Tokyo Vice is an American crime drama television series created by J.T. Rogers and based on the 2009 book of the same title by Jake Adelstein. It premiered on April 7, 2022, on HBO Max. It stars Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe in lead roles. In June 2022, the series was renewed for a second season.
|Created by||J. T. Rogers|
|Based on||Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan|
by Jake Adelstein
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8|
|Production locations||Tokyo, Japan|
|Running time||54–63 minutes|
|Original release||April 7, 2022 –|
In 1999, American journalist Jake Adelstein has relocated to Tokyo and must pass a written exam in Japanese to have the chance to join the staff of a major Japanese newspaper. He succeeds in becoming their first foreign-born journalist and starts at the very bottom. Taken under the wing of a veteran detective in the vice squad, he starts to explore the dark and dangerous world of the Japanese yakuza whilst living under the city's official line that "murder does not happen in Tokyo".
Cast and characters Edit
- Ansel Elgort as Jake Adelstein, an American journalist from Missouri who moves to Tokyo. The longer he stays, the more he delves into the corruption of Tokyo's seedy underworld, where no one is as they seem.
- Ken Watanabe as Hiroto Katagiri, a detective in the organized crime division. He is a father figure to Adelstein who helps guide him through the thin and often precarious line between the law and organized crime.
- Rachel Keller as Samantha Porter, an American expatriate living in Tokyo and former Mormon who makes her living as a hostess in the Onyx Club of the Kabukicho district. Her clients vary from salarymen to high-end clients and yakuza.
- Hideaki Itō as Jin Miyamoto, a vice squad detective who is Jake's first contact in the police department but who is secretly working with the yakuza
- Show Kasamatsu as Sato, an enforcer in the Chihara-kai yakuza clan who collects protection money and is Samantha's handler at the Onyx Club. He secretly has a crush on her and is disillusioned by the yakuza lifestyle which he sees as anachronistic.
- Rinko Kikuchi as Emi Maruyama, Adelstein's supervisor, a composite of the various colleagues and supervisors who worked with the real life Adelstein during his career
- Ella Rumpf as Polina, an Eastern European migrant, and a struggling new hostess at the Onyx Club with Samantha. A kind-hearted but naive woman, she came to Tokyo to work as a model but was pulled into the seedy underbelly of Kabukicho.
- Tomohisa Yamashita as Akira, Polina's boyfriend who works at a Host Club
- Kōsuke Toyohara as Baku, Jake's by-the-books, racist nationalist boss
- Takaki Uda as "Trendy" Kurihira, Jake's handsome friend and coworker
- Kosuke Tanaka as "Tintin" Shinohara, Jake's witty friend and coworker
- Masato Hagiwara as Duke, the owner of the Onyx hostess club
- Shun Sugata as Hitoshi Ishida, the leader of the Chihara-kai yakuza clan which includes Sato
- Eugene Nomura as Kobayashi, Ishida's right-hand man
- Koshi Uehara as Taro, a member of Ishida's organization
- Masayoshi Haneda as Yoshihiro Kume, Sato's direct superior within the organization who is later revealed to be a Tozawa mole
- Noémie Nakai as Luna, the most prestigious hostess at the Onyx club
- Ayumi Tanida as Shinzo Tozawa, leader of a rival yakuza organization who is trying to establish himself in Tokyo even though he has an unnamed incurable health condition
- Kazuya Tanabe as Yabuki, a senior member of Tozawa's organization
- Jundai Yamada as Matsuo, a cultured man who becomes one of Samantha's clients and then reveals that he was hired to track her down
- Yuka Itaya as Mrs. Katagiri, Hiroto's wife
- Sarah Sawyer as Jessica Adelstein, Jake's sister who sends him audio letters on tapes and has been in mental health treatment
- Jessica Hecht as Willa Adelstein, Jake's mother
- Fumiya Kimura as Koji, Sato's first recruit within Ishida's organization
- Nanami Kawakami as Yuka, a young woman Jake hooks up with while hanging out with Sato, later revealed to be a prostitute
- Ayumi Ito as Misaki, Tozawa's mistress
- Hiroshi Sogabe as Sugita, head of the Suzuno insurance company, which manipulates people into debt with Tozawa's organization
- Motoki Kobayashi as Ukai Haruki, a writer and meth user and publishes articles about Tozawa, with his approval
|No.||Title ||Directed by||Written by ||Original release date |
|1||"The Test"||Michael Mann||J. T. Rogers||April 7, 2022|
|In 1999, Jake Adelstein is an aspiring American journalist who sits for the entrance test at Japan's largest newspaper, Meicho Shimbun. Despite not answering all the questions, he is hired and assigned the police press department under the taciturn Emi Muroyama. His first assignment is to report on the murder of Mr. Aoki and at the police briefing, he meets Detective Miyamoto. He visits Aoki's house and finds that he was deep in debt to a company that does not seem to exist, however when he includes this in his draft article, he is told to follow the police report and not jump to conclusions. After work, he goes out to a nightclub with Miyamoto and meets the hostess, Samantha, a fellow American migrant and crosses paths with members of the yakuza Chihara-kai clan. He goes with Miyamoto to Kabukicho to report on an incident. He meets the jaded detective Hiroto Katagiri and they witness a man who self immolates. Jake notices the same logo he did on Aoki's debt papers when he visits Aoki's wife, but Muroyama says she is not interested in a possible connection.|
|2||"Kishi Kaisei"||Josef Kubota Wladyka||Karl Taro Greenfeld||April 7, 2022|
|Jake struggles to find a good story to keep his job while he tries to investigate the apparent suicides of the two indebted men. More is revealed about other important characters like Samantha, her handler and Ishida-clan member, Sato, and the growing tension between the Chihara-kai and Tozawa yakuza gangs. With money earned working as a hostess at Onyx nightclub, Samantha is planning to open her own club but finds many impediments in her way. Chihara-kai's protection racket is challenged by their rival, Tozawa’s gang, but the leader Hitoshi refuses to retaliate because an open war with Tozawa would attract too much police attention. When Jake takes some photographs an altercation between the gangs, he is spotted by Katagiri who confiscates the photo, but Jake presses him to meet for a potential story.|
|3||"Read The Air"||Josef Kubota Wladyka||Arthur Phillips||April 7, 2022|
|Jake visits Katagiri's home, where he reveals the building tension between the Tozawa and Chihara-kai gangs in Tokyo which the police are trying to avoid becoming a gang war. Katagiri invites Jake to witness the arrest of Nakamura and two other members of Tozawa's gang after they disturb the peace, and after his story is published, Jake's standing in the office increases. Jake unsuccessfully tries to press Samantha for information about herself and the yakuza. He pays a visit to Katagiri who also believes that the mysterious loan company and yakuza are connected to two suspicious deaths in the city. Jake leaves with a file that Katagiri received from Aoki's wife who was planning to sue the loan company before he was murdered. Jake gets the registered number of the company, but before he can act he is abducted by the members of the Chihara-kai clan.|
|4||"I Want It That Way"||Hikari||Naomi Iizuka||April 14, 2022|
|Jake is taken before Hitoshi Ishida, oyabun of the Chihara-kai clan who surprisingly asks Jake to find the Tozawa informant in his clan who is undermining his authority by spreading rumors that he is working with the police. On Jake's return, Maruyama makes a connection with the loan company to a woman's suicide in Machiya and she takes Jake with her to investigate, however it leads to another dead end. Sato appears increasingly dissatisfied with yakuza life and shouts Jake to a night out of clubbing and women. Later at an expensive restaurant they encounter Tozawa, and contrary to Sato's advice Jake openly identifies him, furthering his involvement and exposure to the yakuza. Meanwhile, Samantha's plans to open her own club begin unravelling: one of her clients, Matsuo, reveals that he is pursuing her for the money she stole in the past, and one of the girls has revealed her plans for her own club to Duke, the owner of the Onyx hostess club.|
|5||"Everybody Pays"||Hikari||Adam Stein||April 14, 2022|
|Samantha reveals to Polina that she arrived in Japan as a Mormon missionary five years earlier and that she stole $40,000 when she left the organization to remain in Japan. Katagiri gives Jake the name of the Tozawa mole in the Chihara-kai clan to give to Ishida, warning him not to accept any favors in return. Nevertheless, Ishida suggests that Jake investigate those who refused to lend to the people desperate for money. Jake tracks down the Suzuno company and loan manager Sugita who admits to sending people to the loan sharks. However, Jake later finds Sugita dead, with a note accepting all blame and not mentioning Tozawa. Meanwhile, Yoshihiro Kume, Sato's direct superior, prepares to discipline him for not controlling Samantha, but he is then called out by Ishida as the Tozawa mole. Ishida orders Sato to kill Kume, but he jumps from the top of the building instead. Sato confronts Samantha about her recalcitrant behavior, reminding her that "Everybody Pays" and they spend the night together. Both Jake and Sato have misgivings about the paths that they have taken. Meanwhile Samantha tries to pay off Matsu but instead he declares to her horror that she is beholden to him. Sato returns to Chihara-kai headquarters to find that it has been attacked by Tozawa assassins and helps Ishida fight the remaining two men. Ishida kills them, saving Sato even although he is badly wounded.|
|6||"The Information Business"||Josef Kubota Wladyka||Jessica Brickman||April 21, 2022|
|Jake tracks down Ukai Haruki, a writer and meth user who has published articles about Tozawa in yakuza fan magazines. He gets a lead on Tozawa's girlfriend, Misaki, however she is uncooperative. At a meeting of the Tokyo yakuza council to resolve the conflict between Tozawa and the Chihara-kai clan, chairman Nakahara forces Tozawa to pay compensation and humbly apologize for his actions. However it is later revealed that Nakahara has been sponsoring Tozawa against the Chihara-kai. Matsuo again pressures Samantha to cater to his needs, also revealing that her father hired him to track her down. Sato takes Jake to Ishida who tells him that a shipment of Tozawa's shabu is arriving by air so he can inform the police and get a scoop. Jake tells Katagiri who is circumspect and refuses to act, so Jake takes the information to Miyamoto. Miyamoto leads a police raid on the suspect airplane with Jake in tow, but they find nothing and Jake has to withstand the ire of Katagiri who later arrives on the scene. To help Samantha, Sato tries to scare off Matsuo but instead Sato loses his composure and kills him. Emi and the editor force Jake to write a story about police incompetence over the failed raid, further ruining Jake's reputation with the police and revealing his rookie status in the information business. Meanwhile, Miyamoto explains to Tozawa how he protected the hidden drug shipment during the raid, and that it was Jake Adelstein who provided the tip-off.|
|7||"Sometimes They Disappear"||Josef Kubota Wladyka||Brad Caleb Kane||April 21, 2022|
|The body of a mechanic at the airport of the failed drug raid is found floating in the river furthering Katagiri's suspicions that Miyamoto is working for Tozawa and convinces his boss to set a trap to obtain evidence. Emi attends a police briefing announcing the arrest of a man by Miyamoto for the murderer of a young woman, Kaori Shoda, but Emi suspects that there is more to the story. Samantha is concerned for Polina who appears to have disappeared and asks Sato to look into the matter, placing further strain on their faltering relationship. Tozawa attends a function for his 52nd birthday after receiving an injection for his worsening health, but he collapses during the evening and calls for Misaki. On the same night Jake takes Dave Fisch, a friend from Missouri he met earlier in the day, out to a trendy nightclub where he encounters Misaki and they spend the evening together until Tozawa's men arrive and take her away. At police headquarters, Katagiri tells Miyamoto that evidence for his case against Tozawa is stored in the basement, prompting Miyamoto to break into the room after hours to copy it for Tozawa. He only finds an empty evidence box but sees a surveillance camera and realizes that he has been exposed. Meanwhile, Sato finds that Polina has run up a huge debt trying to please her erstwhile boyfriend Akira and has been sent away to service the debt. Sato tells Samantha that "sometimes they disappear", prompting her to go to Jake's apartment for help to find Polina.|
|8||"Yoshino"||Alan Poul||J. T. Rogers||April 28, 2022|
|Miyamoto confronts Katagiri over the surveillance footage that confirms his connection with Tozawa, and Katagiri offers him a way to make amends by feeding Tozawa misinformation. Meanwhile, Jake finds nothing on Yoshino, but Samantha discovers it is a club controlled by Tozawa. Jake takes Samantha to Ukai Haruki and offer him meth in exchange for information on Yoshino and he reveals that Yoshino is a boat which Tozawa uses to entertain his VIP guests, including offering Western women for sex. However, when Haruki makes a pass at Samantha, she strikes him and they leave. Miyamoto tells Tozawa that Katagiri is bluffing, has no evidence, and is actually protecting Ishida, then offers to continue working for Tozawa. Miyamoto passes information from Tozawa onto Katagiri that a shipment of drugs is arriving at a port warehouse and he suggests they catch Tozawa there. Meanwhile, Akira approaches Samantha, saying that Polina's abductors have asked for 10 million yen to release her. Samantha collects her savings to help free Polina; however, Akira is in league with them and they take her money, leaving her penniless. Jake is attacked in his apartment by two of Tozawa's men and warned off. Samantha approaches Ishida's moneylenders for a loan to start her own club, and they agree. Sato is put in charge of the operation and tells Samantha, but as he leaves, he is repeatedly stabbed by Haruki. Katagiri waits for hours at the appointed port location, but after realizing Miyamoto is not answering his phone, he enters the warehouse. He meets Tozawa, who threatens to kill Katagiri's family if he interferes in his business and that he has "dealt with" Miyamoto. The next morning, Jake finds a videotape outside his door showing Polina being killed on a boat after resisting a client. He takes the tape to Katagiri, who is alone since his family left town.|
Tokyo Vice was initially set up as a movie in 2013, with Daniel Radcliffe attached to star as Adelstein. Anthony Mandler was set to direct, and development was advanced enough to where a production start of mid-2014 was set. In June 2019, the project was repurposed as a television series, receiving an eight-episode order from WarnerMedia to be streamed on its streaming service HBO Max. Ansel Elgort was to be executive producer on the series, with J. T. Rogers writing and Destin Daniel Cretton directing. In October 2019, Michael Mann was hired to direct the pilot episode and also serve as an executive producer of the series. The series premiered on April 7, 2022, with the first three episodes available immediately, followed by two episodes on a weekly basis until the season finale on April 28, 2022. On June 7, 2022, HBO Max renewed the series for a second season.
In addition to his executive producing announcement, Ansel Elgort was also set to star. In September 2019, Ken Watanabe was added to the cast. In February 2020, Odessa Young and Ella Rumpf were added to the cast. In March 2020, it was announced that Rinko Kikuchi joined the cast, and that shooting began the previous month in Tokyo. In October 2020, Rachel Keller was cast to replace Young. In September 2021, Hideaki Itō, Shō Kasamatsu and Tomohisa Yamashita were announced as series regulars, with Shun Sugata, Masato Hagiwara, Ayumi Tanida and Kōsuke Toyohara joining as recurring. In November 2022 Aoi Takeya and Takayuki Suzuki were announced to be cast.
Principal photography on the series began on March 5, 2020. On March 17, 2020, it was announced that production had halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo. Production resumed on November 26, 2020, and concluded on June 8, 2021. Production for the second season started in November 2022 in Tokyo.
HBO Max and its sibling service HBO Go hold streaming rights to the series in countries where either service is available including the United States, Latin America, and certain European and Asian markets, while Wowow, also a co-producer, holds rights in Japan. Elsewhere, international distributor Endeavor Content has sold broadcast/streaming rights to the series to Crave in Canada, Canal+ in France, Paramount+ in Australia, OSN+ in the Middle East and Northern Africa region, LionsgatePlay in India and Starzplay in select European markets including the UK and Ireland. The BBC purchased second-window rights to the series in the UK, and began to air it in November 2022 on BBC One, with all episodes available for six months on the BBC's iPlayer service.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported an 85% approval rating with an average rating of 7.6/10, based on 61 critic reviews. The website's critics consensus reads, "Tokyo Vice's protagonist is its least interesting element, but the intrigue of Japan's underworld and the verisimilitude of its setting make for a seductive slice of neo-noir." Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned a score of 75 out of 100 based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
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