Hiroko Matsukata is a strong-willed, no-nonsense, working stiff for a magazine company, even more so when she switches herself into “Hataraki Man” (working man) mode. As good as she is at her job, her love life leaves much to be desired, not only because of her own working habits but her boyfriend Shinji is just as much of a working stiff as she is.
summary by Two-Twenty
Highs: Cast of characters; music; effective theme
Lows: May be a little dull for western audiences
A career can be your passion or burden in life—often a mixture of the two—it all depends on what you do with the opportunities and time given to you. It’s a theme that rings true regardless of your culture, and one that is explored with sincerity and light-heartedness in this anime.
It does this by focusing mainly on one of Hiroko’s friends or co-workers per episode. In regards to their working life, each one has a different attitude and circumstance which, as a result, influences Hiroko’s. It’s never repetitive or boring, quite the opposite actually; it turns out to be an unexpectedly effective way to develop characters. Hiroko herself is a strong protagonist. Her somewhat masculine, iron work-ethic is both her greatest strength and greatest weakness. Watching how she balances between the two is one of the best aspects of the series. It’s well written, funny, and at times, surprisingly touching.
Aesthetically, it’s pleasing. It seems reasonably solid art and animation is becoming harder to come by nowadays, so it’s satisfying when a series like this can remain so for the entire duration. The music was also a pleasant surprise. For a series like this, a proper soundtrack could’ve been skipped over, but the creators go that extra little bit and it results in some rockin’, radio-friendly tunes.
When it comes to thinking of something negative to say about Hataraki Man it’s a little hard to draw anything but a blank; what it does, it does well and does right. If anything, I probably didn’t get as much out of the series as I would if I were Japanese. As a testament to how it resonates with a Japanese audience, the channel it aired on received the highest television ratings for its timeslot ever. I honestly can’t see this anime drawing similar attention from western audiences and (as I experienced) the lack of empathy in some situations may at times make it dull. Hataraki Man won’t be revolutionizing the anime industry any time soon, but it’s a good, memorable watch simply because it just gets everything right. The theme is universal, the characters are likeable, the animation is solid, the music is catchy, and it even ends well! What more could you ask for?
Hataraki Man can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.