How Salaryman’s Club Continues a Trend Older Otaku are Loving

As in many other countries, plenty of Japanese people place great value on one's years of youth. Childhood and adolescence are periods of life that greatly impact a person and shape who they grow up to be. With the target audience for most anime being people in these demographics, it makes sense that they largely take place during this time. Popular sports anime like Haikyuu!!, Kuroko's Basketball and Ace of Diamond take advantage of this by focusing on high school sports teams with characters who dream of Olympic gold or turning their chosen sport into a career.

Still, however much anime fans of all ages enjoy these stories, viewers can't help wanting to consume stories they can relate to. For many anime fans, high school is far in the past, and they want to see more titles that focus on adult life. In recent years, anime about older characters have gained traction in every genre. In the realm of sports, Run With the Wind, Cheer Boys and several others have taken place in a college setting. This season, however, there's a sports anime about adults in the corporate world: the badminton-focused Salaryman's Club.

From the start of Episode 1, main character Shiratori Mikoto is faced with a problem that young adults commonly experience. After being fired from his job, he gets a call from his mother telling him that he can't expect to stay with his parents. His old bedroom has already been repurposed because his parents assumed he wouldn't be coming back. He has to find something new to support himself with, and fast. However, the job he lost isn't just the average Japanese office salaryman position.

A fascinating aspect of Salaryman's Club is the fact that Mikoto's last position, as well as the new one he's offered, hinges on his performance on the badminton court rather than how well he does the actual job. If he doesn't deliver results in matches, his career is threatened. This fact makes the stakes higher than any high school sports anime. If Karasuno's volleyball club doesn't make it to Nationals, they still have their place in school and their basic needs are met. If Mikoto can't succeed as a badminton player in this league, he could lose his only source of income.

Although Mikoto could find a job that isn't dependent on a sport, that could mean giving up badminton completely. Not many working adults have the time or energy to be involved in a competitive sport on top of a full-time job and caring for whatever family they may have. Badminton being something he can do on company time is the best balance Mikoto can find. Badminton does have a professional league and is an Olympic sport, but it seems that his desire is simply to keep playing rather than to become the best in the world at it.

With the characters mostly being in their 20s and 30s, there's also potential for different conflicts to arise. Sports anime have handled characters coping with injuries or having to leave the team for their own health, but never in the way an adult may have to. What a person can do at age 15 may not be something they're capable of at 30. They can't jump as high as they used to or get from one side of the court to the other as quickly. Things like that can be frustrating to notice and could lead to an interesting plot point.

Salarymans Club Tatsuru

There is some room for concern, however, because of certain choices the series is making. All of the characters on the team working for the same company is a given, but some fans question the decision to also have them living in dorms together. While companies can and do provide housing for their employees, it gives an otherwise adult-targeted series a more juvenile feel. On the one hand, it makes character interaction easier and can help build camaraderie in the team, but on the other hand, dorm-style living is strongly associated with school rather than work life.

Dorm rooms feel perfectly natural in Run With the Wind because they're a college team, or in Ace of Diamond because kids from all over Japan attend the school for sports and need a place to stay. In Salaryman's Club though, it's a strange choice. Since this anime is an original with no source material, it can give the impression that LIDENFILMS didn't fully commit to the characters being grown men in the workforce, which is causing some concern. However, given that Salaryman's Club is an anime-original, fans will just have to watch to see how it develops.

Boruto, Sarada and kaito in the Boruto anime
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