Salaryman Kintaro Vol. 4 (2003) – By Duane L. Martin

 Man, Kintaro’s sure had a rough time of it in volume four of the Salaryman Kintaro series. He ends up with a jealous rival in the company who tries to have him killed, gets hit by a car, gets a broken arm and a concussion, gets transferred to some other branch of the company in some other town where he’s beaten up by his new boss…twice, and to top it all off, he’s got more women after him than he can handle, which as you all know can lead to nothing but trouble.

Still, it’s not all bad. Kintaro meets up with a bizarre old woman who’s kind of like a yakuza elite and has massive amounts of money. She becomes so impressed with him that she tells another boss that we met in the first series that he’s the kind of a man she could leave all her money too when she dies. We also find out that the president of Yamato Construction has sent Kintaro to this new position because he’s basically grooming him to become the next president of the company, and plans to have him ready to fill that position before the old man dies. So this was kind of a mixed bag for Kintaro in this segment of the series.

What I really love about Salaryman Kintaro is that it’s inspiring. Kintaro is ultimately honorable and is constantly surprising people and earning their love and respect because of it. He makes them remember that there is honor in the world and that it only takes a little personal courage and dedication to one’s beliefs to be an honorable person. Something that’s been lost in the day to day hustle of the workplace where the bottom line has become king and the dignity of its workers has long since slipped to the bottom of most companies’ priority list.

My wife loves this series as well, and as we were watching this fourth volume, I commented to her that seeing Kintaro beaten up in the last series and beaten up in this one as well, added a real human quality to him, which allowed him to still come off as an incredibly tough guy while allowing him to be human and have human frailties which he has to deal with at the same time.

I’ll admit it too. I’m a big softy. I’m often touched by how human and genuine his character is. He meets his father in this series for the first time in twenty some odd years at the grave of his mother on the anniversary of her death. There was no bitterness in him at all in the meeting. His father, having the same character that Kintaro has, had gone to jail for twenty years to protect someone he was involved in a hit with. The man had a wife and a child that was about to be born, and even though Kintaro’s father didn’t kill anyone during the hit, he took the rap for it so the other guy to take his wife and child to another town to start a new life. Kintaro meets up with the man during this volume, and the man tells him what happened and begs forgiveness. Still, no hatred from Kintaro, but sadness for the burden of regret that the man has had to carry.

I know I keep saying it, but this series is nothing short of brilliant. The writing is just incredible and the story and charcters are so inspiring that it makes you want to keep watching episode after episode hoping that it will never end. Unfortunately though, it does end. I believe volume 5 will be the final volume in the series. I have an advance copy of it and will be reviewing it soon, but it will be a sad bit of writing for me knowing that the series has reached it’s conclusion.

I don’t think there will ever be anything for me that measures up to what I’ve experienced in this series. It’s been a personal joy for me and an inspiration that is hard to put into words. Basically, all I can do is encourage you to see it. Once you do, you’ll know what I’ve been talking about.