The Last Yakuza book cover cropped.

With the ‘Tokyo Vice’ Followup Book Optioned, Is a Third Season More Likely?

Tokyo Vice has been a great success for HBO Max, well-received by critics and audiences alike, and fans are desperate for more, which could be entirely possible given that Jake Adelstein’s most recent book, The Last Yakuza: A Life in the Japanese Underworld has been optioned.

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The hit Max series Tokyo Vice was loosely based on the book Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan written by Jake Adelstein. His book is a retelling of his time spent working as the first foreign journalist for the prestigious Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun, delving into the cases he covered as a journalist working on the police beat. The show uses Adelstein’s book as a jumping-off point, taking elements of characters and incidents and weaving them together to create the show.

The series’ second season brought much of the story to a close, but in September of 2023, Adelstein published another book, The Last Yakuza, (a somewhat spiritual sequel to Tokyo Vice). This publication technically counts as its first publication in English, as it was first released in France in 2017, where Adelstein has a strong fanbase. The book delves back into Japan’s underbelly, as it’s based on the lives of several yakuza bosses, and serves as an insight into the organized crime movement over the last century.

Curious to know if his latest book was under the same consideration that Tokyo Vice had been, The Mary Sue reached out to Adelstein for comment. Adelstein was able to confirm that his book had been optioned by Fifth Season, the American film and television production and distribution company that had partnered with HBO Max on Tokyo Vice. The rights were officially bought in 2022, with certain elements of The Last Yakuza appearing in season two of Tokyo Vice.

Tozawa, Tokyo Vice
(Max)

In a chapter titled “For whom the chime tolls,” which Adelstein has made available on Rolling Stone’s website, a yakuza boss does something so against their honor code that he is asked to pay for it with his life. Sound familiar to a certain season two ending? With the rights to more of Adelstein’s materials, this paves the way for the Tokyo Vice world to expand onscreen, with a third season or possibly even a spinoff. (We want more Sato!)

The Last Yakuza focuses heavily on the character of Makoto Saigo (not his real name), otherwise known as “Tsunami,” a former yakuza boss Adelstein hired as his driver and bodyguard. The character of Sato is very similar to the real life character of “Tsunami,” so by having more material available, we could potentially see Sato’s role expand further onscreen.

The future of HBO’s Tokyo Vice is still unclear currently, though the show’s creator J.T. Rogers told Collider he was ready to go with a third season as soon as he gets the green light,

“On set it was just so wonderful, all through Season 2 people from Ken Watanabe to key grips, everyone would come up and say, as if it was a secret, ‘Are we getting to do more?’ And I was like, ‘Let’s just finish this.’ But yeah, I have the story mapped out going forward. We would love to do it.”

The main storyline was tied up at the end of season two, as, with HBO Max cutting shows left and right, no show is safe and we all want to have a decent ending if they do go ahead and pull the plug. (Please don’t. As a foreign journalist living in Japan, I’m begging you.) The team is going to have a more prolonged wait to see if they are getting another season compared to last time, with the second season greenlit after the season one finale.

J.T. Rogers and crew are raring to go, though, with director Alan Poul even telling Collider he would love to start shooting ASAP: “So, depending on when we would get the pick-up, we would push to begin shooting before the end of the year.”

Rogers is also on the edge of his seat, stating, “I and the team will start writing the moment we get the green light,” and with Adelstein’s newest book available to them, they would have a lot of material to work with.

(featured image: Scribe Us)


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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.