Socialist Worker

Giri - Haji—new crime thriller doesn’t quite live up to ambition

Issue No. 2676

Takehiro Hira (right) as Kenzo

Takehiro Hira (right) as Kenzo (Pic: BBC / Sister Pictures )


Ambitious is a good way to describe Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame).

Bringing together celebrated Japanese and British actors, this new crime thriller tells a wide-ranging story spanning Tokyo and London.

Tokyo detective Kenzo (Takehiro Hira) finds himself caught up in a chain reaction set off by the murder of a Japanese businessman.

He goes to London to track down his brother and crosses paths with British detective Sarah (Kelly Macdonald).

It’s a fast paced and entertaining story. Yet for a show that’s meant to be all about interweaving chains of events, many of those events feel slightly too implausible.

The lead actors make a sometimes wooden script feel natural. You have to suspend your disbelief just a bit more than usual to really get into this. But if you do, it’s very enjoyable.

Visually it’s sleek, playing with different styles sparingly and to good effect.

Flashbacks look like neo-noir films, stories are painted in Japanese watercolour.

As for its ambition, it might not have the depth or complexity it aims for—at least not yet.

But the scale and scope of it make it one of the best and most unusual shows on television at the moment.

Giri/Haji
Starts 9pm, 17 October
On BBC2 and BBC iPlayer

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