Well, time for me to pimp another very unknown series. This one comes completely subbed, courtesy of a one-man fansub group (who did a very admirable job, by the way), and it tells about Tetsuya, a legendary gambler and Mah-jong player. For the past few years, Akagi has turned into the symbol of Mah-Jong anime, but this series shows that it wasn’t the pioneer of the genre.
When I first started to watch this series, and realized that this series plays a lot of emphasis on cheating, I expected some sort of combination between Akagi and Kaiji, but that comparison turned to be a bit off, as there are some subtle differences. Tetsuya doesn’t really try to get very deep into the heads of the different players, but it’s much more about different cheating-techniques and its characters. In Kaiji, all the gamblers are referred to as human trash, while Tetsuya shows a more human side of them.
Tetsuya doesn’t try to go as deep as Akagi and Kaiji, but it did avoid these two series’s biggest weakness: their horribly slow pacing. Tetsuya’s pacing is quick and to the point that it never really drags, so that we can get to see a wide variety of players through the limited time of only 20 episode. There’s never really a moment to get bored. Even the final arc only takes up two episodes, instead of dragging things out in an attempt to create tension.
And the characters really shine. A lot of them are very interesting to watch, as they either team up with or play against Tetsuya, considering their limited screen-time. My favourite was the match against Innami, the walking corpse. He’s an excellent example of a character that shatters the boundaries of good and evil.
One complaint is that at times, it becomes clear that this series was based on a much larger manga. Thankfully, each arc is a standalone story, but there are a few story-threads that get introduced, and yet never answered. Boshu’s wife never makes an appearance, even though including her would have greatly fleshed out Boshu’s character. There’s also one character in the OP that never appears in the actual series. You can’t help but wonder what’s up with that.
Overall, I don’t think that this series is going to be better than Akagi (I’ll get back to that statement once I get the chance to finish that series), but nevertheless Tetsuya is a simple but effective series with a cast of great characters. It in any case deserves to get more attention than what it’s getting right now.