The episode opens up in postwar Japan with the splendid family at a hotel they go to every year to welcome in the new year. While the rest of the family waits, the elder son and main character Teppi is running late because he’s taking care of some business at the family conglomerates steel factory which he is in charge of. He has just signed a deal with a new company because his new technology is 10 times stronger than anything else in Japan.
As the family begins to sit down for dinner and take the traditional annual photograph Teppi makes a just-in-time. He is scolded by his father, the patriarch of the family, as well as the family “Butler” a woman who arranges many of the family’s affairs including marriages, meetings and other family business. The Butler also has the luxury of sleeping with the father when he chooses, as he did on New Year’s Eve after dinner.
We then follow the father to the family bank which is the center of the family’s fortune and the conglomerate of companies. As he is walking to his office, he looks onto the bank floor and sees hundreds people working and expresses concern for them and their families. We have also learned that the Treasury Department of Japan is following America’s lead in consolidating the country’s banks in order to increase capital availability and modernize the economy. Manypo (the father) has grown the family bank from being a local city branch to the 10th largest bank in the country. However, because he is the 12th largest bank he is ripe for acquisition and will likely be merged into one of the larger banks thereby losing his authority and other privileges of ownership. Out of necessity he looks to his son-in-law (a high ranking treasury official) for a way to employ strategy whereby a smaller bank would gobble up the larger bank. A risky and complicated proposition.
Meanwhile his son Teppi decides that he needs to build a blast furnace in order to stay competitive in the steel industry. This is no small task, requiring billions of Japanese yen in order to construct such a machine. If the blast furnace is built successfully, it will be one of only a few in Japan that is able to make modern steel for cars and other heavy industry. He approaches his father for the financing of this technological marvel who agrees to take the matter under advisement. What we don’t know is why father and son have such a cold relationship given that Teppi seems very likable and capable–everything a father would possibly want a son to be.
We start to get hints when one evening the father is out looking at his koi pond and sees a praying mantis stuck in spiders web that is about to be devoured. He thinks to himself he is more like my father than me. He becomes even more spooked while the two of them are at the same pond later in the day and Teppi is able to summon the largest fish known as shogun by clapping his hands.
At this point things are still setting up and background is starting to be filled in as to the intra-family relationships as well as some family history that may be dark and swept under the rug begins to surface. But the stage is being said for a long, interesting and complicated set of maneuvers supposedly among family members that are to be loyal to each other but instead will slowly stab each other in the back.
Next time episode two.