Amazon Prime’s Tokyo Girl: Thought-Provoking and Raw Social Commentary

(Source – Amazon Prime)

Tokyo Girl is one of Amazon Prime’s hidden gems of 2018. The story follows Aya Saito (played by Asami Mizukawa), a young girl living in a small country town known as Akita. At the age of 23, Aya moves to Tokyo city. Fascinated by the wealth, romance and lifestyle of rich Tokyo women, it is her dream to live a life that people envy. This series will give you an insight into some of the experiences of Japanese women. You won’t regret giving Tokyo Girl a try.

Constantly we are bombarded with images of “perfection”. We envy those who are passionate about what they do. We envy those who are seen as desirable and attractive to many in “Instagram perfect” relationships. Anyone with dreams and ambition, striving to make a name for themselves can relate to the insecurities felt by the main cast.

Aya is constantly aware of the status, wealth and power of those around her. We often hear the saying, “It’s Not What You Know. It’s Who You Know”. Unlike her top tier university and Tokyo born counterparts, Aya’s country background is a barrier to financial, career and relationship success. This highlights an interesting conversation around country and urban life, and whether or not true happiness is achievable in fast and competitive cities.

It is this kind of social commentary, which is relatable to working people all over the world, but more specifically working women who are expected to be successful not only in the workplace, but in romantic relationships with the pressure to start a family of their own.

Aya and the women around her are continuously seen as possessions and commodities. A “marriable woman” is defined solely by her ability to please the man. She has no soul or ambitions of her own. In order to climb the social ladder, both men and women bend over backwards to be accepted. It is hard to ignore the role that societal understandings of gender play in what is seen as “right” and “wrong” behaviour in the world of Tokyo Girl.

Japan is absolutely beautiful. The locations explored throughout this series, whether in the city or countryside invite the audience to delight in the nature, food and fashion of Japan. The use of the breaking “the fourth wall” technique allows characters to speak directly to the audience, whether they are an aspiring idol temporarily working at a strip club or a young fashion magazine Office Administrator, feeling marginalised in her position. By allowing the characters to speak for themselves, the show cleverly comments on the difficulties Japanese people experience pursuing their dreams.

This technique allows the creators to provide a platform for voices which are often overlooked, but also encourage the audience to look beyond the surface and live a life of true happiness.

Tokyo Girl is hands down one of the best shows I have watched this year. If you are looking for a raw and engaging social commentary on how patriarchy, capitalism and heteronormative expectations exist in the context of Japan, you have come to the right place.


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