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

Tonegawa and Otsuki learn from unexpected sources.

Overview(Spoilers Below)

This week’s episode of Mr. Tonegawa is divided into two adventures. The A-story concerns Mr. Tonegawa himself. After getting his yearly physical, the results are not to his doctor’s liking so he will need to be brought back in for the second round of tests. Between the examinations, Tonegawa wants to improve his health, so he begins a steady regime of diet and exercise. The black suits wish to support Tonegawa, but one—Doshita—thinks that Tonegawa needs a personal trainer.

For the remainder of the first half, Doshita psychologically tortures Tonegawa into eating healthy. He forces exercise upon the executive, throws away food that isn’t healthy enough, and ensures that Tonegawa sends him pictures of his food before he eats it. After a while, this starts to get to Tonegawa, so he tries to give himself a cheat day, but that too is thwarted by Doshita. Tonegawa eventually goes back to the doctor and passes his physical with flying colors. He has decided, though, that he now hates Doshita.

The B-Story is another of Otsuki’s one-day outings. This time around, a nameless man is out with him. Otsuki doesn’t recognize the man from the underground prison’s gambling tables, so he assumes this teetotaler will be of no interest to him. As he goes about his day, however, Otsuki keeps running into the man at all of his favorite food places. What’s more, they always order exactly the same dish.

At his last meal before being sent back underground, Otsuki and the nameless man order the same thing again, but the nameless man asks for some interesting garnishes. Otsuki thinks there’s no way that they could be tasty, but after some intense wordless eye contact, he gives it a shot. The meal turns out to be one of the best he’s ever had, but before he can thank the nameless man, they are both whisked back to their underground lives. Otsuki is incredibly sad about this for a few days until he and his food friend are reunited.

Our Take

This is a pretty nothing episode, in my opinion. Not much really happens, and I can’t imagine it having too much bearing on the main plot of the series (whatever there is of it) going forward. This doesn’t by any means make it a bad episode. In fact, some of the gags they go for this time around land pretty well, but we’re a little far into the season to have this little going on.

I will say that this is some of the most I’ve like Otsuki. He really outstays his welcome when he has a thirty-minute episode all to himself. It does a lot to expose the thinness of a character that Mr. Tonegawa doesn’t seem particularly interested in filling out. But, as a backup story to whatever is happening to Team Tonegawa, he makes a lot of sense, and I didn’t mind his presence.

I actually probably liked his story better this time around. Doshita was a pretty annoying character, and his one-note is not one that I care to hear all that often. It feels unfair to fault Mr. Tonegawa for doing exactly what I want it to do—namely telling me a small story that is entirely character-driven—but I was pretty unenthused by this go-around. While Doshita the drill sergeant eventually got funny when he was terrorizing Mr. Tonegawa in the bathroom, the ramp-up was pretty tedious.

While we did find out that Mr. Tonegawa is clearly not as tough as he claims to be in front of his subordinates, we already learned this when his executive rival revealed his path to the top of the Teiai group. I can’t help but wish that if Mr. Tonegawa was going to do this episode that they would have done it before the yearly transfers. This would have allowed me to care about Doshita and maybe he would have been kicked off the show instead.

Meanwhile, in the secondary story-line, Tonegawa is up to its old tricks again. The plot and character development exist on two separate tracks. I thought they would make use of what is essentially a soft reset with the Otsuki backup, but they continue to make the same mistakes. I know a decent amount about Otsuki’s past and hobbies, but it rarely affects how he acts in the episodes that we see him in.

As an outing, though, this one at least kept my attention for the duration. The moment inside Otsuki’s head when he decides whether to mix in the chili flakes and the egg were entertaining, and take advantage of the internal monologue the show can affect at times. I wasn’t really interested in the gratuitous film reference at the end, but then, I wasn’t emotionally invested in the first place, so it didn’t bother me all that much.

Mr. Tonegawa is at its best for me when it teaches me something about its particular view on Japanese culture and/or it makes me laugh. This episode certainly didn’t accomplish the former (I thought that the particularly fertile ground of the motivation of the aging Japanese population’s desires to eat healthier went relatively unexplored.), but I did chuckle here and there this week. We are once again treated to the dichotomy between the world of food and the world of business, and yet again, the only female character we’ve seen speak on the show is a waitress. Next week’s exploration of women in the workplace cannot come soon enough.





Cartoon Philosopher

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