What is the Secret to Suzuki Shimao’s Success?
Kusanagi Tsuyoshi plays Suzuki Shimao – a simple man who runs a small screw factory handed down from his father. He doesn’t have much money, but he has a strong sense of justice and a belief in looking out for other people. In the beginning of this drama, he is saving so that he can go on a trip with his mother, but he ends up having to lend the money to one of his workers who is in trouble with a loan shark. Luckily, he happens to win a trip for two to Hawaii shortly after and goes with his mother.
In Hawaii, he meets a rich Japanese woman named Kaori who he accidentally pushes into a swimming pool. In apology, he invites her to have dinner with him and his mother that night. Shimao and his mother don’t expect a rich girl like Kaori to actually accept an invitation from the likes of them, but Kaori actually comes and has a good time with them. (Shimao has fallen in love with Kaori of course.) Kaori forgets her wallet that night, and Shimao goes to her hotel to return it to her.
At the hotel, Shimao meets Kaori’s boyfriend (…?) Takayanagi Tooru, who is a famous Japanese millionaire. He has breakfast with them in Takayanagi’s private suite and Shimao feels the huge economic gap between himself and Takayanagi. It is as if they live in a ‘different world’. He is especially jealous that Takayanagi has a girl like Kaori. He is offered a large reward for returning the wallet, which he refuses because he has decided that he doesn’t need money to be happy. He leaves, accepting only Takayanagi’s business card.
Back in Japan, Shimao returns to his screw factory to find all his equipment being taken away to be sold. Apparently the factory has gone bankrupt because the man he left in charge of the factory’s finances betrayed him. When Shimao’s mother sees that the factory is closing, she goes into shock and they take her to the hospital.
His mother’s condition turns out to be critical, and she needs to have a 10 million yen surgery in order to survive. Of course, Shimao doesn’t have this money, so he goes to every bank in town and tries to borrow 10 million yen. He doesn’t have any luck, and his mother passes away before anything can be done. Shimao is convinced that if he were a rich man, his mother would still be alive. He changes his mind about not needing money to be happy, and is suddenly desperate to become rich. So, he goes to see Takayanagi, whose business card he still has with him.
He goes to Takayanagi’s e-business company, “Frontier” but isn’t allowed to see Takayanagi without an appointment as he is just too important. Shimao gets a job as a security guard in the building in hopes of getting closer to Takayanagi. (And besides, he needs a job anyway.) He is well-liked by his supervisor who drinks together with him at night. Always drinking in a separate corner of the same bar are the top employees who work close by with Takayanagi. Among their numbers is also Kaori, who Shimao is still in love with. The high-priced wine and food that the high employees drink is in sharp contrast to the cheap stuff the security guards have, and Shimao once again feels that they live in a ‘different world’. He wonders if he will ever get to meet Takayanagi, and learn the secret to becoming wealthy.
The deciding event comes when the Frontier company is doing a live webcast of an important soccer game. Just before the webcast, their server suddenly falls victim to a nasty virus and goes down. None of the programmers there can seem to fix it and the game is about to begin. At the same time, Shimao happens to be making his rounds as security guard and notices the computer trouble that the high executives are having. He quickly sits down at a computer, opens a command prompt window, and begins typing commands up a storm. It turns out that Shimao used to be a computer programming genius when he was young, but his business partner betrayed him and he ended up carrying on the family screw business instead. Shimao fixes the company’s server just before the game begins and everyone in the office is overjoyed.
Takayanagi takes notice of this, and Shimao is instantly promoted from security guard to one of the top-level executives who works close with Takayanagi. He finally gets to meet Takayanagi again, who teaches him the secret to his success – which is being an uncaring @$$hole who doesn’t look out for anyone other than himself. In order to test Shimao, Takayanagi gives him difficult jobs such as cutting off relations with smaller businesses which aren’t helping to benefit Frontier. At first, Shimao tries to be uncaring, but he can’t do it and instead tries to succeed by helping the little people to be more successful. This always gets him in a lot of trouble, but turns out well in the end.
So, it is a constant struggle between Takayanagi’s uncaring ways and Shimao’s sense of justice and helping others which is the basic conflict of this drama. Takayanagi’s ways continue to make him more and more rich, but Shimao’s sometimes bring about unexpected outcomes which exceed Takayanagi’s original plans. Takayanagi gradually begins to dislike Shimao, and chooses to watch him from afar and to see what interesting results Shimao can bring about. Kaori also grows closer to Shimao as she is swayed by his kindness and begins to dislike Takayanagi’s cold ways.
This drama can easily be read as anti-capitalist propaganda if you go that deep, but it is mostly just posing the age-old question of, “How important is money?” This drama would conclude that kindness and caring for others is more important. It’s a simple story of a simple man who has dreams of a better life, but somehow this drama just has a feeling of magic and wonder to it that makes it fun to watch. It’s probably mostly the background music and some of the camera work. You can see what I mean just by watching the clip below. Yeah – the background music does the trick.
I was hooked from the first episode of this drama, and it might just be one of the best of the season.