“Tokyo Vice” Episode 2 Recap: “Kishi Kaisei”


Deputy Tokyo was widely sold to the world as a joint of Michael Mann, but the director of Heat and man hunter was only behind the camera for the premiere. Where does this lead us now? In a surprisingly strong place. This episode alleviates a lot of the worries I had about Ansel Elgort as the main man on the show, and therefore the show itself. (Not all concerns, obviously, not remotely.)

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On the one hand, Elgort’s character, Jake Adelstein, spends much of the episode laughing, smiling, busting his colleagues’ balls, striking up a conversation with a yakuza soldier by comparing their sneakers, ride a bike like an overgrown child. He just seems like a much livelier, younger character in this outing, and that makes the story all the more believable.

On the other hand, this episode (“Kishi Kaisei”) spends time with enough other characters as focal points to essentially give us a small following of co-protagonists. There’s Samantha, the nightclub hostess who resents her boss’s foolishness and has saved up a small fortune that she hides behind the back wall of a closet in her apartment. There’s Sato (Show Kasamatsu), the yakuza soldier who has a thing for Samantha and what looks like a budding friendship with Jake, who leaves her his card just in case. After a long day of jostling store owners for extra protection money to build a fund for a potential war with a rival outfit, the goofy American seems like just what he needed to take the edge off. .

And above all, there is Katagiri, the cop played by Ken Watanabe. He spends much of the episode rebelling against the overly careful stabbing resolution of the first episode, doubting that a low-level yakuza thug would simply walk into the station and confess unless he was told to. cover up a bigger crime with a higher ranking perpetrator.

But Katagiri’s real turning point comes when he comes to a dead end at a bar. There, a soldier from the Tozawa organization – rivals of Chihara-kai, the gang to which Sato and his superiors Kume (Masayoshi Haneda) and the Obaiun, or boss, Ishida (Shun Sugata) belongs – threatens to kill a guy in front of a dozen witnesses for paying protection money to bad mobsters. Katagiri whispers something in the shooter’s ear which causes him to drop his gun.

That’s when Adelstein tries to take a shot, catching everyone’s attention. Katagiri confiscates the film, tells him not to report what he saw, then bounces back, leaving Adelstein in equal parts frustrated and fascinated.

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As well it could be. Adelstein’s former law enforcement partner, Miyamoto, deliberately feeds her the wrong information about an underwear thief, causing her first big newspaper story to go wrong. (This after his editor, Emi (Rinko Kikuchi), had it rewritten three or four times. I feel his pain.) He did this, he tells Adelstein, to teach the young journalist a lesson: on what beat, you get what you pay for, and without kickbacks, all your leads will be fake. “It’s transactional,” he tells Adelstein in really direct dialogue. “Nothing’s free; everyone’s for sale. Adelstein repays Miyamoto by taking him out for an expensive dinner – that’s supposed to be the bribe – then dines and rushes off, sticking the cop with the bill It’s kinda good!

For his part, Katagiri continues to dig into the stabbing case, learning from his widow that the victim was preparing to file a complaint against the loan sharks who extort him. (Adelstein arrives at the same spot a few minutes later, and Katagiri overhears his attempts to get the woman on the record to talk. He seems to be putting two and two together when he catches Adelstein trying to take pictures later.)

The home lives of some of our characters are also explored, to some degree. Emi returns home after a hard day’s work to an apartment echoing with the screams of an angry Korean man. Jake blows his mother away on a phone call, then listens to one of nearly two dozen recorded messages sent to him by his sister Jess, who has some sort of medical condition that is no longer responding to treatment. And oh yeah, Sato sucks at arcade games, much to the chagrin of little kids who invite him to play just to see a real yakuza soldier at work.

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I guess what I’m trying to say with all of this is that while the episode sorely lacks the impressionistic visual flourishes of Michael Mann as director (this one is helmed by Narcos veteran Josef Kubota Wladyka), it takes a welcome fractal approach to the narrative itself. Suddenly we know a lot more, about a lot more people, than we knew at the end of the premiere. This lends some depth to the story, even if Mann’s absence takes a back seat to his dazzling vision of Tokyo. Seems like a pretty fair trade.

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Sean T. Collins (@theseantcollins) written on television for rolling stone, Vulture, The New York Timesand anywhere that will have it, really. He and his family live on Long Island.



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