The Noitamina slot has always produced interesting titles that go beyond the superficial action/harem/superpower (which I love) and delve into more realistic settings viewers are able to relate to. We have had Paradise Kiss, Honey and Clover etc (I’ll pretend Juuohsei never existed). These types of reality-grounded shows aren’t always my cup of tea, but are far better than the crap passing off as "shoujo".

The latest occupant of this slot is Hataraki Man, aka Work Man. I watched the first episode without an inkling of what to expect and was naturally, very surprised to see no Man in Hataraki Man, but a woMan. The story basically revolves around a workaholic, Matsutaka Hiroko, a 28 year old, who works as a journalist for Jidai Weekly. She works insanely hard, without rest and is pretty jaded.

Going home late at night, falling asleep straight after a bath and going back to work the next day, repeat. Sometimes, omit the first two steps. That’s Hiroko’s life for you. She has a boyfriend, who’s just as bad a workaholic and they barely talk, just text a couple of messages a day with her replies being all "gambattene!" kind. And no sex for three months. In other words, her life pretty much sucks. BUT!

Josei shows aren’t always that simple. Hiroko has a colleague, Tanaka, who stands in stark contrast to her lifestyle. He leaves the office on the dot at 5, hands in his assignments just barely making the grade, doesn’t do anything beyond the bare minimum and has a vibrant social life. Both of them don’t really accept each other’s way of life and the first episode gave viewers a tough decision to take, on which person is actually using their life better.

Tanaka says, "I’ll never want to die carrying the thought ‘My life has been only work’." Hiroko on the other hand, was a bit lost at first but found her answer after a certain project midway through the first episode. So her ethos is, "I want to die wanting to do more work."


Hiroko is always busy while Tanaka looks on in pity

I shan’t go into the rest of the show because you guys can just watch it. I’ll just talk about the two statements above.

In reality, most people would greatly prefer Tanaka’s way of life. Get a cushy job, nothing you hate too much, with decent pay and as little working hours as possible, and you’re set for a good life. But you’re most likely never going to rise above mediocrity or maximise your potential. The key here is, you gain your life satisfaction from hobbies and passions outside of work. A negative view would be, you pay up about 8 hours of your life for about 7 hours of recreational time, which is a pretty good ratio already. As Edward Elric says, "Equivalent Exchange".

Hiroko’s driven and committted lifestyle can really lead to polarised outcomes. It’s the way of life for the cream of the crop and also that of the overworked underpaid soulless workers. The similarity being both types work like hell and they differ in their enjoyment of said work. It’s all nice and rosy if your field of work coincides with your passion and you’re essentially being paid to have fun. Such is the lifestyle of professional atheletes, designers and blah but the prerequisite is talent, ability and the will to go get it. But chances are, workaholics end up empty and burnt out in their middle ages.

 Looking at the number of restructured disgruntled baby boomers who slaved their lives away, it is no wonder the younger generations in developed countries worldwide adopt the Tanaka mindset. Everyone would like their passion to be their job but are they willing to take the risk to get such a job, forgoing perhaps prestige, money and stability in the process? Not many would risk it, and in a sense, there is nothing wrong with that. Working in a decent, acceptable job, have some fun in your free time, avoid all that strain and stress, sounds good doesn’t it?

It’s the easy way out for sure. But is it the best? This is what I’ll like to know actually. Hataraki Man offers a rather positive and encouraging outlook for the workaholics and this may just inspire some to put down their toys/eroge/anime and start working more. As for myself, right now, I’m living the Tanaka lifestyle no thanks to compulsory service. I get home at 5.45 pm, do anime stuff, sleep at 2 am, go to work at 8 am and take it easy but still get the stuff done. Such a life will only last till December and then there’s 7 months to go before college matriculation. I can play all I want in an educational way till then. w00t. Oh yeah, I have to get a part-time job I suppose. I wonder if any manga/figurine/anime store is hiring?


6 Responses to “Hataraki Man: A Young Adult’s Food for Thought”  

  1. 1 Ryan A

    Nice comparison, I haven’t had a chance to catch this series, but I’ve heard mixed thoughts. This makes me a bit more interested. I always live in a blur with random work/jobs/school/entertainment in a blender, so this seems enjoyable. I don’t really agree with working to death, but work is necessity and boredom is the real killer.
    cheers

  2. 2 Tsubaki

    AB’s best meme: I know I’m smart. My parents thinks I am.

    Therefore, having said that, it’s pointless watching shows like this because I R SMART.

  3. 3 Erwin

    I’m at medschool now and work is quite engrossing. And I haven’t even started residencies yet. I enjoy working/studying hard, also outside school (totalling 12-14 hours daily), probably because medicine is something I can do without stretching myself. I am vĂ©ry anal about my free time though: after dinner, weekends, summer vacation. You won’t see me taking up a part-time job, the money would go to otaku-stuff anyway. Your free time is the time you recharge your batteries, do the stuff outside work and avoiding that midlife burnout. I’ve burnt out at the beginning of college (entrance exams, too difficult math program in high school) and burning out really is hell.

    About the show, I’ll watch it. Am curious.

  4. 4 Bridge Bunny

    You know what those two lifestyles sorta sound like? Stay-in and stay-out units.

  5. 5 Waterfall

    Work, play, live. But will we make a difference? For that, you need focus.

    Personally, I would like to work hard and put a lot of effort into a project/business/whatever. But it would have to be one of MY choice and not someone else’s who I don’t agree with.

    Live is too short for that.

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