Giri/Haji

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colinr0380
Joined: Mon Nov 08, 2004 4:30 pm
Location: Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire, UK

Giri/Haji

#1 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Oct 17, 2019 6:05 pm

I really enjoyed the first episode (of eight) of Giri/Haji (or Duty/Shame), and it was quite surprising to realise that there is potentially going to be three major subplots with their own groups of characters going on (even four if we add in the chaos occurring back in Tokyo too and the yakuza boss threatening violence against Kenzo's family if he cannot have revenge on the brother) rather than just your standard border-crossing police investigation into a murder that provides the main thrust of the narrative (in fact rather than international co-operation this is apparently all having to be kept hush-hush from the UK police under the pretext of a cultural exchange programme so that the presumed killer can be spirited away back to face justice on home soil!). So whilst we have policeman Kenzo being pressurised into going to London to investigate a yakuza boss's relative's murder (carried out by his own presumed dead brother), we also get the gay half-Japanese rent boy who might be in an abusive relationship, and Kelly Macdonald's character of a slightly too upbeat crime technique lecturer with a dark past that seems to involve someone having been released from prison into the community and eventually sticking snakes through her letterbox!

That all plays into the Duty/Shame part of the title already, with the rent boy's coerced 'duty' to his lifestyle making him callous and unable to feel 'shame' for his cruel treatment of his latest jilted boyfriend. And Susan's duty to be responsible and professional undermined by her colleagues and this dark aspect of her past coming back into her life. Kenzo has the 'duty' of finding his brother and bringing him back to Tokyo to pay for his crimes, but also the shame of knowing what really happened...
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which gets revealed in the flashback that Kenzo himself actually finished the job and committed the murder that his younger brother has then gone on the run for years earlier, as a way of getting him out of the criminal lifestyle before he was too far in. Presumably Kenzo helped Yuto fake his own death too, which is probably why he seems less surprised when the yakuza boss and his Chief Inspector boss arrive at his apartment with the news that his brother is alive and to force him to go to London and bring him back, than concerned that both the police and the yakuza now know that Yuto is still out there somewhere! Maybe it is in Kenzo's interests to get to Yuto first and silence him without taking him back to Tokyo? So Kenzo has all that complicated, literal guilt hanging over him for a crime that he committed but his brother is taking responsibility for, and may have pushed his younger brother from being a gang member into an even darker hitman lifestyle.

And this is even more complicated by the fourth subplot of Kenzo's family back in Tokyo having their own troubles, most specifically the teenage daughter getting expelled for stabbing another student who groped her. Though she seems to have a very close bond with her father that still lets them bond even after that act, whilst the mother despairs and is more shut out of her daughter's life. And the daughter seems to be interested in Uncle Yuto as well, and perhaps idolises him for his criminal behaviour before he disappeared. Which of course we later learn in the flashback Kenzo committed the murder that defined the younger brother anyway! Either way, the daughter seems to be worryingly interested in going down the criminally violent path herself in this first episode.

It ends with her having disappeared off onto the streets of Tokyo without telling her mother where she was going to (which kind of reminded me slightly of the Julia Ormond teen daughter subplot in the Traffik mini-series!), but unfortunately the rather too long 'on the next episode' teaser spoiled the mystery of her disappearance too quickly by showing her turning up in London herself and interacting with the rent boy character! I have a couple of concerns that now that the daughter has joined Kenzo in London that the 'important' characters have been removed and now the wife and elderly parents left behind in Tokyo are potentially going to be easily expendable victims of the angry yakuza boss without much consequence (especially as that too long next episode teaser shows their apartment being shot up! Though if a stray bullet hits the granddad's oxygen tank and accidentally blows up the building that would be very blackly comic, especially after the potential foreshadowing of the grandmother stopping him from smoking whilst wearing his oxygen mask in the early scene in this episode!), all the better to push the tentative romance elements between Kenzo and Susan more, as a new surrogate family. I'm hoping that it does not quite go down that well worn path, but we'll see.
So a really interesting first episode, and I really liked the intercutting of all three characters facing their threats for the cliffhanger at the end (Susan the snake in the mailbox; Rodney the rent boy going up the ominous staircase (he's shown beaten up in the teaser for the second episode, which appears to be the event that brings all the subplots together almost immediately again), and Kenzo the sniper in the building opposite). I have my theories above about how all the characters are going to interact in the next episode, but will have to wait and see. There have also been some really great twists even in the first episode - this first episode is really all revolving around Kenzo's frustrated efforts to get the entry code to enter the building where the murder occurred and assess the crime scene for himself, and the revelation about just why it was so difficult to get the code for the door straight away (which ties into why Kenzo was not picked up at the airport when he arrived, and only gets revealed when the rent boy character amusingly helps Kenzo enter the 'member's club') is a really great moment. As well as showing that there is probably some key bit of evidence there that might further the case, or else he would not be being prevented from access in such an enthusiastic manner!

Plus Justin Long's in the second episode teaser, muttering something about 'the Albanian's being involved now', so his character is coming up too!

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colinr0380
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Re: Giri/Haji

#2 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Oct 24, 2019 5:04 pm

“He’s a male prostitute who helped me with a…task. He got injured in the process, so he is here to recuperate briefly”

So I presume that we now know that the killing in the opening episode was probably Yuto’s first, even if Yuto does not! I liked the pre-credit sequence of starting months previous to the murder with Yuto ingratiating himself with a London gangster (and bumping the American real estate business partner played by Justin Long trying to help Abbot go legit out of favour in the process!) which jumps closer and closer to the moment with Kenzo being targeted by the sniper.

Then the main action of the episode starts with a digression into Rodney’s troubles after having been beaten up. And Sarah’s storyline and being shunned by her police colleagues and forced into a teaching role is beginning to make more sense now as a kind of #MeToo style plot of having sent a colleague to prison for six years based on an (as yet) unspecified accusation, and she gets a couple of scenes of being shown to be more competent than her colleagues as well as watching on whilst Kenzo disappears suddenly from the lecture to go and try and get the safe in the office of the murdered man open before the British police get there. But Sarah in asking Kenzo about the case of the stabbing ends up providing him with both firm evidence of his brother and the address of Justin Long’s character Vickers, though she does unfortunately end up seeing more than she should when she runs into Rodney!

Unfortunately the contents of the safe reveal photos that could ignite the gangland war back in Tokyo even further by showing certain members of the yakuza in compromising situations. Which both backfires on the police inspector back in Tokyo (his wife is being used in the liaisons!) and on Kenzo’s family as the yakuza gangleader Fukuhara seems to realise that these photo have been suspiciously planted in order to ignite the conflict (and maybe by getting the Tokyo gangs to fight each other, that might solve his problem by itself!)

I really like that in the conversation with Vickers (in a scene which lets Justin Long play out a great nervous breakdown) that Kenzo never reveals that he is Yuto’s brother, which is another moment of Kenzo withholding a very important piece of information that might affect their behaviour if it would stop him from furthering his own goals (as in the later moment with Rodney too, when he sends him to scope out the address of the sniper that Vickers had given him!). Though he does reveal that information to Rodney and Sarah in one to one conversations later on.

And I also really like the meet up between Sarah and Rodney without Kenzo, which is a little contrived in its set up but which allows both the recently assaulted and historically abused characters to get together and compare notes, as well as get an outsider’s perspective on the Kenzo situation. Which inspires Sarah to both confront her own abusive boyfriend (by answerphone message) and Rodney’s assaulter face to face, as a way of sublimating her own anger (and I like the way that it plays out triumphantly for her whilst Rodney's abusive boyfriend is just left bewildered by the lady who has turned up on his doorstep to threaten him!). And she is very astute in summing up the situation as she sees it once she gets to meet Kenzo again.

I suppose this episode is all about the various characters overstepping the bounds of their ‘duty’, though often without any ‘shame’ in doing so! Extracurricular activities seeming to pay off characterise Yuto getting in with Abbot’s London gangster; Kenzo breaking into the safe sets off all the events back in Tokyo of the yakuza boss Fukuhara being set up for the killing and himself now targeted by rival gangs out for vengeance; Sarah being trapped in an unfulfilling job but striving to break out of it and displaying all of her investigative skills; Rodney bringing all of the characters together; and even the daughter Taki disappearing again at the end of the episode, of course only to end up in London as the teaser at the end of the first episode very prematurely revealed! Speaking of surprise reveals, the cliffhanger involves the two brothers meeting up episodes before I would have thought they would have…
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Oct 31, 2019 8:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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colinr0380
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Re: Giri/Haji

#3 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Oct 31, 2019 7:47 pm

After a very brief face to face meeting between Kenzo and Yuto at the beginning of it, episode 3 seems to the theme of characters using others and putting them into dangerous situations without forewarning them as its motif. Kenzo uses Vickers to get to Abbot, trying to broker a deal but not really too concerned about Vickers (and vice versa). Rodney finds out that the boyfriend he cruelly brushed off at the start of the first episode has OD'd and then when he runs into Taki in Kenzo's student accommodation (seriously, more people have slept in Kenzo's bed than he has at this point!) he drags her along to visit the grieving parents and leaves her stuck in the middle of firery accusations being flung about between them. Yuto kind of drags Donna into the final standoff of the episode by assuming that she is still in the restaurant that is about to get raided. And Sarah tries to have a nice Yom Kippur dinner with everyone, but that is only because she is afraid to be alone now that her abusive boyfriend is out of prison and having welcome home drinks in the local pub with her work companions!

Even Kenzo's police colleague back in Japan ends up getting the rather gormless British policeman Roy (who did the cultural exchange swap with Kenzo) into trouble by getting him first to sit in the car as a lookout outside the local yakuza gang leader's house (which he falls asleep during! [-X ) and then bringing Roy actually into the house itself on the next occasion only for him to end up with a gun thrust into his hands as everyone there ends up stuck in the middle of a potential firefight!

I say "potential firefight" because that is where this episode ends, with the build up to two simultaneous home invasion shootouts in Tokyo and London, all whilst safely away from the upcoming carnage Rodney is introducing Taki to hedonistically carefree dancing in the local gay club!

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colinr0380
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Re: Giri/Haji

#4 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Nov 07, 2019 6:03 pm

"Did you feel that earthquake earlier...They say there might be aftershocks"

Well that was a great turning point episode that provides a lot of the answers to how everyone got into their situations, with Yuto's flashback to events before he escaped from boss Fukuhara to London taking up the first half of the episode. That killing in London wasn't his first then. We get the origins of all the details that have been suggested to be significant explained. A petty crime situation spiralling out of control but bringing him into the orbit of Fukuhara, but having killed one of the rival gang meaning he has to atone with his finger (using the same sword that he later steals and kills Fukuhara's cousin with in London). The burgeoning if inadvisable relationship with Fukuhara's daughter. Being informed of the illicit photos of Fukuhara and the Police Inspector's wife that later get planted in the safe. And the relationship with Kenzo is interestingly updated (Kenzo being angry that he has covered for Yuto only to see him become a yakuza member, and rather belittling Yuto by suggesting that the only thing Fukuhara is interested in him for is his connections to the police). Yuto and Taki get a few nice moments together too, with them getting on whilst the rest of the family have other concerns.
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Interestingly that past flashback is shared with Sarah's flashback to what happened with her boyfriend Ian. The slow deterioration of the relationship and the suggestion of him having an affair. She finds mysterious messages on his phone about 'meeting up the next afternoon' and then following him, which turns out to have a raid on a criminal, which of course makes him a celebrated figure on the force. But in being suspicious about the affair she has witnessed him planting evidence that they then raided the suspect for. She testifies against him in court and that is the reason why she has become a pariah amongst her colleagues, as they were all either taken in or in on the deception themselves. Perhaps even Roy! (Who amusingly we briefly see back in London, similar to the way that Taki is back in Tokyo in these past set episodes)

Then back to the Tokyo flashback for the really neat resolution that the job that Yuto was involved in (and which Kenzo completed, sending him on the run) was not just any old job gone wrong but caused by him admitting his relationship with the daughter to Fukuhara, making Fukuhara put a hit out on him. I like the telephone conversation with Fukuhara that after his wife died he promised two things: that he would win the gang war that she was killed in and never let such clan battles happen again; and never let his daughter marry a yakuza. So that really explains why Yuto carried out that killing in London and is framing Fukuhara with those compromising photographs - he's making sure that Fukuhara is going to lose any gang war as well as his daughter.
Then the episode ends by returning to the present time and the simultaneous gunbattles both in the club and in Tokyo where everyone comes face to face with their opposite number, but then moves beyond that to throw out lots of interesting juxtapositions (Yuto's car going over the cliff in the past against Sarah testifying; Taki picking up the nailclippers that she stabbed that kid with against Yuto holding the sword that he committed the murder with) that suggest that everyone is experiencing their own versions of being thrown into turmoil by events out of their control.

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colinr0380
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Re: Giri/Haji

#5 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:02 pm

Episode 5 takes place in the aftermath of the gunfights as everyone is either fleeing the scene or lying injured. Taki and Rodney find Yuto shot in the back alley and take him back to Sarah's and the rest of the episode is pretty much about them laying low in this disgraced police officer's home whilst trying to figure out what to do next. Lots of phone calls that end badly feature here, from Kenzo calling Donna to inform him about Yuto's condition (and there is a brilliant scene with Vickers and Donna (two characters used as proxies by Kenzo and Yuto respectively to inveigle themselves into the gangland culture) hiding out in another part of the city that kind of does the whole Tarantino 'conversation ending with a bang' thing, and shows why Justin Long is not higher up in the cast list!), to Kenzo having a wrenching phone call with his wife Rei about the failing condition of their father (which feels like it contrasts against the burgeoning relationship with Sarah), and also the whole issue of the Police Inspector in Tokyo finding out from his UK equivalent that Kenzo has already found Yuto after that night's shootout, although it is left hanging in regard to just when he is going to call Kenzo on his bluff. In Tokyo itself everyone is trying to protect the injured Fukuhara in his hospital bed, or else there will be all out war.

There's also an interesting scene of Rodney 'inducting' Taki further into the pleasures of drugs and same sex relationships, whilst looking on and reminiscing over the boyfriend he betrayed!

Though the big twin threads building in this episode are when exactly the father in Tokyo is going to die (and unfortunately after that happens I think Kenzo revealing his has found Yuto to his mother by reciprocal text message might just be the thing to come back to haunt him), and when is Sarah's house going to get raided, either by the police looking for Kenzo and Yuto, or by her ex-boyfriend targeting her again (or both, working together. Especially now that the boyfriend has found out that they are staying at Sarah's 'safehouse' the scene is set for an almost beat for beat replaying of the previous situation, only without having to illegally plant evidence on the person they want to take down this time. It is almost as if Kenzo has unwittingly gifted them Sarah). After the big gangland shootouts, this one is very much about the domestic threads taking the fore.

There is also the sense that our main characters, having been comprehensively betrayed by everyone else in their lives (family, colleagues, police, yakuza) are going to have to do some extra judicial actions of their own, as in the big cliffhanger of this episode:
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where Yuto calls up Kenzo's wife Rei back in Tokyo to get her to steal his newborn son (and Fukuhara's grandson) away from Fukuhara's compound. Presumably this is what is going to lead to their family home being shot up in reprisal, as briefly shown all the way back in that teaser after the first episode

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