Movie Reviews

I Wish Max Was As Passionate About Tokyo Vice Season 3 As Its Creators After Its 93% Rotten Tomatoes Success


  • Tokyo Vice’s cancellation after two seasons on Max reflects a troubling trend of niche shows being axed for financial reasons.
  • Season 2 of Tokyo Vice was critically acclaimed, expanding the story world and characters in a compelling way.
  • The creators of Tokyo Vice are looking into options to continue the series despite Max’s cancelation, potentially selling it internationally.

Max, the streaming platform that replaced HBO Max back in 2023, has made the decision to cancel Tokyo Vice after two great seasons. When I first found out that Tokyo Vice had been canceled after the announcement was made in early June 2024, I wasn’t surprised. My reaction had nothing to do with the quality of the show but everything to do with the way things have been in the saturated landscape of streaming content. A show like Tokyo Vice might have run for five or six seasons on HBO just 10 years ago. Nowadays, it gets quietly tossed on the chopping block after concluding its most immersive season yet.

The evolution of Tokyo Vice between seasons 1 and 2 is so well done that it should be studied. Series creator J.T. Rogers and his writing staff built on the 8-episode first season, which mostly followed its three main characters, Samantha (Rachel Keller), Sato (Shô Kasamatsu), and Jake (Ansel Elgort), and in turn created a noir-tinted epic. It says something about a series that doesn’t need to rely on its most recognizable cast members, as Elgort was featured more as a leading member of an ensemble in the second season than a true series protagonist as he was in the first. Ken Watanabe, who plays detective Hiroto Katagiri, could have led the entire show by himself but instead blends seamlessly into the ensemble as well.

Tokyo Vice Season 2’s Acclaim Proved The Series Deserved Season 3 & Beyond

Tokyo Vice was celebrated by both critics and audiences alike

Tokyo Vice season 2 was one of the most underrated series of 2024 to all those who didn’t have the chance to see it. For viewers who did, Tokyo Vice was one of the best shows of the year, hands down. As a viewer, it’s frustrating to see a beloved show with a dedicated yet niche fan group get cut short when it deserves a wider audience and potentially even more promotion on Max’s part. Season 2 expanded the characters and the immersive story world in compelling ways, which resulted in some characters who initially started in supporting roles, such as Sato and the formidable Tozawa, becoming the best of the series.

Tokyo Vice season 2 was even more critically acclaimed than its first season, earning a 93% score on Rotten Tomatoes among both critics and audiences. In my review, I noted how the successful expansion of the story’s world and characters felt like watching a sophisticated balancing act with many moving parts executed with masterful precision. “With two additional hour-long episodes, Tokyo Vice season 2 uses a fair chunk of its increased runtime to allow its key characters to stretch outside Tokyo’s underbelly of crime and corruption. Many supporting players are given external outlets, such as a love interest or a family tie, that result in more complete characters at the cost of a leaner and more succinct story.”


Tokyo Vice Season 2 Ending Explained

The finale of Tokyo Vice season 2 ties up many loose ends, determining the fates of Jake, Samantha, Sato, Katagiri, and the treacherous Tozawa.

Tokyo Vice Season 3 Might Still Be In The Works – Just Not At Max

Fifth Season could continue to sell the series internationally

Rogers and director/executive producer Alan Poul have recently suggested they can still make Tokyo Vice season 3 and release it internationally, which would be a major break for every fan with a VPN. In an interview with Variety, both Poul and Rogers explained that while the decision to end Tokyo Vice at Max was amicable, they are still pursuing other outlets to bring season 3 to life. “We were always told that there was no guarantee of a Season 3. So our only desire was for Season 2 to be as successful as possible.” Poul said. “I think we’re keeping our options open. We love and trust our friends at Fifth Season. They’re gonna guide us in that.” Fifth Season could continue to sell the series internationally as it has with seasons 1 and 2.


Tokyo Vice Season 2 Glossary & Terminology

Tokyo Vice season 2 uses many authentic Japanese terms to help create an immersive and factually-based story of Tokyo’s underground organized crime.

HBO/Max Needs To Solve Its Frustrating “Cancel After 2 Good Seasons” Trend

Several HBO/Max series have received a similarly disappointing fate

This is certainly not the first time that HBO and Max have canceled a celebrated series with major longevity potential after two seasons. Just last year, Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty was not picked up for a third season even though, ironically, it had just started to get into the real rise of the Showtime Lakers at the end of the second season. The problem with these seemingly abrupt cancelations is that they create a sense of ambiguity around each season’s finale, forcing them to double as both season and series finales as a result. If Winning Time’s final episode appears like it was thrown together in a couple of weeks in anticipation of not getting renewed, that’s probably because it was.

Another frustrating cancelation after two great seasons is the Max original series Our Flag Means Death, which inspired so much persistent backlash from fans online that for months every social media post made by Max was flooded with posts demanding a third season. While Max isn’t issuing any statements of justification to go along with these cancelation announcements, the most obvious inference is that these series were either too expensive or not popular enough to bring them back. In either case, the decision to cancel any series has got to come down to the dollars, leaving disappointed fans trying to make sense of the behind-the-scenes logic.


The Irony Of Winning Time’s Final Episode After Cancellation

The canceled HBO series Winning Time was poised to return for at least one more season in a redemptive 1985 NBA Finals rematch between Bird & Magic.

Max Cancelling Tokyo Vice Is a Troubling Sign For The Future Of Streaming Content

Max appears to be increasingly less concerned about satisfying fans of its more niche content

Max is beginning to make it resoundingly clear that dedicated fanbases might not pull as much weight in the decision to renew or cancel shows as they have during the age of television. Ratings have always been any network or cable channel’s top priority and indication of what series to invest in. With so much content becoming available in the age of streaming services, the popularity of any given series appears to be more of a significant consideration than the end-all-be-all metric. Unlike Netflix, Max does not release streaming or engagement data such as total views and total hours viewed, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly why Tokyo Vice was canceled other than what its creators are willing to share.

It seems, however, that like every other streaming service, if the viewership of any given series falls below expectations, Max will put it on the chopping block. This ultimately results in a low-risk approach that will only contribute to more safe and repetitive content rather than promoting series that fans have made it extremely clear they are passionate about. What’s most frustrating, outside of the thwarted concept of a Sato & Katagiri spinoff, is that the fan base of Tokyo Vice could have continued to grow in future seasons. Mow, unless Fifth Season moves forward with season 3, the series and its creatives won’t have the opportunity to find out. It goes to show that Max/HBO is increasingly unconcerned about satisfying fans of more niche content with the potential to garner a larger following, which is concerning for the state of new original content in general.


Tokyo Vice Season 2 Review: Max’s Immersive Crime Noir Evolves Into A Sharp & Sprawling Epic

Although some longwinded detours pull away from its captivating gangster-fueled plot, Tokyo Vice season 2 is a robust and airy modern noir thriller.

Source: Variety

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