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Salaryman Kintaro Part 2
A show that hasn't gotten a lot of buzz but deserves some is Salaryman Kintaro. This series is unlike the other anime shows that are being released in the US, as its setting is the offices of a large corporation. Though there aren't any super-heroics or mecha vehicles, the show about the lives of everyday workers is very entertaining. In the second volume, Kintaro runs afoul of the Yakuza when he breaks the jaw of a boss' son, and the company he works for undergoes a transformation when the president of the company tries to remove the chairman of the board from his office.
Yajima Kintaro was the leader of a motorcycle gang 10,000 strong. A couple of years ago he gave that up and moved away to settle down with his new wife. Unfortunately she died in childbirth, and now Yajima and his infant son Ryu are moving back to the city. The ex-gang leader is hired by a large firm, Yamato Construction, to work as a salaryman, a white collar office employee, and though the job isn't a good one Yajima approaches it with the same gusto and philosophy that he used to run his gang: kick ass and take names. His straight forward and pragmatic method of dealing with problems and his strong work ethic are foreign to this top heavy corporation, and he may just shake up the way business is done if they don't fire him first.
Kintaro also soon finds out that things aren't as rosy as they first appear at Yamato Construction. Mr. Yamato, the chairman of the board, started the company and built it to a respectable size. The growth started to stagnate though so he hired a new president, Oshima, seven years ago. This man was able to make the firm grow by leaps and bounds, due to his connections within the government. As the company expanded however, the president brought in more and more executives that were loyal to him, and the chairman found his power waning. Now Oshima wants to take over the company and oust its founder, but he doesn't quite have the stock votes to do it. He soon will though. The chairman can clearly see what's going on but is pretty helpless to stop it. After spending a weekend fishing with Mr. Yamato, Kintaro is firmly in his corner but how can a mere salaryman effect the struggle for control that's goin on in the boardroom?
The intrigue in the boardroom comes to a head in this volume. President Oshima has threatened and intimidated the rest of the board members into voting chairman Yamato out of the company, and has scheduled a board meeting to do just that in a few days time. A few of the other salarymen in the company who are loyal to Mr. Yamato suspect that Oshima has been doing things under the table. They think he's been using company funds to buy up stock shares for his personal account. The proof they need is guarded behind several layers of computer security though, and they aren't sure if they can get the evidence before the board meeting.
In the other major storyline, Kintaro has gotten himself in trouble with the Yakuza again. He broke the jaw of a crime lord's son, and now the organization has come to make Kintaro pay. When some muscle bursts into Yamato Construction looking for the ex-gang leader, Kintaro doesn't try to run and hide, he faces the trouble head on.
This show is different from any other anime show I've seen. There's a fair amount of action, but the goings on at Yamato Construction is the main source of drama. That's not to say it's dull, anything but. The dealing of the executives and the average guys in the office are oddly engrossing. I wouldn't have expected to enjoy a show about the day-to-day grind of office life but its really a lot of fun. Kintaro has a magnetic personality and his rigid code of ethics makes him easy to
like. The fact that hiding underneath his charming exterior is a barroom brawler gives the show some humor too.
Though the series is heavily dramatized, it's still an interesting look at work life in Japan. The differences between the (idealized) show and working in the US are pretty stark. When the employees are chastised by the people they were trying to help for attempting to uncover criminal acts by the president was fairly astounding to me. The underlying message of "don't make waves" is the opposite of what would happen in a western show where individuality and initiative are prized characteristics. The fact that the crime boss calls chairman Yamato when he has a problem with one of his employees is unusual too.
This volume contains the next four episodes of the series. The disc I received for review was the region two PAL release of the series. This seemed to have the identical specs as the R1 version, and I have no reason to believe that there are any differences. I've asked Arts Magic to confirm that the two released use the same transfer and audio tracks but they haven't gotten back to me with an answer yet.
This show comes with the original Japanese in both stereo and DD 5.1. There is not an English dub included on this disc, though there are optional subtitles. The audio quality is average for this type of release. There aren't a lot of space battles or explosions that would really make use of the LFE channel in the 5.1 mix, but the dialog is reproduced well in both audio tracks. There isn't any hiss or other audio defects present.
The widescreen anamorphic image looks good. The lines are tight and the image is sharp. The colors look good as well. Digital defects are practically nonexistent. A solid looking disc.
This disc, like the first volume, also includes a seven-minute interview with director Tomohuro Katsumata and a short four-minute interview with the producer Turo Nakano.
This is a good show, and well worth picking up. Different than any other anime series released in the US, this program has a plot that is easy to get into and some very likable characters. Though the trials and tribulations of an ex-gang leader trying to go straight sounds dull, the show is actually very interesting and oddly engaging. Recommended.