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Old 01-18-2012, 05:47 PM   #326
Talon87
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Okay, now that both of you have finished, I feel that I can go ahead and go into details ...

After finishing the final episode of the first season of Kaiji, I once declared that Kaiji is the ultimate anti-gambling PSA. Now that you've finished Season 1 for yourselves, I think you can see why.

Spoiler: show
The Message - "Don't gamble. "

The story - Kaiji's story. Here's a guy who gets very lucky (Espoir) ... gets very lucky again (human horseracing) ... manages to win through some very clever and ballsy moves (E-Card) ... and then gets cocky. Instead of cutting his losses, he -- like any gambler would -- greedily presses onward. There are so many gambler's fallacies -- "once you lose too much, you're bound to start winning," "once you're on a hot streak, you don't interrupt it!", and so on -- and Kaiji pretty much succumbs to them all in this final arc. Convinced that his luck has finally changed (what!? Are you crazy!? It's your luck that's been seeing you through these near misses with death three adventures in a row, Kaiji-kun!) and convinced that he's already suffered enough and convinced that he's found a way to beat the system ... what gambler could possibly resist? Not Kaiji. He succumbs to his gambling urges and tragedy is all that awaits him. He ...
  • loses the 2 million yen he'd won
  • loses the four fingers of his right hand
  • gets none of his other penalties absolved
    • no free medical treatment for that missing ear
    • his pre-existing debts from pre-Espoir and the Espoir are still very much on the table
Kaiji is very much the ultimate anti-gambling PSA. "Keep gambling ... and you're going to wind up like Kaiji-kun. Or worse. *points to Sahara and Ishida*

I had mentioned in an earlier post a central theme or message which runs through Kaiji, one which you can first probably start to notice around the time of the E-Card arc (if you're really observant) but one which should become pretty obvious by the time you complete the series.

Spoiler: show
That message is that nice guys finish last: or, perhaps phrased more fittingly for Kaiji, "you have to cheat if you want to win." Consider how this is explored in each of the four arcs in Kaiji ...

Espoir:
  • Kaiji does not cheat cheat, right up until the bitter end, and subsequently he winds up naked and behind a glass wall, a life of slavery awaiting him in a penal colony somewhere in China.
  • While not cheating per se, people take advantage of Kaiji early on (e.g. Funai, Endou the first time) by breaking the rules of the contract he took to be solid. Basically, they took advantage of Nice Guy Kaiji.
  • While not cheating per se, Kaiji tried his hardest to counter-game the system. Obviously (nothing personal!) he would not tell others what he had done. In this sense, you could say that he was taking advantage of their naivete.
  • Finally, and most importantly, Kaiji escapes penultimate defeat only after he cheats when he steals the one guy's jewelry and forces that guy's cronies to buy his freedom too if they ever want to see the jewelry again. Now, you could say, "Well Talon, this wasn't technically cheating. Kaiji didn't violate any of the game's rules. Hence why the suits allowed it." No, it wasn't technically cheating. So this is partly why the Espoir is only a very early stepping stone in Kaiji's journey. But I think you would agree that it is still an underhanded thing to do. It is not what we would normally call "clean" sportsmanship.
Human Horseracing:
  • Tonegawa cheats. Kaiji loses, and all the others really lose.
E-Card:
  • Kaiji loses against Tonegawa -- who is cheating -- only up until he cheats himself with the ear scene between episodes 19 and 20. Granted, he doesn't win the big finale by cheating -- rather, he does so by counting upon Tonegawa to assume that he's cheating -- but still: his pivotal turn-around in Episode 20 only took place thanks to cheating.
  • As stated previously, Tonegawa handsomely wins while cheating but soon falls apart once he believes Kaiji has joined him in the cheaters' ring.
Tissue Box Raffle:
  • This is when Kaiji has finally awoken to the truth -- "you have to cheat to win" -- and decides that he'll pull one over on Hyoudou by devising a game which Hyoudou would not be statistically likely to win in the first few turns but which he (Kaiji) could win whensoever he chooses.
  • Little does he realize that Hyoudou is the king of cheaters and that he's bitten off way more than he can chew. Kaiji subsequently loses.
Broken and disheartened, Kaiji returns to his old petty habits at the start of Season 2. (You'll see this in the first few episodes and be as disgusted and surprised by it as we were.) However, after he's reminded the hard way (circa Episode 4?) how this world works, he soon sets about planning his revenge one step at a time and, for the duration of the series, never forgets what I've mentioned here. Which is ...

You can't get ahead of the cheaters in life unless you cheat yourself; and you can bet your bottom dollar that the people in control of society cheated their way to the top. "Cheating" doesn't always imply lack of skill or insight: as Hyoudou clearly demonstrates at the end of Season 1, the kingpins of society are not Joe Schmoes who just cheated and got lucky. Rather, they're the crčme de la crčme of cheaters, men whose empires were built upon remarkable cleverness and risk. So the hierarchy, more correctly, would be described as follows:

schmucks who play nice < petty cheats < more skilled cheats < expert cheats

Is this cynical? You bet your ass it's cynical. But it also feels very, very real. Am I condoning cheating? No. Neither do I think Fukumoto is condoning cheating. What he is declaring, and what I would agree with, is that nice guys simply do not make it big and stay big in the worlds of politics and business. Even if a nice guy does manage to bubble his way to the top, he's ultimately either taken out by crooks or else becomes corrupt himself with time. And it's really just simple game theory at work which explains why: nice guys are playing with a self-imposed handicap which, in the long run, sees them losing more often than the cheaters.
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Old 01-18-2012, 07:38 PM   #327
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Have to agree with you there, on both things.

However, I do disagree with the overall message: "Rich people are cheaters"
Yes, though as you said, the people who attempt and seek to "control society" are cheaters. But not all rich people get rich, nor keep their wealth by "cheating."
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Old 01-18-2012, 08:02 PM   #328
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EDIT: Oh what the hell, into a spoiler tag this goes. Safe to click if you've finished Season 1.

Spoiler: show
I didn't say that the message is that rich people are cheaters. I said that the message is that the most successful people in life -- the people who run the world behind the scenes -- did not get where they got by playing nice. Incidentally, those people happen to be rich, yes, because you're not going to be on top of society and be poor. (There are very, very few and notable exceptions to this, and those notable exceptions are, by definition of being notable, not shadow rulers.) But as for the dregs of society, well sure: there are rich schmucks and poor schmucks alike. Not all rich people are successful.

As for the super-rich, well, yes: I would say that they've all cheated at one point or another. Even Bill Gates, despite the lovely image he enjoys today, was once reviled by many in the late 1990s and early 2000s when it came to light how he had built his empire (which very often involved stealing others ideas and being the first to ship them). A decade of keeping a low corporate profile and of ostentatiously donating most of his fortune towards charities has done wonders for his image, and I won't deny that it may be well-deserved: but there's also no denying what he did to get to where he is today.

In any event, Hyoudou is not merely wealthy -- it is implied in-universe that he is a very powerful kingpin. How could he not be? Your typical business mogul does not have the funds or the influence necessary to build ... oh. You haven't seen Season 2 yet. ^^; Well, suffice to say ... once you see the first episode of Season 2, you'll begin to see what I mean. (And you'll see more of it later, in the second arc of Season 2, when in a flashback scene Hyoudou explains his project to Ichijou.) Suffice to say ... Hyoudou is damn powerful, both monetarily and politically. He has to be, given that Kaiji is meant to take place in "our world" and given what we see Hyoudou do.

The interesting thing is -- Hyoudou is not likely alone in Japan, let alone in the world, so once you see what he does in Season 2, you have only to consider what crazy-ass things the other shadow-rulers of society are doing with their fortunes.

Speaking of Hyoudou ... ah, sweet release! We can finally speak his name again. Now that you guys have both seen the final episode of Kaiji, you're familiar with what I think is one of the most epic moments in the history of anime: when Kaiji demands to know the name of the man who defeated him. "Hyoudou. Kazutaka Hyoudou." Kaiji swore he'd never forget that name for the rest of his life. And now, nearly five years later, I too still remember his name, first and last, without even having to look it up. 'Cause that scene was just damn epic.

I mean, tell me, guys! What did you guys think!? Neither one of you really had all that much to say! ^^; What did you think of Kaiji's cajones? How he steeled himself to receive his punishment? How did you think of the part where Kaiji finds out the horrible truth about how Hyoudou won and how he also thwarted Kaiji's scheme? What did you guys think about the final moments of the episode with the car heading towards the city and Kaiji swearing to one day get his revenge? Now do you guys see why for three years we prayed and waited for a second season? Now do you guys see how obviously Season 1 sets itself up for Season 2? Can you imagine seeing that final scene ... and then having to wait in ignorance for 3 years before hearing word that the second season was finally confirmed to be back in production? Tell us your thoughts!

Last edited by Talon87; 01-18-2012 at 08:09 PM.
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Old 01-18-2012, 09:20 PM   #329
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I completely agree, perhaps I should have been more clear.
The Kingpins, Shadow Leaders, Puppetmasters, etc, of the world who manipulate (generally politics) behind the scenes for their own profit and against the good of others, yes, they are cheats, lairs, and thieves.

My intent in posting was to clarify a potential misinterpretation by other readers. My intent was to say being Rich does not make you a cheat, oppressor, or otherwise evil person. Even the big ones that lobby Governments do not necessarily have mal-intent.
Rich people take advantage of situations, but not always take advantage of people.

As for the other Shadow Rulers of the world. I put my stock in The Illuminati New World Order.

Talon: *gasp!* I knew you were a Crazy Conspiracy Believer! This explains everything!
Mew: Yeah so? :P


As for what I think, I rarely have much to say on anime, I think of a lot of things while watching, but forget most of it by the time I get around to posting.. Mostly I think "What I would do" in the same situation.

Spoiler: show
I did like how Kaiji "manned up" to his loss and accepted his fate at the chop though. I guess having removed his ear himself, he could handle having to lose his fingers much better then the average person would.

I clearly see a season 2 was set up, though having known about it before hand makes it less impacting. I can't imagine what it would have been like for you guys to know nothing about any possibility at that time..

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Old 01-18-2012, 09:29 PM   #330
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What happened was, at the end of the original Episode 26 broadcast, in place of the usual Kaiji Proverbs segment (you'll see what I mean when you watch Season 2), the Kaiji Proverbs girl showed up along with Fukumoto-sensei and the director or producer of the anime and the three of them co-announced that the studio was "already working on" Season 2. We took this quite seriously at the time and anticipated a Fall 2008 release (as we were hearing the news in Spring 2008 ). We thought surely, Winter 2009 at the latest. Spring 2009 at the absolute latest! Two and a half years would pass before we finally got confirmation about the Spring 2011 anime. ^^; It was ... not a pleasant wait. I never gave up hope, but I admit, I had my doubts some days. Doppel had lost hope by the time word came. He was convinced that Madhouse, having fallen on hard times, had cancelled the project. You can imagine how happy he was to be wrong this once.

So ... just wanted to clarify, we knew a Season 2 was in the works. It's precisely because of that false promise (well, what turned into a false promise and then counter-turned back into a real promise) that we despaired from Spring '08 to Winter '11 when it came to Kaiji.
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Old 01-18-2012, 10:36 PM   #331
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Two things, Talon.

While it's true Kaiji is sort of anti-gambling, what Kaiji does at the end of the show is completely different from the beginning. At first, he's just entrusting his money to luck, or other people, and gets burned relying on them like that for all the human nature/psychology arguments Fukumoto gives. By the end, Kaiji is taking calculated risks based mostly on his own cunning and evaluation of other people's behaviour.

Fukumoto isn't saying don't gamble, he's saying that one should rely on one's own talents to ascended in the world. For Kaiji, if things were that simple, he could lead a normal life, but he has to get into strange circumstances before his true talents can be put to use. Those circumstances are mostly because of who he is.

The themes in Kaiji are secondary to examining the psychological profile of the main character, which was the case in Akagi too. If the world is Social Darwinian, with the very rich individuals who have skill and power, with most individuals swimming through time without any ability to influence their world, Kaiji himself is treading water. He has the abilities to become like Hyoudou, but is held back by his own good nature. His abilities isolate him for everyone around him, keeping him in a tortuous limbo he presumably can never escape from. Hence the "Suffering Pariah" moniker.

Secondly, it's not so much "you must cheat" as it is "do whatever you can to win". Usually that involves cheating, but not always. Kaiji didn't cheat in Gentei Janken, nor did he really do it in E-Card - he came up with a clever strategy to trick his opponent.

Now, TBR, that's a different story. We all know how that ended!
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Old 02-17-2012, 10:55 PM   #332
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Was curious to know what your guys' progress was on Season 2, if any.
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Old 02-18-2012, 11:20 AM   #333
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Haven't started it yet. Saving it for the upcoming GARathon I plan to try when F/Z begins airing again. (It counts to me.)
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:03 PM   #334
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I finished it a few weeks ago, as to excitement, it started good, but started dragging towards the end.

Spoiler: show

My initial thoughts were:
"WTF is this new ED?! What happened to the epic music from season 1? This is terrible, not to mention yuck, that girl has no attractiveness whatsoever. And why the heck do they put her at the beginning of each episode! >_> Ulgh. Also, What's up with the creepy sahh saahh sounds? >_> I much preferred the first season.

Spoiler: show
I greatly enjoyed the first arc, but really expected there'd be more then just one arc afterwards. That Bog... That was irritatingly long! Exciting, definitely, but much too long. Kept waiting and waiting and waiting for it to finally be defeated...

Also, Kaiji... Will you never learn? You lost all your remaining winnings on Pachinko?! You're hopeless...
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Old 02-18-2012, 02:54 PM   #335
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unownmew View Post
I finished it a few weeks ago, as to excitement, it started good, but started dragging towards the end.

Spoiler: show

My initial thoughts were:
"WTF is this new ED?! What happened to the epic music from season 1? This is terrible, not to mention yuck, that girl has no attractiveness whatsoever. And why the heck do they put her at the beginning of each episode! >_> Ulgh. Also, What's up with the creepy sahh saahh sounds? >_> I much preferred the first season.

Spoiler: show
I greatly enjoyed the first arc, but really expected there'd be more then just one arc afterwards. That Bog... That was irritatingly long! Exciting, definitely, but much too long. Kept waiting and waiting and waiting for it to finally be defeated...

Also, Kaiji... Will you never learn? You lost all your remaining winnings on Pachinko?! You're hopeless...
The ending credits feature the events of the first chapter of Season 3. They were parodied in an awesome doujin that was released at last year's summer Comiket. See Post 1, Post 2 for more details. The moment we saw the ED for the first time, we were all "OH MY GOD! XD" because it was one of the very, very few chapters from the manga we'd all seen before. You can even find our commentary on it earlier in the thread if you look for it.

Sorry to hear that you didn't like Season 2 as much as you did Season 1. While it's true that the Bog arc is rather long, it's also one of the more epic arcs in the franchise. Really ...

Spoiler: show
This is where Kaiji is spreading his eagle's wings and soaring to new heights as a cheater who cheats other cheaters. I mean, you saw in Season 1 how Kaiji discovers that the only way to beat a cheater is to out-cheat him. This is then thrown back in Kaiji's face by Hyoudou as Hyoudou out-cheats Kaiji. Kaiji goes to the underground and has regressed to his pre-Espoir self ... but only for a relatively short time. He finds his bearings eventually and outcheats the cheat Ohtsuki. And the comes the Bog, wherein he hatches his most epic cheat to date. Not one, not two, but at least three different layers to this cheat. It's pretty cool stuff. And the ending is pretty human, to see just how far Kaiji still has to go before he can take Hyoudou down, if ever he can and will.

You're the first person I know though to have felt that Season 2 was as disappointing as you apparently did feel it to be. Hopefully Yuki won't be the same way. Then again, I got the mild impression that you were ever the bigger fan of Season 1, so I'm not holding my breath for her to write in with a rave review of S2 either now. ^^;
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Old 02-18-2012, 04:07 PM   #336
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It's not so much I found it disappointing, more, I feel like I was totally sucked into Marathoning, expecting the end to come finally at the end of that episode, so I just kept watching episode after episode expecting the end in each one.

It was exceptionally exciting, but starting at ep 17 or so, I'd get worked up, then let down in the middle of the episode, and then promises of finale in the very next episode, only to circle back again the same way.

I guess in a way it's really great at showing how Kaiji felt.. Just a little more, just a little more...
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Old 05-21-2012, 02:58 PM   #337
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Started S2.

Spoiler: show
Damnit, Kaiji. Haven't you learned your lesson yet?
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Old 01-27-2013, 11:13 PM   #338
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There's a park near where I live that has a lot of hills, in fact it was originally a lot before it became a park. Rivers flow in various places so bridges were constructed over the hills.

Seeking a brainstorming session (historically I think well while walking; not so much lately), I decided for an evening stroll. Evening = 10:00 PM.

One of the bridges has a stone ledge on its side instead of a guard-rail, about a foot wide. On the other side is a precipice (since it's a bridge), at its deepest about 1.5 stories. The incline increases as one goes toward the bridge's mid-point, then stabilizes. I'd say it's about 100 metres long.

Not really thinking, I decided to walk on it with my normal walking pace right on the ledge. The result was a fair re-enactment of the first Human Derby gamble in Kaiji season 1. It wasn't nearly as well lit, and I had a lot more foot room (also no guys behind me) but it was pretty similar.

Ho-ly f*sk, that was one of the scariest things I've ever done. Right up there with the train dodging and midnight countryside bike ride. It wasn't until I was already about 1/3 of the way in that I realized wind was blowing toward the adjacent canyon, meaning I had to lean right to avoid being blown off the ledge. It wasn't that strong wind, but at that height, with that pitfall, and that darkness, it was really scary, and I almost slowed my pace until I realized that slowing down un-balanced me.

I noticed another bridge later in the route that had a ledge closer to the steel beam's width, with about two stories of height (but well lit). I wanted to try it out, but was afraid the cameras would catch me and I'd get fined or something.

Long story short, way back when in 2007 some people were saying the Human Derby wasn't as scary as Fukumoto made it out to be. In my pansy imitation, it was downright terrifying. You'd have to be desperate to dare do something like this for money.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:11 AM   #339
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Yeah, a long time ago I related my own experience with even safer conditions than yours, and I was scared. Knowing that the beam was electrified would be even worse, because I have this phobia against electricity (I hate static electricity so much. I'm constantly slapping metal objects to de-electrify myself). I once got a static electricity shock so powerful that I fried my mouse and it didn't work right after that.
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Old 08-05-2013, 02:15 PM   #340
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So, apparently CrunchyRoll acquired the streaming license rights for both the first and second seasons of Kaiji.

CrunchyRoll link here.

The English license name for Season 1 is "Kaiji - Ultimate Survivor". The name for Season 2 is "Kaiji - Against All Rules".

Never thought I'd see the day ... this is awesome. Maybe this means there's hope yet for Kaiji DVDs or Blu-Rays in North America! And maybe, just maybe, it means there's hope for a North American live-action adaptation of this series some day. Because Lord knows the American public would drink this up like honeyed water if only it were starring real live Americans instead of cartoon East Asians with 2D triangle noses. *sigh*
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Old 08-08-2013, 09:13 AM   #341
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I always figured that the odds of Akagi being officially picked up and localized were close to zero, but Kaiji's chances considerably better. Still unlikely though. It's just too weird looking for the average person. Even amongst people who consider themselves hardcore anime fans, it's a hard sell and an obscure show. There aren't even any female characters, so that cuts out a big chunk of potential female fans. If someone wanted to pick it up, they probably would have done so by now.

Still, I'm happy about this news. The more people that get exposed to the wonders of Fukumoto, the better. Then Americans can start demanding a Legend of the Strongest Man Kurosawa anime, and Kickstart a million dollars to make it happen!

And actually, Akagi could happen, but it would definitely need to follow a successful Kaiji. After all, Hikaru no Go was officially released in the West, so anime about nigh-incomprehensible Chinese table games are not out of the question. Akagi doesn't have the advantage of ahem, normal looking characters though ...
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Old 08-09-2013, 01:29 AM   #342
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Now that I think about it, Akagi has ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING going against it for mainstream popularity in the West. I literally can not think of a single anime that would be a harder sell.

-It's about a confusing game that people barely know what the hell is, and they certainly don't know how to play it

-"Ugly" artwork (no, don't you get it?! Fukumoto isn't bad at drawing, he's just trying to portray the ugliness of the world!)

-Not a single female character for girls to relate to/guys to oggle. Girls would CERTAINLY NOT want to watch it to oggle any guys. Well, at least not before getting to know Akagi first, at which point, who could resist him?

-No action scenes, except for Akagi kneeing a guy in the face, and using a revolver in a scene that is 10 times manlier than anything that ever happens in Dirty Harry or The Deer Hunter

So, it's quite impressive that Akagi overcame all odds and built itself a decently sized cult fanbase in the West through sheer force of awesomeness.
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Old 12-07-2013, 07:46 PM   #343
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A review of sorts off the top of my head for the first season:

Spoiler: show
Story: 8/10

An anime about a man who is forced to gamble between life and death constantly? Hell yes! And they managed to pull it off incredibly well. With artstyle issues aside, most of the time I'm able to look past it because the show does such a good job at portraying real emotions in real characters. If anyone has seen the movie 'OldBoy', then they might understand when I compare this to it, in the sense that the main characters have so many bad things happen to them that when something good happens you feel ecstatic yourself. The only problems I have are the pacing of certain scenes such as the ending, where the game seemingly lasts forever because of how many episodes the arc takes up (I understand the point of making the psychological battle so long, but for me it dragged on a bit too long). Although its a lot better than the inverse where 2 years go by in 9 episode (I'm looking at you, SAO...). I also have a problem with a certain scene involving a Glass Staircase, in which I leant back and mouthed to myself "Are you fucking serious?" I mean, if a show goes to such a length to explain their logic behind a scene, you know its a load of horse-piss. Other than those points I loved almost every development, especially the 'human derby' part. I can really question myself as to whether I would push or not if I was in that same situation.

Characters: 9/10

This, for me, is the biggest strong-point of the series. The only proper main character for most of the show is Kaiji, and the best part about him is that he is a real person. This show is 100% something I could see getting a HBO adaptation, as all of the characters could be very real. Aside from being a tactical genius, he acts the same way that I would expect most people to act in the situations that take place. You can put yourself in his shoes and think the same way that he does in most situations. Its also a treat trying to figure out each of his strategies as you watch them unfold. He's a little schizophrenic at times though, one moment being a tactical genius, next being a badass in order to get out of the 'other room', and the next being a crybaby. The side characters are also very well 'acted' as well. I didn't care too much for Hyoudou, but I really liked Tonegawa.

Art & Animation: 5/10

Its a good thing that the story & the music made me look past the artstyle, otherwise I don't think I could've watched this. Yeah... whilst some people have reasons for liking the art-style, I really fucking hate it. Its fine when you look at Kaiji head on, but as soon as I get a side-profile of his face I instantly want to slap the artist. If you look at random pictures on tumblr of this show its funny how different it is without the music or the animation to set the mood; I seriously thought this show was a comedy the first time I saw the art-style. The animation wasn't bad, and it did a good job with animating the psychological parts when the show delves into a characters mind, especially with the final 'tightrope' scene which was probably my favourite scene throughout the whole show (barring the glass staircase part).

Music: 7/10

I'll be honest I haven't really payed much attention to the soundtrack. Thats a good thing and a bad thing. Its a good thing because the music coincides with the story and the art to keep me immersed in the entire picture, and never bored of any moment. Its a bad thing, however, because there isn't any song that makes me think, 'I love this music, I might look at the OST later'. I haven't. The OP is, different, I suppose? I think the OP puts the wrong message across about this show, making it out to have comedy elements which it certainly does not. I might be missing the point of it, but it just didn't seem to fit for me. The ED however is maaaaaarvelous.

Personal Enjoyment: 9/10

I'm a big fan of psychological warfare, bad things happening to good people, strategy games, and inner conflict. This show is exactly my kind of thing. I'm happy that Kaiji does so much good, only to have it thrown back in his face a lot of the time, because it makes sense to me. I wouldn't be happy if Kaiji was able to win 100 million with his tissue box plan, pay his debt and go buy a mansion or whatever, because happy endings are so mediocre to me. I also like how this show didn't just stick to one setting and one game, and moved onto a completely different, much more serious game. Barring the art-style, this is completely up my alley.

Overall: 7.6/10 (Rounded 8/10)

Really enjoyed watching this. I've been looking for good psychological anime recently and I haven't been able to turn up anything particularly good, so I'm glad that I was able to look past the art-style and watch this.

Will be moving on to season 2 some time next week!
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Old 12-07-2013, 08:17 PM   #344
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I think the reason you mistook Kaiji for a comedy series going in was because, as you admit, you were most memorably exposed to it by Tumblr. So you must have seen tons upon tons of reaction gifs, image macros, and so on. For what it's worth, not a single one of us who watched Kaiji back when it aired mistook it for a comedy the way you did. Buuuuuut ... it also wasn't our first Fukumoto anime. We all watched Akagi per the initial suggestion of (iirc) Mcsweeney circa 2006 or very early 2007, and we discussed it and generally enjoyed it and even began playing mahjong because of it. So then imagine our delight when we found out that another of Fukumoto's works, this manga called "Kaiji", was going to be getting an adaptation that autumn. So yeah, we all went into it excited and totally knowing what we were in for: a compelling human drama from the Maestro.

Regarding the lack of memorable or "MUST BUY THE OST" music, there was one song in particular that for me was both of these things, and that was "Chorus". (Note to others: don't click if you're reading this post and haven't seen up through Episode 20.) I've never forgotten that song. In fact, while it's not "iPod music" per se, it's one of very few songs I actually do have on my iPod, there to listen to if ever the mood strikes. Even if time dims it, I don't know that I'll ever forget the memory of when this song played during the E-Card arc. Of course it played during the earlier arcs as well, but good fucking lord was it burned into my brain for all eternity as it played behind Kaiji's epic, epic speech to Tonegawa. This scene at the end of Episode 19, and then the scene I'm talking about in Episode 20 are scenes I'll always remember.

Finally, regarding the pacing ... you have a very, very different experience from the rest of us. Mcsweeney, Doppel, bbb, and I all out of necessity, and Yuki by my begging, all watched Kaiji at a rate of only one episode a week. I can't say whether watching it slower than you did would have made it better or worse for you. All I can say is that none of us present here share your exact experience as none of us watched it for the first time as quickly as you did. Anyway, speaking for myself and my own impressions of Kaiji, I feel like it's paced just fine -- very, very few of the episodes feel like padding to me -- but I can understand where you might be coming from if you're speaking from a corner of your heart which says "I want to know NOW! " to every cliffhanger nearly every episode leaves you with. For us, we had one cliffhanger a week. For you, you just bam-bam-bam-bam went through twenty-five cliffhangers in a matter of days.

Anyway, glad you liked it. Almost everyone who's watched it has. Glad you were able to see past Fukumoto's distinctive super crappy artstyle and appreciate the narrative he wove for you.
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Old 12-07-2013, 08:47 PM   #345
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
I think the reason you mistook Kaiji for a comedy series going in was because, as you admit, you were most memorably exposed to it by Tumblr. So you must have seen tons upon tons of reaction gifs, image macros, and so on. For what it's worth, not a single one of us who watched Kaiji back when it aired mistook it for a comedy the way you did. Buuuuuut ... it also wasn't our first Fukumoto anime. We all watched Akagi per the initial suggestion of (iirc) Mcsweeney circa 2006 or very early 2007, and we discussed it and generally enjoyed it and even began playing mahjong because of it. So then imagine our delight when we found out that another of Fukumoto's works, this manga called "Kaiji", was going to be getting an adaptation that autumn. So yeah, we all went into it excited and totally knowing what we were in for: a compelling human drama from the Maestro.
I was more introduced to Kaiji since I happened to know it was on crunchyroll and that you and everyone else rated it quite highly. I only looked on tumblr when I went gif hunting, and I realised that the feel of just looking at the pictures was completely different without the music or the voices. At least now if I do decide to watch Akagi some time in the near future, I can go into it expecting a damn good story, and maybe I can look past the art-style. I've got a bit of a long list of things to watch before then though. :p

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
Regarding the lack of memorable or "MUST BUY THE OST" music, there was one song in particular that for me was both of these things, and that was "Chorus". (Note to others: don't click if you're reading this post and haven't seen up through Episode 20.) I've never forgotten that song. In fact, while it's not "iPod music" per se, it's one of very few songs I actually do have on my iPod, there to listen to if ever the mood strikes. Even if time dims it, I don't know that I'll ever forget the memory of when this song played during the E-Card arc. Of course it played during the earlier arcs as well, but good fucking lord was it burned into my brain for all eternity as it played behind Kaiji's epic, epic speech to Tonegawa. This scene at the end of Episode 19, and then the scene I'm talking about in Episode 20 are scenes I'll always remember.
Eh. I like the piece itself, but it would've had such a bigger impact if the instruments and the choir used were real rather than sampled. Pretty sure these strings are built into Logic Pro as a VST nowadays... in fact now that I think about it the Choir is as well. Personally I think the lack of music suited some scenes a lot better, especially apparent in the scene at the end of Episode 13, which is probably my favourite scene of the entire show.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Talon87 View Post
Finally, regarding the pacing ... you have a very, very different experience from the rest of us. Mcsweeney, Doppel, bbb, and I all out of necessity, and Yuki by my begging, all watched Kaiji at a rate of only one episode a week. I can't say whether watching it slower than you did would have made it better or worse for you. All I can say is that none of us present here share your exact experience as none of us watched it for the first time as quickly as you did. Anyway, speaking for myself and my own impressions of Kaiji, I feel like it's paced just fine -- very, very few of the episodes feel like padding to me -- but I can understand where you might be coming from if you're speaking from a corner of your heart which says "I want to know NOW! " to every cliffhanger nearly every episode leaves you with. For us, we had one cliffhanger a week. For you, you just bam-bam-bam-bam went through twenty-five cliffhangers in a matter of days.
I tried to pace myself a bit more, otherwise I probably could've finished the entire thing in 2 days. I think its more of a personal thing for me though; I'm not the most patient of people, and as much as I like cliffhangers I don't like to be barraged with them one after the other. When there are too many cliffhangers I tend to lose a bit of interest in the final outcome. Kaiji managed to give me enough each episode to keep me interested in the next episode, I just think that the last engagement with Tonegawa and Hyoudou could've been maybe an episode shorter than it actually was.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:16 PM   #346
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There's large holes in this thread's discussion, I think we must have done a lot of it in the bbb suggestion box thread. Damn shame. This is exactly why Talon's movement to have discussions in their respective threads whenever possible is a good idea.

On mistaking Kaiji for a comedy: I originally downloaded Akagi as a joke, because the art style looked hilariously bad and The Triad kept making fun of it on their webpage. The fact that it was about mahjong was even funnier (boy, they'll make an anime out of anything, won't they?). In a shocking turn of events I was totally gripped by it from episode 1, was especially blown away by episode 4, and it would go on to become one of my favourite shows ever. (similar story with Masturbation Master Kurosawa. Damn, sometimes you can really find a gem in the least expected places)

My single favourite scene from Kaiji has to be the roasting kneeling.

Spoiler: show
To repeat what I once said earlier: they build up Tonegawa as this demon who understands human psychology on the same level of Akagi, and then he gets exposed as a cheater and the viewer loses all respect for him.

Then they pull yet another twist when he willingly does the roasting kneeling without being restrained, and proves that he is in fact a true man. Awesome ending to the best arc IMO.


Best song from the soundtrack? This one
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:31 PM   #347
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I got to second BPK on Tony River. That was quite the powerful plot-line by Fukumoto.

...

I wasn't a big fan of Akagi up until the Urabe, Washizu matches, because I couldn't get over the cheating aspect in all the matches up through there. Akagi himself is a different person as a kid yes, but the fact that everyone had to use cheating that was described as basically being supernatural killed a lot of my early enthusiasm. It's why Gambler Legend Tetsuya struck me a comedy rather than urban legend made gritty anime, because the scenes were so ridiculously over the top they came across as cheesy.

Stuff like, "Imma beat you" and "oh yeah? deal" "lol chiihou" "naw dawg, I got tenhou, all green double yakuman" "baka na!!!".

But that Urabe match was the real deal. And Washizu, while it dragged on toward the end, was amazing just because Washizu himself was a much more complex villain than any of Akagi's other foes.

Akagi also tops in as the one series I've rewatched the most. I think I've seen it like 17 times and one time I just listened to the audio of the whole series while I was studying in my room.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:42 PM   #348
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Everything that happens before the Washizu arc is awesome and I can't even choose a favourite. The Washizu arc is my least favourite, but its pacing problems are overrated by many (there's only one TRULY bad episode.) It also contains one of the best scenes in the whole show ... you all know which one I'm talking about lol. There's some really crazy shit that happens in the manga as well, too bad they couldn't get it in because it didn't exist yet.
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Old 12-08-2013, 08:49 PM   #349
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I would gladly accept, even as an OAV, a five to seven-episode production by MadHouse covering whatever happened between the de facto end of the Akagi anime and the "LOL, HERE'S THE SPOILER ENDING" actual ending of the Akagi anime. Even if they've spoiled the outcome, it would still be incredible to see how it all plays out. 'Cause you know that Fukumoto is the master. That if what we already saw was great, the best was perhaps still to come.

But yeah, the scene you're alluding to, Mcsweeney, is the #1 most memorable Akagi scene for me by far. Such an incredible moment, for a number of reasons.
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Old 07-06-2018, 06:28 AM   #350
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Raws of the first episode of Tonegawa are out. Decided to check it out, and ...

Spoiler: show
Animation-wise, the production values are definitely there. It looks somewhere between 85% and 100% as pretty as Kaiji, scene depending. What it might lack in polish here or there, it more than makes up for in fidelity to Fukumoto-sensei's art style.

In all other aspects, I'm not sure yet if this show is going to be great or dull as fuck.

Musically, nothing grabbed me. Not sure how much of that is the original guy's absence sucking the fun out of the experience and how much of it is the new guy's compositions just not being particularly noteworthy.

Script-wise, I can't understand enough of the Japanese to really know whether the episode is legit boring or whether it's only boring to me because I'm missing so much awesome information. What little I did get out of it is (and I only watched the first five or so minutes before skipping around; still haven't watched even a full half of the episode),
  • the story takes place prior to the events of Kaiji S1
  • the story explores Tonegawa's working relationship with the Teiai grunts
  • the story focuses on Teiai's loan shark aspect, with a lot of the characters shown in the early montage each being in debt to Teiai in various ways
  • Hyoudou complains of boredom, which may allude to his unique relationship with Kaiji
  • second half of the episode is a comedy scene exploring Tonegawa's challenges in remembering / distinguishing between his various underlings (e.g. they have similar sounding names, similar appearances, and the same exact hobby)
Based on the above, I found the episode to be somewhat boring. We already know about Teiai's role in the loan shark world, so I didn't really need the five-minute recap at the start of the episode. Similarly, the five minutes of Kaiji S1 footage, while beautiful to behold, was more a reminder of what I'm not getting than a generator of excitement for what I shall. And finally, ngl: we knew this was in all probability going to be a prequel, but I would have much preferred to have seen what happens to Tonegawa after the events of Kaiji S1 than before.

Narrator-wise, I can't stand the new narrator vs. the original one. ^^;; New guy is too energetic and dramatically impotent. It's hard to put into words how or why he is. Because you can tell: he's mimicking a lot of the same mannerisms as the original narrator! But like, whereas Gendou was just fucking incredible and was sort of like an additional character in the story, this guy feels very intrusive. I don't need his constant narration. He isn't helping to create drama; rather, he's taking away from what little drama or comedy the story might have to offer.

Sounds like a lot of negatives, but I gotta emphasize these two points:
  1. the jury is still very much out on this one. I could very well end up loving this series. It's far too early to tell, and I am more than happy to continue to give it a chance
  2. There's a shitton of dialogue I don't understand, and I also skipped around a crapton; I probably only watched around 8-10 minutes of the episode

I would say to go in blind and watch the first episode (raw or subbed, whichever, whenever) without reading my post. I don't want to take away from you any of the magic the episode has to offer. Only after you see the episode for yourself, go ahead and read my post. But for those who are really looking for a preview before they sink time into watching the episode, well, the above is provided to give you one viewer's first impressions.
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