Hataraki Man

October 23, 2009

Since I’ve been in the working society for the past several years, it is only right and timely that I watched an anime which relates to the working class and life, Hataraki Man. Though the kind of job that I am doing is totally different from what the anime is focused on, nevertheless it is still related to one’s occupation so I thought I might get some good advice from here seeing that this is categorized as drama and slice of life genre.
Despite the name of the series, our main protagonist is a 28 year old single female, Hiroko Matsukata who works as an editor in a men’s weekly magazine, Jidai. No, she is not a cross-dresser, mind you. In the working world which was once dominated by men, trend has it that women are on the rise in terms of job employment and position around the globe. Perhaps it is Hiroko’s workaholic attitude like a guy which contributes to her nickname as Hataraki Man (meaning, working man). Even if she can be considered successful in her job, she lacks that success in the romance area. And if you think she’s a huge workaholic, you should take a look at her boyfriend, Shinji Yamashiro, who is a bigger workaholic than her. How big? Work comes as top priority so any dates that clash or overlaps, will straightaway be cancelled. Damn. Ah, busy, busy, busy. A price to pay in today’s competitive world? Mainly what viewers will see is how Hiroko goes about in her editing job. Although the entire series does not focus solely on Hiroko, it also focuses on other colleagues and working class people that Hiroko comes into contact.
Thus in episode 1 we see a new rookie editor in Jidai, Kunio Tanaka, handing in his article to his desk editor, Kimio Narita. But Narita doesn’t feel its source is verified enough and decides to have Hiroko take a look at it, in which she objects. Later Tanaka apologizes for putting more work for her and will finish the job himself. Later as she and the other staff gathers at a bar and Hiroko is upset she has to redo Tanaka’s work every time. After work, the gang gather to have a meal together and they wonder how Hiroko sleeps since she’s a workaholic. On a train ride home, Hiroko takes a nap after getting an SMS from Shinji and when she comes home to her apartment, she collapses. The thing is, she mentions how she didn’t have sex for 3 months! Advice: Overworking kills your sex life. Yeah, sometimes you’ll get to hear Hiroko lamenting how she’s breaking the sex-free period record. But doesn’t she give priority to work over sex? Oh yeah. Shinji is much too busy for that too.
Hiroko goes to interview the Foreign Minister, Hoshikawa and is upset because she is made to wait. Thus her 1 hour interview has been reduced to mere minutes. When it’s over, she sees his secretary outside, Utako Sekiguchi as she says how he has no sense of ideal or aesthetics. Hiroko receives a call from Shinji to have dinner together but gets a call from Sekiguchi wanting to meet up and tell everything about Hoshikawa. Because so, Hiroko postpones her date just to get the juicy details. The next day, Hiroko shows Narita the scoop she received: Embezzlement of funds from Hoshikawa. Narita instantly changes the front page cover and wants 8 pages of this. Hiroko goes into work mode: Man switch on! In this mode, she works 3 times harder and anything else other than work vanishes from her mind. Like a super robot, eh? However the next day a TV report has Hoshikawa announcing and making as though it’s Sekiguchi who embezzled the funds. Hiroko is upset and soon gets a threatening call. Narita calms her down and takes the call while showing his maturity in handling it. On the way home, Hiroko feels that someone is following her so she SMS Shinji about it while frantically rushing back to the sanctuary of her apartment. Once in, she almost breaks down as Shinji calls her. She wants him to come over but is unable due to a business trip. She decides not to cry as not to trouble him.
The next day, Hiroko wants to write an article to clear Sekiguchi’s name but Narita won’t allow it because of her non disclosure of her source. On the rooftop, she gets a call from Sekiguchi and wonders why she didn’t stand up and fight back the allegations and her reply is that she feels this is her punishment for turning a blind eye for a long time. Next day, Hiroko is still adamant to write the article but since she’s emotionally tied to it, Narita suggests writing it in her place. Hiroko refuses and this has Narita raising his voice as this would lead to a lost in trust for the magazine. He wonders if she has a strong determination to counter the threats that she has been receiving. But the chief editor, Tstsuhiko Umemiya, decides to let Hiroko write what she wants and that he’ll take all the repercussions on 1 condition: She has to meet his expectations. Hiroko is experiencing writer’s block when she realizes she didn’t do enough follow up work for Sekiguchi and was just trying to cover up her own mistakes and thinking about herself. She goes into work mode and successfully writes and article which readers can tell Hoshikawa is the culprit without revealing Sekiguchi as the source. When Tanaka comes in, Hiroko remembers his words on how he’d regret it if all he did in life was work. Though he is right, Hiroko prefers to die thinking that she has accomplished something.
In episode 2, Fumiya Sugawara and his stakeout team just got busted from another assignment. The editor of the entertainment department, Akihisa Kobayashi or Kobu for short, mentions how they’re like idiots, the reason they got busted so Narita suggests for them to take a woman along with them. The only 1 available is Hiroko, in which she objects. Sugawara says he doesn’t need her help and is better off on his own. Later Mayu is upset as she talks to Hiroko that Sugawara may be a woman hater. Sugawara gets another stakeout assignment which is a probable scandal between a track and field athlete girl and her coach. Hiroko calls Shinji and talk about her article in which she couldn’t interview the main source. In the end, Shinji has to cancel their date tonight due to work, shocking Hiroko. Sugawara is being told by his underling that they need a woman in this stakeout in order not to get caught due to circumstances surrounding them. So they reluctantly request Hiroko’s assistance. Sugawara expects her to say no, thinking that she’s the arrogant type that he dislikes but to her surprise, she accepts. That’s because her date got cancelled…
As Hiroko meets up with Sugawara in his car, she ponders his indifferent attitude towards not only woman but to her especially. It’s a good chance for her to find out why. In the car, Sugawara continues to be cold and ignore her. She wonders was it because when she first joined Jidai, she was assigned under this department but didn’t like it and was reassigned to another. She also wonders why his camera photos always have pictures of the sky. At the stakeout place, Sugawara notices an old woman watching them and recognizes the one who busted them previously. Hiroko quickly improvises and makes it as though they are making out. Can’t believe that granny is watching them for quite a while before leaving! Once she does, Hiroko realizes her natto maki has tainted his shirt and insists that he take it off so she could wash it at a nearby park. Soon a taxi ferrying their target arrives so Sugawara starts snapping as they enter the apartment. Hiroko comes back and tells him not to take those photos. Sugawara is amazed that she knows those pics are not worth taking as it isn’t conclusive. Their talk about pictures, articles and rumours soon turned into an argument. Dawn breaks as Sugawara drives back from their failed stakeout while Hiroko dozes off. He stops and takes a pic of the sky and says the reason he is still doing this job even if people hates him for it is so that he won’t lose his way. Hiroko wakes up and sees what he’s doing. He asks her why she likes eating natto maki and her reply: She won’t tell him. Right back at him. And oh yes. The end note did mention how natto maki is natural in estrogens. Probably something Hiroko really needs.
The staffs of Jidai are having a meeting in episode 3 and Hiroko notes how 70% of what is discussed are meaningless. During the meeting, Yumi Nogawa comes in late, Maiko Kaji giving an excuse to leave early, Hiroko trying to ask Sugawara about the Olympic scandal stakeout but declines to say anything. The meeting must be that boring, eh? After the meeting, Hiroko and Kobu chat about Sugawara’s attitude about not saying anything on his job so the latter says he has to be careful or else a tongue’s slip will for instance lead it to be spread across the internet. Hiroko notes Kobu’s job nature whereby there’s no need for secrecy and what he says don’t need to have double meanings. Narita calls Hiroko to inform that her ramen article is approved. But since she has other articles and thinks it’s impossible for her to eat 3-4 ramens every day, he assigns Tanaka as her assistant, horrifying her. As usual, Tanaka starts asking silly questions like a rookie, upsetting her further. She’s trying hard to control her anger. Hiroko persuades Kobu to go out for a drink to talk about this problem. At the bar, she tells Kobu that she told Tanaka to ask him for advice. In the end, Hiroko becomes too drunk so Kobu hails a taxi to send her home. Shinji opens the apartment door to and is surprised to find Hiroko in this state.
The next morning as Shinji heads for work, he asks her if anything has happened as this isn’t the 1st time her colleague brought her home. Hiroko doesn’t want to tell him so she says it’s nothing. At work, Hiroko notices Tanaka keep asking Kobu questions after questions on ramen taste, etc and thinks he’s taking advantage of him. Sugawara tells Tanaka to taste it himself (Hiroko happy that someone is going to tell him off) but Tanaka says he’s got an ulcer (Hiroko shocked by his reply). Narita calls Hiroko to tell her that the Olympic scandal will be cut short to a page since the athlete has been dropped from the squad. Which means, they have a page free. Hiroko refuses to come out with an article and suggests lengthening the current one, which is the ramen article. But Tanaka is reluctant as everything is set and his attitude of going against Narita’s words is upsetting her. Then Kobu comes up with an idea to include a ranking chart. Soon everyone gets busy and Hiroko too goes into work mode. Kobu narrates about augmentation whereby weaknesses turn into strength and that sex and food are the fundamentals of life. When they’re done, Hiroko notices Kobu not at his place and Tanaka says he has left and thought he was hungry. To where? Tanaka says this is what Kobu told him, "I won’t tell you where the best place is". Hiroko gives out a heartily laughter while Kobu is seen eating and enjoying beer as their ramen article makes it to publication.
On a rainy day in episode 4, Hiroko gets a call from Shinji that yet another date has been cancelled. Mayu teases her so Hiroko gets back by screwing her forehead. A colleague asks Kobu what kind of job Shinji does and he says a site foreman in a big time general contractor firm. Shinji continues to do some backfilling of the foundation deep into the night’s rain. Hiroko meanwhile has her friend Masami as Shinji’s replacement at the restaurant instead. They both talk about his job, sex and abstinence (the waiter shocked to hear their conversation. What’s this, Masami sleeps with 7 men?!). While Shinji is in his office worksite, he ponders how much effort Hiroko puts into her job. With the rain continue to fall heavily, Shinji goes out once more to do more backfilling so much so he oversleeps in his office till the next morning. He is awakened by his construction workers commending his good backfilling job. Shinji remembers a time when he did a huge blunder and apologized but saying sorry didn’t get things done nor made them better. Hiroko manages to finish her assignment and quickly leaves. Mayu concludes that her date didn’t get cancelled this time. Hiroko waits for Shinji and after a few rounds of cigarettes and drinks, Shinji shows up late and apologizes (he went home to change). He says he had meant to call her or even meet straight at the restaurant but Hiroko doesn’t want to go anymore. She is upset not by the fact he is late but rather he thinks everything can be fixed through apologizing. Because of that, Shinji spaces out and wonders if he likes his current job.
The next day, the beam needs to be redone and would incur extra costs. Though Shinji is okay with it, a worker is unhappy and blows his top because this would cause a day’s worth of delay and that the earlier construction of that beam was based on Shinji’s orders. Shinji apologizes and the other workers take the unhappy colleague away. Even back home, Shinji continues to space out as he notices Hiroko busily working at home with a new project. The next day, Shinji gets a call saying that he would be transferred to the sales department. He continues to do his construction job bit by collection bricks when he tumbles because it is too heavy. Everyone laughs and he laughs with them too. Shinji calls Hiroko at work but she is too bust but wonders if there’s anything wrong. He says he’ll tell her next time and will definitely be on time. He notes how whether he likes a job or not, the important thing is to have no regrets.
Mayu is searching for her lost contact card when she spots a cocky ambition statement in episode 5. She thinks that only 1 person could’ve written such a thing: Hiroko. Narita has Hiroko in charge of a new series for Jidai which involves a famous love novelist, Miyoshi Natsume. Due to her many assignments, Narita wants her to drop 1 of her current assignments and delegate it to someone. Hiroko is in a dilemma to choose which one so she has Mayu pick 1 out when she spots Natsume’s assignment and gets upset. Mayu goes to plead to Narita but he says there are lots of things she needs to learn before she could handle this task although Mayu was the one who got the contract for Natsume to sign up with Jidai. Furthermore, Narita reassigns her to stakeout squad. A short flashback whereby passionate Mayu was meeting with Natsume as she is a big fan of her. While Mayu is sulking, Hiroko comes to comfort her and asks her to arrange a meeting with Natsume. But Mayu says she lost the card and was searching for it. Why didn’t she keep it in digital records like email or computer? Well, to her it would diminish the handwriting value. Ah, such a fangirl after all. Thankfully Hiroko manages to get the contact from a classmate of another publishing company. Hiroko and Mayu go to see Natsume and Mayu is very enthusiastic to meet her. Back at office, Hiroko notices Sugawara scolding Mayu for not doing her stakeout job properly. Later Hiroko goes to meet Natsume again and it seems she wants her to write on something else like mahjong, gold, etc, since Jidai’s reader base is mainly male.
Back in office, Mayu isn’t happy and thinks Hiroko may have said something to Natsume because her website states how she is agonizing over the theme of her magazine’s contract. Then it hit Hiroko as she rushes over to Natsume’s place and tells her to write a tear jerking old man love story. Her reason is to broaden her horizons so her readers won’t get bored or outgrow her. Meanwhile Mayu fails another stakeout so much so Sugawara says she doesn’t have to come. As Hiroko talks to Shinji during their date about Mayu, Mayu takes her case to Umemiya but he too thinks she isn’t up to par and has lots to learn. He tells her to concentrate on the job at hand. Mayu feels depressed on what to do. A month later, the new series is a hit with the older guys. Even Umemiya is reading it. Depressed Mayu goes to see Natsume and pours out her frustration and pain. But when she hears how Natsume had personally asked Umemiya to work with Hiroko because she felt both Hiroko and Mayu are deeply trapped in her past works, Mayu gets emotionally and vows to do her best with her job at hand so that 1 day she could be in charge of this assignment. In office, Mayu gives Hiroko Natsume’s handwritten contact card in exchange she will hold on to Hiroko’s cocky ambition statement. Hiroko is surprised and embarrassed as she tries to snatch it from her but Mayu leaves for her stakeout job with Sugawara.
Before Hiroko leaves for her Osaka assignment in episode 6, Shinji asks her for her wedding preparation. She panics and leaves in a hurry while evading answer. On the train, she realizes that Shinji was referring to a friend’s wedding. Though she’s been dating for 4 years, they’ve been so busy that she hardly has time to think about it and wonders if she’s a failure as a woman. Back in office, Hiroko learns from Mayu that Yumi is engaged. Yumi has left when Hiroko remembers she forgot to ask her something about a famous baseball player, Juunji Shimura. He hates presses and interviews but it seems Yumi has an up-close access allowed to him. She wonders if it’s because she’s pretty. Then she overhears a colleague, Doujima, running down woman like how they could get things done by sleeping around. Hiroko confronts him and yells in his face how he blames others for his inability to do his job and the reason why his stories don’t get approved. Doujima gets upset and is going to take it out on her but his colleagues restrained him. Next day when Hiroko arrives in office, she hears Doujima talking to Yumi and badmouthing Hiroko. Doujima says don’t be like her and cheerful Yumi agrees. When it’s over, Hiroko (trying to keep her feelings separate from work) approaches Yumi and requests that she introduce Shimura to her since she’s planning to interview him. She passes Yumi her proposal entitled "7 Samurai" and wishes for her to pass to him. Before she could finish her sentence, Yumi walks off. Later Hiroko is talking out her frustrations through baseball and thinks Yumi is trying to monopolize Shimura all to herself. Meanwhile Yumi passes the proposal to Shimura and he thinks it’s some misunderstanding after quickly flipping through as everyone laughs out loud.
Back in office, Yumi tells Hiroko won’t do the interview since there’s only a limited time she could interview him after practice and there were other magazine writers there too. Hiroko is a little upset and thinks they should help each other out since they’re colleagues. She continues not to bring her personal affairs to work. Yumi shoots back at her saying that she shouldn’t be jealous. Yumi walks away, accidentally dropping Hiroko’s proposal and upsetting her. Later Hiroko finds Doujima is also doing a same article on unlawful waste as her but his work gets approved by Narita since he uses a different approach. He tells her that she has other assignments to work on so she goes back to her desk to hear Doujima talking to Yumi. He is mocking Hiroko’s 7 Samurai proposal that it’s so thick that who in their right mind would read it. It then hit Hiroko as she snatches the proposal from his hands and quietly reads it back at her desk. She also remembers what Yumi told her about the time limitations Shimura have. On another day, Hiroko approaches Shimura for an interview but the other male writers start to get pushy till she fell down. She remembers how Yumi said when she started, it was scary and no one let her in so she acted like a cute girl and let men treated her like one so as not to lose out or clash with them. As time passes, everyone started to like her. Shimura arrives and everyone gets pushy again. Yumi lends Hiroko a hand up and advises her not to clash with them but to avoid them. Hiroko notes how she’s the female version of Hataraki Man. Hiroko manages to politely approach Shimura and requests an interview, passing a summary version of her proposal. Shimura agrees since he can’t turn down a woman’s request. He narrates how Yumi is one of the writers he mostly trusts because she always watches his condition. In the end, Hiroko thanks and apologizes to Yumi but the latter also thanks Hiroko for standing up for her on Doujima’s earlier remarks. She is happy because women are seldom on her side. Plus, getting mad won’t get you anywhere as it will only complicate things so it’s best to relax and let that guy flirt a little. Two months later, Yumi gets married and the one who caught her bouquet is Hiroko. Hiroko narrates that although she hasn’t got any proposal nor is it her dream to be a bride, but perhaps to be the 8th Samurai who fights with the sword of the pen in her heart.
Hiroko feels stressed out at work so she goes to her usual massage therapist in episode 7 but finds her usual therapist, Midoriko Shirakawa on leave. A newbie takes charge and Hiroko notes how much she sucks. Back in office, Hiroko can’t get to work mode and is upset when she sees a promo article ‘belittling’ a heritage site, Yakushima. Actually it’s promoting it for tourist purposes. When Shirakawa is available, Hiroko gladly attends her session. Though Hiroko feels better, it isn’t optimum as she adjusts her neck-shoulder. She also notes how there may be something wrong with Shirakawa as she exceeds her allotted time by 10 minutes and got complained by the manager. When Shirakawa attends the next customer, she also notices the same unsatisfied reaction like Hiroko after her session ends. Back in office, Mayu says how the article on Yakushima has garnered lots of attention but Hiroko goes crazy. She is seen talking to Narita that a year ago, she wrote a criticising article on it on how the management was interested in making it a tourist spot rather than preserving the site. But this time, her article encourages readers to go there. Narita advices that she’ll run out of steam if she puts all her energy like this into every article. Hiroko gets a call from Shinji to cancel their date because he’s got a business dinner. So she goes for another massage therapy and she looks tired! Hiroko tells Shirakawa about regrets and problems. When it’s over, Shirakawa notices Hiroko isn’t really relaxed and feels she can’t work like this because she wants a saloon where people can come and relax and that she wants to energize her clients rather than having them leave tired. Shirakawa goes to talk to her manager and suggests quitting. The manager is caught by surprise because Shirakawa is their top staff and her departure will affect their business. She wonders if it’s the pay but Shirakawa says it’s the tense atmosphere which prevents their customers to relax.
Hiroko receives a fan letter who has read her article and he is praising it. After a meeting, Narita says though none of her proposals were approved, he wants her to submit 10 proposals next week because if the wheel stops spinning, it’ll be hard to get it back moving. After work, Hiroko bumps into Shirakawa and they chat over a drink. The latter tells about her new job and soon thanks Hiroko before leaving. Shirakawa is at an interview at her new job site, a crowded hotspring saloon. She realizes that it isn’t any different but her job here will start next month. Back at her usual massage therapy, Shirakawa is going slow on a customer in order to give her the full relaxing effects but she gets impatient and tells her to hurry up. In the end, she leaves in a hurry and blames her for making her late. Meanwhile Hiroko sees several pics of Yakushima from Sugawara. She gets inspired and starts working. She submits her proposal to Narita, who thinks they’re all fine except one which reads "Stop belittling a world heritage site". He rejects this one and throws it away. Later Hiroko goes to Shirakawa for another session and this time she feels refreshed. Hiroko says she’ll definitely look for her at her new job place. Shirakawa narrates how hearing "That felt so good" from her customers is the happiest and most important thing for her and not working conditions.
Natsume’s serial story called 54 is about to be published in a novel and Hiroko is enthusiastic about it. But in episode 8, her colleague of Jidai under the book sales division, Makoto Chiba, only restricts the printing to 20,000 copies, upsetting her. She chides him for just being a salesman and knows that the wave is coming. She then goes to see Natsume and apologizes for not doing enough but the latter is okay with it. Chiba goes to see a bookstore manager, Fujita, and notices 1 of Natsume’s books has been moved from the shelves to a more open area since its sales have started to pick up due to the serialization in Jidai. Fujita is also a fan of 54 and can’t wait for the novel to come out. Chiba plays along for sales purpose. On a train ride, Chiba remembers a time when he was devoted to selling a book from a lady author he liked. He pushed sales and promoted it very hard till it reached the top 10 best sellers but in the end the author says how it’s all due to her own work. Chiba felt demoralized because he wasn’t given due recognition and thought how he was like a dog wanting to be praised. While Chiba is eating lunch, Hiroko gives him the whole pre-print novel to read so that he has an idea and to be more passionate. But he gives an excuse he can’t do his sales job properly. Back home, Hiroko tells Shinji about this problem but he mentions the problems that salespeople go through. In office, Hiroko learns from Kobu that Chiba was once passionate about his job but got hurt and decided not to get involved anymore. Meanwhile Chiba reads 54 at the park and takes a liking but suppresses his feelings so as not to get involved.
Later he visits Fujita and finds out that the store is doing pre-promotional pop ups for 54 and is looking forward to its release. Chiba then realized the wave may be coming and follows his heart. At the meeting involving Jidai managers of several divisions including Umemiya, Chiba tries to get printing of 54 to be raised but the sales manager Kaneko is pessimistic and dismisses it. But Chiba stands up and gives a 3 hour passionate speech so much so he gave in! Umemiya then tells Hiroko that printing for 54 is doubled to 40,000. Surprised Hiroko rushes to Natsume’s place to tell her the good news and says how Chiba had fought for her. Though Natsume has never heard his name, Hiroko says though salespeople don’t meet the authors, without them, their books will never be sold. When 54 is released, it is so hot that it was a sell out on day 1. Bookstores all over Japan request Chiba to print more copies but each increase isn’t enough to satisfy its growing demand. In the end, a celebration party is held to celebrate 54’s 540,000 sold copies and it even topped the charts as the number 1 best seller. Everyone gives Natsume a round of applause as Mayu gets her to autograph her copy. Hiroko introduces Chiba to Natsume as she thanks him. Chiba felt honoured but embarrassed that he excused himself. Hiroko finds Chiba crying alone at a corner, happy that he’s being acknowledged. Finally it has paid off, eh?
Hiroko attends the funeral of 1 of her supposed interviewees in episode 9. A highly successful middle-aged philanthropist Yasuyuki Mimura died of heart failure and rumours has it that may be due to overworking. A warning to all you workaholics out there to take care of your health. A flashback has Hiroko talking to Masami whereby she told her she was being made chief editor for a Jidai Special called 50 Samurai. Masami warns her that it will wreck her health but Hiroko says she can’t afford that. Then in office, Hiroko called Mimura who in person took up the call and made arrangements for the interview. On the way home from funeral, Hiroko calls Shinji and tells him what has happened. She wants him to come over and warm her up but he can’t since he’s got an important meeting tomorrow. Hiroko feels depressed. The next day, Hiroko develops a cold. To her horror, one of her reporters, Kawamura is hospitalized. Since he’s a fast worker, he has at least 10 interview transcripts with him. His wife calls and Hiroko politely asks to at least hand over the transcripts but got scolded instead and hangs up. Hiroko tries to get Narita to help but that guy starts lecturing on perseverance which implies "Don’t involve me". She decides to delegate some of the work to her remaining reporters and one of them, Itou, seems reluctant.
Later Hiroko goes to pay a visit and interview Mimura’s wife and finds out how he barely rests and is a workaholic. She recalls that on the day of his sudden death, he hadn’t been sleeping for days and even if he had come home, he still talked about work. Then he left and just said "Good work", which she finds it strange for him to say that. Hiroko comes back to office and finds a note from Itou that he has become ‘sick’ but knows he has ‘escaped’ instead. She starts panicking and looks around for those available but everyone else quickly make it look like they’re busy or not available. Desperate, eh? Don’t want to get extra work, eh? Exhausted Hiroko is doing calculations on how to finish her job before the deadline when she realizes she forgot to meet Shinji at the restaurant and it is way past their meet up time. Shinji on the other hand has already left after waiting. Hiroko’s mind starts panicking and remembering what Masami had said. Then she wonders what Mimura did at this time at her age. As she starts reading the transcripts of the interviewees, she finds that everyone had difficulties and sufferings but they overcame them. She gets inspired to continue working and makes some progress as her colleagues wishes her "Good work". Later as she gets into a taxi, she feels that her cold has gotten a little better. She slowly falls asleep and thanks Mimura in a whisper.
Mayu and Hiroko gets yelled at for not up to par work and late submission in episode 10. For the latter’s case it was because the pipe in her apartment’s ceiling burst and flooded her place. As the duo lament their fate, Kaji comes in and they notice how she never gets scolding. Hiroko notes that she has ‘diplomatic immunity’ and due to her kindness and prettiness, the guys in office takes a liking for her and is quite popular among them. A staff receives faxed-in transcripts from a famous novelist, Mogi. But Kaji who is in charge of this author’s article isn’t in. One of their policies is never to make an author wait but attempts to call her failed. The guys think it’s okay and this upsets Mayu of the indifferent treatment but Hiroko thinks that for them being near Kaji makes them happy. Then the guys discuss a rumour that Mogi may be Kaji’s lover. Kaji is seen at an author’s place, Eiichi Kitajima. They talk about how Mogi is going to Kathmandu and that he gave her 2 weeks worth of manuscript. Kaji thanks him before leaving. Kitajima’s assistant comes in and we learn he was once rejected by Kaji because she thinks she can’t be romantically involved with the author’s she’s working with. Hiroko leaves early to clean up her place with Shinji. She tells him about getting yelled at but he says not to be too hard on herself because it makes it hard to listen to her. Hiroko gets upset and throws a tantrum as he tries to calm her down. Meanwhile Kaji is seen entering an old man’s house and tells her to strip! Yikes! Is he some sort of an old pervert? I mean, note his odd fashion combo. A waistcoat vest and boxer shorts. Suspicious…
When Kaji comes into office, Yumi lectures her about hourensou (acronym for reporting, communication and consultation) for her attitude on Mogi’s case as she made everyone worried about contacting her when Mogi had already contacted Kaji personally. But Kaji interprets hourensou as embrace, love and composition. Then a staff receives bad news that Mogi’s plane crashed while on its way to the Himalayas. Everyone confirms the news as Hiroko notices Kaji’s calm composure. Kaji narrates that she puts on a normal composure even if she’s upset because circumstances can’t be changed even if you cry or make a fuss. Kaji then has a meeting with Narita and Umemiya. It seems Mogi was to submit 12 pages but only faxed in 8. The remaining pages were to be revised on the plane and faxed over once he landed. As the rest discuss where the additional pages should go, Hiroko gets upset because she thinks everyone is concern about the manuscript rather than Mogi’s life (that’s because she’s a big fan of him). Later Yumi talks to her and thinks Hiroko is just like everyone giving Kaji the same treatment. Hiroko wonders how she keeps her composure and has never seen her angry or sad.
Meanwhile Kaji visits that old man, Tetsu Kanze, a Japanese Academy of Arts and Culture member and Kaji is posing has his nude model. They both refuse to believe Mogi is dead. Kanze feels that anything can be a flame of inspiration and to him, it is women. The problem is that he thinks the world is short of them. I wonder what is his definition of women. Hiroko continues to stare blankly at work, during and after meeting. After her interview, Hiroko thinks of her job in which nothing of what they produced will remain besides using lots of paper to spread useless info. Kanze finishes his masterpiece and asks Kaji for her opinion but as usual her expression is normal, disheartening him. In office, a staff receive news that Mogi is still alive. It seems his secretary got a fever and they never boarded that ill fated flight. He couldn’t be contacted because he checked into a hospital in Bangkok. Hiroko seems relieved and says to Kaji that it’s a good thing so the latter advises her that one won’t lose anything from trying to work hard because it will give rise to one’s next romance. Hiroko realizes that Kaji is a pro not at her work but as a woman. Later Hiroko is alone and starts crying when she remembers the time Shinji suggested that they break up. Oh no.
Episode 11 seeks to fill in those missing scenes that happened in the previous episode. It begins with Hiroko rushing back to her apartment when she receives a call from the landlady and is horrified to find her place flooded. She then took the taxi to work and tried to contact her colleagues but her handphone was dead and the highway jammed. Thus, the scolding from Narita. Apart from that, Hiroko is disheartened because all her data on her interviews are in the laptop which got soaked. No backup? Hiroko called Shinji and wants to come over to his place but he says he’ll come over to hers. As they clean the place, that’s where they got into an argument and Hiroko losing her cool. Shinji gets his elderly mentor, Moriyama, to help fix the place up. Moriyama seems like a very nice and understanding guy and makes Hiroko feel comfortable with his words. Though she burst into laughter upon finding out Shinji’s mentor, Hiroko is surprised when he mentions how Shinji got transferred to the sales department. At the same time, news of Mogi’s plane crash reached Jidai and Umemiya hands Hiroko an extra 3 page assignment which she can’t turn down. Hiroko temporarily resides at Masami’s place and she ponders how she and Shinji don’t talk much or even touch each other. You know what Masami’s answer was? Something about couples don’t need conversation as they’re better off pinching each other’s nipples. Yeah, the sex maestro.
Once Hiroko’s apartment is fix as she works on her final stretch of her assignment, a very drunk Shinji comes by to visit. He’s quite rowdy alright. Because of that, he starts shouting why Hiroko could go so far and every time he looks at her, he sees his useless self. Though he feels that it isn’t Hiroko’s fault, that’s when Shinji suggests breaking up. Hiroko continues her assignment and narrates that because time is short, she tried not to complain and perhaps accepted to go their separate ways while breaking into tears. Hiroko finishes her assignment though she seems lifeless and spacing out in office. Then news of Mogi’s survival and that night Hiroko continues to burn the midnight oil. Sugawara gives her some natto maki and she remembers the words she nonchalantly uttered during her confused daze earlier in the day about work. She eats the natto maki and continues working. The next day, Hiroko notices the people reading and buying Jidai at the train station when she receives a call from Narita that Hoshikawa’s house is going to be search today and wonders if she can do it. Hiroko goes into action as she hails a taxi while narrating "There are nights when you cry dwelling on sacrifices you make for your job. But there are mornings too when your job is your salvation". You really have to love your job in order to even say that.
The ending may not be as satisfying as I hoped it to be as it ends in an open way and true, life and work continues and goes on. I’m still thinking if Hiroko and Shinji really did break up because you know Shinji was drunk when he suggested that. Are they taking some time off before taking their next step in their relationship or is it really the end of the road for them. But whatever that is, we can see that Hiroko and Shinji are already married. To their jobs. I guess the sex-free record will go on. Haha! Just joking. Though Hiroko isn’t the only one facing tough decisions and dilemmas in her job, her other colleagues too equally have their fair share. Maybe except for Tanaka whom I feel didn’t contribute nor improve much throughout the rest of the series. He still has a long way to go and if he intends to stay at Jidai, he’d better change his attitude.
Though there are some useful insights or viewpoints from the characters on the way how they approach their work, unfortunately I can’t seem to apply them in my line of work. I know that this show focuses mainly on the editorial part of a magazine company but it’s rather my blurness which can’t seem to remember them. Not a good thing. This series may not be mainstream and may not appeal to some but for fans of Rie Tanaka who is the voice of Hiroko, should at least have a look at this. Rie Tanaka is versatile in playing her character and she’s quite convincing whenever Hiroko is stressed out, frustrated, incredulous or tired. Say, I kinda noticed that Hiroko didn’t use her trademark Man Switch working mode after the first 2 episodes. Don’t need them anymore? But it was rather odd to see her place both her index and middle fingers over her forehead while executing this mode. Yeah, we all do have our quirky habits, don’t we? Maybe I should try it out for as my own motivation. Maybe not. As for the other seiyuu casts, I don’t really know them well.
There is something about the drawing of the series’ female characters which make them look one kind. Must be their eyelashes and lips. On a trivial note, each of the episodes has the word "Man" in them which describes that particular episode’s theme like episode 2’s "Stakeout Man", episode 3’s "Ramen Man" and episode 7’s "Fussy Man". On another note, a live action drama version has been adapted around a year later after its anime counterpart and contains the same number of episodes.
I guess this series is intended to make viewers to be more appreciative of their job. No matter how tough it is, there are always worse ones out there (how about cleaning elephant’s dung as an example?). Work is part of life’s cycle. Complaining won’t change anything and quitting may seem like an easy way out and being irresponsible if one’s reason isn’t valid. More and more people are joining the work force and it by today’s standards, everyone is doing multi-tasking, juggling between working and personal life. Like me, juggling between work and anime :). With the current economic situation and credit crunch, now isn’t the time to be changing jobs. I must say that I’m still doing the same day job for 5 years already and I can conclude that I have no complaints even though I have to admit that I’m not really loving it. What I mean is that I’m satisfied with where I am now. They say status quo is a bad thing and breeds complacency but does it matter if you’re happy? However I note that there are still room for improvements for myself. Hmm… I wonder if there are any job openings as an anime otaku. Hey, that’s not a job. That’s more like an obsessed hobby!

Hataraki Man
%d bloggers like this: