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

Toonami is BACK!

Overview

After last week’s pair of suspenseful endings, we pick up “Conclusions” with Otsuki. He has just taken a one-day outing on the same day as the foreman of Group C. He asks the foreman if he’d like to go for drinks after he finishes downloading the movies he needs for his underground theater. The two meet up in the late afternoon and head to a local dive bar that Otsuki knows. Group C’s foreman is wary about going in, but Ostuki insists. Once there, Otsuki discovers that the other foreman has little knowledge of the surface world, and the Group C foreman discovers that Otsuki is a regular at the bar.

Otsuki does everything he can to get the other man drunk by plying him with strong Chinese liquor and utilizing his encyclopedic knowledge of Japanese regional cuisine. All seems to be going well, as the foreman is totally intoxicated, and Otsuki makes his play. He intends to merge Group C with Group E, making one entertainment center for both groups. He then hopes to totally acquire Group C and eliminate the other foreman. This plan nearly comes to fruition when the Group C foreman is reminded of the film Once Upon A Time in America. Soon, the whole bar can think of nothing but the film, and they watch it until Otsuki’s one-day outing time is up. He is forced to return to the underground prison and does not close his deal.

Meanwhile, at Teiai, Tonegawa is shaken by the revelation that Teiai’s Twitter troll is actually a mole from inside the company. He and Saemon share this knowledge with Team Tonegawa in meeting room 3, and it’s quickly discovered that whoever the troll is that he has intimate knowledge of Yukio and his subordinates. Accusations are quick to fly around the room, but Saemon—using Photoshop—discerns the true identity of the troll/mole. It’s Ebitani!

Ebitani posts his latest tweet from just outside the Teiai building, and Team Tonegawa surround him. Ebitani laments that his life has gone to hell since the team bailed him out for his terrible lobster roll idea earlier in the season. A few of the black suits chloroform Ebitani, and he wakes up in a prison deep within Teiai. While it initially seems like a punishment, Tonegawa has in fact seen his skills on Twitter firsthand and places Ebitani in charge of the Teiai Twitter account. Tonegawa tells Ebitani that he will be set free as soon as the account reaches ten thousand followers, and he gets to work.

Our Take

Mr. Tonegawa is a show where next to nothing happens. The show’s bread and butter are blowing up the mundanities of office life to absurd proportions for a laugh. Is it very good at this? Not especially, but the show has enough other things going on that this failure doesn’t totally sink it. Where this flaw becomes glaring, however, is when Mr. Tonegawa decides it wants to trade in plot reveals and suspense. The result, as you might expect, is little more than an anticlimax.

As I said last week, there is really no reason for these stories to have been split in the way they were. The Otsuki story especially seemed irrelevant, as they placed the second half of his story at the beginning of this episode even though we ended with him last week. The result to anyone binging would be not only a lack of suspense but immediate gratification. While the show doesn’t need to structure it’s pacing around people who binge shows online, this is the show’s only surprise reveal and it’s undercut nearly immediately.

Otsuki’s nascent journeys into big business are yet again a failure. I’m not sure exactly what Mr. Tonegawa’s point in having Otsuki struggle are. Otsuki is a despicable man who is trying to screw over anyone and everyone he can, but he doesn’t get ahead. This feels just but considering the fact that he’s in the underground prison (with the Group C foreman, a scrupulous businessman no less) muddles the point significantly. It makes sense to seek out a controlled environment for these capitalist morality plays, but the cost here is that he negates a lot of what Mr. Tonegawa is trying to say.

The troll storyline isn’t much better. We yet again bring back Ebitani, a character who I don’t really care for, and use him to yet again undercut any point that the show is trying to make. Ebitani complains about what an evil corporation Teiai is, but he’s silenced as some sort of whiny slacker, and then he is conscripted to work for the company, seemingly out of their basement in a very on the nose joke. The issue is that Ebitani is right. Teiai is an evil company that uses shady business practices and treats their employees like garbage. Even the second in command, Mr. Tonegawa himself is not immune from being physically abused by his immediate superior, but none of Ebitani’s complaints are taken seriously.

Mr. Tonegawa seems to have some sense of anti-capitalist sentiment rolling around somewhere in its head, but it lacks either the nerve or the brain to be able to articulate it with any specificity or rigor. I think that I would rather have it say nothing at all than bungle leftist sentiment this badly. The show can be a lot of things, but polemic is certainly not one of them. The finale imprisoning Ebitani is reactionary more than anything. The only people who are good at social media are basement-dwelling trolls who are ill-suited for any job other than posting memes. It’s not a particularly fresh take, and when it’s paired with the fairly incompetent storytelling structures that the last two episodes have consisted of, it’s all the worse. The season is drawing to a close, and without a narrative through-line in sight, there’s not a lot that can that can be predicted or expected from a show like this.

Score
4/10

 

Zach

Cartoon Philosopher

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