The shadowy yakuza are a uniquely Japanese take on the gangster, known to follow strict codes of conduct and enact harsh punishments on members that step out of line. Though their numbers in the real world have been at a steady decline since their peak in the 1960's, the presence of yakuza in western media has been growing, showcasing an underrepresented side of organized crime in yakuza TV shows.
This list of shows about yakuza is ranked from the best to the worst, based on votes from the Ranker community. Thanks to you, we can find the absolute best TV shows about these deeply ritualistic criminals. On this list, you will find a mixture of English and Japanese language shows, revealing perceptions of this intriguing organization both from inside their homeland and overseas. One of the newest additions to this group of shows is Tokyo Vice, a show starring Ansel Elgort as an American journalist who begins to explore the world of yakuza. Other good shows about yakuza include Daredevil and The Man in the High Castle.
What are television's best shows about yakuza? Vote up the yakuza TV shows you think are the best and see where your favorite shows rank.
Taken under the wing of a veteran detective in the vice squad, American journalist Jake Adelstein starts to explore the dark and dangerous world of the Japanese yakuza. Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe star in this gritty shot-on-location television series. Tokyo Vice has received acclaim for its immersive dive into the city of Tokyo, lush neo-noir visuals, and deliberate pacing.
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Translated as "Duty/Shame", this British series centers on a Tokyo detective traveling to London to find his previously assumed dead brother, who has been accused of murdering the nephew of a Yakuza member. The ensemble cast includes Takehiro Hira, Kelly Macdonald, Yōsuke Kubozuka, Will Sharpe, Masahiro Motoki, Justin Long, Anna Sawai, and Charlie Creed-Miles. The series, with dialogue in both English and Japanese, received acclaim for its smart plot and sharp humor.
In a world where consciousness can be transferred to different bodies, Takeshi Kovacs, a former soldier turned investigator, is released from prison in order to solve a murder. Joel Kinnaman and Anthony Mackie play Kovacs in season one and two respectively. Critics praised the show's ambitious nature, unabashed pulpiness, and well-choreographed fight scenes.
Ikebukuro West Gate Park
Twenty-one-year-old Makoto vows to find his friend's killer and begins to explore the underbelly of Ikebukuro, Japan. Notable among the cast are Tokio lead singer Tomoya Nagase and film star Ken Watanabe. The success of the series was based on its departure from traditional Japanese programming, choosing to embrace darker themes including gang warfare, drug abuse, and the Yakuza. The show later inspired a manga adaptation.
In the Shinjuku district of Tokyo, a mysterious scarred chef known only as “Master" runs a late-night diner that attracts patrons from all walks of life. Kaoru Kobayashi plays the restaurant owner while the rest of the cast revolves in this anthology series. Midnight Diner has drawn viewers for its ability to find charm in the mundane and its success has spawned Korean and Chinese adaptations.
2010's Hawaii Five-0 reboots the original 1986 series about a special police major crimes task force operating at the behest of the governor of Hawaii. The cast, including Alex O'Loughlin, Scott Caan, Daniel Dae Kim, Grace Park, and Taryn Manning, expanded over the years due to its long tenure. Critics praised the series for charming audiences with a smart script, high production value, and a touch of nostalgia.