Title: Hataraki Man
Company: Studio GALLOP
Format: 11 episodes
Dates: 12 Sep 2006 – 21 Dec 2006
Synopsis: Matsukata Hiroko is the epitome of a workaholic. Her extreme dedication to her work earned her the nickname “Hataraki Man” (literally “Working Man”). However, this severe devotion comes at a cost, as she finds herself drifting away from her boyfriend and her social life…
Characters: Generic in concept, unique in development.
Pacing: Generally consistent and quick for the genre.
Mood: Pleasantly upbeat.
The “slice of life” genre contains many anime that more or less share a very relaxed, unhurried style. To some, the genre brings relaxation. To others, it brings boredom. Regardless of one’s personal tastes, however, the similar feel to each anime can grow old over time, and eventually be too much of the same. However, Hataraki Man finesses this issue by keeping the pace refreshingly quick and consistent, and throughout watching this anime I wondered if I was even watching a slice of life series at all. Hataraki Man, if not for anything else, should be applauded for pushing even further the boundaries of anime.
Most of Hataraki Man is animated well and displayed in a manner conducive to the mood of the show. Quick, short scenes along with many things entering and leaving the screen work synergistically with the atmosphere to relay a sense of urgency. The same can be said of the aural side of the anime, with its relatively fast and catchy songs – the ending and opening themes specifically are not only top-notch in terms of quality, but also convey the energy of the show. While the animation does become more inconsistent towards the end, it does not detract from the show, and overall winds up adding to the show very nicely.
Hataraki Man’s charm lies in its foundation – it manages to add depth to the relatively simple premise of the show. Revolving around the daily life of a workaholic can only go so far; but instead of forcibly adding unnecessary plot elements to add more drama and move the line further, Hataraki Man takes the otherwise mundane design and goes into meticulous detail, adding depth to the series. Each character, purposefully designed around some stereotype of the Japanese workplace, gets microscopically analyzed and developed, allowing the audience to examine the uniqueness of the individual.
Even while maintaining such a high level of analysis, the anime keeps the otherwise routine lives of each character interesting. The production values help the anime here, as each normal event is portrayed as immense, almost hyperbolically so. While this does make the series seem slightly artificial, the benefits outweigh the cost, as it adds fire to an otherwise lackluster topic. The secret of Hataraki Man is simple: take an otherwise overlooked topic and flesh out the aspects that most people fly by. By concentrating on the core, it manages to keep a very good pace, and doesn’t thin itself out like most anime tend to do. This, coupled with its short episode count keeps things from getting too boring, too quick.
Hataraki Man can more easily be categorized as a sitcom than an actual series. While episodic, it delivers entertainment in spades and breathes new life into the otherwise stagnating slice of life genre. I recommend this to anyone skeptical of the slice of life genre, as it is living proof that the genre isn’t limited to airy, calm series. The series should be praised if not solely for the uniqueness it brings to the table; but it delivers so much more.
The Rating: 9
Reviewed by: royal crown