Netflix Japan to Release Documentary on the Lucie Blackman Murder

Netflix Japan to Release Documentary on the Lucie Blackman Murder

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A banner featuring a man peering into a darkened with a flashlight with the title Tokyo Crime Squad: The Lucie Blackman Case.
Fresh news about the documentary on one of Japan's most infamous murder cases - and an exclusive interview with a featured reporter.

A new documentary on the now long-solved Lucie Blackman murder case in Japan is set to release on Netflix. And it’s going to rip open a 23-year-old wound.

The non-fiction documentary Tokyo Crime Squad: The Lucie Blackman Case, directed by Yamamoto Hyoe and featuring an unprecedented number of testimonies from Japanese investigators and police, will be available only on Netflix starting next month, July 26th.

A missing person’s report for Lucie Blackman was filed to Azabu Police Station in Roppongi, Tokyo, one Monday morning in July of 2000. Nobody could have imagined how grotesque of a case this would be. Nor could they have prepared for the shockwaves it would send throughout the world.

Lucie Blackman, 21, a former British Airways flight attendant, was working as a bar hostess at the Casablanca bar in Roppongi. On a Saturday evening, she went to go meet a client. She was never seen again.

The Dark Tale of the Lucie Blackman Case

Lucie Blackman disappeared, but her name wouldn’t. The Blackman family flew to Japan and held televised press conferences as they urged Japanese police to make an arrest. Then-UK Prime Minister Tony Blair applied pressure on his Japanese counterparts to find Lucie.

But the investigation was going nowhere. The world was blaming the Japanese police.

Now, we hear directly from the detectives who were on the case.


Tokyo Crime Squad: The Lucie Blackman Case, a production by VESUVIUS PICTURES and BEACH HOUSE PICTURES is a 100-minute, tell-all documentary based on interviews with the detectives and commanders who handled the case. The film also draws from the non-fiction book “The Detectives’ Elegy: Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department Criminal Investigation Division” by author Takao Shōji, published by Bunshun Bunko.

The Lucie Blackman case has inspired foreign journalists as well. The insightful 2015 non-fiction book “People Who Eat Darkness” by Richard Lloyd Parry follows the case from the perspective of the Blackman family.

Missing person’s poster for Lucie Blackman.

Jake Adelstein, the author of Japan true crime bestseller Tokyo Vice, assists in the documentary and reflects on his own coverage of the case. He was reporting for the Yomiuri Shimbun‘s Shakai-bu (National News Department) at the time.

“What makes this documentary so extraordinary is that they were able to get the actual detectives working the case to speak on record,” says Adelstein.

“There aren’t many of them still alive, unfortunately. The documentary is also based on a seminal book by Takao Shōji which tells the story of the investigation from the police side. Thanks to books like ‘People Who Eat Darkness’ by Richard Parry, we’ve heard a lot about what the investigation was like from the family and outside sources. But this is the first time we hear it from the inside – from the investigators themselves.”

“Last year, Shoko Plambeck and myself spent months working on a podcast about missing people in Japan. Getting police officers to speak on the record about the investigation of another missing foreign woman, Tiphaine Veron, who vanished in 2018, was like pulling teeth. The documentary crew and director did amazing work.”

Jake Adelstein and Tim Blackman, Lucie’s father, at the time of the case. Screenshot from Netflix trailer.

The Detectives On Screen

We hear from former head sergeant Yamaguchi Mitsuko, the first female investigator to have been on a sexual assault case in Japan. We also learn of how the Lucie Blackman case was the worst sex crime in the history of Japanese crime in terms of casualties. The horror of the case forced Japanese police to change how they treated sex crimes.

We also meet Harafuji Keizō, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department’s first forensic investigator. Harafuji walks us through how forensics played a key role in investigating, just as it did in the 1995 Tokyo subway sarin attack.

Mourning Detectives Catch Director’s Eye

Director Yamamoto Hyoe’s choice to bring individual investigators into the spotlight was inspired by a particular scene depicted in Takao’s aforementioned book.

Yamamoto learned that a number of detectives who had been involved with the Lucie Blackman case were still visiting the cave where the victim’s body was found; it was then that he knew that a documentary would be worthwhile.

The cave in question. Still provided by Netflix.

“They would clean the cave and make an altar out of bamboo. As I would watch them send prayers to Lucie I felt so moved. It got me thinking about what emotions they felt during the difficult investigation and how their empathy towards a foreigner, whom they had never met, could have led them to solve the case. That was the starting point of this documentary,” says Yamamoto.

As Yamamoto traced the narrative of the Lucie Blackman case, he realized that the story wasn’t entirely over.

“The big social issue of how sex crimes are treated today also became a part of the conversation,” says Yamamoto.

In the Lucie Blackman case, hundreds of victims were identified but only ten were prosecuted.

It’s been 23 years since the Lucie Blackman case, which came to be known as Japan’s worst sex crime; and yet, the lack of accountability Japan holds against its sex offenders is still a major issue.

This misogyny and the frustration it caused are highlighted in the documentary when Maruyama Tokie and Yamaguchi Mitsuko, both female investigators who worked on the Lucie Blackman case, share their experiences of talking to other victims at the time.

About The Director

After graduating from high school in Massachusetts in the US, Yamamoto Hyoe went on to learn film making it to the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. He was awarded top prize in fiction at the New York Short Film Festival with “A Glance Apart,” a film he directed, wrote, and produced for his graduating piece. The film was also shown on French National Television Channel Arte and Japan’s Cinefil imagica. His other short films have been shown at film festivals around the world, like the International Film Festival Rotterdam and Tribeca Festival.

Yamamoto debuted as a full-length film director with his 2015 documentary “Samurai And Idiots: The Olympus Affair”, which he made with the cooperation of European stations like BBC and ARTE. Since then, he has been making documentaries with Al Jazeera and CNBC. He directed the documentary “THE DISTANCE” and was a producer for the 2022 Netflix documentary “Fugitive: The Curious Case Of Carlos Ghosn.” In 2023 he directed the Netflix documentary “Tokyo Crime Squad: The Lucie Blackman Case.”

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A trailer for the new documentary is available here.

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