23 September 2013

半沢直樹 Hanzawa Naoki

Title: 半沢直樹 Hanzawa Naoki
English Title: Hanzawa Naoki
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Year: 2013
Episode: 10
  • 堺雅人 Sakai Masato
  • 上戸彩 Ueto Aya
  • 及川光博 Oikawa Mitsuhiro
  • 滝藤賢一 Takito Kenichi
  • 中島裕翔 Nakajima Yuto
  • 須田邦裕 Suda Kunihiro
  • 北大路欣也 Kitaoji Kinya
  • 香川照之 Kagawa Teruyuki
  • 赤井英和 Akai Hidekazu
  • 石丸幹二 Ishimaru Kanji
  • 宮川一朗太 Miyakawa Ichirota
  • 森田順平 Morita Junpei
  • 宇梶剛士 Ukaji Takashi
  • 壇蜜 Dan Mitsu
  • 笑福亭鶴瓶 Shōfukutei Tsurube
  • りりィ Lily

Hanzawa Naoki works as a loan manager at the Osaka Nishi branch of Tokyo Central Bank. He is meticulous in doing background reviews and financial analysis before granting bank loans to companies.

The branch manager Asano Tadasu, Naoki's superior at work, is concerned with Osaka Nishi branch meeting its financial targets. He readily consented to granting a JPY500 million loan to a seemingly financially stable Nishi Steel Company without going through the required background reviews. After only three months, the company goes bankrupt and the bank cannot collect the loan. Although the bank manager previously declared that he'll take responsibility, he pins the blame on Naoki instead.

Naoki is called to the bank's headquarters in Tokyo for the investigation on the JPY500 million loan default. Naoki denies any responsibility for the loan default, as opposed to what his superior at work claims. In addition, Naoki promises to recover JPY500 million for the bank.

Hanzawa Naoki is a very interesting drama as it is about business, particularly the banking industry, and the economy. The drama made it seem as if the rigid corporate structure and the formal corporate culture are somewhat unique to banks and the banking industry, but I think that's more or less how the working environment is like no matter what the industry.

I think any company or corporation would have employees striving to remain employed and working hard to climb up the corporate ladder by aligning themselves with powerful bosses, following the orders of influential people who can get them to places, and competing with colleagues for coveted promotions and prized positions of power within the company.

Although Hanzawa Naoki is quite admirable as a character, he unfortunately does not exist in the real world. As much as a mid-level employee wants to do his work properly, he would have to comply with the corporate culture and to follow his superiors orders just to stay employed in the company. The source of Naoki's charm is the fact that he's an ideal character; he acts and speaks how most people in his situation would want to act and speak but couldn't or wouldn't be able to.

Hanzawa Naoki: I believe in people's good will but if they screw me, I'll screw them back. Double payback. That's my style.
-- E01 Double Payback! A new hero arises to stand up against the evil superior!! Can the JPY500 million yen be recovered? War among the wives at the company housing, Promotion? Friendship?

I empathize with Naoki and the people he wants to protect because they are deemed casualties for the mistakes and greed of other people. It doesn't seem fair and it doesn't seem right.

I was actually behind Naoki as he tries to expose the wrongdoings of the executives in the bank because I can see that he wholeheartedly wants the bank to change for the better and the bankers to work for the greater good.

However, I also feel uncomfortable whenever Naoki exacts revenge and insists to treat his enemies the same way that they treated him mainly because it didn't seem right when other people humiliated and insulted Naoki, and it also doesn't seem right for Naoki to humiliate and insult other people, no matter how deserving those people were of such callous treatment. I don't know, it just seemed as if he's just like the people he hates in some way.

Naoki, together with his trusted colleagues and good friends, had many close calls but they always seemed to get by somehow throughout the course of the drama. It seemed to provide much-needed hope that the good always prevails over evil. I can't help but be optimistic about humanity as a whole because it seemed that the good guys will eventually win over the bad guys; I know that's not always the case in the real world but it's good to think that there may be a place somewhere, even a fictional world, wherein it is a possibility.

That's why it was quite disconcerting that Naoki was punished severely for his inappropriate behavior and rudeness no matter how well he has performed in his duties, whereas other people who have done much worse offenses were given lighter punishments. It seemed that all his efforts were futile in the end because he was removed not only from his job position but from the bank where he's working and from the banking industry as a whole.

半沢直樹 Hanzawa Naoki