A Yakuza Series Set Between London and Tokyo

In 'Giri/Haji', coproduced by the BBC and Netflix, the viewer follows a detective in search of his brother who has sparked a gang war.


WordsClémence Leleu

© Robert Viglasky

The plot of Giri/Haji, which can be translated into English as ‘Duty/Shame’, is built around Kenzo Mori, a Japanese detective, torn between his deference to the law enforcement institution and his love for his brother, a young delinquent. The storyline adheres to the codes of crime series, but the twist lies in the places where this series, coproduced by the BBC and Netflix, unfolds: London and Tokyo, two insular cities where the famous butterfly effect will be put to the test. 

Yuto, the detective’s younger brother, is suspected of having stabbed the nephew of one of the most important Yakuza bosses in Japan in the back with a katana. This action instantly triggers a war between two rival clans in Tokyo. Kenzo Mori is sent to London by his superior to look for his brother and bring him back to Japan, without getting caught by the secret service.


Marginalised characters

Broadcast in October 2019, the series is the work of British director Julian Farino. It advances at a breathless pace, with flashbacks, split screens enabling the viewer to follow the plot in London and Tokyo simultaneously, and scenes sketched out like manga. The eight episodes feature protagonists with complex personalities, but who all have one thing in common: their position on the margins of society. From Rodney, the young half-Japanese, half-British rent boy who introduces Kenzo Mori to the cesspools of London, to Sarah Weizman, the English detective constable ostracised by her colleagues, no one is spared. Even the detective has a rough life to contend with: sharing an apartment with his elderly parents, the escapades of a rebellious teenager, a relationship in crisis, and bouts of depression that erupt as the plot develops. 

Giri/Haji was nominated for three awards at the 2020 BAFTAs, and Will Sharpe, who plays the young rent boy Rodney, was named Best Supporting Actor. Although the possibility of a second series was mentioned, the BBC ultimately decided not to pursue the adventures of Kenzo Mori between London and Tokyo. 


Giri/Haji (2019), a series directed by Julian Farino, is available on Netflix.


© Robert Viglasky

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