Hosokawa Mitsuru is the company president of Aoshima Manufacturing, a medium-sized precision instrument maker caught in a crisis of survival due to the recession and intense competition with other companies in the industry. Hosokawa joined Aoshima Manufacturing mid-career. His ability was appreciated by the founder and chairman, Aoshima Tsuyoshi and he became the president through an unprecedented promotion. However, Hosokawa’s promotion over all other executives who have been at Aoshima Manufacturing all their lives is greatly criticised by the people in the company. Shortly after he assumed his post, the world is plunged into a recession which has its roots in a financial crisis, and Aoshima Manufacturing is no exception. Its business falters. Hosokawa has to face the ordeal of betting on the company’s survival as its president. How will he overcome life’s greatest predicament?
Cast & Credits
Coming from the same director, producer, channel, screenwriter and the one and only genius novelist Ikeido Jun behind Hanzawa Naoki; you’re bound to expect striking similarities such as the general structure, the business related events, the suspenseful tries to get out of financial troubles, the directing techniques and even the acting style. To many viewers, this may seem like TBS’s desperate tries to follow the footsteps of last year’s mega-hit drama and even re-incarnate its successful ratings. However, Roosevelt Game was able to clearly distinguish itself. This is definitely not another Hanzawa Naoki so do not misjudge this as a copycat.
Roosevelt Game is driven by two main threads: Business management and Baseball. At first glance, you would wonder if those two different themes are able coexist. I had my careful doubts about that matter but colour me surprised! They weren’t only in perfect harmony but they were also smartly written to complement each other which gave the drama a strange yet a very solid balance. The fascinating part is that Aoshima Seisakujo followed similar policies in both company management and sports which made things even more connected and delightful to follow.
This drama excels at building the thrills, you will find yourself at the edge of your seat countless of times. Not to mention the “What the… What the heck was that?” moments. It’s no surprise since this comes from the brilliant novelist Ikeido who’s known of his thought-provoking corporate scripts. The reason why I came to favour the business genre is their highly intriguing scriptwriting and witty dialogues, that part wasn’t any different in here, I was completely satisfied with the financial suspense they built even if the outcome was somewhat predictable. The sports’ part was equally exciting; I never get that feeling unless I am watching a real game or a sports anime. To think that they got me rooting for them out loud is beyond belief.
Acting wise, I have nothing but praise. I never thought that a star-studded cast like this one can go wrong in any way. I was already fascinated by Karasawa Toshiaki in another business oriented drama “Fumo Chitai” and ever since then, I have huge respect towards him. Once again, he drew me to his fearsome ability of turning into an intense actor when his character demands him to. His character was smart, firm and penetrating. Egushi Yosuke’s performance was too mystic; the way his character was written didn’t allow him to show his body language like he’s used to. However, he held an important cryptic character that always attracted attention. Another main character was Kudo Asuka, a young talent that held the realms of the baseball team. He had one memorable performance despite his obvious inferiority to his older seniors mentioned above.
The rest of the cast members were quite fitting for the drama which is nothing out of line for a great business production like this one. Tezuka Toru and Kagawa Teryuki were the better supporting actors. The latter amazed me as usual although I really wished that his talent was exploited further than that. I think this drama is unique due to the human relationships the writer inserted between his characters. The heart-warming events don’t imply that this drama was set in the heartless word of economy and business. That’s definitely a plus point that distinguishes Roosevelt Game from its fellow business oriented productions.
The cinematography was dazzling, literally. The bright colours used for this drama added vivid feeling to the usual sombre business atmosphere. The directing was definitely too similar to Hanzawa Naoki with those famed close-ups and captivating angles. One more thing, that OST was definitely a master’s stroke. That instrumental music was such a perfect fit for this drama’s theme.
-You like highly intriguing dramas.
-You like business/corporate.
-You’re looking for something similar to Hanzawa Naoki but beware, this is definitely different.
-You like sports dramas because baseball was a major part.
Do not watch if:
-You dislike the business theme.
Roosevelt Game is by far, the better written and executed drama of 2014. It contains a daring yet a very successful combination of the merciless world of business and the exciting world of sports. It should be enjoyed for its own benefits. Do yourself a favour, don’t misinterpret this as another Hanzawa Naoki.
There are actually two story lines in Roosevelt Game: one concerning the ailing manufacturer Aoishima Seisakujo, the other its beloved but struggling promotional baseball team. Both are written solidly enough to stand alone, but complement each other so well why should one want them to? Together, these plots form an exciting masterpiece—though I avoid using that word if it can be helped. Often the events in one half relate to those in the other—but without the heavy-handedness this narrative device often carries. Some parallels are so subtle as to create a feeling of “Ah!” in the viewer when they are realized. And, as one might expect from the team behind Hanzawa Naoki, an overall atmosphere of intensity and forward motion permeates both elements—business and baseball alike. It has all the intrigue and heart-thumping one could wish; several times I found myself exclaiming aloud or nearly jumping upright, no exaggeration.
Because they share an author in Jun Ikeido and even directors, it is impossible to talk about this drama without referencing Hanzawa Naoki. But please, do yourself justice before coming in: don’t expect another Hanzawa Naoki, even though certain components may resemble that excellent series. Roosevelt Game, I felt, was actually an improvement on the model in many essential respects. For one, the human element was decidedly more powerful here—there were even brilliant touches of the life drama Japan so excels in. Thematic components found themselves better applied across the board, creating one solid arc rather than two. But perhaps most telling, Roosevelt Game concludes its 9-episode run satisfyingly self-contained and complete…with one less episode, and no need for continuance. As wonderful as Hanzawa Naoki was and still is (I’ve both marked highly), there’s no reason to allow it to overshadow this rare discovery in its impressive enormity.
I mentioned cinematography earlier; let me conjure it up again briefly. There are indisputable similarities to Hanzawa Naoki (again, same team); you've got the intense close-ups, dynamic angles, and unique shots. However, Roosevelt Game again sets itself apart with brighter lightning and softer colors. I also don’t believe another drama exists with such brilliant baseball footage! Though it isn't my favorite sport, I would be a liar if I said these games were not as exciting or remarkable as any action sequence in Asian television. If they used body doubles for the players, I definitely couldn't tell.
Speaking of players, what a uniformly talented cast! Enough are worth mentioning that I could write another few paragraphs on performances alone—but I won’t do that to you. Karasawa Toshiaki portrays President Hosokawa, an unpopular choice for this important seat; I am unfamiliar with him in a leading role, but he caught my eye right away. There is something of the tiger about him, his method is quiet and understated—but when he strikes, you know. Next is Kudo Asuka, another relatively new face to me and in actuality, as ace pitcher Okihara. A simple and sweet character, Kudo draws the viewer in with a mixture of gentle heroism and unassuming relatability. Be warned you may leave this drama affectionately referring to him as Oki. His wonderfully eccentric coach Daido is a scene-stealing gift via Tezuka Toru, while an executive officer occupies a similar space in the form of Sasai (a delightfully complex and stormy Eguchi Yosuke). So many more I’d love to mention, but please meet them in the drama instead!
For the lack of a more elegant term, the soundtrack is killer. The compositions, exquisitely arranged by Hattori Takayuki (Hanzawa Naoki, Shinsengumi!, Nodame Cantabile) are to absolutely to die for. I am not joking when I say that I've scrambled to find the Roosevelt Game soundtrack for purchase. Though almost entirely instrumental (with a few dramatic exceptions), the songs cannot be stopped from creeping into the brain. They are of an almost universally cinematic quality, from the stirring introduction and intrigue themes to anthems of crushing defeat and spirited victory. If you love string instruments, you’ll be in heaven especially.
One final warning: Roosevelt Game is frighteningly addictive. I finished the entire thing in one sitting—on a work night no less, and I almost want to watch it again right away. Take care when you start!