Episode 1 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 3/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Journalist is a very, very good show. This Japanese drama is hard hitting, raw, authentic and absolutely on-the-money. With six self-contained episodes and a consistent hardball approach, The Journalist starts off strongly and maintains that effort right the way through to its suitably ambiguous and hopeful ending.
The story here pulls absolutely no punches and dives in deep to the world of corrupt politics. Instead of Downing Street parties or bungled rules around a certain viral outbreak, the attention here falls squarely on Japan.
Specifically, this series centers on the shocking fact that Japan is 72nd on the press freedom list, and what that entails for those inside the country.
The scandal in question that explodes and encapsulates the full season revolves around the Prime Minister. Fraud involving a man named Toyoda remains in the periphery of this story, while the First Lady’s dealings with a particular lot of land is the main drive here.
Specifically, the crux of the issue stems from her selling this plot to Eishin Academy in a very shady under-the-table deal.
As the officials begin to scramble and cover this up, several rebels fight back against this corrupt system and try to find light in a seemingly never-ending tunnel of darkness. But that’s easier said than done when the very system you’re trying to fight rises up against you like a giant tidal wave.
The bright spark of hope stems from a plucky journalist called Matsuda. She has her own personal reasons for being involved in this case, linking back to her brother, Kohei.
Joining her in this crusade is a worker at the financial bureau called Suzuki and a government official that starts to question his work, Murakami. Most of the series centers on these characters, with a particularly shocking moment in episode 2 turning the entire investigation upside down.
If that wasn’t enough, the show throws seemingly impossible obstacles at our characters to try and navigate, leaving a nail-biting story that’ll keep you gripped right to the very end.
Of course, you do have to pay attention through this one and there are a fair few financial and political terms thrown up that may leave some scrambling to work out exactly what the heck is going on.
Stick with this one though because by the end of the second episode everything starts to click into place. The show is all the stronger for it too and there’s some beautiful editing, combined with a really fitting soundtrack and excellent production value, at least as far as Japanese dramas go anyway.
The slick camera work really extends out to the editing too, and there are some really nice quick cuts between our different characters, who all form a collective whole to show this story from every possible side.
Ultimately though, The Journalist is a smartly paced, well-written, political pressure cooker, with enough tension, drama and thrills to keep you watching until the very end. This is one of Netflix’s best originals for quite some time and an absolute must-watch.
Verdict - 8.5/10