Smash-hit drama about banker draws interest from overseas markets

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

A smash-hit drama series starring a maverick Japanese banker, “Hanzawa Naoki,” will be aired overseas soon, including in Taiwan and Hong Kong, with English-speaking nations possibly following suit, Tokyo Broadcasting System Television Inc. said Thursday.

The broadcaster is being deluged with offers from TV stations worldwide, especially in Asia, to broadcast the series, according to its spokesman.

The series will be aired starting Oct. 13 in Taiwan, and sometime by the end of this year in Hong Kong. Whether it will be subtitled or dubbed has yet to be determined, the broadcaster’s spokesman added.

Based on a serialized novel authored by Jun Ikeido, and comparing the banking industry’s prosperity amid the country’s postwar economic boom, the series features the eponymous banker and his struggles to survive the machinations in the typical Japanese bank he works for.

Starring actor Masato Sakai, the series proved a massive hit domestically, with the finale last month drawing a staggering average rating of 42.2 percent — the highest for a commercial drama series in 30 years.

While admitting that most of the offers are currently from other parts of Asia, the spokesman stressed TBS is also planning to reach out to Western audiences. The series, he said, will be shown at the MIPCOM international fair for TV programs in Cannes, southern France, starting next week.