledger, and provides in-depth analysis on New York’s journalism industry. According to reports, the fictional tabloid was created with the real-life New York Post in mind. Benton was influenced by journalists such as Jimmy Breslin and Mike McAlary. ‘Deadline’ is perhaps the next best show to watch if you’re interested in the reporting and news industry-related aspects of ‘Tokyo Vice.’
‘Giri/Haji,’ like ‘Tokyo Vice,’ illustrates Japan’s tangled connection between the police and the yakuza. The latter’s story, on the other hand, is far more intimate, as it depicts the macro-cosmic fight between justice and crime through the dichotomy of two brothers. Kenzo Mori, a Tokyo investigator, travels to London in search of his brother Yuto (Ysuke Kubozuka), whom he believes is dead. The yakuza and police in Japan believe Yuto killed the son of a yakuza leader, putting the gangs on the verge of war. ‘Giri/Haji’ is a reversal of ‘Tokyo Vice,’ in that it takes a Japanese national and places him in an unfamiliar location in the West. Furthermore, the yakuza plays an important role in the British series.
‘Gokushufudo,’ or ‘The Way of the Househusband,’ is a Japanese live-action comedy series based on the same-named manga series. It follows Tatsu, a former high-ranking yakuza member who has retired from crime to become a homemaker. The once-dreaded mobster manages to blend in flawlessly with the gentler side of life, employing the abilities he learnt as a yakuza member in ordinary tasks. Tatsu has an intriguing supporting cast, which includes his career-driven wife Miku and former underling Masa. Gokushufudo, like ‘Tokyo Vice,’ covers Japan’s criminal underground, highlighting how many former yakuza affiliates have lives outside of crime.
Miami Vice (1984-1990)
A spiritual connection exists between ‘Tokyo Vice’ and the 1980s American television series ‘Miami Vice.’ Michael Mann (‘Heat’), who is an executive producer on the newer series and directed the pilot episode, wrote and executive produced ‘Miami Vice’ and directed the film adaption in 2006. In terms of topic and execution, the two shows are also very similar. They portray the archetypal existence in their various cities, with a particular emphasis on the criminal aspects.
‘Pachinko’ is a Korean-Japanese family that spans multiple generations. It covers the period from the beginning of the Japanese occupation of Korea through the late 1980s. ‘Pachinko,’ like ‘Tokyo Vice,’ delves into the immigrant experience in Japan, as well as prejudice, discrimination, and the yakuza. Sunja (Yu-na Jeon as a child, Minha Kim as a teen, and Youn Yuh-jung as an adult) is the central character in ‘Pachinko,’ who goes with her husband from her little island hamlet in Busan to Osaka and finds the confidence inside herself to continue and succeed despite countless hurdles.
The Journalist (2022-)
If ‘Tokyo Vice’ takes a western perspective on Japan, ‘The Journalist’ takes a Japanese perspective. The story follows Anna Matsuda, an apparently fearless reporter who takes on the strong and corrupt in Japan’s political realm. The series is based on Isoko Mochizuki’s 2017 novel of the same name. ‘The Journalist,’ like ‘Tokyo Vice,’ provides a deep look into Japan’s journalism industry, articulating its difficulties, work culture, and interaction with the rest of the globe.
The Sopranos (1999-2007)
‘The Sopranos’ is regarded as one of the best crime dramas ever produced. It focuses on Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and his eventual climb through the ranks of the eponymous Italian-American mafia family from New Jersey. The mafia has been the subject of numerous TV series and films. What makes ‘The Sopranos’ unique is how it blends the portrayal of the mobsters’ daily lives with the violence, brutality, and backstabbing. Jake immerses himself in Tokyo’s criminal underbelly and experiences the banal everyday lives of most yakuza members in ‘Tokyo Vice.’
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