Anime Review: Akagi

 

Details: Also known as Tōhai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai. First aired in 2005. Twenty-six episodes with each episode at a little under twenty-five minutes.

I was looking for an anime about gambling the other day and came across an article about a manga that had been notoriously in the same continuous story arc since around 1999. This manga was called Akagi and had just ended recently. After a quick search, I found an anime for it on crunchyroll.com and started watching through it.

It’s been a while since I’ve been so immersed and addicted to a series. I binged watch the whole thing in one sitting and, though mostly enjoyable, found myself extremely sad at the unfinished ending. As mentioned above, this series only recently finished the same story arc that had been going on for the last twenty years. The anime simply didn’t have an ending with which to end on. Even still, I can easily recommend this series to most anime fans.

Akagi takes place in post World War II Japan and follows a young man named Akagi. Through happenstance, Akagi wanders into a Yakuza gambling den and into a game of high stakes Japanese Mahjong. Akagi turns out to be a genius at the game and so the legend of Akagi the gambler begins.

What’s most impressive about this show is that even if you do not understand the rules of Japanese Mahjong, it is still compelling and dramatic. Part of it is the narration and explanation of the game. Mostly though, it is because the drama involved in risk, greed, malice, surprise, victory and defeat, are universal and do not require a proficiency in Mahjong in which to understand. This show may be about Mahjong, but it is to a greater degree about a man who is the ultimate risk taker and the skill in which he manipulates his opponents.

The most unfortunate part of this show is that it has no real ending. The anime covers the three main story arcs from the manga and ends where the manga likely left off in 2006, when the anime finished airing. As mentioned above, the manga only recently ended and it ended in the same story arc that the anime finished on. It took about twenty years for the manga to finish this arc so obviously the anime would not have been able to conclude at the time.

Overall, this was still a great show. You get a lot of mind games and drama. Most of the games they play usually put their lives at risk, so the suspense is high. It’s also fun watching the mind games they use on each other and getting a taste of the rules of Japanese Mahjong (though the show doesn’t do a good job of actually teaching the game). If you’re in the mood for a good anime about mind games and opponents trying to outsmart each other, Akagi is a great show to watch.

Score: 7.5/10

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