Good to Be Bad!
- Episodes : 15+
- Genre : Comedy, Drama, Parody, Psychological, Seinen
- Airing Date : July 2018 – Ongoing
- Studios : Madhouse
Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa (Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues) Introduction and Story
Over the decades, Madhouse has compiled an impressive catalog of licenses. If the studio wished to create a spin-off based on a well-known property, they would be spoilt for choice. Even though the gambling anime is phenomenal, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor would hardly be the first candidate that springs to mind. Taking into account the fact that only a small portion of Nobuyuki Fukumoto's manga has been adapted, a comedic spin-off centering around Yukio Tonegawa came completely out of left field. Primarily set prior to the events of Kaiji's first season, Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa follows the middle manager's attempts to connect with his crew of men in black while trying to satisfy Kazutaka Hyoudou's sadistic orders. Laughter can be found in even the darkest of places!
1. No Cut Corners
In the world of anime, Madhouse's resonates across the entire industry. Kaiji's art style might require some getting used to, but the characters’ harsh features complement the tense narrative being told. The animation is not necessarily gorgeous or impressive, but the series might have suffered from a more flashy presentation. Despite being a spin-off series, Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa is by no means cheap or rushed. The animation is around the same level as its predecessors. While this is definitely a parody series, the events are taking place within the same universe. Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues looks and feels like Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor.
2. A Worthy Companion Piece
For all intents and purposes, the men in black are portrayed as little more than faceless thugs during Kaiji's two seasons. In hindsight, Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Hakairoku-hen's final episode foreshadows Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues' more humanistic characterization of these sharply dressed businessmen. Teiai Corporation and Kazutaka Hyoudou can definitely be classified as sinister, but Tonegawa and his team are essentially just doing their jobs. Tonegawa was an authoritative obstacle for Kaiji to overcome, but this spin-off series expands upon the middle manager's everyday struggles to connect with his subordinates. Regularly poking fun at itself, Mr. Tonegawa: Middle Management Blues uses the henchmen's similar designs as an actual point of conflict that needs to be overcome by the protagonist. Does Madhouse's spin-off need to exist? No, but Kaiji is improved because of it.
3. Same But Different
Antagonistic and power hungry, Tonegawa left a lasting impression as a dangerous foe who Kaiji needed to slay before escaping his world of pain. Due to the franchise's more grounded tone, the businessman was not necessarily a typical villain, but it would take something special to redeem the character. Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa ran the risk of softening the protagonist to the point that he becomes unrecognizable, but this is undoubtedly the same Tonegawa as seen in the previous series. Ambitious but stuck under the foot of a crazy tyrant, Tonegawa is surprisingly relatable and almost endearing. While not a good person, the protagonist treats his subordinates with respect and uses his experience to lift those around him.
1. A Risky Gamble
Spin-offs can be somewhat of a hard sell. By definition, they have to be inconsequential to the narrative being told by the main series, but the subject matter has to still be linked to the parent story. More often than not, this type of series explore minor characters or shift towards a more lighthearted tone. When all is said and done, one might end up with a spin-off requiring prior knowledge of a franchise while presenting an inherently incomparable experience that needs to be marketed towards a different audience. Even though the anime is a fun ride, Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa is not for everyone. Who is this series meant for? Fans of Kaiji might be turned off by the show's comedic nature and less than subtle storytelling, while newcomers will miss out on some of the funniest references and jokes.
Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa is a tough sell for anyone unfamiliar with Madhouse's gambling series, and fans need to prepare themselves for a vastly different experience. Frequently funny and seldom boring, this is one spin-off that actually enhances its parent series!
Did you agree with our review? Is Chuukan Kanriroku Tonegawa worth watching? Please let us know in the comments below!