Sometimes They Disappear
At the start of episode 7 of Tokyo Vice, we see Polina being picked up in a limousine and taken somewhere. The focus then switches to a floating body in the river: the mechanic from the last episode. A week after the airport fiasco, his body turns up.
Hiroto makes an instant connection and takes it to his boss. He needs his help setting up a trap to find the mole who works for Tozawa. Hiroto is still ignoring Jake’s overtures. Ishida warns his men not to break the peace accord signed with Tozawa.
Eimi attends a press briefing from the police. They have caught the murderer of a young girl, Kaori Shoda. Miyamoto becomes a hero for catching Shoda’s killer. Eimi senses a larger conspiracy at play here and investigates further. Miyamoto gets news of Hiroto’s preparations of arresting Tozawa. He is told that Hiroto has enough evidence to nail him. Samantha is getting scared for Polina. She requests Sato to look into the matter.
Jake is sent by Eimi to confirm her story on the Shoda case. On the way, he meets a friend from Missouri, Dave Fisch. They have a chat and plan to meet later in the night. Miyamoto probes into Hiroto’s investigation. He tries to look at the evidence he has but is rebuffed. Hiroto says it is locked up in the basement and won’t be disclosed unless Tozawa is arrested. A new tangent in the story is when we get a look into Sato’s personal life.
He gets a phone call from his brother saying that their father has suffered a heart attack. He visits but his mother kicks him out. The family is shameful of Sato’s association with the Yakuza. Meanwhile, Tozawa gets ready for his birthday celebrations. He is once again seen taking injections for his condition. At the celebrations, Miyamoto pays him a visit. He updates him about Hiroto’s ongoing arrest plans. Tozawa instructs him to find out the details and get back to him, threatening, if he does otherwise, to expose him.
Jake takes out Dave to a nightclub. There he spots Misaki without the bodyguards. They dance together and leave for a restaurant. Sato and Samantha reach Akira’s workplace. He beats him and extracts the information on Polina’s whereabouts. Akira discloses that Pol’s debt was unmanageable. To repay it, she has been sent to a place called Koshina. Samantha presses Sato to get more information from the manager of the establishment. He sees Tozawa’s men in the club and decides to leave it before things take a turn for the worse.
He fights with Samantha and they accuse each other of not doing enough. While Misaki is busy having dinner with Jake, Tozawa’s men rush to bring her in. Tozawa collapsed at his birthday celebrations, probably because of the effects of the medicine wearing off. Jake scans the morning paper for Eimi’s story on Shoda. He finds it on the second last page. He goes to Eimi’s home and they share frustrations over the paper’s priorities.
In the final sequence of the episode, Samantha goes to Jake’s apartment for help with Polina. Miyamoto, on Tozawa’s behest, breaks into the locker room in the basement, only to find an empty box with “Case Files” written over it. He discovers a camera watching him and Hiroto watching the recording, his trap being a success.
The Episode Review
‘Tokyo Vice’ has gradually become more than just a show about an American reporter caught in between a burning Yakuza clan war. It is now showing the true measure of Adelsetien’s book about Tokyo and its viciousness. We have now steadily graduated to seeing on screen a stark picture of the town and its ways that do not adhere to virtues. The plot took a more relaxed turn in the episode. The only major development was the confirmation of Hiroto’s suspicions about a mole on the force. His lack of expression suggests he saw Miyamoto’s real face a long time ago.
Old man Ishida’s wisdom dropped another timeless quote. “In this world, once you are with us, you are always with us”. This theme seems to be playing out quite viscerally in ‘Tokyo Vice’s universe. It is true for almost all characters. The choices that brought them to the door of the city’s criminal underbelly were their own to make. Now is the time to own up to them because the storm that awaits them will not be as sympathetic.
“Sometimes they Disappear” is an observant assimilation of how things worked in Japan in the ’90s. Each city has its tradition of how business is done. We now see it as a motif – reporters taking out policemen on lunches and dinners to buy information; the nexus between organized crime and law enforcement. How they would in turn cooperate with the Yakuza, knowing they cannot root them out of the town. Adjusting to one’s own realities is important. And men like Hiroto do just that, while men like Miyamoto become pawns to the fancies of the Yakuza.
A deeper, more pressing truth about gender biases within Japanese institutions and systems is also brought out. These are the real culprit for Shoda’s death. Countless more suffered a similar fate. The inaction and indifference are replicated in the print world also. Eimi defending the indefensible ethics of journalism uncovered the larger hypocrisy of the town.
‘Tokyo Vice’ has such an amazing way of leveling things. In Tokyo’s nightlife circus, no one is above anyone. They’re all on the same footing; equally corrupt. Taking a moral high ground is not possible. These greyish undertones in the characters match ‘Tokyo Vice’s somber mood and setting. It accentuates the impact of the world that it shows us. Amongst the changing character arcs, Hiroto’s has remained intact. If not the same, it has gotten even more ironclad as the only conscious voice drowning in the changing mechanics of the city. When others have compromised their morals, Hiroto has remained stout. The grand old man stands tall in face of skewed priorities.
Jake’s reluctance and despair in seeing remnants of his old life were shocking. It goes on to showcase that even he is not reliable to trust. When calling Hiroto’s home, he was not disappointed because he couldn’t get to him. He was disappointed because he wasn’t working and had no excuse to avoid meeting his friend. Jake is in denial and internally traumatized with guilt over his family and his lack of attention. The broken characters provide a window into the soulless spirit of the city. A chilling turn of events awaits us.