Japanese TV ‘Elpis’ – The Hollywood Reporter
Japan is still waiting for its squid game.
Despite having more than twice the population and enjoying a much larger economy than its Asian neighbor, South Korea, the Japanese television industry has yet to produce a high-end television series that exceeds widely its borders. As Japanese cinema continues to be admired – see Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s Oscar success drive my car – few small-screen shows come off the island.
“We’re a pretty big country, economically, and we have a relatively large domestic market, so most producers don’t need to go outside the country,” says Ayumi Sano, producer of local hits such as my dear exes and Quartettalking to The Hollywood Reporter through a translator. “The consequence is that most Japanese shows are only made with the local audience in mind.”
To some extent, that goes for Sano’s latest drama, Elpis. The investigative crime thriller tackles two very Japanese subjects: the experiences of female reporters in Japan’s male-dominated newsrooms and a series of real-life false conviction scandals that have rocked the country. The plot, inspired by real events, follows Ena Asakawa (Masami Nagasawa), a television journalist who investigates a nationwide conspiracy involving police officers forcing confessions to close open murder cases.
“I wanted to show Japanese audiences this very real problem of forced confessions, this dark side of our justice system,” Sano says, “and also show female characters like this, who started to push back. Hopefully this will allow Japanese women to do the same.
But the event series, which airs Monday, October 24 on Kansai TV in Japan, has global ambitions. from Nagasawa Elpis co-star is drive my car Toko Miura, and the series had its world premiere at MIPCOM International TV Market last week, the first Japanese show to do so.
“It’s a real honor for us to be here in Cannes,” says Miura. “I hope it will catch the attention of an audience outside of Japan.”
“We have very high quality dramas in Japan that should travel, but for now the attention [from Asia] is all about Korean shows,” says Sano. “Hopefully we can change that.”