Posted by psgels on 22 February 2008 with categories: Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji


Call me gullible, but I’m not really pleased to find out that my praises for the E-Card arc of a few episodes ago, where I finally hoped to see some complex mind-games between two masterminds, turned out to be one big mistake. How I hoped to see both Tonegawa and Kaiji outsmart each other with complex tactics… well, it now turns out that Tonegawa has been cheating. Sigh. The episode was quite intense, and it wasn’t bad at all, actually, but it’s the whole attitude of this series that bothers me.

I finally think that I know where my problems for this series lie: with those cursed expectations again. A couple of years ago, I watched the first arc of Akagi. I’m still not sure why I didn’t continue it, but I loved the complex tactics that it brought into Mah-jong. Shion no Ou is currently doing a similar thing with complex and character-based tactics. So yes, I was hoping for the same kind of experience, where Kaiji would use his head while gambling, and come up with nice ideas to win money. It was even advertised, how Kaiji would “enter the dangerous world of gambling”.

Instead, we get 26 episodes of bunch of yakuza who like to bully a bunch of defenceless young adults. It’s nice and all, but it’s so different and less interesting (in my opinion, at least) from what I expected from this series. I also see no reason why this couldn’t be cut into just thirteen episodes. That would have been the perfect length for a concept such as this one. Each arc thus far has featured Kaiji enter a challenge full of confidence, dive into the deepest pit of despair imaginable, only to rise up again and survive with one masterful insight. In that way, the Boat-arc has so far been the best arc so far, because at least that one did have a bit more than just the formula I described.

Now I also understand why I’m so bothered with the slow pacing of this series, even though I usually don’t have this problem at all. The arcs are just so formulaic that I find myself thinking “just get on with it”. I mean, the creators really try to keep the episodes interesting, but the fact that Kaiji will rise from his despair and will at least do something that wasn’t part of Tonegawa’s plans are just way too apparent. It doesn’t even matter whether Kaiji wins or loses, because by the nature of this series I’m already expecting that Kaiji will walk away without any money, yet again, and that the creators will find another way to keep Kaiji on their leash so that he can enter the fourth and final arc of this series.

So, how is it that Shion no Ou is currently my absolute favourite series, even though it too is in the middle of a tournament-arc with a similar premise as that of Kaiji? Well, Shion no Ou makes sure that there’s enough going on for me not to care. It’s hard to explain, but it feels like every character there has his or her own goals and morals. In Kaiji, it just feels like they exist to carry Kaiji through the storyline.

9 Responses

  1. totoum says:

    thank you thank you thank you,my thoughts exactly.
    i want to pick up Shion no Ou ,but i know stricly nothing about the game,i at least knew a little Mah-jong before watching akagi.Could i still follow it.
    Did you ever finish akagi by the way?loved the first 2 arcs but never did like the rest as much,and anyway,one other thing i don’t like about this arc is that it just reminds me too much of the last arc of akagi,the setting,the camera shots,the old man and so on…

  2. ik says:

    lol, it seems people watch the show for completely different reasons (I think the show has gotten better since the end of the RPS arc actually).
    It has never really been a sports/game series at all. Instead, it is more of a bildungsroman, and an excellent one at that. Kaiji is one of the most realistic and best developed protagonists I have seen in a long time.

  3. psgels psgels says:

    Totoum: all I can say about Shion no Ou is: watch it! There’s no need to know anything about shougi, and you’ll pick up everything you need to know through the series.

  4. totoum says:

    thanks psgels,i’ll do that :)

    I forgot to mention that the fact I strongly disagree with the vision of the world that is presented in kaiji doesn’t help either,it prevents me from enjoying the side of the series that ik is talking about.

  5. bigjig says:

    The problem with Kaiji is that you either “get it” (for want of a better expression) or you don’t. What a lot of other shows will do is play up to fanboyism, put a loli in the show to look at, or some overdone robot battle to cover up for the cliched, boring bits in the show and wallah the show becomes popular.

    Kaiji, on the other hand, has none of this – the art style is out there, the story style is out there and if you don’t like it, you just don’t like it. The gap between loving this show and hating this show is just too great for it to become a classic.

    Regarding your post however, I think you did have the wrong expectations when starting the show. Kaiji is not shounen – it isn’t about Kaiji coming up with some far-fetched “ideas to win money”. Yes Kaiji does have a formula to it and if you just watch for the gambling I can see how you would become disappointed.

    Kaiji isn’t really a show about gambling at all though, rather it uses gambling to portray the human struggle – Yes Kaiji will win some and lose some, hey that’s life. The way that Kaiji rises above it and presses on when he is losing is what makes him such an endearing character.

    The show is not about “a bunch of yakuza who like to bully young adults”. It is about one young adult you struggles to rise up and fight the power and move forward in life (resembling the “rat race” struggle in the society around us?)

    The “gambling” presented in this is not the main course of the show at all, it is rather like the hors d’oeuvres. Of course you are going to be going home on an empty stomach if you’re just watching Kaiji for the gambling – you’re missing out on the main course!!

    Anyway I could go on and on about what makes Kaiji great, but I get the feeling it isn’t going to make any difference. You don’t like Kaiji? That’s okay – it never does try to go out of its way to appeal to everyone. Hey, I hated apparently popular shows like TTGL and Haruhi – to each his own I guess.

    (Even though we seem to disagree on Kaiji, I do enjoy reading your blog by the way – keep up the good work!)

  6. Regen says:

    I think that Kaiji is more fast packed than Shion no Hou. Kaiji has to survive, an error in his gambling and he is dead. Shion plays just for fun, there are not consequences, she can lose all her games then come back again.

  7. deltazechs says:

    It’s just my opinion, but you can’t possibly expect any kind of brilliant tactic from a game of E-Card. The entire game IS based on probability and body language speculation, which means that it ACTUALLY makes sense for Tonagawa to cheat against Kaiji. In fact, I thought it would be far-fetched for Tonagawa to win 7 times consecutively without cheating.

  8. Angus says:

    I agree with Regen – I don’t really see what is so great about Shion no Ou. Shows like Akagi and Kaiji often get berated for being too slow but you have to remember these shows portrays the inner thought processes of men GAMBLING FOR LIFE AND LIMB here – facing death in the eye. To me this is the complete opposite to what you say – Kaiji is one of the most intense shows I’ve seen in a long because of it’s sheer realism. In Shion no ou, what if she loses a match she goes down a rank in the Shogi league – who cares? I realize that there is more than Shogi to Shion no ou, but for me Kaiji is a way more intense experience

  9. BlueYoshi says:

    Have Regan and Angus even seen an episode of Shion no Ou yet? Shion is DEFINITELY not playing for ranks and maybe even not for fun. Story details are really slow paced with Shion no Ou as well, but there is tons more of character development and it has its own share of intensity at times.

    I kinda knew that Tonegawa was cheating. You know…after winning 7 times in a row, you just get that obvious feeling.xD Episode 20 makes up for the disappointment that 19 gave me though. Watch it now!

Leave a Reply

Shoutbox

Name:
Email:
For:  
Mail will not be published
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jan 27. 2015 03:16 AM)
    @Alley, Kinda being rude but I don’t know. Don’t know much of anything actually. I have been kinda left here to hold the fort.
  • Emma
    (Tuesday, Jan 27. 2015 03:12 AM)
    “My mind started spinning tales from her being a serial killer or her being a man.”
    Well doesn’t someone have quite the imagination, ha.
    …And I keep forgetting to watch the credits/after credits bits in death parade…damn…
  • Alley
    (Tuesday, Jan 27. 2015 03:04 AM)
    Isn’t psgels going to post anymore?
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 11:06 PM)
    Well to whoever who is still watching yurikuma Arashi, you’ll be happy to know this week they delve into some much needed backstory of one of the characters.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 11:03 PM)
    I agree with those who have been saying that they would like to see an episode of death parade dealing with characters who have never met/don’t know each other. To change things up a bit.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 11:00 PM)
    There is every bit the chance the first six episodes will be standalone stories and the rest more of a continuous plot.
  • Raggers
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 10:33 PM)
    @Aidan: I’m not writing it off completely, but Death Parade is at ep3 and it’s still not clear where it’s going, and it has been far from a smooth ride.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 09:23 PM)
    I did feel that Kino would have been better as just a few ovas, hell girl I think overstretched itself after season 2.
  • Emma
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 09:21 PM)
    Well in addition to all I’ve posted/thought about death parade so far, like hell girl mushishi, kino no tabi , Natsume even, eventually I find myself watching the best selection of episodes and not looking into every single one, sometimes I’ll just get fed up with episodic format shows too.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, Jan 26. 2015 04:03 PM)
    @Raggers, it might have difficulty with a two cour run but a single cour I don’t really think so. Hell Mushi-shi has kept itself going with the same formula for two seasons. Hell girl for three seasons.

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Featured Posts

Death Parade – 03

Well this isn’t quite what I expected. This episode was a much more lighthearted fare with it being about love. It was better than the last episode but still not to the level I expected from this series. The game this time barely factored into the story at all. The twist on it was that […]

Durarara!!X2 – 2

If this episode had a focus then the stars would be Celty and the Orihara sisters. Though there were other events such as Anri and Mikado going to karaoke with Erika and Walker but it wasn’t really all the important and seemed to be there to foreshadow a new character and set up what looks […]

Death Parade – 02

Well this isn’t the best start. I must admit to being disappointed in this weeks Death Parade. Mainly because it was essentially a recap of the first episode. This episode was from the perspective of two characters who were watching the events of the first episode. With a white haired ponytail girl introducing another to […]

Some Really Quick First Impressions: The Leftovers

Sorry for leaving these out but they are not really worthy of a full impression. So I am just tossing down my two cents here. Seiken Tsukai no World Break – Hoo boy…maybe I spoke too soon about Juuou Mujin no Fafnir being worse than Absolute Duo. Because beside this trash heap it’s at least […]

Some Quick First Impressions: The Rolling Girls, Yoru no Yatterman and Sengoku Musou

The Rolling Girls Short Synopsis: What did I just watch? I am just going to break it to you. I have no idea what to think of this show. This is a work by the same studio who animated Attack on titan. It is an anime original show (meaning it is not based on anything) […]

Some Quick First Impressions: Durarara!!X2, Soukyuu no Fafner Dead Aggressor – Exodus and Aldnoah Zero Season 2

Durarara!!X2 Short Synopsis: People are strange, when you’re a stranger. It felt like a lot happened, but nothing really changed. That is the first season of Durarara summarized perfectly. The show itself even seems to revel in this. That said the main enjoyment of Durarara is seeing the cast of wacky characters interact with each […]

Some Quick First Impressions: Kantai Collection, The iDOLM@STER Cinderella Girls and Tokyo Ghoul √A

Kantai Collection Short Synopsis: Our protagonist sucks at playing battleship This is an anime based on the popular browser game of the same name. I haven’t played it but from what I hear it has ship daughters and some form of strategy. So I went into this blind, not knowing what I would get. That […]

Some Quick First Impressions: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure S3, Death Parade and Assassination Classroom

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc Short Synopsis: Our protagonist is going to Egypt to kill a vampire Jojo’s first season was a breath of fresh air with it’s ridiculous entertainment value. However with the second season I found that a lot of it’s magic had been lost as the series took a […]

Some Quick First Impressions: Shinmai Maou no Testament, Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes and Junketsu no Maria

Shinmai Maou no Testament Short Synopsis: Our protagonist has just got two little sisters who are demons. Here’s a fun fact. Due to myself being in a position at one point where I couldn’t do much of anything besides read novels and happening to see this title pop up in front of me a few […]

Latest Reviews

Clipboard06

Nerawareta Gakuen Review – 84/100

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series […]

Clipboard03

Kick Heart

Okay, so I didn’t want to exit 2013 without having seen Masaaki Yuasa’s Kick Heart. It’s only twelve minutes anyway, and I consider him to be one of the best anime directors out there. The story here is pretty silly and mostly serves as a backdrop, so I mostly want to talk about the nature […]

Clipboard01

Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

Clipboard04

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

Clipboard01

Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

Clipboard08

Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]

Clipboard04

Silver Spoon Review – 86/100

When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up […]

Clipboard07

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z Review – 82,5/100

Reviewing a comedy sequel usually is quite simple: in most cases it just drops the bomb and runs out of inspiration, and in rare cases it actually manages to stay hilarious. The tricky thing with these kinds of series is that you need to remain funny, and you need to have the inspiration for that. […]

Clipboard05

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet Review – 81/100

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet tells the storyline of a planet that is completely submerged, with only giant ships residing on the surface, while one of those ships gets visited by this guy and his AI-mecha from this very technologically advanced civilization. Yes, this show is about world building. What this show managed to do […]