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Tokyo Vice - What We Know So Far

HBO has become well-known for producing high quality, intense television series that are extremely popular. Some of HBO's past hits include fantasy shows like "Game of Thrones" and "True Blood," sci-fi shows like "Westworld" and "Avenue 5," and straightforward dramas like "Succession" and "Euphoria." But if you are the type of person who likes dramas or other shows based on true stories, then HBO, and specifically its streaming platform HBO Max, is a good place to go. 

Past television series of this genre include "Chernobyl," based on the nuclear disaster in the USSR in 1986, "The Deuce," about the legalization of the porn industry in the '70s in NYC, and of course, "Band of Brothers," the 2001 World War II miniseries about the "Easy" company of the United States Army. But there are more great drama series like this coming up, including one called "Tokyo Vice," about an American journalist who was stationed at a Japanese newspaper to work with the Tokyo Metropolitan Police to report on corruption and organized crime. Ansel Elgort, known for "Baby Driver," will portray the journalist in question, Jake Adelstein, who wrote a book about his experiences called "Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan."

Here's everything we know so far about the upcoming HBO drama, "Tokyo Vice." 

What is the release date for Tokyo Vice?

As for when to expect the release of "Tokyo Vice," it looks like HBO is putting the show on the fast track. While it's only recently that more of the main cast has been announced, the report from Variety states that the show will be released exclusively on HBO Max in the U.S. in "early 2022," while it will air on Wowow in Japan in "Spring 2022." It looks like "Tokyo Vice" has had a tumultuous journey to the screen, as it initially went into production in Japan in early 2020, before being paused due to the pandemic in March (Deadline). While it was then reported by Deadline that production resumed in late November 2020, the new casting update almost a year later indicates that the process has still been taking a while. Luckily, it looks like they are close to the finish line for "Tokyo Vice" for Season 1, and it probably won't be long before we get our first official sneak peek. 

Who is in the cast of Tokyo Vice?

Initially, Elgort was joined by Odessa Young, but she had to pull out due to scheduling conflicts and was replaced by Rachel Keller (via Deadline). Keller will play Samantha, "an American expat living in late 90s Tokyo," who has regular run-ins with the Yakuza while working as a hostess at an upscale club. Ella Rumpf is Polina, who works at the club with Samantha. Also leading the cast are Ken Watanabe ("Inception," "Godzilla") as a Tokyo police detective, Rinko Kikuchi ("Pacific Rim") as a Japanese journalist, as well as Hideaki Ito, Show Kasamatsu and Tomohisa Yamashita (via Variety). 

While Watanabe and Kikuchi were announced early on, the new Japanese actors added to the cast will also be series regulars. According to the press release, Ito will play Miyamoto, "a vice detective who is great at his job and knows it," Kasamatsu is Sato, a member of the Chihara-Kai crime family, and Yamashita is portraying a character named Akira, "a professional host who is not as honest as he seems."

What is Tokyo Vice about?

"Tokyo Vice" will be recounting Adelstein's experiences as a journalist at the Tokyo newspaper "Yomiuri Shimbun," for which he covered organized crime for 12 years. Adelstein was also the first foreigner to work there reporting on crime. Created and written by Tony Award-winning playwright J.T. Rogers, the team behind "Tokyo Vice" is basing the story on Adelstein's nonfiction book about his experiences. The show follows the reporter as he becomes involved with the Tokyo vice squad in order to get more direct information about the organized crime syndicates at play. 

But like with any crime drama, not everyone is who they say they are, and there are plenty of secrets for Adelstein to unearth. While organized crime is the reporter's focus, his burgeoning relationship with the vice squad allows him to also root out any corruption within the police force, though it's not an easy job. Over time, Adelstein finds a few key allies, as the people who really hold the power in Tokyo slowly reveal themselves.