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Friday, 18 October 2019

REVIEW: Giri/Haji is ambitious but ultimately too bonkers.

From its virtually silent opening sequence where someone is stabbed in London and then someone is shot in a brutal drive-by shooting in Japan, it's clear the BBC's new drama Giri/Haji (Duty/Shame) is something different. Set in both in Japan and the UK, the noir crime drama has a look and feel not often seen on British television.


It's the story of detective  Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) who is sent to London in search of his younger brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka) – a low-level mobster, who Mori believes is dead, but who's DNA has been found at the British crime scene. On one hand, Mori is no different to most TV cops. He's overworked, haunted and with a family who need his attention. His inlaws live with him, his teenage daughter is being expelled from school and he's got a murky past that we are given snippets of. Perhaps it's down to the performance from Japanese actor Takahiro Hira or the characterisation from writer Joe Barton, but I instantly felt connected to our lead. He walks around as if he's stuck in a mist only he can see. Unfortunately, the story dictates that Mori must leave his home turf and traipse across London in search of his brother and, even more, unfortunately, this is where my interest began to wane. 

The British characters that Mori encounters are so dull and feel paper-thin. Whilst on the hunt for his long lost brother, he meets with Met officer DC Sarah Weitzmann (Kelly Macdonald) and he happens to bump into half-Japanese rent boy Rodney (Will Sharpe) whilst drinking in a pub. The two characters will prove integral to the story as we go on, but neither are very interesting. MacDonald is normally a safe pair of hands but she's given very little to work with here. Sharpe's performance as Rodney is brash and in your face, but ultimately ended up irritating rather than intriguing me.   

The police that make up Weitzmann's team are perhaps the worst thing about the show. All of them feel cliched and ridiculous. By the time I reached the end of the episode, I felt as world-weary as Mori. I felt conflicted. There are flashes of something new and even exciting here, but outside of our lead character, the world is populated by really irritating people and cliches a plenty. Ultimately, it feels like a missed opportunity. It looks stunning, the atmosphere sucks in, it iswhen any British character opens their mouth that the show loses me.

Giri/Haji Continues Thursday at 9.00pm and all is on the BBC iPlayer.

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