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Episode II of a “Splendid” Family. Teppi Starts to get the Screw Jobs.

Sorry folks about my lack of productivity but due to a broken bone I have had limited ability to type without being in extreme pain.  Where we left off with the Manypo family is that Teppi’s father is convinced that Teppi is in fact his half-brother because his father had an “encounter” with his wife.  Some sort of paranoia has taken over the head of the Manypo family is going to be overtaken by Teppi.

Teppi as we know is trying to get the family’s steel factory financing for the modern blast furnace to bring Japan into the modern industrial age.  Also remember that the father is believes that the Hanshin bank is the key to the wealth and power of the family and is trying to avoid being merged into a bigger bank.  Employing a desperate strategy of the small bank swallowing the bigger bank he asks his son-in-law (a high ranking treasury official) to get confidential data on the bank President Manypo thinks he can take over.  His son in law bribes one of his colleagues to get the information.  Not coincidently it is the same bank Teppi is seeking to get a major part of his financing through.

It dawns on President Manypo that if he can get his target bank to finance a major portion of the furnace and his son Teppi fails, the bigger bank with have massive exposure and losses that would make them vulnerable to a takeover.  So machinations begin to set up Teppi quest for a blast furnace to go bust.

Meanwhile, the younger members of the family are being set up for political marriages.  The youngest son is resigned to his fate to marry out of political needs to rather than love.  Teppi also runs into an old flame and finds out that, though he loves his wife and child, a woman he truly treasured (and still has feelings for) was told by the Manypo “butler” in no uncertain terms that there was no way she and Teppi could marry because she didn’t come from a good enough family.  Teppi is furious and returns to the Manypo family compound to demand answers.  He sees his mother running out of her bedroom.  Confused his younger brother explains that while Teppi was studying abroad he discovered that his father and the “butler” were involved in sexual relationship giving this witch even more power.  So hurt was his mother that she ran back to her family (and was promptly returned) then tried to take her own life.  Teppi’s brother said he has known for years but never said anything out of fear or retaliation.

 

The next day Teppi openly tells this “butler” to get the hell out.  The rest of the Manypo family see the conflict since they are about to leave for the arranged marriage meeting.  Teppie confronts his father directly who sides with the butler saying she is “indispensable” for the continuation of the Manypo dynasty.

About the only good news for Teppi is that due to his father in law’s intervention is issued the permit to proceed with construction with the construction of the blast furnace but even this has its downside because his father’s bank intentionally cut his funding by ten percent. So he has to go beg other banks for remaining 2 billion yen.

I really wish I could find the English translation of this novel.  The author has some serious insight into what money does to people—even family.  So afraid of losing their wealth these elite families engage in behavior that is truly despicable.  Their wealth gives them power to ignore the law and social conventions of acceptable and moral behavior.  These truly warped people have the veneer respectability and are the envy of those without this wealth and privilege.  Unlike the masses they get to have it both ways; that is, they can engage in deviant behavior but do not have to face any of the consequences that an everyman or woman would if they behaved the same way.  Anyone but the elite would be in jail for the way these people behave.

 

It reminds me of the relatedly recent news story when the heiress to the Mars candy fortune crossed the center line in her Porsche and killed a family coming home from wedding.  This old woman certainly has a driver but instead she killed a family and what happened to her?  I believe she was charged with a misdemeanor.  If you or I were behind the wheel of the car we would (and should) be in jail.

 

All this because of some fancy paper?

 
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Posted by on June 12, 2014 in Movie Reviews

 

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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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