Sketching an incisive portrait of how politics and the media are intertwined, Netflix’s Japanese original series The journalist is a story adapted to our time. The drama was adapted from the 2019 feature film of the same name, which in turn was based on a book by journalist Isoko Mochizuki. Directed by Michihito Fujii, the film won Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Actress at the Japan Academy Awards in 2020. Fujii returned to helm the Netflix series, which premiered on the platform on 13 January 2022.
The journalist stars Ryoko Yonekura as the fiercely determined journalist Anna Matsuda, who strives to expose the problems of modern Japanese society. Actor Go Ayano plays Shinichi Murakami, an aide to the First Lady, while director Fujii’s frequent collaborator Ryusei Yokohama stars as Ryo Kinoshita, who delivers newspapers but isn’t interested in reading them.
Fujii did not receive the original film draft until four months before production began, as the previous director had left the position. Sharing that he wasn’t too interested in politics, the project was a learning opportunity for Fujii. For four months he prepared by reading voraciously and talking to a wide range of people to catch up on political issues. After the success of the film and when Netflix approached Fujii to direct the reboot of the series of The journalisthe suggested including a character (Ryo) who shared a similar disinterest in politics, “I thought this story would be more relevant by adding the young man who is not interested in politics or social events.”
Fujii acknowledged the broad resonance of the themes of his 2022 drama and 2019 film. He specifically pointed to the problem of information overload that society faces every day, through sources from newspapers, broadcast and the Internet. “All claim to be ‘correct.’ It’s getting harder and harder to tell right from wrong,” Fujii said. cronyism allegations related to the Cherry Blossom Viewing Party and the educational institution Moritomo Gakuen – as direct inspirations for the series.
Fujii paid great attention to the look of the different characters in The journalist as a way of representing power and hierarchy. “Anna Matsuda, the reporter, positions herself as a character who moves forward with her eyes always looking up,” Fujii explained. On the other hand, the deeply conflicted bureaucrat Murakami has a propensity for looking down. “Ryo looks down in the first half of the series but started looking up when he decided to find out the truth,” he added.
On the public’s reaction to The journalist After the drama premiered on Netflix, Fujii candidly shared that although the series was warmly received in Japan, it didn’t gain as much traction internationally: “There’s been a lot of positive feedback in Japan. . Some thanked us for bringing to light scandals that must never be forgotten or ignored. I’m also grateful for the praise for the acting. However, [we received] not so much response from overseas, which made us realize that we need to work harder for future projects.