Salaryman Kintaro

Salaryman Kintaro is an anime series
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Kintaro Yajima was a biker gang leader with a ton of charisma and an attitude, until he fell in love and decided to settle down and have a family. Then tragedy struck when his young wife died in childbirth, leaving him alone to bring up their baby son. But Kintaro's biker past has given him a certain fearlessness that leads him to save the life of the CEO of Yamato Construction Company, immediately fast-tracking him into a management position for which his rough past often seems strangely suited.

Any similarities to GTO are purely intentional. Like its predecessor, Salaryman Kintaro is based on a manga, on this occasion by Hiroshi Motomiya in Young Jump magazine. Both titles enjoyed live-action incarnations (*DE) on primetime television, only converting to the anime format when interest (and budgets) had begun to die down. And, of course, both feature mavericks made good-handsome boys with hearts of gold, fighting to raise themselves out of an underclass youth into a respectable middle-class lifestyle.

The methods are often identical. Kintaro breaks up a fight on the day before he is due to start at Yamato Construction, leading to a chain of events that has him arriving for his first day at work in a police car-as with GTO, an old friend of his is now a cop. He must dodge the attentions of Yuki, a schoolgirl who makes it very clear that he can have anything he wants, and to whom he finds himself playing a surrogate father role-if, indeed, a surrogate father role includes breaking the jaw of her would-be boyfriend. Meanwhile, romance of sorts begins to unfurl in the style of Slow Step, as Kintaro gains the adoring attentions of Misuzu, a bar proprietess with a daughter of her own-this is a slight deviation from the plot of the live-action version, where Misuzu was the younger sister of Kintaro's late wife. Under the title Kintaro, the live-action series has also been broadcast with English subtitles on Hawaii's KIKU TV channel. There is also a 1999 live-action movie directed by Takashi Miike.

Salaryman Kintaro is a perfectly harmless anime, although its benign exterior hides tensions behind the scenes. This is an anime that really, really wants to be a live-action TV drama. Its setups and action all seem tailor-made for the real world, and there is little attempt to play to the strengths of the animated medium. As with Human Crossing, its action remains resolutely mundane, leaving the viewer with the nagging sensation that this ought to have stayed live, and its animated status is a reflection of the fact that its star was already on the wane-nobody, not even an anime viewer, likes to feel they are backing a losing horse. However, the possibility remains that the producers knew what they were doing all along, since Salaryman Kintaro enjoyed a new lease of life as one of the first TV shows to be made available for paid Internet download in Japan-the animated format makes for a better transfer and saving on memory for slower computers, while the live-action connection makes it more likely to appeal to viewers outside the limited anime "fan" bracket. In that regard, far from being a lame duck, this anime production may turn out to have been the kind of business decision that a corporate warrior like Kintaro would be proud of.

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Original US Poster Art

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Name Salaryman Kintaro
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Start Year 2001
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