This is the 4th Jun Ikeido I read and one of my favourite so far!
I discovered that the author entered the bank in 1988, the same year than Naoki Hanzawa, the protagonist. Jun Ikeido also belonged to the バブル入行組, so the feeling of disenchantment that experience Hanzawa and his friends has certainly been witnessed, if not experienced, first hand by the author.
Hanzawa started to work at a corporate bank at a time when the idea of a bank collapsing was absurd, and a job at a bank meant lifetime security. 10 years later, none of his colleagues has obtained the post they wished, and their position can be threatened at any point in a world were hierarchy is sacred and the HR department is all-mighty.
This background is interesting in itself, but the story is incredibly engrossing. The first chapter opens with: 「粉飾を見破れなかったのが、全てだな。」and there you go, immediately diving into the plot. The book starts strong, and you will not have time to catch your breath until it is over, as the story entirely focuses on what matters for the plot, with almost no parts that are not directly related to the case.
Naoki Hanzawa can feel a little generic as a protagonist, we don’t know much about him, and it is hard to describe his personality apart from obvious traits that are key to the story. I guess that this is done on purpose, to make it easier to identify with him, as he could be any salaryman who works hard, has a strong sense of justice, and will do what it takes to fight for it.
I found this book much easier to read than another novel centred on banks 『アキラとあきら』, but that is mainly because I read Akira first and got familiar with financial vocabulary and bank-related concepts in the process. For example, 粉飾 is a word I learnt in Akira during Yamazaki’s performance at the recruitment exam. And in any case, Jun Ikeido explains a lot of concept and specialised words as well.
To conclude, this book was one of the most engrossing stories that I have read in Japanese, I heartily recommend it 🙂