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Old 07-06-2018, 11:24 PM   #351
McSweeney
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You reckon we should post our reactions in the Kaiji thread?

Spoiler: show

I didn't do any research into the original manga, but it seems to me like this is mainly supposed to be a comedy rather than a dramatic thriller like Kaiji proper. It seems like the main joke of the show is: "Hey! You thought that Kaiji suffered a lot and has lots of problems? Well, so does Tonegawa! He has to put up with Hyoudou's ridiculous demands and survive the problems of a middle manager; remember all those nameless, interchangeable goons in black suits? Well, they're real people, and he has to remember who they are! So hard!" That's why they hired the obnoxious new narrator who sounds like a boxing announcer introducing the fighters. They're intentionally over-dramatizing Tonegawa's problems and likening it to Kaiji's as a joke.

My expectations were already low due to this not being an authentic Fukumoto work (maybe he had SOME consultation role? I don't know), but despite the weak first episode, as you said, the jury is still out. I'll give it a chance. There has to be a reason why Madhouse chose to make this show instead of something that seems like it would be way better, like another season of Kaiji proper or a Kurosawa anime ... right?
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Old 07-07-2018, 07:37 AM   #352
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100% agree.

Spoiler: show
I feel like a) this is an appetizer for a Kaiji S3 main course, and/or b) they may have some insider information that post-yakidogeza Tonegawa makes his appearance in an upcoming chapter or story arc of the Kaiji manga. For it to be neither just seems very, very strange. Why put so much time and effort into a (possibly) lackluster comedy spin-off when you could instead be doing something greater? Like you've said, within the Fukumoto universe alone their choices are many. Kaiji S3, Kurosawa, Zero, Ten, the one prison manga ... Then, if you want to look outside of Fukumoto offerings, there's no shortage of B or A-rank light novels and manga right now for them to adapt. Or at least I believe there's no shortage -- I'm very out of the loop, but even so I can brainstorm a few project ideas for them that must be better than a lackluster spin-off that goes nowhere and does nothing.

If Tonegawa isn't an appetizer for a Kaiji S3, nor is it a warm-up for Tonegawa's reintroduction in the manga, then it has to be a strong comedic showing in its own right, one worth adapting into a 12-episode miniseries. Otherwise? It doesn't make a lick of sense why they'd bother with it as a full-length TV series rather than opting to produce a 60- to 120-minute OAV. What we saw in Episode 01, I can't believe has twelve episodes' worth of legs. There's got to be something more to it than this.

I also agree with your thread location thoughts. Yuki! Can you please relocate these last three posts to the Kaiji thread? Sorry and thanks.
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Old 07-08-2018, 12:04 PM   #353
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Oh wow! So, apparently CrunchyRoll picked up Tonegawa and so we can expect timely (same-day) releases of subbed episodes. :o

Spoiler: show
I'm very surprised CR thinks this was worth picking up. Kaiji is already such a niche property, masterpiece though it may be. For CR to pick this one up, there has to be something more to the situation ... This bodes well for us, I'd wager. Either Tonegawa is going to be great on its own, or else it's definitely a warm-up act for a Kaiji S3. Either way, we win. Hopes: officially high.
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Old 07-08-2018, 12:37 PM   #354
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Alright. Just finished watching Episode 01 subbed. New thoughts!

Spoiler: show
I really enioyed it. Edge-of-my-seat enjoyed it. I think for me, personally, a ton of what detracted from my experimentation with the raw was so much missing information. I understood enough to get the general gist throughout, but there is much to be said for the ease of enjoyment facilitated by knowing every single word spoken.

Despite the glowing review that words like "edge of my seat" might have, I guess I'd assess the episode's overall value at something like a 7/10. And even then, only if you're a Kaiji fan. If you're not a Kaiji fan, and you're coming at this as a complete newcomer, then I dare say the episode could only be a 5/10 at best. A lot of the enjoyment here comes from one of two sources:
  1. the origin story: getting to see the origins of the Espoir, human horseracing, etc, etc. (This most specifically refers to the scene between Tonegawa and Hyoudou in Hyoudou's office, where he charges Tonegawa with the task of creating an entertaining death game.)
  2. the comedy: getting to see the behind-the-scenes struggles that Tonegawa goes through, knowing him as a very different sort of character from Kaiji.
I look forward to seeing how much temporal ground this series will cover. We know it can't go past the start of human horseracing, as from there Tonegawa is pretty much bam-bam-bam in Kaiji's life non-stop right on up until the moment he kneels on the barbecue platform. But I'm interested to see if the series will be entirely pre-Espoir, or if it will eventually reach the territory in between Espoir and human horseracing. We'll see.

Still a little skeptical that this series has enough legs to get us to twelve episodes. But a lot more optimistic now than I was after stumbling through the raw.
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Old 07-08-2018, 06:57 PM   #355
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I'm surprised by your dramatic change of opinion after seeing a subtitled version. I still maintain that the episode was rather weak, though amusing. Hopefully the second episode will be better now that they've got all the recap stuff out of the way.

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  1. the origin story: getting to see the origins of the Espoir, human horseracing, etc, etc. (This most specifically refers to the scene between Tonegawa and Hyoudou in Hyoudou's office, where he charges Tonegawa with the task of creating an entertaining death game.)
If I remember correctly, didn't Hyoudou already explain why he wanted to create the entertaining death games in Kaiji proper? Maybe not the part about Tonegawa being tasked to do it, but I remember him explaining his reasons for wanting to see people risk their lives and betray each other for money.

When the narrator starting saying, "Despite Tonegawa having this many men under his control, he is dominated! Hyoudou's happiness always takes priority! He knows this as his status as middle manager!" I actually thought we'd see some intrigue about Tonegawa resenting Hyoudou deep down and plotting some Darth Vader-esque ambition of overthrowing "the emperor" as leader of the Teiai group, but it looks like this was mainly used as a gag about ruining his weekend golfing plans. It doesn't look like we'll be getting much drama like that, and it's mostly going to be a light-hearted look at Tonegawa's daily struggles of pleasing Hyoudou and managing the business.
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Old 07-08-2018, 08:31 PM   #356
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I mean, I definitely think that that was what was hinted at. If anything, I think the comedy gag at the tail end of it was a sort of faux red herring, a ... how to put it ... something to lighten the mood and de-narrative an otherwise heavy and narratively-rich scene. Sort of like an FMA:B moment where it's drama-drama-drama-drama-CHIBI GAG. I dunno. I think your first interpretation is the correct one.

Spoiler: show
My biggest problem with Tonegawa the series -- and with Tonegawa fans in general -- is, Tonegawa Yukio is not a good man. He may have good attributes, attributes likes his intelligence, perception, and perseverance. But he is not a good man. He is not a kind man, no matter what kindnesses he may have shown others at times. That he may love his wife, that he may be kind to his daughter, does not erase the horrors he has done, the atrocities he has committed, all with a smile on his face. So I don't much care for what feels like whitewashing of his character here. I knew it going in, and because of that I somewhat forgive the series it. I don't knock points off the series for it simply because ... well, you knew this was what you were likely going to get signing up. But at the end of the day, yes: I will be astonished if this series does not whitewash the character for thousands, as it already seems to have begun doing in its opening episode.

This of course leads us to your Darth Vader comparison. Were it not for Tonegawa the series, I would say that this comparison was somewhat rather off the mark. Going off of S1 and S2 alone, I would say that Tonegawa's participation in the yakidogeza had only as much to do with (if not less to do with) his survival, his self-preservation, has it had to do with his demonstration of loyalty towards Hyoudou Kazutaka. That was the impression I got from the scene all those years ago in Winter 2008. That we were bearing witness to a monstrous fealty to Hyoudou, one simultaneously spectacular and horrifying. Here we had a man who would sooner subject himself to painful first degree burns to his legs, palms, and forehead, subjecting himself to permanent disfiguration and scarring, than to tell his boss "No" and leave. Now, sure: one can say Tonegawa had no alternative, that he was literally between the barbecue and execution. "You can either lower yourself onto the grill of your own volition, or I can force you onto it and roast you alive. Which will it be?" That sort of thing. Sure. But like ... I don't think it was entirely that. Or even primarily that. My S1 impression of that scene was, "Wow: now this is a man who would die for his emperor. " There could be the Darth Vader-esque angle of "I have to do this or else he'll come after my wife and kids," but there could also be the fealty angle of "This is a man to whom I owe everything: my wife, my kids, my house, my car, my very life. I am forever in his debt. Even with my very life, I could not hope to repay my debt to him. So if he asks of me this small demonstration of loyalty, it is only a trifle."

What I worry is, Tonegawa the series is going to cross this possibility off the list. I don't much mind if it ultimately comes from the mouth of God himself, Fukumoto-sensei, but like ... I definitely feel like, in whitewashing the character of Tonegawa to make him more sympathetic to us, they are taking the character irreversibly in the Vader direction where:
  1. he has ever aspired to topple Hyoudou, not remain subservient to him in eternity
  2. from the day he yakidogeza'd, he has privately sworn vengeance against this man
and so we're building up to Tonegawa's "Return of the Jedi moment" where he'll "pick Hyoudou up" and "toss him down the shaft," even if at the cost of his own life. Where he will either be Kaiji's unlikely ally ("the enemy of my enemy is my friend") or else he will be one of Kaiji's newly-joined and bonafide allies in the quest to take down Teiai.

Written well, I can accept a Tonegawa re-debut where we explore the above. But in my head, I think the more realistic angle to take with a Tonegawa return would be to have him be a scarred, perhaps disheveled transmogrification of his former self, someone who returns not to assist Kaiji but to settle the score -- someone who hasn't blamed Hyoudou for what happened to him (nor sought vengeance upon Hyoudou) but who has blamed Itou Kaiji for it. "I'm baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaack~ ..." That sort of thing.

If they opt to go for the former (scarred Tonegawa returns but ultimately teams up with Kaiji), there's a lot of precedent for it in fiction. Off the top of my head, you have the Winter Soldier in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Gray Fox in Metal Gear Solid, and Jeremiah "Orange" Gottwald from Code Geass. Each are men who start off by fighting the protagonist in their new cyborg form, going so far as to attempt to kill him, but who ultimately take his side and become a loyal friend and partner.

But if they go the latter, which is what I think would have been more natural in a pre-Tonegawa the series world, then there are examples of this, too. Examples of a villain (or sometimes even a former but abandoned/lost/left-for-dead ally) who later returns in a monstrously altered form. Be it facial scarring, loss of body parts, being turned into a robot or alien or beast. Examples like Darth Maul (in the Star Wars media that portrays him as surviving Episode 1), Eddie Brock as/after he becomes Venom, Kerrigan in StarCraft ... Characters who begrudge the protagonist for what happened to them (e.g. "YOU LEFT ME FOR DEAD!"), and who are now villains (if they weren't already to start with) and who are determined to see the protagonist killed/defeated.

It would make more sense to me that Tonegawa blames Kaiji for everything he lost, not Hyoudou. Hyoudou may have cruelly punished Tonegawa, but Kaiji is the one who dealt Tonegawa the defeat that led to it. Hyoudou may be psychotic and cruel, but his exorbitant wealth is also responsible for every material gain Tonegawa had made in the last 20+ years. Kaiji, on the flipside, by costing Tonegawa his position as No.2 in Teiai (if in fact that has even occurred) has cost Tonegawa his fortune, his inheritance, everything he's worked so hard to achieve.

I dunno. We'll see.
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Old 07-16-2018, 11:11 PM   #357
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Just finished Episode 02 of Tonegawa. Thoughts:

Spoiler: show
Once again, I was spellbound, captivated, "on the edge of my seat" as it were. And yet once again, despite that, I feel like it was a 7/10 episode. Good! But not great. Despite, uh ... great ... captivation? ^^;

It was a really lovely nod to see in the ideas list:
  1. past survival games from Kaiji (e.g. rock-paper-scissors)
  2. games from other Fukumoto franchises (e.g. "mahjong where you bet your own blood", NICE AKAGI REFERENCE! )
  3. future survival games from Kaiji, ones the manga's introduced but ones we haven't seen in the anime yet (e.g. ???, but I am sure some of them were those)
But it was equally disappointing/frustrating to see Tonegawa shoot these same ideas down. It begs the question of how/why he will justify returning to them later when he's already shot them down as unacceptably below the standards expected of this committee.

I dunno. *shrug* What can I say but this? I enjoyed the episode, but I don't think anyone could possibly like this show if they didn't already adore Kaiji. It's a weird and unintentionally back-handed compliment, I guess, but it is what it is. The series has had me on the edge of my seat two weeks in a row, and yet I still can't fathom how it's going to have legs enough to get us to 12 episodes, much less beyond.
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Old 07-18-2018, 09:21 PM   #358
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I liked this episode a lot more than the first.

Spoiler: show
An amusing conflict where their successful brainstorming session was ruined with Hyoudou coming in, then Tonegawa pulling out the brilliant Kaiji-esque move at the last second to save himself (the only way to win the game is to not play at all!), only for the whole spectacle to be pointless because Hyoudou had fallen asleep.

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But it was equally disappointing/frustrating to see Tonegawa shoot these same ideas down. It begs the question of how/why he will justify returning to them later when he's already shot them down as unacceptably below the standards expected of this committee.
I don't think Tonegawa actually hated the ideas, though. Remember, he was just trying to read Hyoudou's body language and suck up to him by praising/insulting ideas that he seemed to like/dislike, only for him to be mistaken about the body language because Hyoudou was just struggling to not fall asleep. And Tonegawa erased the board and said all the ideas were bad because it was the only way he was able to dodge the question of picking the idea that would please the chairman the most. Now that he's put the chairman to bed, I assume they'll be back to the drawing board and expanding on the (good) ideas that they came up with during the brainstorm session, now that Tonegawa know Hyoudou didn't actually dislike them.

It will be funny in the next episode to see Tonegawa explain why he lashed out at his goons the way he did. Will he tell the truth or make up some excuse? They were good premises but you need to explain how they actually work?
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:41 PM   #359
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Tonegawa Episode 03:

Spoiler: show
Another week, another me being on the edge of my seat the entire time. (I literally ran out of beverage about eight minutes in and gave up on eating dinner, allowing it to get cold, because I didn't want to pause the episode to get up to refill my glass.) And yet again, it's not like I felt this episode nor the series overall were a 10/10 or anything near it. But ... at the same time, I think with three back-to-back "Edge of my seat! " reviews, I have to cautiously bump Tonegawa up from a 7 to an 8/10. At least for now. Because just because I can't explain the magic, doesn't mean the magic isn't there.

This episode was pretty hilariously horrifying. In the same way that Rick & Morty S1E06's ending is hilariously horrifying, this episode does a masterful "OH NO YOU DIDN'T! " around 14 minutes in and there's just no coming back from it once it does it. I'm speaking, of course, about the yakidogeza grill being discovered by a Tonegawa blissfully unaware of his dark future connection with this device, and his subsequent use of the grill to serve Kobe beef to himself, his men, and one poor soul in the know -- a poor soul whom the episode won't allow to escape without eating steak the man knows to have shared indirect contact with grilled human beings. Poor, poor Yamazaki. ^^;;

lol @ the one dude who asked about bowling and beer. The bowling, I saw as a more innocent gaffe. But the beer, man!

Glad to see the episode address at least some of our questions/concerns from last week. Hopefully the next episode will revisit the "scrapped" survival games that we saw introduced in Episode 02 and which we know from Kaiji to be eventual winners.

Also nice to see the suits starting to get personalities that really do set them apart. Namely Yamazaki and Doofus. Perhaps before long we'll have a sense of all twelve or so of them.

As we get deeper into the series, I'm curious to know what Fukumoto's thoughts are on this series. Is this a Fate/Zero case where the original author canonizes the fanfic?
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Old Yesterday, 01:31 AM   #360
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Another thing about the black comedy bit with the roasting kneeling grill making an appearance: I remember them saying in Kaiji that a lot of the punished people pissed their pants and then passed out from the pain (steam rose up from the grill when scenes of this were shown). Urine and human flesh remnants, yum!


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As we get deeper into the series, I'm curious to know what Fukumoto's thoughts are on this series. Is this a Fate/Zero case where the original author canonizes the fanfic?
I do know of at least one other fanfic manga, "Hero," which is a spinoff of a character in Ten. That didn't present any canon issues since Fukumoto didn't chronologically continue that story, instead making the Akagi prequel.

I guess the Tonegawa manga isn't too big of a deal since it deals with Tonegawa's backstory. It could serve as the origin of certain things but wouldn't affect future events, although it could reveal a lot about his personality. Already he's a way nicer guy than I would have imagined. Since I haven't read ahead in Kaiji, I don't know if Tonegawa re-emerges later in the story (manly burn mark on forehead and all). It would be unfortunate if Tonegawa did his thing and then was relegated to the history books, but it also wouldn't surprise me since there were a lot of characters in Akagi who disappeared never to be seen again (e.g. Nangou-san, who I initially thought would be Akagi's best buddy sidekick for the whole story).
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