In Tokyo Vice, a sleek, noirish bildungsroman now streaming on Paramount+, a room full of reporters is being briefed on a stabbing death (there is, we learn, "no murder in Japan") by the local constabulary.
Details on the bloody case are scant, nothing beyond the official police report.
"That's all you get," the scribblers are told.
"Is that clear?"
"Yes!" the room replies.
No pernicious gotcha questions, no preening and posing by precocious cubs out to score in-house notoriety on the nightly news, just obedience.
While such slavish respect for authority isn't particularly good for journalism or the people it serves, it's a neat nod to the time and place under interrogation in Tokyo Vice, a period drama as fascinating as any Dickensian or Austenian adaptation.
As the title hints, Michael Mann, the American auteur who brought Miami Vice to the small and big screens, is involved here. He directs the eight-part series' first episode for showrunner, playwright JT Rogers, casting a gunmetal sheen over this engrossing creation based on the memoir of Jake Adelstein, an American who pulled off the extraordinary by working the police beat for the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper in the '90s.
It's towards the end of that decade (surely the last of the truly great decades?) we find ourselves following Ansel Elgort's version of Adelstein and his dogged quest to expose the workings of the yakuza crime syndicate in the series' titular city.
Mann is no stranger to method actors. Famously and gloriously, he brought two of the best - Robert De Niro and Al Pacino - together for a cuppa and chat in 1995's Heat and presided over Daniel Day-Lewis' transformation from pasty Irish thesp to wood-carved forest Fabio in 1993's The Last of the Mohicans.
In Tokyo Vice, Elgort (Baby Driver, West Side Story) certainly sits among these professionals in terms of sheer devotion to character. He must - and does - convince us his command of spoken and written Japanese is sufficiently sophisticated for recruiters to stick their necks out and hire him as the first Westerner to be granted a byline on a revered Japanese publication with a circulation of 12 million people.
But it's not as if Jake gets it easy. He's taunted as "gaijin" (foreigner) by his wary newsroom superiors and his insubordinate straying from strict who-what-when-why formula means his copy is binned well before getting within sniffing distance of a sub-editor but, as far as the viewer is concerned, there's no doubting his inchoate talent.
This is where Tokyo Vice could veer into troubling territory; yet another tale of a fish-out-of-water Westerner standing out as more interesting, more worthy, more valuable, than those architects of the culture to which our protagonist has been drawn, but this route is quickly blocked by the outstanding performances of the series' Japanese cast.
While we may be certainly rooting for Jake, who is studious and serious, it's the strong characters around him who ensure he never assumes any cultural superiority. In fact, he's always a little out of his depth, which makes his successes all the more noteworthy. In many ways, Jake's just a lanky, 20-something version of a Japanese toddler from Old Enough, sent down to the shops to get some noodles for dad's dinner.
Meanwhile, watching a (streamed) show about journalism in the period just before the internet took off (and over) triggers spasms of nostalgia and horror.
It's hard to remember how anyone got anything done back then without the aid of a mobile phone. Indeed, gumshoe Jake seems to ply the majority of his trade with a lead pencil, although he is aided by such nifty gadgets as a beeper and tape recorder. Similarly, Jake's newsroom, heaving with neckties and paper, so much paper, feels like one massive filing cabinet.
To this end, Tokyo itself, that clever town of technology, comes across as almost quaint in this time before everything went online. It's an alternative, neon universe of karaoke and noodle bars, the same, but different; old, but still new, analogue on the precipice of digital.
Like the Miami in Miami Vice or the Los Angeles in Heat, the Tokyo of Tokyo Vice is as much a star of the show as its leading man and the bonus in this case is we get to be tourists of period as well as place.
Pathetic as it is, some of us really do miss the '90s.
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