Author: Jun Ikeido
Specifications: ISBN  978-4062771375
375 pages
10.6 x 14.8 cm / 4.2 x 5.9 in (WxH)
Category: Fiction
Publisher: Kodansha Ltd.
Tokyo, 2004
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In this gloriously fun series of linked stories, Ken Soma and his assistant Mai Hanasaki, who work at Tokyo Daiichi Bank headquarters, expose indiscretions and misconduct at the various branches to which they are dispatched, and stand their ethical ground to put things right again.

The two are tasked with making short-term visits lasting two or three days to each location of the bank in order to evaluate branch operations and provide guidance on how they can be improved. Soma tends to let himself be unduly intimidated by rank in the rigid hierarchy of the bank's organization, and even though he is there as an inspector and advisor in these cases, he has difficulty speaking plainly. Hanasaki, on the other hand, has only general clerical status, but she has earned a reputation as a real comer for the efficiency with which she plows through the tasks she's given and her pull-no-punches style. In the course of delivering the operational guidance they have come to provide, this odd couple discovers a wide variety of irregularities, ferrets out the truth behind them, and sets things straight again.

They find a boss who has made impossible demands on his staff in an effort to boost performance figures, a restructuring carried out in the name of cost reduction that amounts to bullying, a missing-cash incident that is traced to an employee trying to cover his mounting debts to a consumer loan company, and so forth. Also complicating things is the meddling of Department Head Shindo, who has it in for the pair and conspires with the branch managers?each of whom has quirks of his own to add to the mix?to make things difficult for them.

Hanasaki truly wants the best for everyone, but once she gets angry, she becomes quite uncontainable, and this earns her the nickname of Kuruizaki?literally "crazy bloom" (a real term used for flowers that bloom out of season)?in a play on the meaning of her surname, "flower bloom." Making mincemeat of the top brass and their fossilized attitudes toward women employees, she gives the mega-bank governed by questionable ethics and traditions a hefty kick in the pants. She is a female counterpart to bank officer Naoki ("double the payback") Hanzawa, protagonist of the same author's "bubble-generation series" of novels, which began with Ore-tachi baburu nyuko-gumi (We Bubble-Economy Hires).

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