‘Tokyo Vice’ Canceled at Max After 2 Seasons

EPs J.T. Rogers and Alan Poul tease “there is more story to tell” while confirming the end of the show at the streamer

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Ansel Elgort and Ken Watanabe in "Tokyo Vice." (Max)

“Tokyo Vice” won’t be moving forward at Max following two seasons of the period crime drama, the network and its creators announced Saturday at the Producers’ Guild’s Produced By conference — while its executive producers teased, “We know there is more story to tell.” Starring Ansel Elgort, Ken Watanabe and Rachel Keller, the series was based on journalist Jake Adelstein’s memoir, “Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan.”

“Over the last five years Max has made sure we got to tell our story,” executive producers J.T. Rogers and Alan Poul said in a statement. “They have supported us through thick and thin. Not only did they give us these two seasons, they said yes when we asked to end season one with a series of cliffhangers, and they said yes when we asked for two extra episodes so we could land the plane in the way J.T. had always envisioned.”

Rogers, a childhood friend of Adelstein, created the series, while Poul served as a director on the show. The series was laid out for two seasons with Max in its initial planning stages, with the show wrapping up its central arc to close Season 2, while also leaving room open for another “Tokyo Vice” season.

“We’re grateful not only to Max, but to our partners Fifth Season, who sold the show around the world, and made it a global success story,” the producers added. “They were in the trenches with us always, guaranteeing that we could make the show we wanted to make. The response from both the press and from fans, in particular to Season 2, has been overwhelming. It’s been thrilling to find out how deeply viewers have engaged with our characters, and to hear how they are clamoring for more.”

“We know there is more story to tell,” they added. “Of course we’ll see what the future holds, but we are indeed grateful to have been able to share this story on Max until now.”

Adelstein’s second book “The Last Yakuza” has been optioned by “Tokyo Vice” production company Fifth Season, according to the author. It tells the story of Adelstein’s late bodyguard, with some elements of that story incorporated in the show’s second season. He has also written a third book, “Tokyo Noir,” serving as a direct sequel to “Tokyo Vice” — it’s scheduled for release Oct. 1. Whether either of these become either another season of the show elsewhere or a spin-off remains to be seen.

The turn-of-the-millennium-set series followed Adelstein (Elgort) as he moved to Tokyo and became the first foreign journalist at a major Japanese newspaper. He covered the crime beat while learning the nation’s culture, working to shed light on organized crime under the yakuza while being mentored by veteran police detective Hiroto Katagiri (Watanabe).

The show premiered in 2022 on the platform then known as HBO Max. Season 2 launched Feb. 8 of this year and concluded its second season April 4 on Max — neither season was aired on Warner Bros. Discovery’s HBO linear network. The show was coproduced by Japanese network Wowow, with the series also later streaming on Netflix in that market.

Adelstein himself seemed to be caught unaware of the show ending, as while speculation spread about whether the show would return, he shared on social media that he was “in the dark” about the show’s future. He also wrote that he’d thought “Last Yakuza” being optioned meant that “Season 3 was a given.” Shortly after reading a rumor regarding the show’s likely end at Max, Adelstein tweeted a link to a Gizmodo article slamming WBD CEO David Zaslav’s pay raise “despite being bad at his job.”

Both seasons of the series received positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic.

The show was created by writer J.T. Rogers, a longtime friend of Adelstein. Its pilot was directed by acclaimed filmmaker Michael Mann. The series’ producers include Elgort, Watanabe, Rogers, Alan Poul, Mann, Adelstein, Emily Gerson Saines, Brad Kane, Destin Cretton, Kayo Washio and John Lesher.

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