When we think of World War 2 I think that a lot of people remember that Japan was in the war, but their involvement kind of gets overshadowed by Nazi Germany's involvement in the European theater. Japan did some pretty horrible stuff as well and while the Nuremberg trials were heavily publicized in much greater detail to the point where Japan's trials pretty much got forgotten. To be honest, until this popped up on Netflix I knew nothing about it.
Rather than just be a straight-up documentary (which, honestly, I would have preferred) someone decided to make a dramatic interpretation of the actual events - which I don't really like because of the fact that a great deal of the dialogue and occurrences could be fiction for all we know. I'd like to believe that because it is such a sensitive and historically important topic, that they would keep it as factual as possible - but I honestly don't know.
There is stock footage of the actual trials interspersed in the film, but for the most part they focus on the actors playing the roles, rather than the real-life individuals.
In a shell, the fate of the leaders of Japan were forced to go to trial to charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. An internationally selected panel of judges were selected from all over the world. Obviously, these judges were from Allied countries and this kind of makes you wonder if the defendants were going to get a fair shake because of this. From the episodes that I watched I think that if represented accurately, it is difficult to argue that the judges were anything but completely fair especially considering that there isn't really a strict set of laws dictating what is a "crime" during war.
This series ended up getting nominated for an Academy award that it did not win but you know, its an honor being nominated.
In my honest opinion, I really think that someone would already need to have an interest in WW2 to find this even remotely interesting. It is well-produced and directed, but for someone who isn't terribly interested in WW2 or Japan's involvement in it, this might be quite boring. I LOVE historical stuff, especially World War 2 bits as I developed a real interest in this topic at a young age. I liked it, but could understand that a wider audience might not share my sentiment.
Therefore I give the the ambiguous rating of....