Salaryman’s Club (Review)

Title: Salaryman’s Club | OFFICIAL TRAILER

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11j1DKgKcSo&ab_channel=CrunchyrollCollection

By: Beata Garrett  | @zhongxia246

Salaryman’s Club only has two episodes out in comparison to other Winter 2022 anime, but it’s filling that sports anime hole in my heart pretty well and is a contender for my favorite this season.

The anime follows Mikoto, a prodigy badminton player who only plays singles. After being fired from Mitsuhoshi Bank’s top-ranked badminton team, he becomes a salaryman at the lesser known Sunlight Beverage company. There, he’s forced to partner up with Tatsuru, the best player on Sunlight Beverage’s team, and to enter the world of doubles badminton.

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Source: Episode 1, Salaryman’s Club

Mikoto serves as the typical loner but has the potential to develop as a more complex character. His only friend was involved in an incident that may have been Mikoto’s fault, and he frequently flashes back to that moment during important matches. After meeting Tatsuru, his new doubles partner, it’s immediately apparent that they’re going to have a brotherly relationship that helps Mikoto out of his shell. Tatsuru helps Mikoto with his necktie on the first day of work, but also messes with him, providing a nice moment of levity to the otherwise serious beginning:

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Source: Episode 1, Salaryman’s Club

I may be judging too early, but the animation for the badminton is great. It reminds me of another badminton anime called Hanebado! (also done by Liden Films) which was very messy story-wise but depicted the pace and tension of a badminton match well. Similarly, Salaryman’s Club nails the power and speed of badminton in Episode 1 while also spotlighting Mikoto’s observation abilities and Tatsuru’s sheer strength.

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So far, the anime seems to be mixing the business side well with the athletics but it does make me wonder how necessary the business part is. Ultimately, I think those business opportunities give the boys a chance to grow as a team both on and off the court, so I understand their purpose. 

Sometimes it does drag the story down and feel too convenient though, like in Episode 2 when Mikoto and Tatsuru go to a supermarket to talk to a client and restock their company’s beverages, and they’re attacked by a shady looking guy who was shoplifting. They end up stopping the shoplifter, with Tatsuru sitting on the would-be thief while they wait for assumably the police: 

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Source: Episode 2, Salaryman’s Club

I understand that the incident shows how Tatsuru is now Mikoto’s partner, his shield and failsafe, and that it deepens their bond. But it could’ve been done in a more efficient manner that didn’t feel as ridiculous as it was. 

Episode 3 is more successful with utilizing the show’s business aspect in comparison to Episode 2. Mikoto has to write a project proposal but has no experience doing so, and the team helps him while on a business trip. Mikoto is reluctant as the project was Tatsuru’s idea, but Tatsuru tells him that everybody has their role at a company just like in a badminton game:

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Source: Episode 3, Salaryman’s Club

Episode 3 is definitely more grounded and more successful because of it. At first I thought Salaryman’s Club still basically functions like most sports anime, but it’s unique integration of office work lets its characters and plot breathe in a way other sports anime don’t. 

It’s a surprising and refreshing take on team dynamics that, combined with its good pace and well-executed action, makes the show successful so far. Salaryman’s Club is a sleeper hit and I hope more people start watching it this season.

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