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TV Review: Giri/Haji

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TV Review: Giri/Haji

The transcontinental yakuza thriller you didn’t know you needed.

Ah, Netflix. Where would we be without it? The streaming service has been a balm to people everywhere during the long days of self-isolation, but for many, those To-Watch lists are running mighty thin.  

If, like me, you don’t want to rewatch your favourite television series for the 12th time — or maybe need a palate cleanser from the absolutely bonkers Tiger King docuseries — give the British production Giri/Haji a try. 

Described by Google as a “soulful thriller”, the series follows Kenzo Mori, a Tokyo-based detective sucked into the ruthless world of the yakuza (Japanese mafia) while in pursuit of his missing brother. Mori’s mission takes him to the streets of London, where he finds himself in the unlikely company of Rodney, a devil-may-care cocaine addict and rent boy, and detective constable Sarah Weitzmann. Caught between the conflicting obligations of the law and his family, Mori’s journey is at times violent, humorous, and heart-warming. 

Alternating between the events in London and Tokyo, it is also the story of two distinctly different cultures and the very human commonalities between them. 

Though the plot alone should keep you riveted to the screen, one possible turnoff for some viewers is the show’s heavy use of subtitles. If you want to know what’s going on, you do need to pay attention. But as Parasite director Bong Joon Ho reminded us in his acceptance speech for Best Foreign Language Film at the Golden Globes, “Once you overcome the one-inch tall barrier of subtitles, you will be introduced to so many more amazing films” (and television)! 

Never dull, with an unexpectedly jammable soundtrack and several familiar faces — Weitzmann is played by Kelly Macdonald, the voice of Merida in Disney’s Brave, Charlie Creed-Miles from Peaky Blinders, and even Justin Long make an appearance — Giri/Haji is more than very well-acted, it’s the best show that nobody is watching, and guaranteed to breathe some life into your Netflix lineup.