Monday, October 04, 2010

Hagetaka ep 4-6

 There's a scene earlier in the series where Washizu tells Shibano that they are the same. It sounded to me like typical villain talk, where the villain is the hero who has taken a different road and wants to convince the hero that he is right. Except Washizu is right and he isn't a villain. He is the same as Shibano, men trying to do their jobs and struggling with what's right and wrong. This is the real world and it is the world that Hagetaka is set in, not the black and white anime world that most jdoramas inhabit.

I like how Kuriyama Chika asks a very important question. Are hagetakas the devil or saviour? All these under performing companies are dying a slow death. Their demise is inevitable if not for hagetaka and the fact that foreign funds are buying and firing workers make them an easy target of hate but without them, the companies would soon go bankrupt one day and everyone would lose their jobs. Is a partial retention of the workforce worse than everyone suddenly being left in the cold?

Hagetaka also questions the corporate practices and ideals of companies that cling onto their success in the boom era. Yes, such practices were the reasons for Japan's past prosperity but is not the recipe for survival in today's business era. Times are changed and Japan must learn to adapt such as the president of Ozora who stubbornly invested too much into cameras while neglecting that the rest of the world has moved on to digital cameras. He stubbornly does so because the camera lens business was the backbone of the company and it was against his principles to fire his employees. Obviously someone has never heard of retraining.

Ooki kaicho represents the last symbol of Japan's economic boom and its funny how an upstart IT guy like Osamu waves around his unread copy of Ooki kaicho's administration theory book claiming to defend Japan's honour while a the boss of Chinese company Texen has a well-read, dog eared book. It goes to show that it is not about Japan business ideas vs rest of world but that corporate practices have not nationality or race.

It was towards the end of episode 4 when I realised what this show was about when it was clear that Shibano and Washizu were both fucked. Both tried to do what each believed was right but both had their hands tied behind their backs. Poor Shibano felt responsible for the fate of Ozora and stuck around to fire people, thus making his life more miserable. Washizu went against the direct instructions of his superiors and tried to allow Ozora to survive in one piece but failed in his gamble.

There was only one solution, the dream team up of our two protagonists after building them up and having them fight each other over the course of 5 episodes. Alas, there was only half an episode for the team up and it wasn't as satisfying as I would like. However, there is a Hagetaka movie that came out in 2009 and I have gotten my hands on it. Problem is there are no English subs available and my basic Japanese would serve me little in a movie littered with corporate and business lingo.I'll probably end up watching it soon regardless of subs. The series left me with a desperate need to see a thrilling story of Shibano and Washizu taking on a corporation/foreign fund/big villain. Shows like Hagetaka don't come often so this is definitely a must watch. With Hagetaka and Gaiji Keisatsu, I'm just giddy with happiness from watching two awesome jdoramas in the space of a month.

1 comment:

Jung said...

The timing is the show alone is intriguing to me. This show was aired in early 2007, which was before the global economic crisis. So the show is almost prescient, because nobody in 2006 thought the world economy would come to a screeching halt and equity markets taking 60-70% haircuts. As the so-called 'recovery' took place over the past 2 years, one can imagine the countless untold stories of real-life Hagetaka taking place as they look for beaten-down companies to take over.

I think this show is not only very entertaining, but it's also quite educational. It does a good job shedding light on the inner workings of private equity firms and their complicated relationships with different parties involved in the LBOs and restructuring processes.

Thanks for whoever recommended this show.