Amazon Prime Video has been producing original series and films for a while but will enter a new realm by streaming its first scripted Japanese science fiction drama, called FACE: Cyber Crime Special Investigation Unit. The first episode will drop July 11, with new episodes weekly. FACE: Cyber Crime Special Investigation Unit stars Ayame Goriki (Black Butler, Gatchaman) as an agent tackling hacker-based crimes and the world surrounding that.
The series is directed by Ayato Matsuda (Flowers for Algernon) and Hideki Hori, and written by Masaki Fukasawa (Wild 7) and Toshio Skine. James Farrell, head of Asia Pacific content at Amazon Prime Video told the Hollywood Reporter:
"Following our drama series such as Kamen Rider Amazons and Tokyo Vampire Hotel, this is Amazon Prime Video’s first Japanese Amazon Original series set in the world of cyber crime.”
As smartphone culture gets increasingly ubiquitous, we as a society are more plugged in than ever. So getting hacked is a much more common and relatable crime, as they don’t just affect big corporations or presidential elections. Identity theft, for example, is a real and messy crime affecting millions every day. Shows like Mr. Robot and Person of Interest and stories like Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and Ghost in the Shell are becoming more popular, and we can’t escape the headlines of the news. Amazon is banking on the relevant nature to draw a crowd.
When the streaming content providers begin producing science fiction series, you know it’s getting serious in the content wars. Science fiction series are often expensive endeavors, as Netflix discovered with Sense8. They start out as high concept, niche genre entertainment with smaller viewing bases that hope they get enough time to build the audience and story. Look at The Man in the High Castle, for example. Oftentimes, at least for American audiences, if it doesn’t start out with a bang, it’s a series that's short-lived. International shows like The Grand Tour, Hibana, Au Service de la France, Forbrydelsen and Les Revenants are examples of streaming series that have gained acclaim outside of their original market.
It’s great to see Amazon and Netflix beginning to invest in international productions, as Japan has a different appetite and approach for genre entertainment. Series that might struggle stateside might be able to tell their entire story in a different market that embraces experimentation and risk-taking and grow outward. In the past, we would have to hope and wait for a series or film to get imported to the States, or they would have to find U.S. distribution. With Amazon and Netflix, though, assuming the original content falls under one universally accessible network, viewing international genre is much quicker and easier.
Starting in a few weeks, we’ll get to see if FACE: Cyber Crime Special Investigation Unit can move the dial. Let us know if it's a show you're interested in seeing, and list off any international TV series that have you streaming like mad.