This is the first volume in a popular series of business novels centering on bank officer Hanzawa, who lives by the credo of giving double the payback any time he's been shafted.
Having landed a job at a major bank during the high times of the bubble economy, Hanzawa has now risen to head of the loan section at the Osaka West Branch. His manager, Asano, orders him to approve a loan he has reservations about. Six months later it comes to light that the company in question had been cooking the books: it goes belly up, and its president vanishes from sight.
The bank is out 500 million yen (about US$5.5 million in the story's time frame), and Asano maneuvers to put the blame entirely on his subordinate's shoulders?taking advantage of Hanzawa's reputation for recalcitrance and his own long years in personnel to lay a trap. Hanzawa for his part begins debt collection efforts, hauling the financial officer of the bankrupt company over the coals, and working with credit agency staff and the heads of other firms that did business with the company to try to track down the missing president. With help and advice from peers at the bank, Hanzawa learns that the AWOL officer has bought a new home in Hawaii, suggesting that he must have substantial hidden assets, and that there is a connection between him and Asano: they were old friends, and Asano had sought his help after sustaining major losses in the stock market. With this knowledge, Hanzawa can turn the tables on Asano. He ultimately manages to find where the missing president has secreted his billion-yen stash.
The story focuses on the plight of those who entered the workforce with dreams of success during the bubble economy, only to find themselves in tough middle-management positions where the slightest mistake is likely to get even those on the elite track put out to pasture at lesser affiliates. Hanzawa's proud, never-say-die character serves to cheer such workers on through the many adversities they face.