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Monday, 8 October 2012

Akagi- series overview

On a dark, stormy night the life of a small time gambler is at stake.In an underground Mahjong parlour somewhere in 1956 Japan, he's struggling to escape his opponets' sway, but it's no use. His timing is bad and it seems like he is going to lose if something out of the ordinary doesn't take place soon. To his relief, there's someone at the door, pleading entrance.This stalls the game for a while, but the air still remains thick with the uneasy atmosphere.Enter Akagi, the "Genius who descended into the Darkness". Nangou, the besieged gambler, uses the opportunity to think of something out of his bind.

I'm at a loss why I find this so endearing. There's so much going on for Akagi that I will be at fault not to list all of them. The drawing styleis really out of this world, although conservative anime viewers might balk at the unusual brash traces used for outlining the characters' silhouettes. To me, the distinctive drawings style worked wonders, setting it apart from the traditional and conventional. The sotryline is appealing due to its simplicity, which makes it easy to follow and hanker for more.
Akagi's uninterested look at the world. Akagi's lack of appreciation for normal life led him  to    some dangerous forms of gambling. He always survives by overcoming death by not coming an inch away from it

The series creator -Nobuyki Fukumoto- knows how to play on people's sense of curiosity and interest arousal, so he timed it right so viewers might get the due sense of a complete episode, encapsulated in all the right plot elements within a contained set and yet itch for the upcoming one. How can there be such a thing as a plot that can be so simple and yet so enticing? Based on my personal viewing experience, a story line that is easy to follow is always great, provided that its background be also worthnoticing. And this is how all f the pieces that make up this series come together. The whole plot revolves around the exploits of Akagi.Although the main character is said to 13 years old, he doesn't look like someone his age at all. And it's not only due to his white hair. He has a rather gloom personality, befitting a rather mature male. In addition, he is incredibly manipulative and unafraid of practically anything. At the outset of the series, he took part in a death-defying game of chicken with some local punks.Rather than the expected dilemma of two drivers haeding on to a collision course , the game consisted of them driving side by side to determine who was going to break last (supposedly coming out as winner).According to his own report,the game had been rigged in their favour: the enemy driver chose to be on the right, which gave him the choice of exiting the onrushing motor vehicle in case anything goes badly. They also had pinpointed the spot where their bud should halt. All things considered, Akagi was supposed to meet certain doom, had things run their natural course.

It isn't made clear in the series what made Akagi square up with the thugs. Not that it's important. Anyway, Akgi takes the ordeal with astonishing aplomb, and remains so, unafazed by the gruesome prospect of a horrific road crash. Akagi never intended on using the brake, and sped up, which made the other driver uneasy. He missed the critical spot,tried to stop the engine, and headed for a dive onto uncomfortable looking rocks after leaving course. Akagi did the same, however he left course at full throttle, which allowed him to also plunge into the ocean below, albeit far off the rocky surroundings of the knoll. In the end, he was soaking wet, but unscathed.

Some members of the local police force caught notice of the mishap and decided to trail him. In order to throw them off track, Akagi finds his way to a Mahjong parlour dominated by Yakusa members. The underground world members didn't take Akagi's imping upon their business too kindly and try to shun him off.Nangou interfered, claiming that he was his nephew and he had called him. Nangou continued with his losing streak, which Akagi chanced to witness, at which point he remarked that "he had no will to win, he was only trying to survive". Akagi's warning came as a fortunate omen for Nangou, who threw off all notion of fear and switched to a more do-or-die style. The sudden rush of mettle worked out and he effectively "survived the nerve-wracking round". Nangou asked for some time out and explained his dire situation to the unfazed underage male.

As Akagi had displayed a more fitting attitude towards gambling than his own self, Nangou offered him his place at the Mahjong table and laid out the rules to the novice player. Even though he was unaccustomed to
Mahjong, Akagi is able to make up for Nangou's previous muck-up only on account of his gut instinct. And this is the set-up to the series, which couldn't have been done any better than it was.

What about the characters? Our great master Nobuyki Fukumotto makes an impressive job at designing them by giving each Akagi's opponents different playstyles and even cheating and bluffing strategies! Something of notice is how there is no sense of good characters. The supposedly nice side is comprised of a click of ambiguously good men. Akagi might be the title character and main protagonist, but he's not good by any stretch of imagination. He doesn't care about the welfare of others' feelings. In earnest, he uses people's vulnerabilities to his own advantage, playing on their fear of dying or losing limbs and other body parts. Yasuoka,the constable who realised the spark of genius in Akagi, uses the latter's skills to his own personal gain. He also is the one to wrack up the biggest share of the winnings. It's also hinted that he keeps ties with some Yakusa members. He's supposed to be Akagi's "trusted partner".

Akagi Title Card, showing him drawing a fateful 1 Pin tile.

The sound track is also another big asset of Akagi. They composed songs that really fit nicely with key plot moments, like that tension build-up tune that is set to go with Akagi's darkest moments, namely, whenever his enemy is getting the upperhand and might come out triumphantly at any time. There's also a peaceful tune that plays at the end of some episodes, suggesting that something good is bound to be disclosed as new events unfold. A poignant climax is masterly reached with the combination of Akagi's deft tactics and what I call the overcoming all odds tune. This is set to play when Akagi outsmarts his opponent in really unexpected ways. It's almost outrageous for the bad guys how they got into a trap (sometimes double ou triple layered trap)set to go off when they were blatantly celebrating victory ahead of time, all the while musing to themselves "it was no fun at all, he will die and he hasn't even had the chance to prove himself".Such moments are made all the more meorable with our loyal narrator booming amazed comments in a description of Akagi's smarts and his oppnents' state of mind. Oh, is the narrator ever cool.Let's just spend a whole paragraph for him.

The point of view barely happens through Akagi's senses. Instead, a stoic-voiced, albeit savvy with words, narrator describes the current event for us. Another neat facet is that he also explains in plain language important rules in Mahjong, which is of big help for those unfamiliar with the game. During key in-game moments, thepoint of view is transferred to other characters. The trend alternates among opponents, allies and the villain's goons, so that the view might experience with different perspectives and weigh them up on his own scale. The important thing is that Akagi remains silent practically the whole time, leaving those ordinary souls to wonder what the heck he might be up to.

Imagery and symbolism also play an important part in episode development. Not that the narrator doesn't manage to keep your interested piqueted (he's never boring), but mental portraits of the characters' thoughts and dialogue also play on the background, highlighting important plot  windwhirls in our series. SOme of them include a dead lean pooch on the ground, while World War 2 rages on, Akagi having all of his blood drained from his body and pluning lifelessly into an unadorned pocket of ground surrounded by a huge recursive void and comparisons of Akagi to Jesus Christ and how both sacrificed themselves to attain a greater good.

This is art at its best for me and I wouldn't have it any other way. That's why I watch it often.