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Dagger

Anime Akagi

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Forget the roars of DBZ and other macho action shows. As far as I'm concerned, [url=http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=6294][u]this[/u][/url] is the most hardcore, insane and unexpectedly addictive anime [i]ever[/i]. What's it about? Mahjong. Specifically, mahjong games in which yakuza leaders bet millions of yen, body parts, control over gangs and their own lives.

The main character, Akagi, is a poker-faced thirteen-year-old who descends into the dark side of Japan--a man's world. But he's also blessed with balls of titanium. Hearing about this character was what convinced me to watch the show... and it took a lot of convincing. I mean, first off, the animation is quite solid, but the artwork is as ugly as sin. [url=http://img337.imageshack.us/my.php?image=snapshot20070320034734oj5.jpg][u]This[/u][/url] is not a face you want to encounter in a dark alley, and he's the most pleasant-looking of the lot.

Anyway, even though I'd seen people wax eloquent about Akagi's incredible [url=http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=gar][u]GAR[/u][/url] factor, he still took me by surprise. He's an amoral genius in the mold of Light from Death Note and Lelouch from Code Geass, except that he's waaaay above their level. In the first episode, he's just a mahjong newbie. By the fourth episode, he's giving Russian roulette a whirl. Later, when some brats with a grudge corner him, he lets them beat him without offering any resistance... until he looks up, head dripping blood, and says quietly, "It's not enough. Even as a minor, I won't get away with killing three people. I want you to injure me enough so I can use self-defense as an excuse."

There are no "good" characters in this show, and little in the way of traditional character development. Just episode after episode of totally mind-blowing ballsiness.

~Dagger~

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[quote name='Dagger']What's it about? Mahjong.[/quote]
[SIZE=1]What.

I. What.

...Well, the premise certainly seems interesting enough. And I guess if you can make a series centered on Go, then you can make one for Mahjong, even if Mahjong and hardcoreness just does [I]not[/I] fit together in my mind. [strike]Although I would totally watch anything that involves Russian roulette.[/strike][/SIZE]

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[QUOTE=bellpickle][SIZE=1]What.

I. What.[/size][/quote]:animesmil

Akagi philosophizes: [spoiler]"I've never made bets because of what I have to gain. Simply having people die meaningless deaths from the outcome of a gamble... It's better that way. That gets closer to the meaningless death that is the essence of gambling. I'll get closer to its depths. That's where the real pleasure in gambling is."[/spoiler]

Sooooo hardcore. :animenose

(That quote is supposed to explain his nasty habit of, in lieu of ordinary monetary bets, [spoiler]suggesting that his opponents chop off their fingers, hands or arms if they lose.[/spoiler]) It's hilarious when hardened yakuza guys gape at him and use trembling voice-overs to call him the embodiment of pure evil. At any rate, the key difference between Akagi and Hikaru no Go is that in Hikaru no Go, all but the most despicable characters are in it purely for the love of the game. In Akagi, there's a tacit understanding that the game could be anything; (psychologically) slaughtering one another is all they really care about. Cheating is often glorified.

My favorite part is how the tiles start smoking whenever someone makes a really bad*** move. I just wish the show had some kind of cheesy shounen victory theme a la "Number One" from Bleach.

Trivia: The ending theme is by Maximum the Hormone, who also contributed Death Note's second OP and ED. Akagi's ED is a lot more listenable, though.

And I still have no clue how to play the darn game.

~Dagger~

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