Time for something different. Akagi is an anime about the a boy who stumbles into a mahjong parlor late one night. This boy, Akagi Shigeru, having no knowledge of mahjong, joins the game in the place of Nangou, who is having some troubles with money. For any of you unfamiliar with mahjong, it can almost be compared to poker, although the game system is completely different. The comparison comes in the gambling element that is shared. Although it’s quite the complicated game, it doesn’t affect the story at all, as the focus is mainly on the gambling and the tension around the games. I loved how all of the games become psychological battles between the players, with Akagi pulling out some brilliant tactic.
Story: Score 8/10
The only real character in this series is Akagi. He enters the mahjong parlor soaked, and intuitively starts to understand the game of mahjong. Hoping that Akagi can help him out of his enormous debt, Nangou chooses to rely on him. Nangou teaches him about the basics of mahjong and Akagi is thrown into the game. However, unbeknownst to any of the people in the room, Akagi turns out not only to be a natural genius at the game, he is also a genius at gambling. He surprises everyone with his innovative and often suicidal play in the game. The rest of the anime follows the major games of his life, which have some pretty crazy stakes. Akagi is an interesting character in that you find it hard to judge his character. With a series like Death Note, depending on your ideals, you could place Light as having good intentions or just a bad guy or whatever. But with Akagi, you see him pull off these amazing stunts in games, but then other times, he will pull some dirty trick to cheat. The other characters in this series don’t really make much of an impact, though. Even Akagi himself is shrouded in mystery, so by the end, you don’t really feel like you’ve learned much about any of the characters.
Characters: Score 9/10
The animation in this series is…different. If you’re used to seeing anime characters in a certain way, then prepare for something new. That aside, the animation during the games makes you forget that these are actually just games of mahjong. They do a great job of emphasizing the battles between the characters on the board.
Animation: Score 9/10
The music was very cool. The style suited the sort of calculating/psychological feel that you got from Akagi in the games. The openings and endings suited the sort of slum setting that the anime took place in as well.
Definitely an enjoyable series. Each episode had me shaking in anticipation of the amazing thing that Akagi was about to do. It also sparked an interest to look into the game of mahjong (much more so than Saki did). A few things that bugged me, though. The narrator of the series is just a voice that likes to chime in at random times, usually a bit too much. A lot of the time, he’s just spouting about how brilliant Akagi is, which is kind of obvious from his actions. I like the foreshadowing that the voice gives at times, but he could be less chatty. Also, the ending doesn’t seem to suit Akagi, who tends to wait until the last moment to pull off something spectacular. Instead, the ending is kind of weak, which does a good job of keeping Akagi as this mysterious genius, but doesn’t really leave a sense of satisfaction. Still, it’s a great series to watch.
Final Score: 8/10