Review by David Cirone
Even though Hanzawa failed to grab Higashida’s property, the determined banker is causing too much trouble for his scheming superiors, and they order a surprise three-day inspection to keep him off balance and prevent any more surprise moves.
Led by Tokyo Chuo Bank’s Deputy Manager Ogiso (still steaming from losing face at the disciplinary hearing), a team of auditors marches in and demands a “random” list of records, and it’s obvious that the list has been designed to focus on the bank’s most troublesome loans. The auditors pick apart the records, finding fault after fault, chastising both Hanzawa and his team for careless errors. Hanzawa takes it on the chin, and his subordinates are guilt-ridden for adding to Hanzawa’s already perilous position.
Hanzawa knows it’s do-or-die, and he pursues one last lead to get to the missing Higashida. He tracks down the bed-ridden Mr. Komura, Higashida’s former business partner, but he stonewalls Hanzawa, claiming nothing but contempt for banks and citing a personal betrayal from his former banker as evidence. Before leaving the hospital, Hanzawa catches Komura eyeing a picture of his estranged daughter and grandson. Later, Hanzawa meets Kisugi, a newspaper reporter who’s following a hot lead about Tokyo Chuo Bank’s 500 million yen loss. Hanzawa puts him off at first, but then reconsiders, offering to trade information.
After day 2 of the inspection, everyone’s nerves are fried, especially young Nakanishi (Yuto Nakajima), who’s becoming increasingly distant from the rest of Hanzawa’s team. Burning the midnight oil, the discussion turns to the possibility of sabotage, and Nakanishi makes a quick exit. When Hanzawa spies the young man having meetings behind closed doors, he puts 2-and-2 together, but spares Nakanishi from an embarrassing encounter. “Don’t worry about me. Let’s have a good laugh about this when everything’s over.”
Branch Manager Asano (Kanji Ishimaru) gloats openly at Hanzawa’s losses. “One more day and you’re finished.” But Hanzawa looks him in the eye and promises, “I’ll be working at this bank the rest of my life.” As day 3 of the inspection winds down, Ogiso produces the final result, ready to pound the final nail in Hanzawa’s coffin. Even Asano is all smiles, until Hanzawa produces evidence that the “missing” documents were intact before the inspection began. Examining each auditor’s bags, they find the evidence in Ogiso’s briefcase.
Exonerated, Hanzawa points the finger at Asano, who skirts the issue by telling Hanzawa to get back on track with his pursuit of the 500 million. Kisugi’s tabloid story is published a week later, blowing the lid on Tokyo Chuo Bank’s embarrassing blunder with Nishi Osaka Steel, pointing the finger at Hanzawa and the bank’s administration. In turn, Kisugi helped Hanzawa reunite Komura with his family, giving the old man a few days of happiness before passing away peacefully. Kisugi leaves Hanzawa a note with secret information about Higashida’s hiding place.
Hanzawa gets photographic proof (courtesy of his sidekick Takeshita’s unbelievable spy abilities) that Branch Manager Asano has been meeting with Higashida in private the whole time, and he recounts a jarring montage of Asano’s lies. Even Hanzawa in all his fury couldn’t imagine this deep a betrayal.
Banker-wife politics are in full swing as the branch manager’s wife, Rie Asano (Hiroko Nakajima), attends a social party in the employee apartments. Hanzawa’s wife Hana (Aya Ueto), as fearless as her husband, invites Rie for a cup of tea at her home, and they have a few laughs about company-wife politics. Rie is pleasantly surprised at Hana’s blunt honesty, but claims she’s clueless about her husband’s job, even though every one kisses up to her to try to gain influence. It’s a bold move by the writers to make Rie such a warm personality in contrast to her husband’s villainous stance, and maybe it’s a hint that Asano wasn’t always this way.
BANG BANG BANG
Deputy manager Ogiso’s desk-pounding intimidation, the very tactic that led to the mental breakdown of Hanzawa’s friend Kondo. goes into overdrive when Ogiso thinks he’s got Hanzawa on the ropes, and it’s devilishly fun to watch Hanzawa turn it against him when he claims victory.