Book vs TV: Series Tokyo Vice

Book vs Adaptation Tokyo Vice

I hope everyone is enjoying their weekend! This book vs movie/show review is going to be different than the other ones I did in the past. This review will be different since it is TV series based on a true story. Instead of saying what worked and what didn’t work I will put Fact or Fiction since its comparing what’s true and what’s not.


Fact or Fiction?  

The Book vs. Episode 1: The Test

In the first episode of the first season of Tokyo Vice it shows Jake and Katagiri getting them ready to meet some of the men in Tozowa’s yakuza group. They have bullet proof vests on. The yakuza enforcer threatens Jake telling him to erase the story or they’ll erase him. I don’t basically threatening his life. Jake cleverly asks if he could smoke while considering his offer.  If Jake said one wrong thing who knows what would have happened. We then flashback to two years before in 1999 when Jake had moved to Tokyo getting used to life in Japan and getting accustomed to the culture. Also in this episode Jake takes the qualifying test to get himself the job at the Japanese newspaper The Meicho. He thinks he’s finished the test till he turns the test over and sees there were answers he didn’t get. Regardless Jake’s score was very high and he got the job anyway, he impressed his future Japanese employers very much. They also asked if Jewish people ate sushi and if Jake could work on the Sabbath. At one point in the episode Jake witnesses a man burning himself alive and the reason being is the man owed money to a loan company controlled by the Yakuza.



The Yakuza meeting scene in the show stayed very close to Jake Adelstien’s account in the book. The only detail they left out was at this point Adelstien was already a husband and a father because the yakuza enforcer threatened to kill Jakes wife and children and then killing him if he didn’t stop the story on them. The scene with Jake and the qualifying exam was also correct. The people hiring him also asked those questions about sushi and the Sabbath and his Judaism. Jake did write about how he witnessed a man burning himself alive. While they did get it that Jake moved to Tokyo in the 90s in the show he moved there in the late 90s and in his real life account he was talking about how he moved there in the early 90s. Also The Meicho in the show is actually the Yomiuri paper.


The Book vs. Episode 4: I Want It That Way

This episode takes place shortly after some suspicious men kidnap Jake from the batting cage with his friends from the paper. Jake doesn’t know where he is going but he keeps his cool and shows no fear. He is taken to Ishida the head of the Chiara-Kai Yakuza group. Ishida asks Jake to find a mole in his group. The reason for this is because the police won’t drink his green tea. If anyone in his crime faction suspect Ishida is tipping off the police they would kill him. Jake makes it clear he will not take favors from him and if he would get information on other Yakuza groups he didn’t want any strings attached. Once you take favors from groups like the Yakuza it’s hard to get out of. After Jake does this Ishida does offer Jake information, money and women. Being the honorable man Jake is he refuses the money and the women.


Somewhat Fact Somewhat Fiction

Jake was never kidnapped by the Yakuza from a batting cage. What is true is baseball is a huge sport in Japan as well as here hence the batting cage in the show. What is true is this Yakuza boss did ask for Jake’s help and gave him information on how the crime worked in the Yakuza groups. This yakuza boss of course claims he’s not a thug like his rival. Of course every bad guy claims they aren’t as bad as their enemy is. Typical. It is true that there was a mole spreading the rumor that the Yakuza boss was tipping off the police. The Yakuza boss and the mole had been at odds with each other. The mole wanted to sell speed and take the yakuza into the future pretty much just like in the show. The Yakuza boss offering Jake the reward of information, money and women actually happened. The Yakuza boss then asks if he’s sure he didn’t need the p word unless Jake was into boys. Jake obviously tells him he is not.


Fact or Fiction Hostess and Host Clubs

In the show we meet some people in these sleazy hostess and host clubs. In hostess clubs women Japanese and abroad would dress up and keep men entertained. They would keep men company at their tables and pour their drinks and have flirtatious conversations. They would get paid money without doing any sexual favors. Though you know there are some sleazy men who would try to get sex from them. In the host clubs men would be the ones serving the women. While the characters of Samantha, Polina and Akira aren’t based off of any one person Jake knew in real life, they are based off of people who may or may not exist.


Fact or Fiction The Book vs The Show Especially Episode 8 Yoshino

In the show Tozowa is suffering with an ailment. A doctor is giving him a shot. In episode 3 or 4 the doctor asks if Tozowa is having trouble performing in the bedroom and of course tells him not to drink or smoke. It is hinted that he has either pancreatic cancer or liver cancer. At the end of episode 8, Tozowa is heading on his private plane. He doesn’t tell his mistress Misaki, where he is going but it had to do with his health. Tozowa also threatens Misaki. In my mind I’m thinking, “Misaki if I were you I would run for the hills.”


Fact & Things Implied  

While the show isn’t specific of what kind of health issues Tozowa has it is implied that he has cancer especially when the doctor whispers to his mistress to not let him drink or smoke. In real life Goto did indeed have liver cancer. Goto made a deal with the FBI that they would allow him in the United States to get a liver transplant and in exchange for this Goto would give the FBI information about Yakuza members and their activities in the United States. Goto had gotten his liver transplant but only gave a fraction of the information he promised to the FBI and then that was that. I’m sure in season 2 when we know for sure that he is boarding a plane for America. This could give Misaki a chance to get out of his reach and maybe seek protection with Jake and Katagiri. Its wishful thinking on my part since I like the idea of Jake and Misaki as a couple in the show, though I do know in real life his wife’s name is Sunao with no connections to Yakuza.


Characters in the show vs Actual people or many people

Katagiri’s name in real life was Sekiguchi and it is true that Sekiguchi was like a father figure to Jake.

While the show mentions Jake had one sister in the show, in the book Jake mentions he had two sisters. I don’t understand why the show left that part out.  I understand it’s not a documentary but there are some details that are paramount that you should get right.

 Emi Muryama, Miyamoto, Trendy and Tin Tin are not based on any one person Jake knew but on perhaps many people.

 Ishida’s name in real life is Kaneko the one wanting Jake to find out the mole within the group.

 Tozowa is actually Tadamasa Goto the Yakuza boss who made  a deal with the FBI in order to go to America to get his liver transplant.



The show I think did a good job of following what it could. I also like how the show and the book make special efforts to protect the people who were involved. While it can get annoying when too much is changed some changes have to be made either to protect certain people or to make something a tad more interesting. Now there is a lot that the show hasn’t covered which is the Lucie Blackman case, the reason why Goto/Tozowa is boarding the plane and the other crimes outside of the Yakuza. Though there’s a strong chance this show will get renewed due to its popularity and the fact there’s more to cover, not to mention Jake has a new book being published next year called “Tokyo Private Eye,” which I can’t wait to read.