Excellent Photography, Great Story: Tokyo Trial on Netflix [review]

Tokyo Trial on netflix Tokyo Trial review

If you love history and you’re all about great production values and killer photography, reviewer Dennis D. McDonald says”Tokyo Trial,” a four-part Netflix series, is for you. [review]

aNewDomaindennis d. mcdonald — Following World War II, the Allied victors convened a special tribunal of international judges in Tokyo to try surviving leaders of Japan for war crimes.

In Europe, the Nuremberg trials in Germany provided a model for judging. Now it was Japan’s turn to face retribution for its actions in China and the Pacific.

I don’t know how accurate all this is but can say that Rob W. King’s Tokyo Trial, a four-part Netflix series, is a thoughtful exploration of the legal and to some extent moral issues involved in adapting existing laws to address unthinkable atrocities.

Production details and photography are excellent and include the skillful interpolation of black and white documentary footage.

Also excellent is the recreation of the mundane details of office work including manual typewriters, file folders, and omnipresent cigarette smoke.

The politics of the day are not sidestepped. These include references to the evils of colonialism, the ongoing Chinese civil war, and the obvious fact it is the victors, embodied by General Douglas MacArthur’s oversight, who are doing the judging.

The main focus of the narrative throughout the series is on two issues:

  1. If we accept that warfare can be waged by “civilized” countries, how do we draw the line between what is acceptable and what is not acceptable?
  2. How do we assign punishment to those responsible?

There’s a lot of talking in this series. That’s appropriate. Dramatic human details are secondary to exploring the issues.

Those looking for courtroom histrionics or even modest amounts of action will be disappointed with the Tokyo Trial series..

But if you are interested in history and can accept the ironies of judgment and retribution being discussed in mainly legal terms, this one’s for you.

For aNewDomain, I’m Dennis D. McDonald

Here’s Netflix’ Tokyo Trial trailer.

An earlier version of this Tokyo Trial review ran on Dennis D. McDonald’s DDMCD site. Read it here. -Ed

About the author

Dennis D McDonald

Dennis D. McDonald is an independent consultant based in Alexandria Virginia. His interests include project, program, and data management; market assessment, digital strategy, and program planning; change and content management; social media; and technology adoption. Clients have included the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, National Academy of Engineering, the World Bank, University Research Co., Catalyst Rx, the National Library of Medicine and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.