『七つの会議』by Jun Ikeido

七つの会議 (ななつのかいぎ)
Title: 七つの会議 (ななつのかいぎ)
First published: 2012
Published: 2016
Format: Bunko
Page Count: 496
Tokyo Kenden is an old-school company where sales and profit matter more than anything else. Everyone is shocked when a complaint of power harassment is made against the company’s top sales manager… but several employees sense that something else is going on.

This is an ensemble cast, where each chapter is devoted to a different character. Except for one character, they are all employees at Tokyo Kenden.

I find that this structure brings interesting elements to the novel. First, we see different aspects of the company, and we approach the problem from different perspectives. Some characters are right in the middle of the plot, others will risk their career to discover the truth. We see the company as a whole and how each employee contribute to making it work, and contribute to revealing (or hiding!) what is really going on.

What I really like is that the author gives a background for each character. Their story, their past, their personality influence their action. Sometimes it is their career, sometimes their family, but they all have a reason for acting like they do and make the choices they make. This is interesting, as we see both the company as a whole and how each individual influence it.

The problem with this ensemble cast structure, is that it is impossible to identify with one character all along, and the story was less engrossing to me as a result. It also did not have this fight-for-justice energy that other books have. The other two books I read by Ikeido are 『空飛ぶタイヤ』and 『アキラとあきら』and both books were a rollercoaster of emotions. In comparison, I found that I was much less involved in 『七つの会議』, which is strange because it reads like a mystery, which is my favourite genre.

Overall, the story is excellent, and it is not hard to imagine that fiction might not be very far from reality. But to me, this novel lacked something compared to the other two. I was not as emotionally involved, and I did not care about the characters as much. I also found that one chapter (the third one), was strangely disconnected and not as interesting as the other ones.