Hanasaki Mai is not on my watch list for spring 2014 because the story line isn’t that interesting. However, I was impressed that its pilot episode received 17% in ratings. Written by Ikeido Jun, the author of top-rated Hanzawa Naoki, he also has two dramas this season under his belt- Hanasaki Mai and Roosevelt Game.
Since I don’t want to be left-out from the hype, I decided to catch Hanasaki Mai’s first episode with high expectations.
Here is a quick recap of Hanasaki Mai ga Damattenai: Episode 1
Hanasaki Mai (Anne) works as a bank teller in Tokyo Daiichi Nakano branch. Not only is she very passionate with her job but she also fights for their (workers) right’s that during their annual Christmas party, she fought for their branch to have a party at a fancy restaurant. As her boss would say, she’s the type of person that once her “switch” is turned-on, she’s unstoppable.
So when Soma Ken (Kamikawa Takaya) receives an order to transfer at Tokyo Daiichi’s head office, he’s not only happy to be working in the head office but he’s glad to finally be away from Hanasaki.
Four months later, Souma gets called by their boss Karashima Shinjiro (Enoki Takaaki) who tells him that they have hired an assistant for Soma and it’ll be a female. The current president thinks that it’ll be good to have female opinions in their male-dominated workplace.
Soma is obviously thrilled until Karashima mentions that his assistant used to be a bank teller. There’s only one bank teller that comes to his mind, and it’s not a good one, so he was surprised to see Hanasaki when she enters the office.
Hanasaki is as bubbly as ever, much to Soma’s irritation. On their way to their office, they meet the bank’s Chief Executive of Project Management, Shinto Tsuyoshi (Namase Katsuhisa) and his secretary Kodama Naoki (Komoto Masahiro). Shinto is rumored to be the next bank’s president. Despite their smiles as they greet Hanasaki, they both think that the two are nobodies.
Soma orients Hanasaki on what they will do; they are the only people in “Assisting Department” who will be assisting other branches.
Hanasaki thinks that it’ll be cool of them to assist other branches until she gets a taste of reality on their first “assisting” case. She learns that almost all branches treats those in Assisting Department as meddlesome people and eventually hates them.
Hanasaki suddenly missed her bank teller job and wishes that she can be a bank teller forever.
The next day, Soma and Hanasaki are called to head to Tokyo Daiichi’s Kayabachou branch where Soma instructed Hanasaki to just “shut-up and smile” and in the event that she feels like saying inappropriate, she must swallow everything in.
When the two arrive at the bank, they were greeted with ire by branch manager Yajima Shunzo (Haba Yuichi) and his secretary, Kawamoto. Yajima is a close associate of Shinto and known to have brought huge profits for the bank since he became the manager.
Souma and Hanasaki want to know if they can be of any assistance after the branch posted 5 errors the past month. Yajima thinks that it’s no big deal, those 5 “little” errors were only made by one person, Nakajima Satoko (Kimura Yoshino), a bank teller with 13 yrs. of experience; and Yajima have already reprimanded the said bank teller.
Hanasaki thinks that something is amiss, as a former bank teller herself, she thinks that it’s weird for someone with 13 yrs. of experience to make those “little” errors.
Hanasaki decides to make a little investigation and finds out that she’s the only experienced worker while the rest are newbies.
Hanasaki brings this up to Yajima, telling him that the branch lack of experienced staff is causing them to have errors. Yajima tells her that it doesn’t matter if most tellers are inexperienced, it’s just a teller’s job, and how hard can it be?
Yajima’s last line caught Hanasaki’s ire because she knows full well that her job is not as easy as it looks.
The next day, the Assisting Department are back at that branch for observation that after closing hours, it was revealed that the branch made an extra 1 million Yen payout. When checked, it was revealed that President Mikami of Hierron Chip company was the one who collected the extra million Yen.
The branch called on their client who denies receiving an extra payout. Yajima then decides to personally head to Mikami and claim that money.
The next day, Yajima proudly informs the branch thatMikami has given back the million Yen. Everyone feels relieve especially Hanasaki for Nakajima because she won’t be receiving the end of the blame.
However, it didn’t escape Hanasaki’s eyes that she looks sadder than happy.
On her way out from the bank, she bumps to an irate Mikami who tells her that he’s planning to withdraw all his accounts because he can’t accept being suspected for lying and stealing. Hanasaki also learns that Mikami didn’t return any money because there’s no extra money to return and Mikami even tells Yajima to bring the case to the police if he really suspects him to have taken the extra million Yen.
Hanasaki then sneaks-in to the branch and re-checks the CCTV cameras. Upon checking she learns the disappointing truth.
Hanasaki confronts Nakajima for stealing 1 million yen and even framing Mikami, which she admitted.
Nakajima reasons-out that she did it for revenge, with the bank losing 1 million; it will make a mark on Yajima. However, as the money was returned, it will be treated that nothing has happened.
She also added that Yajima has harassed her and her older colleagues to make them quit work. Yajima has also used underhanded methods to make the others quit just to cost-cut on expenses since Nakajima is one of those experienced workers who demand higher salaries.
Nakajima ended their conversation by saying that she’ll confess on what she did and return the money. Hanasaki knew that Nakajima is wrong but she also knows that she did it to avenge Yajima’s harassment. She calls Souma for help.
Bank closing time and Nakajima steps forwards with the 1 million bundle; she admits her mistake and while Yajima is gobsmacked because on what she did, he knew that what he did will also be exposed.
Hanasaki arrives and tells that Nakajima did steal for revenge. She also added how Yajima harassed Nakajima’s colleagues until they were forced to quit. Yajima did all this just to avoid paying high salaries for first class workers like Nakajima.
Finally, Souma arrives and pulls-out withdrawal records from Yajima and Kawamoto’s personal accounts where they withdrew 700k and 300k respectively that morning.
Hanasaki says that when she entered the bank, she was taught that wha were told that whatever amount is lost, even if a mere one Yen, must not be compensated by the bank teller.
Souma tells Yajima that what he did is obviously covering-up a bank mistake which is a complete no-no.
The next day, it was revealed that Yajima gets transferred to a Tokyo Fast Electric Ltd. and Shinto can only grit his teeth upon learning that the “Assisting Dept.” is the main reason one of his men got transferred.
Hanasaki Mai’s first episode didn’t strike me the way I expected. It’s surprisingly simple with added bank politics as a conflict for more drama. The plot itself isn’t bad, Ikeido Jun have proven himself to be a topnotch writer, in which while some authors writes about police, medical, and courtroom drama; Ikeido writes about banking. However, Hanasaki Mai’s plot didn’t pique my interest enough to watch the succeeding episodes.
When I watch dramas about different professions in their workplace, I usually end-up wishing I have their job but in Hanasaki, there’s nothing. I was like, “so this is banking?” and I’m not affected at all.
Compared to Hanzawa Naoki where the lead character is the subject of oppression, in Hanasaki Mai, Anne plays a hero of the oppress in the banking world despite being a small fry, which frankly didn’t make this drama more interesting.
Nevertheless, I applaud Anne and Kamikawa for giving justice to their roles. It’s not that surprising because the two have always been gifted actors but for their first team-up, their opposite personalities makes them more interesting than the drama’s plot.
Usual disclaimer applies.