Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa

November 16, 2019

Zawa… Zawa… Think we’re getting another season of the gambling survivor, Kaiji? Think again. Instead, we get a somewhat spinoff of a character in the Kaiji series. Yeah well, I wasn’t a big fan of that psychological thriller so I didn’t expect this character (which I didn’t think was that popular to begin with, but I could be wrong) to be the focus of this spinoff. As you can already tell from the title, Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa tells of the lone struggles of Teiai’s second most powerful man as he deals with the president’s wishes as well as the men under his team. It is not a walk in the park if he intends to climb up the ladder and go ahead in life. But a man has got to do what a man has got to do if he is to achieve his goals. No pain, no gain.

Episode 1: Initiative
We see Teiai MIBs going around to ‘remind’ their debtors to pay up. Of course as expected, they promise this and that. We’ll pay in time. Just give us more time. However one cocky debtor tries to push his luck, claiming their crazy interest rates is the reason he can’t pay back. Hence, Tonegawa goes down to deal with this guy himself. Don’t give me talk, give me money! After confiscating his entire business, the guy starts blaming society, this and that. Tonegawa tells him off that society is not his mother! One day, Tonegawa is summoned by Hyoudou. His guts tell him that something bad is going to happen. It seems Hyoudou is bored. All the current entertainment he views as fake and wants Tonegawa to start a new project. A project whereby there will be games to fight to the death! There goes Tonegawa’s golfing weekend… Hence he puts together a team to storm for ideas. However because all the MIBs look alike, he wants them to introduce themselves and state their hobbies. The problem is that Tonegawa is a very observant man and this is the cause of his troubles because he has a hard time trying to remember their names! He is stressing over how close Yamazaki and Kawasaki sound like! While Hyoudou doesn’t bother to remember his men’s names, it is a must for Tonegawa as he is going to need their support if he wants to advance his career. After a few names, that is when he loses it. I guess he noticed all their hobbies are bowling and calls the mall Gutter Balls! They can’t throw a strike to his memory! So what do the men do after the meeting? Go bowling!

Episode 2: Conjecture
This time’s meeting is to discuss ideas. However nobody dares speak up. So quiet that when Tonegawa tries to make a joke, the silence got even more awkward. Hence Tonegawa tries to break the ice that he will directly credit those with great ideas to Hyoudou. Slowly, they start to give their ideas. No matter how simple or absurd it is, Tonegawa praises them to raise their spirits. Now they are all eager to give their half-baked ideas. Keep them coming! But all that momentum is suddenly killed off with Hyoudou himself comes in! He is checking on their progress and even sits in to observe! Yeah. Back to gloom and doom again. Now it’s back to that deafening silence. This time Tonegawa tries to have the MIBs make the decision of which idea to go with. Pinpointing out Yamazaki, however any suggestions he make is rejected! Solely Tonegawa is basing this rejection based on Hyoudou’s expression. Look at that bored expression. It’s a no go! In the end, Yamazaki throws it back to him. Which idea does he think is best then? Oh sh*t. Tonegawa’s answer? He erases everything! Because the logic now stands that to avoid making a bad decision, to not answer or pick one is correct! Tonegawa realizes that Hyoudou has dozed off and his earlier bored expressions were just trying to stay awake. Old fart still needs his sleep. I guess that’s it for today’s meeting as Tonegawa reluctantly carries Hyoudou back to bed.

Episode 3: Sure Fire
Knowing he has lost the trust of his men, Tonegawa now has his men go on a relaxation trip to regain his honour. However the men are wary especially Yamazaki. They know what is going on and it’s not going to be easy to regain their trust. But they start to let up when Tonegawa shows them the schedule. 100% leisure time. From darts to billiards to ping pong and mahjong, this place has it all. But does it have bowling?! Nope. Damn… Tonegawa tries to seal the deal by showing them high quality Kobe beef and expensive wine they can indulge all they want. But does he have beer? Nope. But here’s a ton of cash to go buy them. All the men except Yamazaki are excited. He still won’t forgive him. As they get the fire going, Yamazaki is tasked to find a grilling plate. Unfortunately all of them are rusty. Yamazaki thinks the BBQ will be cancelled and once again Tonegawa will disappoint his men. Trust will no longer be attainable. However Tonegawa doesn’t give up and goes to look for something in the warehouse. He soon returns with a giant grilling platform. Since Yamazaki was the only one who worked directly under Hyoudou, he can tell this is actually a torture device! But it still cooks meat perfectly. Tonegawa then brings another weird device. Is it just to cut cabbage? Heck, Yamazaki knows this is another supplement torture device! The men are having the time of their life. Yamazaki still bitter. That is when Tonegawa cooks some meat for him and personally gives it to him as apology. Tastes great. Ah, can’t beat them, join them. And so faith has been restored.

Episode 4: Adult
Tonegawa on his way home uses the subway. He hears people with their problems and some sort of inspiration struck. Then at the sushi bar, he hears certain buzzwords and that is when he hit upon his idea. Next day at the meeting, he proposes this diabolical game of human mahjong. All the debtors will be gathered and they will become human tiles. With the tile they are given, they must make the best winnable value and those who are discarded will not get anything. This in turn will bring out the true human nature of betrayal and backstabbing because they will be selfish to form the winning tile and discard those that are useless. Seems like a great idea until Saemonsaburou wonders if it is feasible. Can they get enough debtors to play (136 of them) and not many know mahjong rules. So does he have a better solution? Yes. He brings out his Powerpoint presentation to blow everyone away! Wah! So nice. His proposal is a mix of rock-scissors-paper and a card game. Those who have watched the first season of Kaiji will very well know how this game works. It is safe to say that with this incredible idea and great presentation, all the MIBs look like they agree to this plan. However, Tonegawa can still reject this. But will he risk and make the same mistake? Fortunately, he goes with this plan and wants him to make copies for everyone how this game works. But just one little thing, though. He finds the initial title of this game, card rock-scissors-paper to be a bit childish. Hence he renames it as restricted rock-scissors-paper. I guess he still needs to stamp his authority in some way.

Episode 5: Soul Searching
Tonegawa tries to send in the proposal to Hyoudou. However this guy is so bored that he wants to see a movie. So Tonegawa accompanies him to watch a certain asteroid disaster movie. However during the climax he falls asleep. Tonegawa is in a pinch. If he wakes him up, he’ll be in a bad mood for ruining his sleep. But if he doesn’t, he’ll also be in trouble for not doing so. Thus an idea to pause the movie and only resume once he wakes up. Tonegawa waits and waits. Until he falls asleep. By the time he wakes up, Hyoudou is mad because he missed the climax! Ouch. With the deadline to hand in the proposal in 5 days, Tonegawa thinks he has plenty of time. Oh, but Hyoudou is leaving for Hawaii tomorrow for 10 days! Damn. But how to approach him? Asking Yamazaki for hints, it seems Hyoudou’s default mode is always in a bad mood. But he notices there is a short window of opportunity. And that time is when he just comes out from his bath. However this is not always 100%. Be sure to check the angle of his eyebrows before going in. It’s not the best but it’s the only shot he’s got. So Tonegawa waits till he finishes his bath. As he comes out… OMFG. He is wearing a facial mask! Even old dudes need to take care of his skin. There goes his golden opportunity. But 3 days later, Tonegawa informs his men that the proposal is approved! You see, Tonegawa also flew to Hawaii and waited for the right moment to present it. With this success, the men celebrate. Heck they even go bowling after that. But next morning, nobody turns up at the meeting. Tonegawa waits until he gets a phone call from one of them apologizing they went all out and bowl their hearts out till they realize too late it is already morning. 24 hour bowling? Tonegawa is visibly mad and tells them don’t bother to come in. But as he leaves, all of them are seen prostrating and apologizing. Tonegawa suddenly can’t recognize or tell them apart. Because they have shaved their heads as apology! And you thought he finally managed to recognize all of them was because of their hairstyle! WTF is this?! The Matrix?! Ma-what? Yeah, all of them go watch that movie just for reference. And Tonegawa is already fast asleep…

Episode 6: Self-destruct
Today’s meeting will discuss the diabolical venue needed for the game. Tonegawa knows nothing good will come out if all of them work together so he initiates a contest. They will each present their suggestion for the venue. Some are weird, some are plain boring. And one had to guts to even suggest a bowling alley?! WTF?! You wanna get fired?! Until Saemonsaburou’s turn he suggests the luxury liner Espoir. Everyone is impressed. The last guy to present is Ebitani who proposes some Japanese restaurants complete with 100 reasons why to choose this place. Dude. WTF?! So much so Tonegawa later talks to him about it. Knowing that Ebitani is pressured because of his rivalry with Saemonsaburou, Tonegawa gives him some good advice as well as pinpointing his shortcomings. For example, the difference between them is their scale of thinking. Saemonsaburou doesn’t regard the minor details unlike Ebitani and went all out in his proposal. Any minor details should be left to the boss to be ironed out. Impressed, Ebitani is all fired up to do better. Especially for the next theme of the contest which is to design the card. Tonegawa realizes that Ebitani is a passionate guy but his aim is often off target. He just needs to be pointed in the right direction. On the day Hyoudou returns from Hawaii, Tonegawa waits in hopes to propose the venue. However Hyoudou is in a bad mood. He wants the pilot fired for a bumpy ride. The best thing for Tonegawa is not to do anything. But then here comes Ebitani rushing towards Hyoudou. Oh sh*t! He begs for this big boss for his handprints because he wants to use it as the design for the card game! WTF?! Hyoudou gets mad and fires him!!! Ebitani pleads to Tonegawa for help so Hyoudou goes over there to beat him up and adds a pay cut! I guess everything backfired since Ebitani got worse… In the aftermath, Tonegawa is reeling from it all as he is seeing visions and even chastising the ‘ghost’ of Ebitani. Get out of my face!

Episode 7: Proliferation
With Espoir approved, they head on to the design of the cards. Saemonsaburou comes up with the genius idea of using skeletons as motif. Tonegawa isn’t amused that all of them are hounding him for details and approvals instead of thinking for themselves. Until Kawasaki gets sick and is admitted to hospital for flu, Tonegawa enforces strict hygiene for everyone. Yeah. Keep washing your hands underneath the nails up to your elbows! Then it gets hard for the MIBs to work so Tonegawa approves taking off the face mask since no one has gotten sick since Kawasaki. And then Tonegawa coughs… Oh no. True enough he gets the flu and is recuperating from home. With no direction, the team thinks of putting this project on hold till he recovers. Until Gonda says he will stand in for Tonegawa. Apparently as the oldest member, Tonegawa gave him that directive to stand in for him. And so Gonda now knows the pressure of being in that man’s seat. Every single detailed being referred to. And then the flu hits Gonda. Time to go home and recuperate? Gonda refuses. He claims he reap what he sow because his entire life he has always run away from responsibility and took the easy way out. This is where he is now. Therefore he wants to continue so as not to disappoint Tonegawa who entrusted the role in him. Otherwise he can’t live with himself. The men then get back to work to honour his wish. On the day Tonegawa returns, he narrates he never saw any leadership qualities in Gonda and purposely put him there so as to motivate the others to think for themselves. As he enters the meeting room, everyone is sick! Time to take a break…

Episode 8: Shrimp
Ebitani returns! He wants to make it up to Tonegawa so he brings him to a pyramid scheme seminar! Oh sh*t! Tonegawa knows this is trouble and wants out and despite telling them off about hard work and perseverance, they laugh at him. He doesn’t care, though. However he doesn’t want Ebitani to go through this because he still owes him an apology. Guess what? Ebitani still thinks this isn’t a pyramid scheme. It’s business networking! WTF?! A few days later, Tonegawa receives a letter from Ebitani. He claims Tonegawa was right because the pyramid scheme seminar and all those were involved were arrested. And Ebitani is writing this from the detention centre! Yeah, he realized it too late. When Ebitani is released, he meets up with Tonegawa again. He is sure to make it up to him this time. He is now trying to convince him to quit Teiai! Ebitani has did a survey and it seems 90% of people loves shrimp. So he has this idea to come up with a new product called Ebi Roll. Just some shrimp wrapped in dough? Hence with his idea and Tonegawa’s funding, they’ll hit it big. Unsure, Tonegawa then has Ebitani demonstrate this to his men at Teiai. After making it and letting them taste it, what’s the verdict? It sucks! You mean you got to eat that lobster shell too? Obviously, Tonegawa won’t be funding this. He gives a demoralized Ebitani advice that he knows he wants to find his footing after being fired from Teiai. But he can’t go for a quick buck and must work hard. Now, Ebitani’s tears aren’t because Tonegawa’s advice resonated with him. Rather, he bought 200kg of lobster thinking it was a sure fire win! Hence everyone pities him and chips in to buy some. A few days later, another letter from Ebitani. Thanks to their support, he now believes shrimp is the future and has bought a ton of lobsters!!! Damn this fool didn’t learn a damn thing!!!

Episode 9: Cutlets
We see Teiai conducting their hiring and interviewing process. Right when you are invited for the interview, there are lots of trick questions and those who failed to see through it will be eliminated. Potentials are interviewed by Tonegawa in which if he says have a safe trip home, it means you’re eliminated. Successful ones are told to go through the next room. You’d think that interviewing is easy but it seems like those who are passionate and so interested in Teiai are rejected! Since they don’t know the dark side of Teiai, this could be a problem. Then there is one who is the brother of one of the MIBs. Can’t have more confusion, can we? Rejected! Then there is a guy who is good at everything and almost perfect. Just that he has a big jawbone! Rejected! Because nobody must stand out more than Hyoudou! In the end, only 25 potentials are recruited. During lunch time, Tonegawa feels a bit hungry and decides to stop by and order a large serving of pork cutlets. At first the staff is shocked but he say to just bring it on. He starts to regret it because it is really freaking huge!!!! I guess he didn’t read properly of some of the shop’s weird size names. Also, those who order this large serving will need to have a photo taken. Yeah, here’s the wall of fame of all those who tried. All failed! Even professional competitive eaters and sumo wrestlers all failed to finish! So is Tonegawa up to the task? Well, he can’t go back on his word so he takes up the challenge as he chows down every pork cutlet. Just when he thought he is done with them, hidden beneath the rice are more pork cutlets! There are several layers! Don’t get disheartened now! Amazingly, he finishes everything clean and everyone is impressed with the birth of a new legend. Tonegawa returns to Teiai and Hyoudou calls him. What is the matter? Hyoudou wants to share his pork cutlet sandwich with him! Yeah, he has bought boxes of it! The challenge continues…

Episode 10: Rehearsal
The props for the restricted rock-scissors-paper game are here. But when Tonegawa tests it out, nothing works. Looks like they are just normal cards without any chips and the tables are just empty. No time to fix it as the rehearsal is in a week so he tells off his men to get inside the table and manually count the cards! Impossible! No way! Due to the overwhelming negativity, Tonegawa drops it. You figure out yourselves what to do. Many hours later, Tonegawa is called to an empty room. He is made to test again. This time it works! You see, all the MIBs have actually waited inside the table and none have gone crazy in there for 5 hours as they have customized that small spacing into their own personal living space! The trial run begins with Tonegawa addressing the new recruits to act like desperate debtors. However they’re being cool and efficient so Endou steps in and believes he can make those newbies act like with a day of his heavy debtor lecturing. Endou presents a real heavy debtor for the newbies to figure out the nonsensical way he thinks. They are surprised by all the answers they never thought would have crossed their mind. The lecture is a success and now they are all scumbags! Yeah, so much so they don’t even want to do the mock rehearsal! As they all do their own stuff and bum around, Tonegawa tries to motivate them by giving winners merchandises. However with them living the fantasy life of being a celebrity and earning millions, there’s no way they’re going back to reality! Hence Endou once more steps in by bringing in real debtors into the game! Want to challenge to see who wins? But Tonegawa is in despair because this isn’t how the game is supposed to works. And so the second day of rehearsal fails…

Episode 11: Business Trip
Tonegawa and Yamazaki are on a business trip to Fukuoka and are taking the shinkansen. Yamazaki is worried because Tonegawa is having the mind set of treating this business trip as a vacation. But after learning he has been working straight for 20 days, Yamazaki is going to let him do what he feels. Suddenly a call from Hyoudou! Oh sh*t! He is asking his opinion if he should take up yoga. Tonegawa didn’t give a direct answer and because of that, the line gets cut off because the train enters a tunnel! WTF?! Tonegawa frantically calls back again much to Hyoudou’s frustration. But then… Line cut again! Another tunnel! How many f*cking tunnels are there?! Poor Tonegawa had to take another quick trip home and clear the misunderstanding. After the business trip in Fukuoka, Tonegawa is sent to Osaka to supervise a new branch office for a week. He tries to make it casual with the employees and hinting they could invite him out to drinks after work. However the stupid branch manager, Kinezaki is being too strict and formal. Hence back to the tense atmosphere. A week passes and the MIBs have been working under tension and stress. So is this how it’ll end? Tonegawa notices the MIBs want to see him off but are hesitant. Hence he drops obvious hints he wants to be invited out. And just when they are about to do that, stupid Kinezaki tells them to scram! And so frustrated Tonegawa heads home alone without any party or send off. Curse you, Kinezaki! Meanwhile, Saemonsaburou seems to be wearing fashionable suits. This has the other guys doing the same. Only Yamazaki and Gonda do not follow. When Yamazaki calls Tonegawa for advice, he is told to just tell them it is part of the regulations. Next day, everyone is even more fashionable with Saemonsaburou tanned. Even Gonda has fallen into the fashionable trap. When Yamazaki points out the rules, it seems technically they are not breaking them. Sure, black suits, tie, sunglasses and shoes. But it didn’t specify what kind, right? Tonegawa returns to point how it looks ridiculous on them. So boring monotony is better than them standing out like that? Anyway he explains about what it means to be fashionable and mature instead just easily slapping accessories that make it look like cosplay. So how to stay fashionable? Tonegawa puts a simple handkerchief in Yamazaki’s pocket and now he looks super cool! Everyone wants to learn from Tonegawa so he brings them to Ginza and Marunouchi. I guess Harajuku doesn’t quite cut it.

Episode 12: Fake
Tonegawa is summoned by Hyoudou. He is shown a baseball and a hornet. Childhood memories? Apparently Hyoudou thinks somebody is targeting his life! Actually a kid actually threw a baseball at his way and a hornet just came sticking on his back. Tonegawa thought of employing additional security but Hyoudou wants a body double! And so the search for a body double begins. It’s an impossible task to have anybody look like him. Especially that nose… As Tonegawa and Yamazaki take a break at a diner, they are shocked this man, Masayan looks exactly like him! OMG did they copy and paste?! Only difference is his personality is exact opposite. He is such a kind and nice man! Words that Teiai employees would never expect their boss to say! They explain their issue to Masayan and he looks reluctant. Until his wife gives the greenlight because she knows he loves to help those in trouble. And so Masayan’s training to be Hyoudou’s double begins. Yup, harsh training from Yamazaki since he once worked under Hyoudou and knows all his habits. Uh huh. Even down to the how he laughs! After 2 months, Masayan is now like Hyoudou! Diabolical! He could be even more original than the original! When Tonegawa is called again by Hyoudou, it seems the boss is now more interested in being a mentalist and totally forgot about the body double! Yamazaki is distraught since Tonegawa says they can’t keep Masayan at Teiai. Endou heard this problem and dumps Masayan in some woods and leaves some cash. However this worries Tonegawa and Yamazaki so much that they start looking for him. Man, Yamazaki is so emotional. I can imagine the bond they had during the training. So worried that Yamazaki even mistook the real Hyoudou as Masayan! Shockingly, Masayan somehow makes his way back to Teiai. Yamazaki is so happy and begs Tonegawa to let him stay. No way. Unless he takes full responsibility. And with that, Masayan continues to stay at Teiai and Tonegawa keeps him as insurance. Who knows one day Hyoudou will be interested in the body double again.

Episode 13: Setting Sail
The restricted rock-scissors-paper will start tomorrow. However Tonegawa is called by Hyoudou and being asked if he respects him. Turns out Hyoudou is asking a series of questions from a psychology test book. Tonegawa must be careful in his answer so not to piss him off. Wrong answer will get him punished. Amusing answers will have Hyoudou sniggering and the MIBs following suit. In the final question, it made Hyoudou scared but Tonegawa is the winner because that answer means he is the biggest pervert. WTF moment for Tonegawa… With the restricted rock-scissors-paper game getting on, Tonegawa explains the rules. But when the debtors get rowdy, he tells them to STFU! Then he lectures them about being losers and winning. The game proceeds smoothly. Hyoudou is so impressed he wants another round in 3 days! Later Yamazaki talks to Tonegawa because he was impressed with his speech to shut down those debtors. Before the second round of the game begins, looks like Tonegawa has lost his voice so he has Yamazaki take over his role. Damn, teaching this guy how to say f*ck you? Yamazaki does well in the first part (with help from Tonegawa showing his place cards) until the debtors start getting rowdy. This is when Yamazaki naturally tells them off. Woah. This guy sounds meaner! All seems to be going well as he just regurgitates out what Tonegawa said. Until he tries to badmouth certain sports celebrities (like how Tonegawa did before) but some of them are real fans and tell him to apologize! This is unprecedented. Although Yamazaki manages to control the crowd, it wasn’t the kind of way Tonegawa had expected because he gave them lots of hopes they could rise and win this thing. But luckily, the game ended without any hitch and to celebrate this success, Tonegawa and his team go bowling!

Episode 14: Excursion
Today’s episode is focused on Ootsuki. Thanks to his killing he made from chinchiro gambling, he is able to buy a pass for a single day excursion. Of course with the MIBs keeping a close watch, Ootsuki is different from many others who rush and struggle on their single day freedom. Instead we see him taking easy and ‘wasting time’. A simple meal before going to bed. Next day, he buys himself a suit and heads to a normal soba bar for normal office workers. He stuns everyone by ordering beer. And a few rounds of it! It dawned to the MIBs that he is lording over those other office workers. Because who else can drink at this time of the day but a manager? Yeah, he enjoys putting pressure on those guys. In the end, he leaves a satisfied man. On another excursion, the usual taking it slow and pretty normal stuff till the next day he decides to eat at a Chinese cuisine shop. It was the shop where he used to patron as a college student and the chef was kind enough to give him extra and no charge if he ordered the special crab fried rice. As he was about to order that, he sees a handwritten omelette rice on the menu. He is in a dilemma whether to risk his safety by ordering this but curiosity got the better of him so he orders it. It came out as omelette + rice separately. At first he was disappointed and thought his day was ruined but as he eats it, it tastes so delicious that he finishes it within minutes. But here’s the best part, the chef serves him a mini crab fried rice. Ootsuki didn’t order this but the chef always thought he used to order them. Anyway it’s on the house. Wow. This guy still remembers this dude! Ootsuki gushes down this nostalgia and relives those college days. On his way back, he rates this place as 5 star for the food and value but only 3 stars for the atmosphere because there were noisy people around…

Episode 15: Playing Hard
When Ootsuki is out again, this time his lackey Numakawa follows him. The last time Numakawa was out alone, it didn’t go too well. So with Ootsuki around, this veteran is able to show how to go about the day. Take things nice and slowly without panicking. The whole day they read magazines and talk about manga. When they go for dinner, Numakawa wants to order an expensive dish to celebrate this occasion but Ootsuki quickly points out how many makes this mistake. After finding out where Numakawa comes from, he orders chicken nanban. They should eat what they actually want to eat. Since there is a fireworks festival nearby, they head there to have fun. At the end of the festival, Ootsuki buys some food for the festival workers to eat. Numakawa is stumped he is doing that for random strangers but the staffs then invite them to join in and they get to eat snacks and drink more beer. Numakawa is so enlightened that he wants to go out with Ootsuki next time. But Ootsuki tells him that the best adventures are the ones you discover yourself. On another day out, Ootsuki finds this MIB, Miyamoto to be sitting close to him. Miyamoto is very sceptical of Ootsuki. Despite his calm demeanour, he accuses him of being a devil deep down. So Miyamoto is going to have his eyes on him this time. Ootsuki doesn’t care and proceeds to do as he pleases. Ootsuki is having fun eating and relaxing and even inviting Miyamoto to join but of course the latter refuses claiming he is on duty. So after Ootsuki finds out where he is from, he takes him to an antenna shop where the chamber of commerce is selling and promoting their specialty goods. Ootsuki would even gladly pay for Miyamoto’s share and so finally this MIB gives in. Once that happens, he really lets loose and both of them have fun all the way! So much so when it is time for Ootsuki to go back, Miyamoto allows another hour! Eventually other MIBs drag them back. Looks like Miyamoto is now a fan of Ootsuki and can’t wait the next time he goes out. Before we forget that Tonegawa is the star of this show, we see him visit the pork cutlet shop and this time he orders the lady size. But Ootsuki is next to him and orders the large serving. Tonegawa glees silently and will watch this guy make the mistake he once did. So when the large serving comes out, Ootsuki recognizes Tonegawa as his photo is on the wall. Ootsuki tries to have Tonegawa share his portion but is told off to man up and finish it himself. When Tonegawa’s order arrives, Ootsuki laughs at his ‘pitiful’ size. So different than the winning photo, right? This lights up the competitive fire in Tonegawa so he orders the large serving! And so both of them dive into pork cutlet hell… Despite both of them amazingly finishing their bowls, the real winner is the pork cutlet… Too much pork…

Episode 16: Natural Enemies
Tonegawa is wary of Kurosaki because he is his natural rival who might usurp his position. You see, Kurosaki can be straight to the point with Hyoudou and not get punished unlike Tonegawa who says the slightest wrong thing and he’ll get what’s coming. So as they dine out, Tonegawa tries to play it safe by following Kurosaki’s lead. He can’t be too ambitious and usurp it from there because he might say the wrong thing. However with Tonegawa blindly playing it safe, eventually he says the wrong thing and incurs Hyoudou’s wrath. Hyoudou decides to buy this elegant looking racehorse and names it Kazutakaiser! Then he sees a shabby one and buys it for Tonegawa, calling it Yukioh! But as we see, Kazutakaiser isn’t doing well compared to Yukioh. Even the trainer puts the potential on the latter. Hence Hyoudou does the unthinkable by swapping their identities! Yukioh is now his Kazutakaiser! During race day, Kurosaki is stumped at the switched Yukioh and Kazutakaiser. Tonegawa tries to silence him but Kurosaki brings this up to Hyoudou who of course laughs it off as a joke. When the race begins, Kazutakaiser makes a bad start but ultimately catches up to Yukioh who is leading the pack. It becomes a 2 horse race as Hyoudou and Tonegawa are earnestly praying for Kazutakaiser to win. But just metres before the finish line, Darkurosaki usurps and wins it! Yup. This is Kurosaki’s horse! Hyoudou and Tonegawa are left speechless while Kurosaki celebrates his victory.

Episode 17: Unofficial Announcement
It’s that time of year when the MIBs get a little nervous. Because it’s that time when some of them will be relocated. Those in the higher ups will know who goes where but sometimes there are ‘leaks’. Yamazaki got wind of those who will be transferred and ironically those who are affected are the ones who don’t know about it. One night, Yamazaki is called to meet up with Kikuchi, Nagata and Hagio. Yamazaki fears the worst because these 3 are the ones under Tonegawa team who will be transferred! Firstly, they trio are talking how they want to rise up through the ranks of Teiai as well as some of its inefficiencies. When they point out the southernmost branch of Teiai located at the edge of Japan that is just so why-the-heck-we-need-a-branch-there, the irony is that Yamazaki knows this is where the trio will be transferred! The trio think Yamazaki shares their same goal to rise up in Teiai and hence asking for his opinion. Better not say too much. A few weeks later, a few false alarm from the HR to make others think the trio got their relocation notice. And when finally Yamazaki sees them depressed thinking they already got the news, it is just Hagio losing his e-wallet pass card. Damn HR hurry up with the official announcement already! And soon the official announcement is out. The trio seem to be taking this calmly but upon closer inspection, their eyes are dead! Sunglasses hiding them… Hence a farewell party is held. However once they hit the booze, all their true feelings of despair and anxiety come out. It becomes hell with Yamazaki unable to control them and the other men. Then Tonegawa steps in. The trio brazenly confront him about this. They know this branch transfer is just to extract seaweed for Hyoudou’s supplement. Hyoudou admits this is some sort of demotion but also has hope for them to climb back up. But they don’t think so. Normal people like them can never rise again. It’s all over. Tonegawa hands them some sunglasses and UV lotion as well as warn them about sea snakes. Eh? Why does he now so much about this southern island thingy? Then he shows the sea snake bite on his chest! Oh dear. Looks like he was sent there too. The trio realize Tonegawa never had it smooth sailing either. The trio renew their motivation and hope to come back here again. We see them doing fine and even sending a postcard to Tonegawa.

Episode 18: Alignment
Tonegawa’s medical report… All C’s! Better start cutting down on those cholesterol and do some exercises. As Tonegawa makes the effort, his MIBs notice this and try to be mindful. However Doushita thinks of supporting him further by doing the same things as him. Tonegawa doesn’t know why this guy is doing so. One day as Tonegawa thinks he can have this pork cutlet as reward, Doushita throws it away! Don’t give in! Since when did he become his personal trainer?! Oh yeah. That’s what Doushita did. For some reason Tonegawa follows all his training regimen. So much so one day he had to sneak into the toilet cubicle just to secretly eat his pork cutlet. But the smell! Yeah, Doushita is tracking you down! Hide! But he is soon busted but this time he doesn’t throw it away but tells him not to eat the skin and no white rice! Is he his mother now? In the second medical test, Tonegawa scores all A’s thanks to his efforts. Phew. But his valuation towards Doushita? C! Better be careful! One day when Ootsuki is out on the surface, he notices a guy whom he has never seen before also on this same excursion. Not that he cares about this dude who probably saved up and never gambled. But something feels more than just coincidence because wherever Ootsuki goes, this guy is also there and orders the same thing! Everything! Even taking the same bath and sleeping at the same hotel. Despite being close to each other, they never talk or make eye contact. Next day, Ootsuki and this guy are at the same diner and orders the same thing. Nothing unusual. But this is where it ‘deviates’. While Ootsuki has tuna condiment, that guy orders chili bean paste and quail egg! Ootsuki in shock! Where is their unison?! Ootsuki is now feeling the pressure whether to order the same thing! When he orders a quail egg, that guy slides to him the paste. Ootsuki tries it and finds this combo delicious. When he finishes, it is time to return. Ootsuki never saw that guy again so he spaces out thinking about him. Could he be from a different facility? But you know how funny fate works. They cross each other’s path while working and he finally asks his name.

Episode 19: Newcomers
We have new members to replace those who have transferred out from Tonegawa’s team. They are Tsukui, Yaotome and… Saeko Nishiguchi! The MIBs are in shock! A female MIB?! Tonegawa tells them that gender doesn’t matter when it comes to Teiai’s employment. However everyone has to be cautious because every little thing they do even indirectly seems to amount to sexual harassment! Since when is Tonegawa the moral police?! The men are liking Nishiguchi since she treats them nice and recently Saemonsaburou bumping into her very often and as usual she treats him kindly, you can say that something inside his heart starts to stir. He even blurts out wanting to walk her home. No thanks. She can do that herself. Saemonsaburou regrets saying that since it makes him look like some creepy stalker. Let’s hope Nishiguchi doesn’t think that way. One day in office, she receives a call and blushingly rushes out to answer. To Saemonsaburou’s dismay, could this Hiro guy be her boyfriend?! Oh, why so anxious? Why so depressed? Later he discovers that guy is her brother. Phew. So relieved. Tonegawa has dinner with Hyoudou for their monthly meeting. As Hyoudou tries to impress his Engrish (“I have many many money…”), suddenly Yaotome drops in awe. He finds Hyoudou speaking Engrish to be so cool! And because Hyoudou loves those who overly praise him, he takes a liking for this guy. “I’m lovin’ it!”. We see Hyoudou even personally coming to look for Yaotome during meetings and this dude continues to praise shamelessly Hyoudou. Yeah, it’s so cringe worthy but you can’t say because Hyoudou’s the boss. It comes to a point where Yaotome dresses like Tonegawa since Hyoudou can’t tell him apart from other MIBs and at one point Hyoudou almost forgets Tonegawa’s name! Damn, Hyoudou and Yaotome are like best buddies! On another monthly dinner meeting, Tonegawa tries to redeem himself by showing a beautiful sight of the city. See how the commoners struggle! Hyoudou loves this view when suddenly Yaotome jumps in to block! Don’t see! WTF?! Yaotome claims he has been ignoring him! WTF???!!! As Yaotome views him as the admirable king, a king must pay attention to his subjects. More cringe worthy twisted praising and probably this back breaking limbo pose that is so WTF. You don’t understand how incredible you are?! WTF?! Because of that, Hyoudou forgives him! And with Yaotome now suddenly appointed as Hyoudou’s personal secretary, Tonegawa feels his position threatened.

Episode 20: Entertaining
Long before Kaiji tackled the Bog, Tonegawa has been invited by Ichijou to do the same. But of course it is rigged and it is all done in the name of entertainment. Tonegawa can tell Ichijou is a lousy entertainer due to his panicky ways. The Bog is set up in such an easy mode that all the balls manage to get to the last tray. Of course for a little bit of tension, all the balls doesn’t go through the right hole. This riles Tonegawa up and when it’s time, Ichijou rigs it further to let all the balls pop back up until he wins it. Yeah, lousy acting too. When Ootsuki and Numakawa are out on the surface, they can’t take it easy because they’re supposed to replenish their stocks to sell. Hence it is a busy day for them but they notice that they have another competitor selling different brand of snacks and sets. Ootsuki tries to come up with something different but no good ideas hit him until the very last moment. It seems Ootsuki has come up with some ultimate snack saving plan. Sign up and you can eat all you want for a certain time limit at half price. Still not good enough? He unveils some super ultimate snack plan that sounds so worth it that everyone signs up. At first it might look like this might make him go out of business but soon everybody gets bored of it. When they want out of the plan, they can’t because they already signed a contract and cancelling has its penalties. So they find ways to eat the snacks differently and create and innovate the snacks into different kind of food. On the day their subscription is up, they want to cancel their plan but Ootsuki is conveniently out today. Looks like they’re in for automatic renewal!

Episode 21: Defamation
Tonegawa notices Teiai’s Twitter account has only a few followers and miserable tweets. However there is an opposing account that hates Teiai and it has more followers! Tonegawa decides to take it upon himself to get the better of this. However despite increasing his followers, the hate account increases even more! With Saemonsaburou advising him, Tonegawa’s tweets are mostly about the weather! The hate group has more trendy and catchy buzzwords. Tonegawa will not lose out and let Saemonsaburou handle it. Instead he will learn all the trendy stuffs to appeal to others. Even if Tonegawa has more followers now, the hate group still has even more! Tonegawa losing for the first time? But one day, noticing a tweet that details the contents of his food, it then occurs to him that the person running this hate account could be an inside job and an employee of Teiai! Gasp! Can’t trust anyone now. The plot thickens… We take a detour to the underground labour as Ootsuki prepares his chinchiro gambling. However nobody is around. Until Numakawa reports that everyone has gone to watch a movie. Say what? It seems Odagiri, the foreman of a different group has set up a mini cinema for others to watch for a small fee. After the Roman Holiday movie, they are able to buy buns at special prices. Audrey Hep-buns?! Plus, he creates hype when he tells them the next screening will be Prison Break! Seasons 1 to 5! Everybody is cheering for Odagiri while Ootsuki is left to rue this might lead to a loss in his business. Because the underground has no internet, Odagiri must wait till his next excursion to the surface to download using free wi-fi. So when Odagiri is on that excursion, he is surprised Ootsuki is also out. Ootsuki plans to shut him down before he gets blown away.

Episode 22: Conclusions
After Odagiri downloads his movies, Ootsuki treats him to drink. In a diner that Ootsuki frequents, he treats him to good food and drinks. Even Miyamoto joins in! Once Odagiri is drunk and lets his guard down, Ootsuki moves in for the kill. His intention is for them to join forces and run a movie-cum-gambling den. While it might look like a win-win situation, Ootsuki’s devilish plan is to slowly squeeze him out once he gets his foothold. Odagiri verbally agrees but to cement this, Ootsuki has Miyamoto act as the witness and drink to seal the deal. However this scenes reminds Odagiri of that movie, Once Upon A Time In America. Everybody has seen it except Ootsuki! Because of that, Odagiri wants him to watch it now! Oh well, their excursion will be over in 3 hours so the deal can wait till the end. However this director’s cut version lasts almost 4 hours!!! Damn extended length! No deal? Meanwhile back to Tonegawa, realizing the hate tweet is getting more and more specific, it could only me that the culprit could be one of his men. Saemonsaburou hits upon an idea when a hate tweet contains a picture of a Smartphone. Using digital technology to enhance the contrast, they can now see the culprit’s face on the reflection. Ebitani?! Oh look, there is one new tweet that shows the front of Teiai. Realizing he is just outside, Tonegawa and his men go confront him. Ebitani blames Teiai for ruining his life. No job, no money. He tries to expose the shady deals Teiai does but Tonegawa has his men ‘shut him up’. When he wakes up, he is in a cell but it has amenities like TV and high spec PC! Tonegawa forces him to make amends. He is going to start a new account that spreads love for Teiai. Do whatever he wants and only until he reaches 100,000 followers he can be free. Whining will not get you anywhere. And so Ebitani makes his first supportive tweet on Teiai.

Episode 23: Premonition
Tonegawa doesn’t like class reunions but he is attending anyway. He wants to confirm and see for himself those who talk big and were obnoxious, how they are doing now. To his dismay, looks like they’re still the same loudmouth high school kids they were. In short, many never changed and even if there was something that changed, it was just their appearance. Yup, the cruelty of the passage of time. Tonegawa is shocked to see Maho Kagawa. Flashback shows she confessed to him but he rejected her!!! OMG! Despite he never had feelings for her, however he was shocked to see her wearing a wedding ring. Then the guys start playing dodgeball. One almost hit Kagawa but Tonegawa blocks it with his hand! He tells them not to go overboard. He has had it with this reunion and wants to leave. Kagawa hopes he could stay since their teachers will soon be arriving and they will sing the school song. Tonegawa isn’t impressed that they’re acting like high school kids when they’re not. Isn’t it embarrassing? Even so, isn’t it fun? With that, Tonegawa joins in but he doesn’t sing. He plays the piano. Yeah, he had fun too. Ootsuki and Numakawa are out again. The latter looking forward to some board game café. However Ootsuki realizes he is coming down with a flu and needs to do something. Parting ways with Numakawa, he rents a room that has a kitchen so that he could make his flu remedial dinner. He didn’t expect it was so good that he finished it. Then Miyamoto visits him. Today is his day off and he heard from the MIBs watching him what happened. So he brought some umeboshi and eggnog to help out. He also helps wet newspapers and put them in a bucket to act as humidifiers. Ootsuki then turns in early. Next morning, he feels better but he isn’t going to let his guard down yet. After making a wholesome breakfast, he continues to rest. Just in time to meet up with Numakawa because now he is back to normal health and even more energetic. So much so he wins all his games at the board game café. Meanwhile Miyamoto catches Ootsuki’s flu… Better rest up and recover quick or else he can’t join Ootsuki on his next excursion!

Episode 24: Endgame
It’s déjà vu all over again. Tonegawa being called by a very bored Hyoudou that he wants to watch something more exciting. Yup, something that will bring out the worst in humans and he wants to see that despair. This means something more diabolical than the restricted rock-paper-scissors. Tonegawa is about to get to it but looks like Hyoudou already has an idea himself. So if you’ve seen the original TV series, you would know what this human derby is all about. Although Tonegawa tells his men about this, another team is appointed to arrange for this. Tonegawa still wants his men to come and watch in case they are called to handle this in the future. Under the pretence of complying with TV regulations, they can’t show us the devastating human derby! Thank goodness I saw it in Kaiji so I beat your lousy censorship!!! Haha!!! On the day of the human derby, Yamazaki is the only one taking an off day. He gets this wrong idea it is about the Teiai bosses riding on humans like horse in a race. You don’t know… When his group chat start shuddering at this utter diabolicalness, curious Yamazaki press for more details on what is happening. Thankfully, his handphone runs out of battery. Safe? At the end of the game, Tonegawa’s words ring true: Money > Life. Tonegawa and his men attend Ogino’s wedding. It’s the only time an MIB is dressed in white. Tonegawa gives an impressive speech. Yamazaki is amazed but soon learns all that he said is fake. It doesn’t matter if it is truths or lies. The crowd here just wants to celebrate and have a good time. Tonegawa thought this is a pretty standard wedding. Until the life video of Ogino that reveals some things that he never knew before. Ogino born in Zambia???!!! He was a stand-up comedian too???!!! Shocking, right? When everybody gathers for a group photo, after Yamazaki gives the signal, all of Tonegawa’s men start doing a flash mob and some weird dance! Ogino taking the lead?! WTF?! But everybody is amused. Then Tonegawa realizes this is supposed to be a joyous day so he too joins in by Moonwalking into the flash mob! Go Tonegawa, go! Yeah, everybody sure had a swell time.

The Best Laid Plans Go Astray…
Zawa… Zawa… So that is how it ends? Damn. I didn’t really see this coming that this would have such a ‘happy ending’. Even more so, a wedding ending! Heh. How many animes have a wedding theme in their final episode? In fact, I wasn’t even sure whether if it was going to end on a positive note. Of course seeing the comedy take that has run its course throughout this series, it wasn’t likely it was going to end on a bad note but there is that very small chance that it could happen. Thank goodness it didn’t. Phew? Ah well, I guess there’s that saying that of all the big worries that ever crossed your mind in life, a big majority of them never happened. Yup. And so to know more about the downfall of Tonegawa and his ‘tragic’ fate, please refer to the original Kaiji TV series. For now, let Tonegawa and his men revel in the happiness of, uhm, whatever. Just dance and be happy!

Many of the episodes feel episodic in nature and sometimes can serve as standalones. While the first half might look like it is continuous, that is only because it takes place during the development of the restricted rock-paper-scissors game. Thanks to this format style, each episode is fun to watch as we see Tonegawa’s struggles trying to get things done all for Hyoudou and ultimately for his own career advancement. But I suppose to avoid this series to be boring and solely on Tonegawa, I didn’t see this coming as the second half introduces Ootsuki as the other regular. Should have also added another title for the second half: The Excursion Adventures Of Ootsuki!

In order to keep each episode fresh and funny, I noticed that a lot of exaggerated metaphors are used. Usually when Tonegawa or Ootsuki are deliberating and thinking-cum-analysing the outcome of certain actions. Some give us another perspective of how it is done and some can pass off as just funny. Like that metaphor of Tonegawa trying to run closely behind Kurosaki to avoid stepping on any mines or Ootsuki being depicted as Juliet but because of his stubby body, he looks freaking hideous in that blonde wig and oversized feminine dress! All in all, these metaphors are mostly fun to watch and it keeps us viewers amused because sometimes there would be a catch in it all when their plan backfires. In addition to all that, the narrator narrates in a very passionate and hip way like as though we are watching some variety show.

After watching this spinoff series, I can say that Tonegawa himself isn’t actually such a bad person. It is not that I am having Stockholm Syndrome or anything but watching this spinoff and the original Kaiji series, Tonegawa looks like a different person only because we do not know much about him. In the Kaiji series, he is painted as a bad guy thanks to the series’ nature despite his very short cameo. But after seeing what Tonegawa has gone through in this spinoff, it is for certain that he isn’t very much the villain that we all would think he is. After all, the big bad wolf is Hyoudou himself and as the big boss with the money to flaunt and influence others, everyone else is just ants working under him. Tonegawa is no different and is just an employee working for the big man himself. This is by no means that Tonegawa is a clean saint as he too has his fair share of being shady. But overall, this guy isn’t anywhere close to being the next Hitler or Pol Pot. But you have to also understand the company Tonegawa works for is already a shady one so he’s just doing his job. Sort of.

It is hard to say if Tonegawa would be a different man had he worked in a different company but assuming he has this same demeanour back in high school, probably this job fits him like a glove. To add to my previous paragraph about him not being a total bad guy, this guy is in fact quite a good role model in some ways too. Heck, he could be one of the best mentors ever too. He properly guides his men under his wing even at one point with their fashion sense! Sometimes he gives good advice when they are lost and while he is certainly no saint himself, he tries to give others a chance like the umpteenth chance for Ebitani to redeem himself and some returning hope to the transferred trio. After all that we have seen him, do we not still see him as somewhat a good guy if not at least a respected man in his own right? Of course sometimes things don’t go as planned so on occasion he still has to sing the blues. Just like how the last episode can spring a few surprises to Tonegawa about not even knowing certain stuffs about his men, the same can be said for us because it would never ever cross our minds that this guy had a girl confessed to him back in high school! This guy???!!! A girl. Had feelings. For him! OMG I’m so jealous!

The same can be said for Ootsuki who looks like a very practical and wise man. Yes, he is still a conniving, manipulative swindler and a conman in the underground camp but as we have also seen here, he is still not the biggest crook around. Well, you have only yourself to blame if you fall for his cons. After all, as long as nobody finds out, everything is fair game, right? His numerous excursions shows us that he is a man who knows how and what to appreciate. Given that he is stuck in the underground camp, he appreciates the very limited freedom given to him that most of us take for granted. We see him enjoy the best of what he wants with the limited amount of time. So it’s such an irony to see that the man with the least freedom has actually the most meaningful freedom than the rest of the free people living above ground. Work, eat, sleep, repeat cycle. How meaningful is that? It is no wonder that Numakawa and even MIB Miyamoto want to follow him around because this guy who is an ex-salesman knows things best. This is one of those moments were experience truly plays an important role. Uh huh. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.

The other minor characters aren’t so impactful. Like those MIBs under Tonegawa, heck I still can’t remember the rest of their names except for Yamazaki and Saemonsaburou. Yeah, they don’t stand out like them since Yamazaki is like Tonegawa’s assistant for the team and Saemonsaburou being the youngest member has lots of creative ideas that makes him stand out from the rest of the rather monotonous MIB clones. Even some of the new ones joining the team didn’t make an impact but I guess the show is not about them. Especially Nishiguchi whom I thought would have more screen time as she is a very rare female MIB but I figure they’re not going to make her usurp Tonegawa. Others with similar small cameo sound like they have potential but not explored further. I believe again this is not to usurp Tonegawa and Ootsuki’s focus. Like Kurosaki or Odagiri who have this potential to threaten and derail Tonegawa and Ootsuki’s goal respectively. However they are treated like any other side characters and are side-lined once they have no part to play. Others are simply forgotten like… Remember that Hyoudou body double?! Yeah, we have forgotten about him, haven’t we? Masayan!!! Or that Yaotome guy? Where did he go after becoming Hyoudou’s balls carrier? And you might have already notice, the man Kaiji himself is missing and only making very limited cameos in future flashbacks. So you could say that life was pretty fair to Tonegawa and Ootsuki until they crossed paths with Kaiji. We need another season to follow up what happened to them!

The art and animation maintain their same trademark and style as we see in Kaiji. The characters with strange blocky designs especially the broad blocky or sharp pointy nose of many characters as well as their square jawbones that serve to remind me of those old DC cartoons. After all, Madhouse who animated the Kaiji series continued their hands in this one so it’s no surprise the consistency of the animation is still there. At least this time we see ‘a lot more’ female characters but thanks to the nature and art style, they too look weird. Uh huh. Hey, don’t blame me. My standards for cute kawaii bishoujos are pretty high! I think. And one of the funny things I noticed that all the MIBs continue to wear their black sunglasses whether it is on their day off or they’ve been fired. It’s like the trademark that defines them always. So much so I’ve been thinking it is part of their face now.

Sassou to Hashiru Tonegawa-kun by Gesu No Kiwami Otome tries to sound like the song for this spinoff. However I didn’t like it very much as it sounds flat especially the singer voice who sounds like he is on Auto-Tune all the time. Maybe had they sing it with some passion and emotion, it might have sounded a bit better. Maybe. Hence I prefer very much the first ending theme, Oki Tegami by Pistol Takehara. Because it has this edgy and grunge feel that compliments the singer’s husky voice and the guitar strumming accompaniment, it makes it quite the catchy song. The second ending theme is also not bad, Kyougen Mawashi by Noisycell. There is a bit of hip hop element in this rock piece and is catchy in its own right.

Overall, this series is enjoyable and fun to watch even if you didn’t watch the original Kaiji series. But you’d be able to appreciate and understand better if you did. Thanks to the 2 main characters, they are the selling points in making the series itself is funny and witty as it really shows that there is always 2 sides to a coin. As we can see this spinoff shows the lighter side of these characters, it is probably more brutal and unforgiving if we are to see them seriously in their work especially in the gambling and money lending business. But then again, this is how the world works. Some people have to suffer just for the entertainment of others. Thank goodness I’m on the side of enjoying this one ;p. Yeah, “I’m lovin’ it”, this series, that is. Zawa… Zawa… So can we have another season of Kaiji? Zawa… Zawa…

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