One may say that I only watched “Gokuaku Ganbo” to feed my Odagiri Joe addiction but believe it or not, I like the storyline. I can relate with Kanzaki’s financial problems though I’m thankful that I haven’t turned to yakuzas yet.
Anyway, Gokuaku Ganbo is actually adapted from manga; hence, some character image may be over-the-top. I just don’t know why they used a woman instead of a man as the lead since the manga obviously has a lead guy.
Nevertheless, here is a quick recap of Gokuaku Ganbo : Episode 1
Kanekure Prefecture is a progressive city known for it’s gold and as progress arrive in the city, so does this shady “consultation companies”.
Kanzaki Kaoru (Ono Machiko) awkwardly enters a family restaurant to meet Dotsuke Kouji (Nakano Hideo), her runaway boyfriend’s creditor. Her ex-boyfriend, Takemoto Kazuma (Miura Shohei) have abandoned her after spending her own savings and even involved her in a credit card fraud.
Kanzaki is unable to pay her boyfriend’s 2 million Yen debt to Dotsuke so she feels somehow relieve when Kaneko Chiaki (Miura Tomokazu) arrives with Daisaku Natsume (Takeuchi Riki) who have informed her and another woman, Yashiki Satome (Natsuna), that he’s giving them 2 million Yen each to pay their respective creditors.
Kanzaki and Yashiki can only stare in awe at the 2 million Yen money in front of them as they count each bundle and eventually paid it to their creditors.
They might be 2 million Yen free from their creditors but they have incurred another 2 million Yen from a different “consultant” who gives them the option of going to Pleasure Island where they can earn 2 million in three months.
Yashiki is on the verge of considering the offer because of Kaneko’s smooth talking but Kanzaki won’t get fooled by it. This is coming from someone who got fooled by her boyfriend.
Anyway, the two ladies were given 24 hours to consider the offer and Kanzaki offered her home to Yashiki. Kanzaki arrives and finds-out has been ransacked. She has an idea who ransacks her place and it’s her good-for-nothing boyfriend who had the gall to steal her pots and utensils. Takemoto even left her a letter, telling her that he’s sorry (after stealing, yeah right) and tells her that he went on a journey to find himself. Somebody get me a knife so he’ll find himself in hell.
Kanzaki obviously hates the guy but she also hates herself as she eats the potato salad left by Takemoto. She hates the guy but she can’t deny that he makes delicious dish just like the potato salad.
While Kanzaki eats the potato salad, Fuyutsuki Kei (Shiina Kippei) arrives. Fuyutsuki offers them an alternative of paying the 2 million Yen than going to Pleasure Island. All they have to do is to enter a fake marriage with a certain Gametsui Taoru (Katsumura Matsunobu) and they can pay their 2 million debt to Kaneko.
That night, Yashiki tells her that she also incurred the debt because of her boyfriend; they both gushed that they must have bad luck with men. Yashiki also shares that she actually has a daughter and this strengthen Kanzaki’s resolve to do the fake marriage than go to Pleasure Island.
The next day, they meet Gametsui Taoru who is more than please that he’ll be having two brides. Getting money from a fake marriage is pretty simple that I have imagined. First is that Yashiki and Gametsui will register their marriage; upon registering their marriage, Gametsui will adopt Yashiki’s surname (it’s pretty common in Japan for men to adopt their wife’s surname esp. if the woman is an only child). Once Gametsui Taoru beomes Yashiki Taoru, he can start fresh since there’ll be no record of his bankruptcy. For this, he can get a loan. After he gets 2 million worth of loan, he will divorced Yashiki; marry Kanzaki, adopt Kanzaki’s name, and do the loan process again.
Yashiki and Kanzaki now has two million Yen (that easy?!) until Kanzaki made the mistake of calling Kaneko. Kaneko is obviously not please that his two girls will get away because of Fuyutsuki’s help so he enlists the help of Mayakashi Kiriko (Naka Riisa), a bar owner who knows everyone else’s background aside from having a huge crush on Fuyutsuki.
Upon checking on Gametsui’s background, Kaneko calls on Gametsui and informs him about the consequences of fake marriage and on how he might get in jail for it once he reported it to the police. Gametsui runaway after, leaving Yashiki and Kanzaki. Yashiki and Kanzaki splits to look for Gametsui and Yashiki gets caught by Kaneko and his minion where she finally gives-up and goes to the Pleasure Island.
Meanwhile, Kanzaki is saved since she has the 2 million Yen with her and Kaneko took it. She’s free but she feels bad that Yashiki has to go to the Pleasure Island and she feels sorry for her daughter. So she decided to play hero.
So, Kanzaki decides to help Yashiki and goes to the island herself to save Yashiki, Upon arriving at the docks, Kaneko is there to saved them where they were able to get away.
As they were saved by Kaneko, Kanzaki has to pay him 2 million Yen in total since Kaneko saved two of them. The next day, Kanzaki learns that Yashiki has ran away. Kanzaki also learns that Yashiki incurred the debt from playing pachinko and that her so-called daughter she calls Karin-chan is actually the name of a pachinko machine. Now, Kanzaki finds herself with a new 2 million Yen debt to pay.
Kanzaki decided that the only way she can pay Kaneko is by working in the consultation firm. While she does not agree with their tricks and methods, they can make a fortune within a day. Kaneko tells her that she won’t be able to do it, she has no idea how it is to live as if you’re going to die. Kanzaki says that she knows that much, she recalls an event back in her childhood where her family lost everything. The yakuza told her that she must not blame them for taking their restautant, but she should blame her parents for being incompetent in making money. If they have known how to make money, the foreclosure could have been prevented. Since then, she has lived her life in desperation.
The consultation’s head, Koshimizu Gen (Kobayashi Kaoru), tells Kanzaki the deal, she can make as much money as she wants but she must pay Koshimizu 20 million Yen annually for his reputation. Kaneko then tells her that is what he meant with being desperate.
Kanzaki signs the agreement and tells everyone it will be the last time that she’ll be “cut down” to her size because from now on, she’ll be the one who’s doing the cutting.
I watched this drama 2 weeks ago and I’m too lazy to re-watch the entire thing again; hence, the short recap.
Gokuaku Ganbo isn’t as impressive as I expected it to be. Plot-wise, it is good; but it was poorly executed that the scenes weren’t as appealing. Kaneko and Fuyutsuki are the only noted characters, their portrayal of yakuzas made me see that despite the money they get from illegal activities, they are also fighting their own battle. Ono as Kanzaki is so-so, for someone who’s assertive, she do gets fooled easily by Takemoto. Miura Shohei as Takemoto is a character you want to hate considering that he’s not even a yakuza. I like Shohei but his character here is such a pig that I want to cut all his hairs. XD
Basically, Gokuaku Ganbo is a drama where everyone outsmarts one another and I have no idea how Kanzaki will do that. I wished that the production used an actor for the lead role just to be more faithful to the manga. I guess the writers were trying to be different by having a woman involved in a yakuza world, which is male dominated. Well, there is a good reason why yakuza world is dominated by men, it’s a gruesome world out there and it’s definitely not a place for a woman to use her tears to gain sympathy.
All in all, Gokuaku Ganbo is like drinking cheap champagne, it gives you hangover the next day and you regret everything. Oh, on the bright side, I did see Odagiri for more than a minute.