Because of a previous post, I am now watching Tokyo Drift on this day of Tokyo Drizzle (typhoon, rainy as all get out, can’t work on the car). And I thought I’d point out all the problems with Tokyo Drift.

1) These aren’t high schoolers. These are adults.

2) “Winner gets me.” Girl, you’re a human being, not piece of property. Have more self-esteem.


3) Unless, as a minor, Sean’s prior convictions are sealed, there is dubious realism to the Japanese government granting him a dependent visa.

4) Sean’s school does seem to be set up correctly architecturally, but hard to tell if it’s a real building or a a mocked up set. Major problems are that Sean would not be in a Japanese school as a “transfer student” as a high school student. Japanese high school is not mandatory and therefore also not provided, unlike elementary and junior high school. It’s possible he could enter as an “exchange student,” but as I understand the teacher’s Japanese (I did not the last time I watched this silly movie), she clearly identifies him as a transfer student. He would go to an international school, probably. I taught at one last year in Tokyo.

5) The teacher is also wearing STUDENT school slippers, and as teachers, we don’t do that. We have our own inside shoes, and they’re just whatever we want as long as they are worn inside only.

6) Shoes are changed at the entry way to the building, not the classroom. Otherwise you’d track outside dirt all over the hallways. Also, maybe the school bought Sean’s “uwabaki” but usually you have to provide your own.


7) Despite “yankee” appearances, most high schools are actually pretty strict about grooming. A high school in Osaka is being sued because it made a naturally brown haired girl dye her hair black. They claimed in court they’d do it to non-Asians, too. I hope they lose, badly.

8) Twinkie identifies them as “army brats,” but Department of Defense has its own on base schools, and if Sean’s father is active duty, well, duh, that’s where he’d be. I always thought his dad was a retiree and just a lifer in Japan. There are many, so Sean wouldn’t have access to DoD schools. UPDATE: Sean’s dad is clearly an active duty LT, we see him in Khakis. So why isn’t Sean in a DoD high school on base? Silliness.


9) The fashion isn’t quite right for the age range, but then, you know, see number 1.

10) Use of the word “gaijin” (which is an extremely offensive slur that is often used too liberally by western media, Japanophiles, and expatriates) here is odd with the villain macking on a girl who is both underage and potentially of mixed heritage (and a native speaker of English). This entire scene is sooooo uncomfortable.


11) While it’s true that Japanese police won’t chase you, they have other means. I wrote about it in my bosozoku article for Jalopnik. They film and once they have enough evidence, they merely show up at your door and arrest you. So what Han says is a half-truth at best.

12) Very few Japanese high schools use any kind of tablet or laptop computing. And they tend to be the best of the very best. I doubt there would be laptop usage for Japanese language and literature class in any high school where non-Japanese speakers could just suddenly be enrolled. Also, of course, there is no way Sean would be able to understand this class at all, obviously.


13) I always feel like, since they’re both from Alabama, and they both have the same accent and general attitude, that the actor’s character in NCIS: New Orleans is actually an adult Sean like ten years later.

14) I want to say that DK’s comments to Neela about her mother’s past and what might have happened to her was bunk, but honestly, I can’t be sure of that. The truth is that the Japanese foster care system is absolutely atrocious, and there are a number of “stateless” children who end up in the system where parentage is difficult to determine. I hate to say it, but if DK’s family hadn’t taken Neela in, and with their Yakuza connections, probably formally worked the paperwork to give her a legal Japanese identity, she would definitely have had issues. So I guess this scene, while incredibly creepy and uncomfortable, is shockingly one of the most realistic scenes in a pretty unrealistic movie.


15) This is not the Tokyo Metro or the Toei Subway, I live on the Tokyo Metro.


16) And lastly, there is no mountain like that so close you can see individual buildings in Tokyo. Just nope.

All that said, even looking for obvious examples of counterfactual stuff, it was still an enjoyable watch. Because ultimately, the F&F movies aren’t about reality. They’re about fantasy. Nobody likes the tuna.

Previously Correspondent, Asia at Jalopnik and LGBT Editor at Jezebel. Lover of the Oxford Comma, despite AP Style, and the Commonwealth "S." Patreon:

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