English Dub Review: Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues “Adult”

Time to be an adult.


Tonegawa has won back the trust of the black suits after the company retreat, but this has only put him right back where he started. While worrying about his men coming up with ideas, Tonegawa has one of his own: deadly mahjong. He presents his idea to the group, but one black suit, Simon, takes fault with the practicality of the game. When asked by Tonegawa to present his own idea, Simon outlines Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors. Tonegawa, having learned from his mistakes, throws out his idea in favor of Simon’s.

Our Take

This is a slow moving show. What we essentially have, after three episodes, is a soft reset. We have no death game idea going into the third episode, and we are poised for yet another meeting. The difference this time is that Tonegawa develops an idea of his own that both tells the audience about his character and his worldview.

Tonegawa is a man of an older generation, so he sees mahjong as precisely the game to represent a fair test of skill among the average populace. What he doesn’t seem to grasp, however, is that the game is not nearly as widely played by those of the generation beneath him, aka the black suits’ generation. This is valuable information. Before, Tonegawa was presented as merely above the black suits in authority, and– while they appeared to be different ages– it was not a detail that mattered much before now. We also learn more about Tonegawa’s disregard for human life. He sees the debtors as less than human, and diabolically tries to get them to fight among themselves within the game. This could be the reason for not being able to recognize the black suits by name. He may truly care about their lives that little.

This episode we are introduced to another black suit, Simon. We first meet him in the cold open. After Tonegawa remarks to himself that working overtime is inefficient and for those who can’t get things done during work hours, he sees Simon staying late. He remarks that it’s unlikely that there would ever be a good idea to come from him. We aren’t privileged to Simon’s inner thoughts like we were with Yamazaki the last episode, but it works. Simon is mostly an antagonist to Tonegawa, until the last moments of the episode. He successfully outmaneuvers Tonegawa at the meeting in order to get the chance to present his own idea.

The American Psycho vibes persist in this one. Tonegawa and Yamazaki’s inner thoughts remark upon something as banal as a PowerPoint (another sign of Simon’s young age supplanting Tonegawa’s experience) as if it’s akin to a coup. While this still isn’t terribly funny to me, it seems to be something they’re sticking with, and it can occasionally be amusing. They seem to be similarly sticking with the idea of a singular metaphor to represent a more extreme depiction of the plot of the episode. Besides a brief return to the gorge from last week, we mostly follow a human mahjong game taking place within the boardroom. Tonegawa is a usually useful tile that must be pushed aside to make a winning hand. I admit I didn’t fully understand the rules of mahjong, but the episode does a good job of explaining what I needed to know.

Another thing to cross the cultural barrier this week was the issue of age. It was important that Simon was the youngest member of the team and Tonegawa the oldest. This was not played up in the English dub, and I wonder if this is something Japanese audience members knew earlier in the series.

My only real complaint with this episode was about the title, “Adult”. Tonegawa is called a true adult by the voice-over, at the end of the episode, for willingly discarding his own idea for Simon’s. You also get the feeling that this has to do with the age difference that has been hinted at before. A piece of dialog from a background character even complains about a manager only getting in the way of an employee’s idea. None of it really ties together, though. Tonegawa is simultaneously an adult and a child? I just don’t see why that’s important. Maybe if the metaphor had more to do with that it would have made more sense, but as it stands it just doesn’t quite fit right. Either way, the show is chugging along. I still hope for character work over familiar iconography though. Simon’s maneuver was much more interesting than discovering where Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors came from.



Cartoon Philosopher

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