Why watch Netflix’s Debt / Shame series

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Photo: Debt / Shame series, Netflix.

2019 was a generous year for fans of British series. The sensational “The End of the World”, “Rubbish” and “Crown” have released new seasons, against which some worthy but little-known projects have gone unnoticed. Among them are “Debt / Shame”, or “Giri / Haji” – a breakthrough for British television detective from directors Julian Farino (TV series “Office”, “Patients”, “Brooklyn 9-9”) and Ben Chessel (TV series “Great”). “Dance Academy”, “On the verge”). The project was enthusiastically received in the UK, but outside the country has not found recognition from viewers.

What is a backlog?

This is the development of a complete list of tasks to be performed – either for the product as a whole, or for a certain time (sprint). Every week, our lists of TV series to watch are only replenished, and more and more interesting shows are coming out. In the new section, the authors and editors of “Kanobu” once a week advise one series that you could miss (or did not know about it at all) because of the louder releases. We add all projects of this heading in a special selection.

Debt / Shame (Giri / Haji)

Release year: 2019

Genre: drama, crime, detective, thriller

Time to watch: 8 episodes – 8 hours

Where to look: Netflix


Tokyo detective Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) can’t find common ground with his 16-year-old daughter Taki (Aoi Okuyama), but at the same time tries to save a crumbling marriage and is suffering from a serious illness of his father.

But the city’s Yakuza clans are at war. Presumably, the culprit of the disagreement was Kenzo’s younger brother – Utah. The guy killed with a katana the nephew of one of the bosses of the Yakuza in London, arranged his own death and hid with a ceremonial blade in a maze of streets of an unknown British city.

Only the sword belonged to another major boss of the Japanese mafia. The Tokyo Yakuza do not want to go into the details of who actually stole the blade and committed the murder, so they are going to take revenge on the alleged perpetrator and arrange bloodshed. Trying to avoid an impending war and maintain a truce, Tokyo police send Kenzo to London. The detective must find Utah and bring him home to sue.

What will be remembered

The confusing plot of the series about the Japanese mafia at first resembles a typical police drama: a mysterious murder in London, which leads to a shootout in Tokyo; unsuccessful attempts by police to interview eyewitnesses and find the culprits…

It seems that the story comes to a standstill, but then the creators begin to surprise the viewer with visual experiments. First there is a black and white flashback, then an animated episode in the spirit of “Kill Bill” with a bloody scene in a pub in London.


The bold ideas of the creators make the viewer enthusiastically wonder what other trump cards are tucked in their sleeve. The series ceases to seem like another action drama about the police and strikes with exciting plot twists. One of the main advantages of the show is its ability to mix genres. In eight episodes, the creators managed to harmoniously combine detective, crime thriller, black comedy, family drama and road movie. In addition, half of the dialogues are spoken in Japanese, which adds to the show’s atmosphere and charm in the style of genre films from the lives of yakuza and samurai.

Filming the series started in London in August 2018, and continued in Hastings in March 2019. There were also some episodes filmed in Tokyo.

Takehiro Hira, who played Detective Kenzo Mori, noted Difficulties that arose during the work on the series related to the bilingual script: “We had some difficulties with the translation… Small nuances in the text did not match, or were not translated exactly. It was a challenge for us, but we liked it. “


The genre of Solyanka, for which Asian cinema is famous, seems unusual for a British project. The classic story of a daughter rebelling against her father, who is in danger, alternates with the sudden death of characters who live to the end in typical TV series. And on the right of denouement – a beautiful scene in slow-mo with complex choreography, where with the help of dance the characters reveal their feelings. The episode looks very emotional, unusual and insightful.

The title of the series “Giri / Haji”, which can be translated from Japanese as “Debt / Shame”, reveals two important motives in the story – honor and guilt. The plot, tied to the story of his brother’s salvation, allows us to see how random events unite completely different people, give them a chance to realize the mistakes of the past and pay for their transgressions. With the help of good screenwriting and directing, the creators of the series tried to rethink the concepts of old morality in the modern world. They succeeded: the series ends with an unexpected happy ending and leaves a feeling of completeness after watching. The duty is fulfilled, guilt is redeemed, justice is restored.

What does it look like

  • “On duty” (TV series 2012-2021)
  • “London Spy” (mini-series 2015)
  • “Participant” (film, 2004)

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