Thursday, December 18, 2008

Gin no Ankaa (The Silver Anchor)

Gin no Ankaa (written by Tatsuya Seki and drawn by Mita Norifusa), Grade: C

Yoshihiko Shirakawa is the ultimate headhunter. He's been living in New York for a while, and then suddenly returns back to Japan. Fuyumi Kitazawa is a reporter working for Mega Tokyo TV, tasked with finding out why. As she yet again fails to get an answer from Shirakawa himself, her younger sister, Chinatsu, butts into the conversation and tries to get job hunting tips for herself and fellow college student Yuuichirou Tanaka. Shirakawa shocks the two students by telling them that with the current weak market and massive competition from other soon-to-be grads, their typical plan of going to a good university and then seeking out one of the top three companies in Japan is doomed to fail.

However, Shirakawa likes a good challenge, so he decides to treat the two as a pet project, suggesting to Chinatsu how to get started on her dream path as a TV announcer, and guiding Tanaka into finding his own dream job along the way. All the while evading Fuyumi's questions as to why he came back home (he spills the beans in volume 3).

Normally, this is not a manga that I would read. Mita isn't that good of an artist, and I don't want to follow a typical story of kids chasing their dreams. However, it looks like Seki has done his homework, and has succeeded in describing Japan's current job market. Initially, I stumbled across Gin no Ankaa last year when I came to Japan for 6 weeks, and I translated one chapter in order to study business-level Japanese. That chapter goes a long way into showing the Japanese mindset. So, this time I bought some of the manga volumes in order to scan that chapter and upload the translation for use here. But, I bought the wrong volume. So, I started reading the story, and I'm impressed. The entire series goes through the process of picking a dream job, researching it, determining which training programs you need to take to get to the interview stages, etc. Anyone wanting to work in Japan should treat Gin no Ankaa as a training manual to prepare themselves in advance (taken with a grain of salt, of course). (I'll upload the translated chapter after I read volume 3, since scanning it requires that I cut the pages out of the book.)

I haven't found anything else by Seki. Mita has worked on a number of titles, including "Dragon Zakura". He currently has "Angel Bank" running in Weekly Morning magazine. Angel Bank describes the activities at a venture capital firm, and it's almost like Mita's deliberately trying to see if he can get away with drawing his characters badly - their proportions are all wrong, and their faces change from one panel to the next. I'm not even bothering to try to read it, even though I buy the magazine to follow Vagabond. But, with Gin no Ankaa, Mita's done a reasonable job with the artwork, and Seki's the one supplying the business knowledge.

Summary: The world's greatest headhunter shows two college students how to get their dream jobs in Japan's current market. The series is up to book 5 right now, and is running in Super Jump magazine.

Recommendation: Highly recommended if you want to work in Japan, or if you interact with Japanese business people. Otherwise, you might want to give this one a pass.

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