In the first episode of the special, titled Japanese Holiday, Antoni, Bobby, Jonathan, Karamo and Tan are greeted by their host Kiko Mizuhara, a famous actress, model and social media influencer in Japan. As their host, Kiko teaches the Fab Five about Japanese culture as they dance around the streets of Tokyo. Their first challenge is support worker and Audrey Hepburn enthusiast Yoko, who was nominated by her friend because she spends all her time helping at her community centre, in which she provides help and support for hospital patients who would otherwise be alone. Because of her commitment to the community centre, Yoko struggles to take care of herself, including neglecting her hygiene, sleeping on the floor so patients can have her bed and overall having little time for self-care. This began after the death of her sister, as Yoko felt her life wasn’t as important as her sister’s because she didn’t have a husband or children. Over the course of the week, the Fab Five help Yoko rediscover herself and remind her that her life is worthy and important.
The mini-series differs from the classic episodes in America, in that the Fab Five and the audience become informed about the sexism and prejudices in Japanese culture. Yoko had been told she had “forgotten how to be a woman” simply because of her ill-fitted clothes and her commitment to the community centre at the expense of style. Guest host Kiko shares her the criticism stories she has received surrounding her bright fashion sense and occupation, despite being a household name in Japan.
Despite slight progress in Japan over LGBTQ+ rights, Kan explains how there is still a long way to go.
In the second episode of the mini-series, the Fab Five meet Kan, a gay man who struggles with anxiety over his sexuality in Japan. Like the first episode, this episode is also informative as Kan explains how he doesn’t feel at home or himself in his own country. Kan explains how he felt he could be himself in cities such as Vancouver and London, but not in Tokyo because it is still deemed “morally wrong” to be gay in Japanese culture. In a long-distance relationship, the Fab Five help Kan prepare for his boyfriend’s first visit to Japan and meeting his family for the first time. The episode packs an emotional punch as Kan discusses with Karamo the homophobia and racism he has received in the dating world both in England and in Japan as a gay Japanese man. Despite slight progress in Japan over LGBTQ+ rights, Kan explains how there is still a long way to go. After meeting the Fab Five, Kan embraces himself and his identity despite still harbouring anxieties over how he and his boyfriend will be received in Tokyo.
Overall, Queer Eye: We’re in Japan! is a worthy special to the original series which will hopefully be preceded by other series in different countries. Will the Fab Five come to the UK next?