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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Episode one of the “Splendid Family”

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.

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Movie Reviews

 

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I apologize for my lack of content and diligence.

I would like to apologize to all of my followers for my lack of content on this site until now.  However in my defense I was in an accident that broke several bones in my right arm and shoulder making things very difficult for me to keep up with work, eat and for purposes of jpfmovies I’m forced to type with my left hand only.  Try it and see how hard it is believed me what used to take minutes now takes hours.  Though I’m not fully healed I cannot stand not putting up a more content on the site so I’m going to slug through our next series of reviews no matter what it takes.

 

Our next review will be a nine part Japanese TV series based on novel I cannot get my hands on for the life of me called “A splendid family.”  We will examine the series episode by episode but in general here’s a synopsis of the excellent work.

Set in the post-World War II climate of the 1960’s in Kobe, the show explores the struggle for power within the powerful Manpyo family. The cornerstone of their empire is the Hanshin Bank, a fictional version of the former Kobe Bank (now Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation)), controlled by the father of the clan, Daisuke Manpyo Eldest son Teppei is the managing director of Hanshin Steelworks, fictional version of Sanyo Special Steel Co., Ltd.). The ambitious Teppei seeks to expand operations of his company, and goes to his father to see if he can secure a loan. But the Minister of Finance seeks the merger of smaller Japanese banks to fend off foreign competition. Daisuke must decide whether to protect his son’s interest in manufacturing or to ensure the survival of the bank that he controls.

The series mostly revolves on the hidden secrets within the Manpyo family. A running theme throughout the show is Teppei’s constant hunger for his father’s approval. However, instead of being seen as a son, he is often seen as a threat by his own father. Throughout most of the series, they are competing as Daisuke refuses to help in Teppei’s struggles.

At the end, we are shown why the characters act as they did. Teppei’s mother was supposedly raped by his grandfather, therefore, making Daisuke unsure if Teppei was actually his, or Keisuke’s (his father). Teppei’s uncanny resemblance to Keisuke, and his blood type proves to Daisuke that he was, indeed, his half-brother. This causes the heartache that surrounds the Manpyo family.

Teppei’s company is not saved. As he finds out that he was not actually who he thought he was, he goes to the mountains where his family hunts. He makes a final call to his wife. The next morning, Teppei leaves a suicide note and shoots himself.

When the Manpyo family learns about Teppei’s death, his mother is distraught.  His father however, seems placid and cold. A man then comes in and asks the parents to sign Teppei’s death certificate. Daisuke notices that they had made a mistake in the certificate, he states that they had Teppei’s blood type wrong. The man informs them that the blood test taken during the war was wrong, but the current one is accurate.  This revelation drives Teppei’s mother into a fit. Daisuke is weakened. The man he thought to be a product of his father’s horrible actions, was in fact, his own son. He is even more remorseful when he reads Teppei’s suicide letter.  Finally, Teppei is given the acceptance that he so long craved for.

 
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Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Movie Reviews

 

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