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?
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:
http://www.dramacrazy.net/japanese-dram ... 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.