a.k.a. Mahjong Legend Akagi: The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness a.k.a. Tohai Densetu Akagi –Yamini Maiorita Tensai
Company: Nifty/Toho Music
Format: 4 episodes
Dates: 6/15/2001 to 2/24/2002
As high school student Nakaido Hirosuke waited at the train station on his way to school, just as he did everyday, he spotted a stunning girl and was instantly love-struck. So what did Hirosuke do? Make a complete fool out of himself, of course! But by sheer luck, once again Hirosuke runs into this beautiful girl whose name he learns is Ajimu Yasuna, and the two become friends. However, with rivals gunning after both Hirosuke and Yasuna, and with both unable to ascertain their feelings, they are certain to have rough sailing ahead.
summary by Keitaro
Reviewed: 04/07/2007 by
Highs: Maddeningly tense moments, phenomenal voice cast and soundtrack
Lows: Abrupt ending
I’m trying to think of a way to include both “action-packed” and “mahjong” in the same sentence without being laughed at. Think what you will of that, but you need to understand that this show is something that only comes once in a great while. I didn’t even know much at all about mahjong going into it, and I still enjoyed every moment of Akagi. It is okay to admit you know nothing about mahjong. It seems the creators of Akagi had this in mind. To counter a lot of the confusion of being thrust into a setting and game that some are unfamiliar to, there is an announcer that will often explain what the various hands and techniques mean without sounding like they’re talking down to you. After a few episodes you’ll find yourself catching on to familiar terms, understanding more and more as the series progresses and no longer needing an explanation or definition. The atmosphere this show provides is almost chillingly believable. You can almost see yourself in a filthy mahjong parlor, the air heavy with the smell of smoke. A lot of this can be attributed to a fantastic soundtrack that is actually fitting to the settings and scenarios, and a voice cast that is out of this world. The hands of mahjong seem only 30% based on actual skill; the remaining percent is all a psychological battle between Akagi and whatever opponent stands in his way. The banter and mind games that transpire are just as exhilarating and exciting as any swing of the sword that you would see otherwise. While these are fantastic points towards Akagi’s favor, my absolute favorite aspect of this show is the level of anonymity that is maintained. From Episode 1 to Episode 26 we pretty much know the same information about the main characters. By doing this, there is a much greater focus on the actual game itself, and it becomes even more surprising when a character does something impressive, something we had no prior knowledge of. If we knew more about the characters, a certain level of the excitement would die, probably bogged down by the same tired clichés repeated indefinitely in anime. My only real complaint I have with Akagi is that it rivals Berserk for most unsatisfying ending. While the action and excitement is at its peak, the series ends. We are given a brief enough glimpse so that the ending is not a total buzz-kill, but there is a certain level of disappointment in the manner that it was carried out. In a year that will mostly be remembered for would be gods and magical notebooks, Akagi flew under the radar for most anime fans. If for any reason you like mind games, flawless animation (albeit with character designs of an unfamiliar nature), or the game of mahjong, I implore you to watch this show immediately. Even if you don’t like these things, give it a shot. Akagi deserves way more respect and acknowledgment than it has received.