As we are being sensibly advised to self-isolate wherever possible It seems the best information on what to do with time spent indoors. I am employing the time productively building my tour business website (finally!). How are you spending your time? Most will pick up a book or reach for Netflix. And to help you with your choices I provide reviews of books and screen titles, which you can to source online, that provide (hopefully) food for thought/insight for foreign residents in Japan.
Watch it on Netflix: Giri is defined as an obligation, or perhaps duty is more appropriate for the title. Haji means shame. Arguably life for many Japanese, particularly in the workplace or roles within organizations, on the face of it, seems too often to pendulum between a sense of duty and guilt.
Anyway, Giri / Haji (Duty /Shame) is the title for a British television series thriller set in Tokyo and London, exploring the butterfly effect of a single murder across two cities. It is a fairly slick production of a dark journey through the underbellies of London and Tokyo; a witty and daring examination of morality and redemption, depicting everything from mob assassination, matters of love and betrayal, from fidelity to rampant promiscuity to snakes in letterboxes.
When a Yakuza boss is killed on Detective Mori’s beat it threatens to destroy a fragile truce that had been maintained for the last few years. That the killing may have been revenge for a murder in London carried out by Mori’s wayward younger brother is the call to action. Yuto was believed dead, despite the absence of a corpus delecti. Rumors of sightings support a claim that Yuto may be alive and operating as an assassin in London.
Mori’s boss, a senior cop ensnared in the Yakuza web, believing that Yuto is more likely to reveal himself to his brother than anyone else, compels his underling to go to London to dig around. Mori arrives under the premise of, for all apparent intents and purpose, to be a taking a criminology course taught by Sarah, an “on-the-edge” garrulous London cop. Where will this relationship go?
In his quest to unearth his brother Mori enlists the help of Rodney, a drug-addicted, fast-talking half-Japanese rent boy. But the plot thickens more as Mori soon finds himself dealing with a plethora of situations, from an Afro-British female assassin to a minor British mob boss come wannabe yakuza thug; and not to mention his rebellious teenage daughter, Taki, who has run away from a stifling life with her ever duty-bound mother at home to join her dad in London.
This is really just the tip of the iceberg of a story rich compelling drama peppered with satire, on occasion going a bit over the top, almost too Hollywood, but hey – it’s television, and ain’t life an irony?
Watch it on Amazon Prime: This is a docudrama surrounding Japan’s rugby team, the Brave Blossoms’, famous feat over South Africa at the 2015 Rugby World Cup. The Japanese team, underrated as weakest in the tournament, under the guidance of that master of tactics and human motivation, coach Eddie Jones, caused the collective rugby world’s mouth to drop open with surprise at the 2015 Rugby World Cup in Brighton England by beating the then two times world champion Springboks and further, making history to become the first team to win three pool games despite failing to reach the quarterfinals.
The film was written and directed by Australian born Max Mannix a former rugby player and then for a time English language teacher in Japan, and it highlights the behind-the-scenes life and action in the lead-up to the Brave Blossoms’ famous 34-32 win. It stars New Zealand actor Temuera Morrison doing, as you might expect, an excellent portrayal of Eddie Jones.
Mannix himself is an interesting character. He is a self-taught, accomplished screenwriter. He was part of the writing team on the production “Tokyo Sonata”, winner of the Un Certain Regard Jury Prize at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival, (which I will be reviewing next month) and who briefly managed to not only leverage his way into a Hollywood screenwriting deal and also directed “Rain Fall,” a 2009 thriller starring Gary Oldman.
When interviewed last year Mannix told Kyodo News that the movie is “less to do with rugby and more to do with humanity, and it’s that story that drives you to the fantastic outcome in Brighton.”
From the point of view of a spectacular sporting upset, it is not to be missed.