(shitamachi roketto Ikeido Jun)
This story centers around Tsukuda, who reluctantly takes over his father’s small engine business after failing as a rocket engine researcher. However, he keeps his dream alive pouring the company’s money into a rocket related side project and re-applying the results to small engines. When a large corporation needs Tsukuda’s technology to compete globally in the commercial rocket industry things get complicated.
The story primarily revolves around work life, but a small amount of Tsukuda’s home life with his mother and daughter, as well as phone calls with his ex-wife are used to add an outsider’s perspective to the story. The plot is linear, and nothing strays from reality, so it’s easy to follow. The biggest challenge is that there are tons of characters introduced. I had to make a list of the characters to keep them all straight as I was reading. The transitions are handled with metaphors involving the weather and sky.
For a book about rocket research there is almost no technical explanation, so knowing technical vocabulary is not necessary. There is a bit of business and financial detail, but the author does a good job explaining some of the basics.
The second half of the book reminds me of a sports movie. The underdog small business takes on their adversaries inside the Emperial Heavy Industries mega-corporation. When the young employees are introduced, they seem like a team that Tsukuda and his fellow managers need to win over.
Overall, the book was enjoyable, and a good read if you are interested in underdog stories, business, and office politics.
Another English review of this book can be found at Self Taught Japanese.