About a month ago I wrote about a new drama coming out called “Gokuaku Ganbo” starring Machiko Ono and yesterday I watched Episode 1 of it. Ono plays the main character called Kaoru who has lived life on a low-level socially economically pretty much since the day that she was born. When she was a young child her mother’s Okinomiyaki store went through some financial issues and got closed down. This is where her life started going down hill. Gokuaku Ganbo skips ahead quite a few years and starts off with Kaoru living with her boyfriend, who decides to steal the credit card of a customer at the restaurant they work at and extort money from him. Who could have known that plan could end so badly.
Her boyfriend copies the card’s data and goes around to a bunch of designer brand stores buying things. He then on-sells everything to pawn shops and they are loaded for all of a couple of hours until the owner of the card tracks them down. It turns out the owner of the card is a pretty rough guy and he immediately demands they sign a contract promising to pay him $20 000 for the damage that they have caused – and promises not to go the police in exchange. They sign and are told to meet the guy the next day to discuss the loan, Kaoru ends up going to meet him and finds out that her boyfriend has disappeared(basically abandoned her) leaving her with the debt. Even worse, her lender wants his money back fast – real fast. But that’s where two men from Koshimizu Management Consultancy Agency step in to save her(and another girl with the exact same amount of debt too). They purchase the debts from the mobster and tell the girls that they don’t need to worry about being threatened any more.
Everything seems too good to be true so far, right? Well it is, because the $20 000(each) isn’t just going to disappear into nowhere. Now they have to pay it back to the consultancy agent guys. They go to the consultancy agency to discuss the payment of their debts and are immediately told they should work at what is essentially a prostitute resort on a mysterious island because they’ll “be able to earn $20 000 in 3 months”. They obviously have reservations about doing this and the two consultants tell them that in the end it’s “up to them” what they do but they’ll need to pay the money back somehow. Anyway, the two girls go back to Kaoru’s house and the other girl(Satomi) reveals that she has a daughter. Kaoru also finds that her boyfriend has packed up all his stuff and left with anything of value(scum). That night another member of the consultancy office called Fuyutsuki comes and tells them there’s another way they can repay their debt: marriage fraud. The girls seem reluctant at first but they decide it’s better than becoming prostitutes and agree to do it.
And that’s all that I’m going to write about this drama for now. A lot more stuff happens and Kaoru eventually ends up getting a job at Koshimizu Management Consultancy Agency but not without strings attached. I’ve only really explained what first happens in the episode, the more interesting parts are what comes after. Is it worth watching though? Definitely. It’s a theme that’s actually pretty original for once. I know there is still quite a lot of Yankee dramas out there and this would probably fall into that category but I don’t think I’ve seen many where the Yankee in the story rises up but still stays true to Yankee methods. Most Yankee dramas I see show Yankee characters being re-formed and triumphing. That kind of drama is just not interesting any more. It’s not extremely realistic either because in most circumstances people don’t change, they just adapt. I think Gokuaku Ganbo is a pretty good example of that. If you want to catch this one it’s airing on Monday nights on Fuji TV.