• Titles: Ryman’s Club, Salaryman’s Club
  • Genre: Sports!, workplace, Drama
  • Episodes: 12
  • Studio: LIDENFILMS

Mikoto is good a badmington. Not professional athlete good but still very good. Well, he can’t jump or play doubles but you know, he can smash pretty well and he’s impressively accurate when it comes to reading his opponent’s movements. Unfortunately, that hasn’t secured him a good job yet. Hopefully, he’ll have better luck at the Sunlight Beverage company. Their club is small but has some solid players. With a bit of hard work and discipline, they could make it to nationals. All that Mikoto has to do is relearn how to play the game with a partner. Oh, and also learn how to be a beverage salesman, meet his quota and prepare weekly reports for his department head. No big deal. He’ll be just fine… as long as he doesn’t murder his new mentor, badminton captain… and doubles partner, everything will be dandy.

By now you all know my soft sport for Sports! anime. Of course, you do. I feel a little bit of responsibility to bring you as many Sports! anime reviews as I can each season. And seeing as Salaryman’s club deviates from the formulae in a few important ways, I couldn’t pass it up!

So no one is going to mention this amazing eye colour?

Production

What can I say that I haven’t said a million times. Salaryman’s Club (why isn’t it Salarymen?) looks fine. It looks pretty good in fact. The art style is nice and I appreciate that the guys have pretty different head shapes. I know it sounds weird but head shapes tend to be really uniform in anime so this peculiarity really struck me.

I also think the animation was pretty good. Badmington can be rather dynamic at times and so there were several opportunities to really let the animation shine. On one or two occasions the scene shifts to follow the shuttlecock’s point of view and I found it particularly impressive.

However, I did notice that characters lost a lot of their integrity and proportions in more mundane scenes, especially with some distance. a lot of care was put into animating the action sequences and it seems like the scenes with more minimal animation were not as diligently rendered.

But I don’t think this will bother most audience members. Salaryman’s Club is a generally good-looking anime.

trying to show animation through stills can be difficult

Story & Characters

I mentioned that Salaryman’s Club has a few unusual elements. Now, this won’t be particularly significant if you don’t usually watch Sports! anime but for those who do, there,s something very fresh here. In my review for Run with the Wind, I mentioned that the cast was a bit older than the norm, being university students. And for me, this was a positive. Well in Salaryman’s Club they are all full-grown adults, in fact, they are salarymen, what a twist! And this changes the tone of the series a lot.

Sure the guys still act silly and goofy at times but generally speaking they are more preoccupied with the daily pressures of adult life. None of them expect to become professional athletes, after all, they are all professional salesmen or QA inspectors or whatever. So they approach the sport differently. It’s a nice contrast.

As you may have noticed, I decided to label Salaryman’s Club as a drama rather than a comedy. There are definitely funny moments but I think that on the whole, I was left with a more dramatic impression of the show. That’s also fairly unusual for Sports! animes which tend to either be mostly funny or somewhat neutral in that regard.

Badminton is serious!

Finally, the workplace aspect of the show is much more important than I would have thought. Mikoto and his teammates are employees first and foremost and the show divides their time between training and badminton matches, and their professional responsibilities. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed that. I ended up being more engrossed in the storyline about the new novelty beverage project than I was in the outcome of the big match.

And all of those elements are great in my opinion but the show ended up average for me.

Unfortunately, I think the pacing has issues. Nothing major, I have definitely seen worse, but it is a bit off here and there.

The biggest weakness of Salaryman’s Club for me though was the characters. Now to be clear they aren’t bad. I can see someone really falling for them. But they were just too standard for my tastes. Or to be more clear, the main characters, namely Mikoto Shiratori and Tatsuru Miyazumi just didn’t grab me that much. I ended up way more interested in the side characters.

sorry guys…

Mikoto has a stereotypical arc where he needs to learn to play with (and trust) others, thereby rediscovering his love of the sport. It’s essentially Kageyama’s arc from Haikyu but Kageyama did it better. Meanwhile, Tatsuru has the classic Sports! injury arc.

On the other hand, there’s a fairly interesting and sweet subplot about the brothers Seaki having to play doubles together for the first time. How the older brother feels pressure to be perfect for the younger sibling that has admired him all this time. Since in a school-based Sports! anime you only get siblings on the same team when they’re twins, this sort of relationship is never really explored. And I thought it was interesting.

Don’t worry – it’s going to be OK

My favourite character by far was Toru Usuyama. A once renowned badminton player who stopped playing years ago when he started a family and has decided to come back to the sport. His relationship with his wife was heartwarming and his return to the sport as essentially a has-been was inspiring to watch. Even as I was watching the series I told myself that I would probably have enjoyed the show a lot more if Toru was the main character and Mikoto and Tatsu were a subplot.

For me, the show ended up average. I happen to enjoy sports! anime so average is still quite good but if you don,t have a particular love for the genre, it’s not an unskippable series. However, there were a lot of interesting elements and I think Salaryman’s Club is a great proof of concept for a Sports! anime with an older cast and workplace comedy/drama storylines. I hope to see more in the future.

You might like this anime if:

Oh, I guess I already told you. You have a particular love of Sports! anime. You saw any of my screencaps and thought, I should watch this…

My favourite character:

I gave everything away in this post. It’s Toru, he’s great. In fact Toru and his wife as a set!

Suggested drink:

Green Onion Martini

  • Every time anyone speaks of “baterymen” – take a sip
  • Every time Shiratori uses foresight – take a sip
  • Every time Miyazumi is actually being a mentor – raise your glass
  • Every time there’s a flashback to the incident – take a sip
  • Every time anyone is drunk – be warned!
  • Every time anyone mentions green onion – admire my suggested recipe
  • Every time Touya gets angry or annoyed – take a sip
  • Every time the coach slaps his fan – take a sip
  • Every time Shiratori blushes – awwwwwwwww
  • Every time anyone wants to break up a doubles team – take a sip
  • Every time we see Miyazumi’s old partner – take a sip
  • Every time we see the hypo on the playground – take a sip
  • Every time anyone mentions Sunlight Beverages – get a soda
  • Every time we see the Iguana – I’m sorry I don’t know its name
  • Every time the Sunlight team wins a match – cheer

I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.

2 thoughts

  1. So basically, it’s a good avarage show that should be better, as it does some great things other shows don’t? If that’s a fair summary of your post, I pretty much felt the same way. For example, I quite liked that the badminton tourney fosters informal networking, so that they could borrow trucks and drivers in a crisis. That rings true. But it was also mixed up with rote personal drama, and so it was a little cheesy, too.

    For what it’s woth, I’d have bought a bottle of that drink (as opposed to, say, natto cola, which I’d definitely have left on the shelf).

    ***

    Also, regarding sports anime, I was convinced I’d have dropped Ao Ashi (this season’s soccer anime) by now, but instead I really like it, and I’ll watch a second season if it ever gets one (sports anime have an above avarage chance of getting second seasons). I think it’s the first soccer anime I’ve ever finished (well I haven’t yet, since it’s still got a few episode going, but I will), and I tried a few. Amongst all sports, soccer is the one I get the least. I look at the field and… just don’t see the game. This anime actually makes me get it. It’s advanced football strategies for especially resistent dummies…

    1. I am looking forward to starting Ao Ashi myself. And yes, that was a good summary of my post. I appreciated aspects of the show but there were flaws that made it less enjoyable to me.

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