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Thread: Nostalgic Isuzus in 2009-2010 Japanese Drama on Fuji TV

  1. #1
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    Jul 2007
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    Nostalgic Isuzus in 2009-2010 Japanese Drama on Fuji TV

    In a world where Isuzu and Ford sign a partnership in 1969, will 117 Coupes be sold in Ford dealerships?

    Title: 不毛地帯 (Fumo Chitai)
    Translated: The Waste Land (machine translation "Barren")
    Author : Yamasaki Toyoko
    Story written: 1973?
    Film: 1976
    Soap Opera on Tokyo (?) Broadcasting Service: 1983
    Current Prime Time TV Show: 2009-2010

    The protagonist is Iki Tadashi, graduate of the Japanese military academy, an officer in the Japanese military during WWII, a genius military strategist. He is sent to a Russian prison camp in Siberia for 11 years at the end of the war (the origin of the title and the event that seems to most shape his life).
    He returns to Japan, turns down a job with the military, vows to leave that life behind, and gets a jon with Kinki Trading Company, one of the largest in Japan. His manner and background are not that of a business man and his strategy skills give him a distinct advantage, even over his former military academy classmate now working for a rival trading company. He is promoted in charge of the business division and the deals he makes that save the company numerous times, also anger the other divisions (sales and food) and the company VP. And the company president plays the VP against Iki. So no one can be trusted, everyone is at everyone else's throats, and what more could you ask of a corporate samurai movie?

    Episode 7 brings the story into the world of Nostalgic Japanese Automotive business fiction, based very closely on reality. It is 1967.

    The field of corporate players:
    Chiyoda = Isuzu
    United Motors = General Motors
    Fork Motors = Ford
    Glensler = Chrysler
    Aiichi Motors = Toyota
    Nisshin = Nissan
    Towa = Mazda
    Chiyoda = Isuzu
    Fukuoka Motors (Auto Wealth) = Subaru
    Prima = Prince
    Wuling = Mitsubishi
    Kidaoko = Honda

    Kinki Trading VP was a classmate of the president of Chiyoda Motors. Kinki also is the primary supplier of steel and shipping service to Chiyoda. Kinki Trading is motivated to make sure that Chiyoda is a healthy company and selling lots of cars, so they can sell more steel and ship more cars. Chiyoda is not a healthy company, with poor sales, and the Kinki VP is to meet with the Chiyoda president.

    We are introduced to the Chiyoda product: ... episode-7/
    About the 10 minute mark.
    The man and woman are on a picnic. Long ago, their families arranged for them to be married. The man is an actor, and does not seem to like girls, which is the implied reason that this marriage has not happened. He has become a successful actor and seems to want to do the honorable thing and proposes. They are leaving, and his Chiyoda Rebecca 1600GT car will not start. He complains "Not again, I didn't want a Chiyoda. My uncle owns Chiyoda and forced us to buy this car. Now it has ruined our date."

    The part of the Chiyoda Rebecca is being played by an Isuzu Bellett GT. Rebecca (ReBeKKa) seems to be an anagram/play on words for Bellett (BeReTTo). It appears to be a 1970 or later GT, and the setting is 1967, but we can forgive that error.

    At the 10 1/2 mniute mark, Iki is meeting with the Chiyoda president to discuss the company's problems, they are surrounded by Bellett photos.

    Kinki Trading take immediate interest in rescuing Chiyoda Motors. Chiyoda is number 4 in the Japanese market, but the trade commission will soon revise the law to allow foreign investment, and there will be a stampede to forge partnerships with the US automakers.
    Iki quickly determines that Chiyoda's problem is the monumental under performance of their sales department. But there are conflicting plans within Kinki. Iki wants to save the company without merger while his rivals want to merge no. 4 Chiyoda (Isuzu) with no. 5 Fukuoka Motors (Subaru), which will allow Chiyoda, the stronger company, to control the merged entity. Rival trading companies and the government officials have their own ideas, they want Chiyoda to be gobbled up by one of the three larger Japanese companies.

    Chiyoda's hopes lie with their unreleased sports car, the 115 Tiger.
    This segment starts part of the way through a lunch meeting between Iki and an acquaintance from his military service, the shifty looking guy who has now found employment as an extortionist. He is in possession of blueprints and spy photos of the 115 Tiger, and wants Iki to arrange for Chiyoda to buy them back or he will sell them to the other automakers.
    The blueprint shown is actually a very highly sought after Isuzu 117 Coupe promotional brochure.

    At about the 11 minute mark of that segment, Iki is at Chiyoda headquarters, meeting with the Chiyoda president, they walk by the assembly line, which appears to be a large number of Isuzu Florian body shells moving by.
    They then enter the secret area, complete with military looking guard, and the 115 Tiger is revealed and described as the first Japanese production car with a DOHC engine. Iki comments on the beautiful body. The Chiyoda president replies that the car is his life's work and he wants it to be remembered as a classic 30, no 50 years from now.
    The unveiling runs over into the next segment of the video.

    The grille symbol of a 117 Coupe is a Foo-Dog / Shisa / Foo-Lion, or Chinese Puffy Lion Dog, temple guardian. A sideways literary shift changes the car to a 115 Tiger.

    The story is interrupted by the unexpected arrival of Harley Fork II, president of Fork Motor Company (Ford), who quickly meets with the head of the rival trading company and it seems that they are arranging a partnership between Fork (Ford) and Towa (Mazda).

    Episode 8 - Not much exciting Isuzu car references. They are dealing with the Harley Fork visit, the conflict within Kinki Trading over what to do about Chiyoda. Iki has been neglecting his marriage, and his wife is killed, run over in a crosswalk.

    Episode 9 - No English subtitled version found yet, but, the story line has Iki being transfered to head the US office of Kinki Trading, so much of the dialog is in English. 1969.
    But before he leaves, we see the release of the 115 Tiger at about the 2 minute mark.
    Two 117 Coupes posed in a dealership show room, sales staff anxious to sell, and a tiger mascot on hand to drive in business. Unfortunately, it seems the 115 Tiger has not saved the company.
    This is followed by a discussion between Iki and the Chiyoda president in his office, now they are surrounded by 117 Coupe photos.
    It seems that the corporate espionage and extortion was a double cross, the shifty little man had apparently sold copies of the blueprints and spy photos to the other car companies.

    Iki goes to the American office and starts sending his assistants over to the Fork Motors headquarters in Detroit, and each time they are turned away. He finally gets a meeting, and they go into an intense discussion with a Japanese speaking American businessman, and finally a meeting with Harley Fork, who agrees to a partnership between Fork Motors (Ford) and Chiyoda Motors (Isuzu). Harley Fork signs over power of attorney to Iki.

    Episode 10 - Iki returns triumphantly to Japan. He has forged a partnership between Chiyoda and Fork, something none of the other Japanese automakers could do, and Chiyoda is now in position to become Japan's number one automaker. Unfortunately, none of his rivals in the company are happy with the terms. The Kinki president retires and turns the company over to the VP, who is Iki's rival. And Iki starts a relationship with his old flame, the wife, not wife, of the actor who does not like girls and complained that his uncle made him buy the Chiyoda Rebecca car.

    Episode 11 - ? Airs January 14.

    And the series looks to be scheduled to last through May of 2010.

    So, are they going to be selling 117 Coupes in Ford dealerships? Maybe the Piazza is the replacement for the 1980's Ford Mustang, instead of the Fox body? Perhaps the Escort Cosworth is replaced by the Gemini Irmscher-R?

    And for those uninterested in Isuzu nostalgics, these corporate officers are being driven around in big Japanese sedans. Nearly all of the cars are correct or very close to correct for period (except for the 90's New York taxis). Chances are those big sedans I don't recognize are 50's and 60's Toyotas.

  2. #2
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    Jun 2009
    salem oregon
    very cool info and series

  3. #3
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    Jul 2007
    Midwest, USA
    Chinese subtitled versions of Episode 11 have been posted. This one seems to have the mouth movement more closely match the audio:

    I may have to just wait for the English subtitled versions, I got a few things wrong with Episode 10.
    The Kinki Trading president has not retired, but he has placed the company VP in a more powerful position, above Iki, our story's protagonist.
    The company VP and his little toady have gone to the US office to screw things up for Iki. (not Iki returning to Japan in triumph, my bad, didn't recognize the office).

    The company VP sets up another meeting with Fork Motors, the Japanese speaking company rep, and Harley Fork. They start renegotiating the partnership between Fork and Chiyoda. They start out moving down from 50% to 33.4%, and Harley Fork says that if they want to go lower than that, the negotiations are over. Iki is gritting his teeth, he that seems to be all he does for this entire episode. The VP and his toady suggest that instead of a partnership, Fork and Chiyoda should form a new company, that would not be subject to any of the laws that prohibit foreign investment in Japanese companies. Harley likes this idea a lot. The meeting ends.

    The VP has a heart attack. But just when it looks like he's going to kick over and leave Iki in command, the VP recovers. He sticks around long enough to screw things up for Iki, and they stick him on a plane to go home with a vial of nitroglycerin tablets. To everyone's surprise, he arrives in Japan alive (he's like a bad rash, you can't kill him). He meets with the company president, and proceeds to get into an argument where he is treating the president like an equal, not like his boss. Clearly the hierarchy is screwed up.

    Iki's personal life is equally destroyed. He has a dream that his wife and a house full of party guests are yelling at him, probably for his relationship with his old flame. A dead person coming to you in a dream is a big deal in Japanese culture, and something expected after a close friend of loved one dies. Iki sends an underling to meet with his old flame, and he seems to call it off.

    The close with the Japanese speaking Fork rep introducing Iki to a group of Americans, who they send over to Japan as the advance group to set up the new company.
    But about the time they are arriving, Iki is contacted by Fork and it seems the Japanese speaking Fork rep was acting outside the wishes of Harley Fork.

    OK, this is discerned from a Chinese language subtitled version fo a Japanese television show. I'm not swearing to the details until I see the English subtitled version.

  4. #4
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    Chinese subtitled versions of Episode 12 have been posted.

    The Fork representatives are in Japan, meeting with the Kinki Trading Company VP. The Japanese give them a list of Chiyoda dealerships they will take them to, to show them, and then to the Chiyoda factory. The Fork rep leader interrupts, and provides his own list of dealerships that they want to visit, explaining that they do not want to visit the highest selling dealers, but the lowest selling dealers, to access the sales problems.

    For nostalgic car spotting, things get very good starting at the 4:20 mark, as they arrive at the Chiyoda dealership, which has a Bellett GTR parked out front. Inside, on the showroom floor, two 117 Coupes and a Bellett GT. The Fork rep compliments the 117 Coupe for it's paint finish and styling, asking if it is an icon in Japan. The Kinki company man translates the compliment to the dealer salesman. The salesman responds to the Kinki company man, with what must be a comment about poor sales and poor reputation of the car and the company. The Kinki company man translates a different message to the Fork rep, commenting about the famous Italian designer, and the car being awarded "car of the year".

    Next stop, another change in plans, the Fork rep wants to go to a used car lot (more good nostalgic car viewing). They start in front of a ling of Nissan and Toyota cars, noting the prices, and then to a group of Chiyoda/Isuzu Belletts and 117 Coupes, which are priced half as much as the previous group. The Fork rep asks why the Chiyoda cars loose their resale value so much and so fast. The Kinki company man translates to the used car salesman. The used car salesman responds, probably explaining that the Chiyoda cars are poor quality. The Kinki company man translates a different message to the Forkk rep, saying that they are so safe and sold in such high numbers, that the price is lower.

    Then, the story breaks back to the NY office, where Iki and his staff are looking over new found paperwork. The stuff is going to hit the fan.

    Back to Japan, and the Fork rep wants to talk to Chiyoda drivers. Next stop, a taxi office. They ask the taxi driver (who is washing his Bellett taxi) what he thinks of the Chiyoda. The driver responds saying something about the lack of engine power. The Kinki company man translates a different message, telling the Fork rep how the driver likes the car and the powerful engine that overtakes the rest of the traffic and the good gas mileage. The Fork rep responds to the Kinki company man in Japanese, pointing out that his translations have not been accurate.

    Back to the NY office, Iki and his staff are looking at a resume for the head Fork rep visiting Chiyoda and Kinki, he was born in Japan, educated in Japan, and their assumption that the westerners from Fork do not speak Japanese has been a fatal one.

    The Kinki VP has another heart attack, goes to the hospital, but still won't die.

    Iki returns to Japan. More trouble with old flames. He bumps into his rival at the other big trading firm (Tokyo Trading).

    The Fork reps meet with the Kinki VP, Iki, and staff. The VP points out that the Fork rep has hidden his ability to speak Japanese. He responds with some insults about the Kinki staff attempting to deceive him in the business dealings.

    And they close with the revelation that the Australian Fork rep, who is late to join the Fork reps from the US in their tour of Chiyoda, has been meeting with the rival trading company. The Australian Fork rep thanks the rival trading company head for providing him with all the documentation to show how weak Chiyoda is, and rewards him with an appointment to meet with Harley Fork in Detroit, openning the door for dealings between Fork and Tokyo Trading, which will lead to a partnership with Aiichi Motors (Toyota), Nisshin (Nissan), or Towa (Mazda), and kill the deal with Chiyoda (Isuzu) and Kinki Trading.

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