2014.05.31 rhapsody 3 copy

During Japan university students’ final year, many go through a long, physically and mentally draining process of finding a job before they graduate; a process known as “shuukatsu.” Students don matching black suits and attend job fairs, company briefing sessions and employment seminars en masse in the hopes of obtaining a job offer, or “naitei.” Young people often complain about the soul-sucking system and how difficult it can be to land a job offer without completely abandoning your personality along the way.

Recently, an animated short film has been making waves among Japanese netizens for the horror movie-like way it portrays the difficult and often depressing job hunting process in Japan

Called “Recruit Rhapsody,” the video was made by Maho Yoshida, a Tokyo University of the Arts student, and has received a large amount of praise online. While much of the film is self-explanatory, there are a few moments that may not be entirely clear to non-Japanese owing to cultural differences, to let’s take a closer look at it.

The silent film opens up with a “typical” (though arguably shallow) university student, focused on mostly friends and fashion. But while she is talkative and lively, she notices one day how her friends have become quiet and disinterested in being social.

▼ Our main character is confused why her friends are no longer interested in partying, gossip and everything else university is about

2014.05.31 rhapsody 2 copy

The scene cuts to a definition of shuukatsu and how the job hunting process is how most Japanese students go about snagging a job right after graduation. After returning to our main character, her formerly fun and unique friends reveal themselves to be in the middle of job hunting, where young people forego individuality to suck up to the companies while wearing a drab black suit and white shirt.

▼ How it apparently feels to be a fun, young university student around lifeless job hunters

2014.05.31 rhapsody 3 copy

Realizing that she can’t get a good job without going through the formal process, she changes her fashionable clothes for a bland suit, styles her hair in “bland job hunter chic”and takes off her makeup.

▼ The job hunter’s black suit: suppressing individuality at a company near you

2014.05.31 rhapsody 6 copy

After her “makeunder,” the main character starts attending endless amounts of career fairs, job placement seminars and company briefing sessions together with a soulless mob of black suited-students. The herds of students listen to company recruiters telling them how great working for their company is and eager students nod in agreement, hoping to impress the employers.

After studying the job hunter’s manual, the main character gets a chance to join a group discussion, where potential employers can interview the potential employees. And although individuality is not encouraged, brown-nosing and impressing the company is, eventually leading our shy student to practice her “job hunter smile” alone in the bathroom in hopes of fitting in.

She joins her fellow job seekers at a bar to drown their sorrows while waiting for what seems like an eternity to hear back about getting a job offer. But after her two friends get called back with good news, she is faced with the depressing reality of not getting a job offer while everyone else is off partying, enjoying their last few months of university life.

▼ No job offer yet? Forget the partying and get back to job hunting

2014.05.31 rhapsody 7 copy 2

Depressed and beaten down by the experience, our heroine decides to change her methods and adopts the “super job hunter” personality. She hopes that sucking up the recruiters and company management will be the golden ticket to the ultimate prize—a job offer. She (literally) soars over her competition/classmates and makes it all the way up to her final interview. In the final scene, however, we see her reading an email on her cell phone that just says “application rejected.”

Japanese netizens were mostly at awe at what they saw as a very accurate portrayal of the arduous job hunting process in their country and how it is almost treated like a plot to a horror film. They wondered if the animated short might prompt Japanese companies or universities to overhaul the system.

Source/screenshots: YouTube (youmahotube)

[ Read in Japanese ]