The Japan Foundation
Performing Arts Network Japan
Koritsu no Yusen
Koritsu no Yusen
Koritsu no Yusen
(Jun. 7 - 16, 2013 at Tokyo Metropolitan Theatre - Theatre East)
Premiere: 2013
Length: 1hr. 45mins.
Acts/scenes: 1 act, 2 scenes
Cast: 9 (6 men, 3 women)
Japanese Drama Database
Play of the Month Play of the Month
May. 22, 2014
Koritsu no Yusen (Priority on efficiency) by Kenji Yamauchi 
Koritsu no Yusen (Priority on efficiency) by Kenji Yamauchi 
This play was a finalist in the 58th Kishida Drama Awards (2013). The play is set in a contemporary open-style office where the conversations are packed with marketing lingo. In the intense work pace of the Planning Department office, the rules of business come undone and love-hate dramas erupt among the employees, eventually leading to eccentric and disastrous behavior.
The setting as the play begins in an corporate office called the Planning Office. It is the accounting period, one of the busiest times for the employees. They begin returning to the office from their lunch break in twos and threes.

From their conversations we learn about the employees and their relationships, beginning with the ambitious female department manager who is head of the Planning Office and the male section chief Komatsu, who is always flattering her and trying to get on good side. Then there is the female employee Kanzaki who complains of sexual harassment on the job, and male employees Akimoto who is newly wed and Tanoura who is recently divorced. There are also Soejima (male) and Takahashi (female), who are involved in an office love affair, and a male employee named Sasaki who has just been transferred to this office from the General Affairs department.

Takahashi has gone to the restroom where Kanzaki gets a hold of her and delays her return. When she does return, the department manager looks at her with accusing eyes and Takahashi makes an excuse with excessive insistence, saying it is her period and she felt faint. When Kanzaki comes to Takahashi’s defense with fervor, the department manager tells her in a business-like way to confirm the intents of the other party involved before making a complaint.

Seeing Takahashi upset and turned pale with concern that the mood of the office has turned sour because of her actions, Sasaki says he knows a good way to help her calm down and then puts his hand on her chest. When Takahashi’s lover Soejima starts to pick a fight with Sasaki, Akimoto steps in and tries to hold Soejima back. Turmoil broils, but soon everyone returns to their work.

People go off to their various meetings, leaving just Akimoto, Sasaki and Takahashi in the office. It appears that there is a grudge between Sasaki and Takahashi from the time they both worked in the General Affairs department, and it also seems that Akimoto has unrequited feelings for Takahashi. Kanzaki returns to the office looking irate and blurts out that she has a vehement hate for the department manager.

The scene shifts to a few days later. It is now evening in the office. The department manager is conferring with the section chief, asking him about any complaints there may be about the way work is going and details about the employees in the office who are complaining. The department manager calls office love affairs the “seeds of trouble” that need to be rooted out quickly before they cause irreparable damage to the Planning Office.

Kanzaki is called into the discussion and the department manager asks her straight-out if she has a dislike for her. The department manager has to leave to answer a phone call from the managing director, and in her absence we learn that Kanzaki and section chief are having an extramarital affair.

Seeing Kanzaki alone together with the section chief, Akimoto confronts the section chief, saying that Kanzaki has complained to him about being sexually harassed. Kanzaki quickly denies any such state, but Akimoto and the section chief are already wrestling with each other.

Soejima joins the scene and begins to denounce the section chief. Seeing Akimoto in his state of agitation, Takahashi tries to calm him down, but this causes him to lose control of his feelings and throw his arms around her. Now everything is in confusion. As the others join in and fight while trying to free Takahashi from Akimoto’s embrace, the department manager suddenly returns, with the managing director in tow.

The managing director demands to know the reason behind the fight. When Soejima continues to rebuke the section chief like a spoiled child, the department manager slaps Soejima on the cheek. To defend her lover, Takahashi now joins in by attacking the department manager. Everyone rushes to pull the two women apart. With some deft arbitration, the managing director tries to get everyone back into work mode, but the office is thrown into confusion again when Takahashi, now in hysterics, shouts that she will atone for her sins with her life.

The situation quiets down finally, but soon Soejima has started verbally attacking the section chief again and it turns into a fistfight. As everyone jumps in to try to break up the fight, once again there is a telephone call from the managing director, which prompts the department manager to call out and order for someone to forcibly shut Soejima up.

After the managing director leaves and it looks as if the employees can finally get back to work, it turns out that Soejima has died in the previous commotion. Takahashi is crying and accusing Tanoura of killing him when he covered Soejima’s mouth to shut him up when the managing director arrived. The department manager silences Takahashi by saying that she is not going to call the police until the day’s work is finished, and then she orders everyone to continue with their work.

The behavior of the employees becomes increasingly eccentric, as Akimoto tries desperately to win Takahashi’s heart, Tanoura struggles to escape the blame for Soejima’s death and Sasaki berates Takahashi for her behavior with insulting words and accusations. Hearing this verbal assault on the woman he loves, Akimoto grabs Sasaki and strangles him to death.

The department manager returns from looking for a place to hide Soejima’s body only to find that Sasaki is now dead, too. Kanzaki returns next and is terrified to see that they now have two corpses, the department manager maintains her business-like tone as she starts asking Kanzaki again if she has any dissatisfaction regarding her, and then she drills Kanzaki about her affair with the section chief. In a panic now, Kanzaki breaks down in tears, howling as she cries.

Again, the managing director appears on the scene. Crying like a child now, Kanzaki tells the managing director that two of the employees have been killed and begs him to do something. After seeing the bodies, the managing director keeps his head and with business-like calm orders Tanoura to go buy some dry ice.

Emotionally moved by the managing director’s display of professional devotion to his job, the department manager can’t keep herself from embracing and kissing him. The section chief watches in shocked disbelief as the two managers’ embrace escalates into sex on the spot.

Amidst the increasingly heavy breathing and moans of the sexually entangled managers, the phone rings. A client named Nitta has been trying to reach Tanoura but gets no answer and wants to know how to get in touch with him. Just as the section chief replies that Tanoura is out of the office and hangs up the phone, we hear the moans of the department manager as she reaches climax. Here, the stage goes dark and the curtain falls.

Born in Tokyo in 1958, Kenji Yamauchi is a TV commercial director, stage director and playwright. In 1983 he joined the Dentsu Film Co. (present Dentsu Creative X). In 1992, he became a freelance director and went on to win a large number of awards, including the Grand Prize of the Television Commercial division of the 33rd Galaxy Awards, the Best Commercial award of the 37th ACC Japan Commercial Festival, and others. In 2004, he created the stage production Budo to Mikkai (Grapes and clandestine meetings) starring the late actress Kanako Fukaura and billed as “Theater by the TV commercial director Kenji Yamauchi.” In 2006, he launched the theater unit Shiroyagi-no-kai in collaboration with the producer Wakano Jojima. Since then he has created many TV commercials, TV dramas, short films, Web dramas, etc. In 2011, Yamauchi’s first full-length movie, Mitsuko Kankaku (English title: Being Mitsuko) was released nationwide and was later nominated for the International Competition of the 27th Warsaw International Film Festival. Other theater works by Yamauchi include Atarashii Hashi - le pont neuf (2008), Atarashii Otoko (2009), Megane Fusai no Istanbul Ryokoki (2011), Ano Yama no Ryosen ga Kuzureteyuku (2012), Mi no Hikishimaru Omoi (2013) and others.