Stream It Or Skip It: 'The Journalist' On Netflix, A Japanese Thriller About A Reporter Investigating A Government Corruption Scandal – Decider

January 14, 2022

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Thrillers about investigations into government corruption generally don’t get too deep into the details about the corruption itself. Let’s face it: Sweetheart land deals and payoffs to contractors don’t exactly get the pulse racing. It’s the cover-ups, the lengths that officials will go to to keep their jobs, and the investigation of those officials that makes for a good thriller. Netflix’s new series The Journalist is about a reporter investigating a corruption case that reaches to the highest levels of the Japanese government.
Opening Shot: An overview of Tokyo, including the building where the Diet, the Japanese parliament, meets.
The Gist: Anna Matsuda (Ryoko Yonekura), a reporter for the Touto News, is seen peppering a representative of the prime minister with questions about various corruption scandals. Law enforcement. Shinichi Murakami (Go Ayano), assistant to the First Lady, is in the Finance General’s office, showing him a sweet deal for land that where the First Lady plans on opening something called the Eishin Academy. He says it’s the PM’s wish to have the office approve that deduction. Meanwhile, a young man named Ryo Kinoshita (Ryusei Yokohama) delivers the newspaper, even though he admits to his co-workers that the doesn’t read it.
When word of the land deal and winning construction bid leak out, Matsuda is reassigned from the dead-end corruption story she was pursuing to the land deal story. She pursues Murakami to ask him if he knows anything about it and he tells her he can’t talk. In the meantime, the PM is telling parliament that he has no involvement in the deal. Murakami’s boss tells him to put a muzzle on everyone involved.
In Nagoya, Kazuya Suzuki (Hidetaka Yoshioka) starts working at the local finance bureau. His transfer is unusual, as it takes place earlier in the year than what is usually allowed. He comes home to his wife Mayumi (Shinobu Terajima), but then has to go immediately back. He’s called in by his boss to attend a top secret meeting with the Finance General, who is under orders to make the paperwork on the Eishin Aademy deal to match the PM’s insistence that he or his family are not involved.
Suzuki can’t imagine having to falsify records like this, but his boss orders him to, saying he’ll take full responsibility if it’s discovered. In the meantime, Murakami is taken off of the First Lady’s detail and reassigned to the Cabinet Intelligence Office.
What Shows Will It Remind You Of? The Journalist has Designated Survivortype vibes to it, where everyone seems to be out to get everyone else. Except here, even the head of state is corrupt. There was also a 2019 film of the same name, on which this series is based.
Our Take: In order to really enjoy The Journalist, you have to be into government corruption scandals and their investigations, which can sometimes be a bit dry and pedantic. You’ve got the dogged reporter who’s made it her life’s mission to root out this corruption, and then you have the scowling faces of the various grey-suited bureaucrats who are trying to figure out how not to get caught. The details of the scandal seem less than important compared to the actions everyone takes to either cover things up or reveal the truth.
Because, in reality, the land buy for the First Lady’s school building isn’t all that exciting, and sussing out the players involved gets a bit confusing. There’s also the matter of the other corruption case that Matsuda is investigating, that is seemingly at a dead end but has definite connections into this current scandal and a company that connects back to Ryo Kinoshita, the young college student that’s just starting to get into the news.
How fast this will develop and connect everyone is the key to whether this political thriller is going to work for viewers or not. There is a reason why Matsuda is as driven and as thick-skinned as she is, and we see a glimpse of it in the last scene; two younger reporters discuss how she used to be much thinner-skinned earlier in her career. But we’re going to need to see more of these worlds colliding, and Matsuda getting somewhere with her investigation, to make things more interesting than some improper land deal.
Sex and Skin: None.
Parting Shot: As Suzuki and the rest of the local finance staff falsify documents about the land deal, Matsuda goes to the hospital and sees her husband being treated for a seizure.
Sleeper Star: Shinobu Terajima, as Mayumi Suzuki, will likely get sucked into the corruption case when her guilt-ridden husband admits his role to her. She’s the wildcard here, and we hope she gets some good scenes.
Most Pilot-y Line: None we could find.
Our Call: STREAM IT. We’re giving a cautious recommendation to The Journalist because we think writer Michihito Fujii has established the bones of a good story. But it needs to avoid getting bogged down in the details of the corruption and just get down to the business of examining everyone’s motivations in the scandal.
Will you stream or skip the Japanese thriller #TheJournalist on @netflix? #SIOSI
— Decider (@decider) January 13, 2022

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and tech, but he doesn’t kid himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Slate, Salon,,, Fast Company and elsewhere.
Stream The Journalist On Netflix
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