TV thoughts on Giri/Haji and Johnson bottling it…

If you’ve not watched the Anglo-Japanese drama Gir/Haji yet, you’re in for the treat of the year.

When you consider the fuss made of lesser dramas, Giri/Haji is astonishing and easily the most underrated drama of the year.

Served up in eight enjoyably complex parts, the final episode was shown last night on BBC2; it’s also been streaming on the i-Player since the first episode.

This is a story of many strands and more moods.

The main plot concerns two Japanese brothers, Kenzo (Takehiro Hira) and Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka), one a cop, the other a hitman for the Tokyo mob.

When Yuto is suspected of carrying out an execution in London, his big brother is sent looking for him. His official role is to bring him back; his fraternal role is to get mightily and fraternally pissed off, while also protecting his little brother.

It is a story of brotherly shove.

Some of the drama happens now, some in the past, yet the time-flipping is intriguing rather than irritating. Thank God but there is no clumsy Kodachrome palette to indicate the past. The Giri/Haji viewer is a grown-up who can cope.

As to those moods, this drama is brutal and tender, sombre and occasionally properly amusing; it’s sharp as a knife (many blades are put to unwholesome use) and yet as comforting as a hug.

There are many subplots, all swimming around or beneath each other, while managing never to get in the way.

Kenzo’s neglected wife copes with her father-in-law dying while his son is in London; and then with her spunky mother-in-law. The two women go in search of Yuto’s girlfriend (the daughter of a gangster) and her baby, launching a subplot worthy of its own series.

All that and gunfights in London and Tokyo, and too many wonderful performances to mention (but we can’t leave without giving the nod to Will Sharpe’s portrayal of Rodney, the cruising gay with a death-wish; or Aoi Okuyama as Kenzo’s daughter).

This series always looks astonishing, sounds lovely thanks to perfectly chosen music. In the final episode, writer Joe Barton pulls off a conclusion that is fully satisfying. It also contains, amid more fights and further mounting threat, a moment of astonishing beauty to steal your breath away.

Giri/Haji is a little slow to gather momentum, but as the story builds it turns into something remarkable.

Here is a wholly expected plot twist: Boris Johnson will not agree to be interviewed by Andrew Neil.

This news was passed on using that now disreputable method of swallowing what unnamed government sources say. The BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg (who still strikes me as mostly admirable) passed on the news in a tweet. This said: “Senior Conservative source claims public might not be interested in Johnson interview – ‘The public are fed up with interviews that are all about the interviewer and endless interruptions. The format is tired and broken and needs to change’.”

It is true that Andrew Neil likes to grandstand. But it is equally true that Boris Johnson’s handlers fear he won’t be able to hack 30 minutes alone with Neil.

This member of the public would love to have seen the cowardly Johnson being kippered by Neil.

He was happy to have a pathetic selfie with Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby on ITV’s This Morning. Or to be filmed today making Brexit doughnuts (honestly, this shit makes itself up).


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