Tokyo Girl (Tôkyô Joshi Zukan) is a Japanese series streaming on Prime. The series was co-written and directed by Yuki Tanada. It’s the story of one woman’s life and her move to Tokyo in search of happiness.
Asami Mizukawa starred as Aya in Tokyo Girl. Her story represented an entire generation of Japanese women as they struggled with changes. There were expectations assailing women about career, motherhood, marriage, weight, beauty, deference to men and more.
This was the generation that ushered in social media and the envy and jealousy that made real life look unsatisfactory when compared with others’ lives. Aya wanted to be the kind of woman people envied, the kind of woman you saw in magazines. She wanted wealth and a luxurious lifestyle.
Aya arrived in Tokyo as a naive 20 year old. By the end of 11 brief episodes she was in her 40s. From a rather unlikable 20 year old, Aya grew into a self-assured and impressive woman. She worked hard and received advancements and promotions. She dated several different men in the 20 years. She made many women friends.
Because the series covered over 20 years in only 11 short episodes, her growth and changes were spotty and skipped quickly through time. but there was enough there to connect the dots and to see how maturity settled on Aya and improved her. I liked her more and more as she grew older until she got her wish for someone to admire her – me.
Even in her 40s, however, Aya was always checking out the competition to make sure her life measured up in some unmeasureable way to the happiness of those around her. It’s sad that a whole generation of women have struggled to meet some external standard of the good life without knowing how to cherish what they have.
Yuki Tanada‘s direction provided brightly lit scenes with simple and pleasant music. She used silence to emphasize Aya’s moments of self-doubt and jealousy. Tanada focused the camera on shoes and fashions as a way to show Aya’s progress in reaching her goals.
Aya and other cast members broke the fourth wall and often spoke to the camera, explaining themselves or commenting on someone else. Sometimes this conversation with the audience was done as a philosophical voice over, especially as Aya grew older and wiser.
The series is very Japanese. But the effects of capitalism, social media, and changing attitudes toward women that Aya experienced felt like something women everywhere in the world are going through now.
The series is also known as Tôkyô Joshi Zukan or Tokyo Women’s Guidebook.
I couldn’t find a trailer to share. Sorry.