Hiroko Matsukata is a woman who works for a magazine company. She puts all she has into her work, and is known as a strong, straight-forward working girl, who can at will turn herself into Hataraki man (working man) mode. Despite Hiroko's success at work, her life lacks romance. Even though a hard worker, she'd leave early anytime to go on a date. Too bad her boyfriend is even bigger a workaholic than Hiroko.
Begining with the flow of things, it was done quite well within the eleven episodes there are of the show. Each one basically focuses onto certain problems the characters must deal with, or a certain task set that needs to be done and the issues that arise while doing so. The characters emotions and hardships of work are displayed during these times, and also focuses on some of their lifes out of work. Some of the character development is done through thoughts, showing off their stress during work or sometimes questioning themselves why they actually work so hard. On very few occasions we get some
flashbacks to explain why a character has views and feelings that you see within that current episode.
The relationship between Hiroko and her boyfriend is first shown as a simple one, something rather typical and quite relaxed, which soon develops into something quite different as the pair begin to focus more on their work rather than the relationship between the two. Dates are missed, and long periods of romance lacking days await in the latter episodes which has some effect on the pair and causes more problems to arise within the show. Not all the episodes however focus on the main character, but instead explain the roles and personality of the other characters, the jobs they do and any emotion involved. Talking about the character though, each one is unique within the workplace and rather likable and you get to know them more. You’ll somewhat learn their role within the company sooner or later, and attitudes involved, each with dealings of their very own problems.
Artwise, everything has been done pretty well. Character designs are brilliant as each one has their own distinctive looks making them more appealling and realistic. Such details from their clothes and makeup they wear, facial structure, hairstyles and even the eyes give them the unique touch between them all for both the males and females, unlike some shows where female characters can usually look the same.
Colours are vibrant and pretty bright throughout the series, which blends together quite ncely. Nothing really stands out of the ordinary and the colours are balanced between each other with some smooth transitions and shadings with make the art work visually look well made and appealling. This even flows perfectly well into the background art with some realistic looking structures and designs for both interior and exterior locations, where lighting and shading helps a great deal for depth using beautiful tones. The bright colours can look quite exotic during those sunny days during the series, while night life is approached will with plenty of darker tones with some hints of dark blue in them, while the other city lights add more light to the scenes. Foregrounds and the characters are also quite bold in appearance, while having some smooth, light lines between them and the backgrounds while looking great.
Animationwise, is surprisingly decent for this type of show, where the general themes aren’t of sword fighting or gun shootouts, but of pure drama and emotional life events that take place. However this is one of the shows highlights which keeps a more modern and realistic feel to the series, and a job well done in that area.
This isn’t a strong area of mine to comment and discuss about so I’ll be brief. Voice acting is generally well done throughout, with a well chosen actor per character of which have fitting voices and can reflect their personalities quite well especially the stress and emtion that goes through Hiroko which Rie Tanaka does a good job of. Other such sound effects are pretty moderate, used and timed well so no complaints in that area. Can’t exactly remember any of the background music so I guess it’s quite moderate with nothing really rememberable. I did like the music themes in this one however, especially the opening which has a good sound and tune to it, flowing pretty well with the sequence.
Good approach to the hardships of having a career while keeping a relationship strong and the types of problems involved. Good flowing story with some interesting characters and developments between them. Decent visuals and animations throughout which remain appealing. This show isn’t for everyone out there and best watched with an open mind about life with some decent drama and emotion involved. An enjoyable watch for eleven episodes.
Hataraki Man was an anime that caught me by surprise. The anime deals with themes of work, overwork, dissatisfaction with work, finding your purpose in work, ultimately loving your job, and even death. It is a more mature anime—not that the anime has any lewd content or even "fan service"—but it is mature in its themes and setting; the characters are age 22-and up, and the anime greatly paints them as life-like as possible; Japanese men and women in the workplace, with thoughts, desires, anxieties, &c., and their associations with each other. To remain simple, I'll detail the main traits:
I found the story
outstanding, in that it revolves around many characters who are involved professionally with each other, while the entirety maintained its focus on the protagonist. Each of her (Hiroko Matsukata, the main character) is equally represented in some way, and you become acquainted with each person around her. At least, I can definitely say that I did, and I appreciated knowing her environment, and how realistic each profile was made for those around her. Having said this, her part in the series, the main part, is never sidelined, as each person has to work with each other in their projects. They affect one another, and this adds to the depth of this very realistic tale. There are few moments of drama, everything which flows smoothly and appropriately. As I said, the realism will not deter, but draw. By the end, I found myself at odds with the decisions of the characters, but I realized that this was not a fault with the creators of this anime, but that that is who those characters were, and their respective decisions are all their own. I respected that.
The art can be difficult to review, as the anime was released in 2006, and I am writing this in 2015; certainly the time has afforded greater advancements in art style and animation. Nevertheless, I can accurately say that the lowest point of this anime is its animation. Although not much of it is starkly bad, certain scenes show flaws, but very few. In any case, I was far too caught up in the progression of the story to mind, and, depending on what sort of viewer you are, you will be as well.
The sound and music, I found, are perfect. The opening and ending songs fit the anime very well, as they speak about both work and a woman's personal thoughts on her life; her desires for love in a relationship, which certainly plays an important role in this story. I discovered Sambomaster through this anime, and their two songs (used as inserts) sound amazing when used. In the somber scenes, the music appropriately switches to correct-sounding music. Nothing out of the ordinary, perhaps, but it works, and it works well.
The characters are the triumph of this anime. They progress very well, and are constant; their desires are all made known through certain small scenes of introduction with each. They deal with life and the troubles thereof with as much emotion and reasoning as you would expect from those around you. As I said, they're given equal representation, and their characteristics are as if they really are people you would meet in your everyday life. Each character has a past, a present, and a future; their desires are not bland, but realistic: they want to be the best at what they do. The usual characters which range on the overtly cute to those meant for comic relief will not be found here, and that is one of the reasons I enjoyed this anime: the characters are unique in that they are almost alive, and never fake.
Perhaps the reason I enjoyed this anime was due to how I related to it. This is something I noticed from the first episode, how this anime appeals to the older viewers: viewers who have jobs and have to deal with the stresses associated with finances, work (struggles with fellow employees and bosses and timelines and &c.), disillusionment with the future, and maintaining a good romantic relationship. I myself am 25 years old as I write this, and I am surprised how interested I became of this anime, but then wondered why there aren't more of these bits of realism. Nevertheless, there are many aspects to enjoy from this short anime, and different people may enjoy it for various reasons.
Overall, I loved it. I loved every episode, and there are many great things which are not found in this review. It does not have action, but the actions of the daily, work-stressed individuals which keep a business going; it is not a love story, but the people in this anime are just that—people, and, thus, have desires just like the majority of the people on earth regarding romance and love, desires which are stifled at times by their busy lives, to where they wonder if they'll even have sex again.
This may not be an anime for everyone, but if there is a certain person I aim this anime, I point it towards those more mature fans who can appreciate a slice of life that represents the realities of life, while maintaining a good story with a good, hardworking protagonist.
It's short, but definitely comprehensive. I hope you enjoy it.
As this is a slice of life show, there's not really much story to speak of. It's more episodic than arc-based. The most important aspect to this show is probably the way Matsukata's ambitiousness clashes with her life as a woman and her desire (and, at times, need) to be feminine. While this is mostly positive, there are a few moments where the femininity contradicts the ambitiousness, rather than contrasting with it. In other words, there are some points where Matsukata is portrayed as less of a strong, independent, struggling woman and more of a vulnerable, weak, victimized woman. While
disappointing, these moments are few and the series is ultimately more inspiring than off-putting.
Matsukata is ultimately the only character that gets any real focus; the other characters get at best part of one episode focused on them, then a couple lines here and there afterwards. This actually becomes repetitive, as a character is introduced, portrayed a certain way, then revealed to have some thought or emotion which contrasts with how they're portrayed. This type of motif might have been more successful at entertaining if the viewer were given more time with the character, so as to develop some empathy. While this is used to good effect at some points, the series would most likely be better if there was no pretense of depth for all but a few of the characters.
The pacing is decent; it plods along a little bit near the end, and in the final episode there's a bizarre repeating of scenes. Presumably, the intent is to show some events and actions and then follow up by revealing the circumstances behind them; but since it replays the relevant scenes in their entirety it looks suspiciously like the final episode was originally too short, and then padded to fill time. This very well may not be the case, but whatever the intent was, the effect is unwelcome and detracts from the experience.
Ultimately, the most appealing aspect of this show is the philosophical. It is somewhat enjoyable, but the lack of screen time for most of the characters makes empathizing with them difficult, resulting in what feels like filler.
Japan is a nation with a declining population; one cause for this is the fact that young women choose to have a career as opposed to starting a family (because apparently it's either one or the other). Moyoco Anno's Hataraki Man tells the story of Hiroko Matsukata, one of these young women who struggles with sacrifices necessary for her career.
Hataraki Man is well-planned, this can be seen in how the series flows and the excellent character development of Matsukata and everybody around her.
One part that made Hataraki Man especially enjoyable for me was its maturity. A lot of shows that have sexual tension place
that in a high-hormonal high school setting with breasts and some loser ultimately using sex as a tool to please fans, contrary to this, Hataraki Man uses sexual tension as part of tone as opposed to rousing up its viewers. This is a bit of a spoiler, but it is a constant theme that appears and anybody who has seen the first episode can account for the fact that Matsukata desires to get some, and never does as shown by her constantly referring to records being broken.
The main character being a grown woman as opposed to a teenager plays a lot into the show's maturity and ultimately establishes that this is not a show without substance. As mentioned at the beginning, Japanese women face the question of what exactly they desire for themselves and what they are willing to sacrifice for it whether it is a career or a love-life.
One aspect that gives this show (and its message) strength is that it does not focus on society at large and focuses on characters since the issue that Japanese women face is a very personal issue.
Ultimately what makes this show stand out is the characters and how the issue they face between office life and the home life when the two conflict plays out.
In the years to come, Japan will have to confront its own homogeneity, but as for Matsukata, it's just another day at the office.