Salaryman Kintaro Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Audio Rating: B
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ArtsMagicDVD
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Salaryman Kintaro

Salaryman Kintaro Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 05, 2005
Release Date: August 30, 2005

Salaryman Kintaro Vol. #1
© ArtsMagicDVD

What They Say
Salaryman Kintaro Part 1 deals with former biker gang leader, Kintaro joining the Yamato Construction Corporation and introduces the characters as well as looking back to his days of leaving a biker gang. It also shows him beginning to be accepted as a gang leader within the corporation despite his unorthodox methods and takes time to suggest romantic involvements.

The Review!
When the leader of one of the biggest biker gangs in Japan becomes a salaryman, that company will never be the same again.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The release includes both a 2.0 mix and a 5.1 mix but in comparing the two I liked the more natural sound that the stereo mix provided and stuck with that. It does a good job of providing a warm and full feeling for the forward soundstage and had some decent dialogue placement and a fairly wide feel for various ambient effects and other sound effects throughout the show. Dialogue was clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally airing in 2001, the transfer for this series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. The materials for the show are pretty decent but you can tell it wasn't a high budget show and that it was trying to keep to the feel of the original source so it has something of a rough look to it. Combined with the early digital effects and the learning curve at the time some of the scenes look a little awkward while others a bit more polished, giving it a somewhat uneven feel at times but nothing terribly distracting. Colors are good with a wide range and a solid feel to them without any gradient issues. Aliasing is minimal and cross coloration is virtually absent here, resulting in a clean looking piece.

Mixing a couple of pieces together, the background has a night time ride scene with lots of bikers and their rides lit up with flags waving while a shot of the younger Kintaro is in the foreground with more vibrant but still dark colors. The logo for the series is huge and takes up almost half the cover it feels like which makes the artwork underneath it feel really crowded and cramped. Combine that with it being very dark and from the show itself and it's a bit fuzzy and not altogether attractive. The back cover works the various hues of purple for a background and uses a headshot of Kintaro in his suit as the main image alongside the summary and individual episode summaries that take up a good chunk of the cover. The discs features and technical information is sort of scattered around a bit and at times not easy to really find. The production information is pretty minimal as well. No insert is included but the reverse side cover is in full color and has the larger shot of Kintaro from the front cover on one side while the other panel lists all sorts of critical acclaim for the show.

The main menu is a decent looking layered static image that has a background of the city that's obscured slightly while a shot of Kintaro in his suit is in the foreground with some motorcycle tracks. You get individual episode selections and a play all feature alongside the other navigational areas and all of it set to a brief clip of the opening song to the series. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is quick and east to move around. Due to the language setup of the release it didn't matter what our presets were.

A couple of good extras are included in this release. One of them is an interview with the director and he covers a wide range of topics, from how much anime is produced to what kinds he prefers and things about the show itself. There's also a good interview included with the series producer that talks about the differences in making shows today, the influence of computers and more. Both extras run around six to seven minutes each.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Salaryman Kintaro franchise is certainly a popular one, based on a manga created by Motomiya Hiroshi. Not only does it have that, it's gone into live action form with four seasons of it airing so far, a couple of games apparently and this anime series as well. While the anime didn't last as long as the live action series, which was probably cheaper to produce, it's certainly a good bit of fun for those who enjoy the mixture of the renegade and corporate. The comparisons are easy to make about it being a GTO gone into the business world but in the end each of them is setting out to achieve different things. As a springboard though, it's not a bad comparison to make.

Salaryman Kintaro introduces us to Yajime Kintaro, a young man who has left the fishing village where and his wife had lived until recently when she gave birth to their son but died during the delivery. Through a series of events explained later on, he was offered a job at a big construction firm in Tokyo and has decided that for the sake of his son he will adapt to the life of a salaryman, the equivalent of a white collar worker who spends most of their lives working away during the day and drinking it up at night. Kintaro won't exactly be drinking it up constantly since he is a single parent of a very small child, but he does get out there and mingle with his new coworkers.

His entrance into the corporate world isn't what anyone would expect though. After initially breaking up a fight the night before, he's escorted to the construction firm the next day via police cruiser since he's friends with that particular officer. Even worse, when they arrive at the office there's what looks to be hundreds of bikers from a gang and they're taken up residence in front of the building and the entire street. As it turns out, prior to his life as a fisherman, Kintaro was the leader of a the biggest biker gang in Kanto, nearing ten thousand members at its height. Due to actions he had taken then he became a legend among the free spirited members of society that live this kind of lifestyle and they followed him anywhere he went, including into reformatories for a lot of them as Kintaro did just that himself in order to become the man he needed to be to take care of his future wife, Akemi.

Kintaro's entry into the corporate world isn't all that high and mighty to start either as he finds that the first month of his job seems to consist of sharpening pencils and doing the most menial of office lady jobs around the place but he does it with pride and dignity. His manners get him into some amusing situations right from the start, from having dealings with one of the executive directors that everyone else fears to inspiring a number of other people he works with to be more spirited in their lives, causing them to get involved in a bar room brawl and essentially waking them up. This is very much the theme of the show since it's taking the idea of the spirited outside and putting him into the very strict routine of the corporate world and trying to shake it up, something that a lot of people can easily identify with and live vicariously through. Whether this is good or bad I don't know, since part of you wishes people would live more freely as they want but at the same time would things be able to function well there should it happen?

The opening four episodes are fun overall as we get to know the setting and the company as well as the various factions that are vying for power within it. You know Kintaro will eventually butt heads with them as there's a struggle going on below the chairman that he's befriended. It's interesting to hear how each of the factions works and what kind of projects they each undertake in order to expand the company. Kintaro's arrival brings some spirit to those much further down as they take a more concerned interest in the bigger dealings of the company which will also surely come to cause problems later on. Kintaro's life outside of the office is also fairly entertaining since he seems to get along easily with everyone and lots of people know him from the gang days but are now in more normal modes of living. We also get some extensive time spent with Kintaro's past to see how his legend came to be.

If there's anything I'm really disappointed about with this release other than the lack of a dub is that the end credits aren't properly translated afterwards. I want to know who the voice actors are and who worked on the show. Leaving this off and having just the minimal back cover credits doesn't cover it in the slightest.

In Summary:
Salaryman Kintaro is definitely an appealing show for me as I've enjoyed similar motifs before and it does share a similar feel and nature to GTO. While Kintaro is a bit superhuman at times with his ability to fight it's really kept within the realm of reality and a lot of what he gets done is just by sheer force of character and presence as well as connections. This is a pretty standard fish out of water tale where the fish lands on its tale and starts making waves on the land. Kintaro is a very personable and enjoyable character to watch and seeing how his actions affect everyone else and changes their lives is a lot of the fun. The series likely has limited appeal but to those that it does appeal to it's a very easy recommendation to check this out.

Japanese 2.0 Language,Japanese 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Director's Interview,Producer's Interview

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Zenith DVB-318 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player via DVI with upconversion set to 720p, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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