Final Thoughts on Kaiji

Posted by Demian @ 7:37 pm, April 19th, 2008

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The ending to Kaiji is getting a lot of flack from people, which is understandable. It’s only slightly more conclusive than Akagi’s ending, which is really saying something. However, when looking at the manga for Kaiji this is to be expected. There’s a lot more of Kaiji’s story than the anime could of told, so they had to end it somewhere. At least it wasn’t mid-game like Akagi. The other element of the ending people don’t like is that Kaiji basically ends the show as a loser. He’s lost everything he started the show with, even a few body parts. However, whenever Kaiji gets knocked down he comes back that much stronger. The man at the end of the series is a far cry from the naive youth at the beginning. The earlier Kaiji would have begged for his fingers to be spared, but the new Kaiji took it like a man, receiving the repercussions of his own decision. Physically and financially Kaiji is beaten, but his mind is even stronger, and the show promises us he’ll come back to win.

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At the beginning it was easy to compare Akagi to Kaiji: same author, same studio, same production team, etc. But Kaiji is very different from Akagi in once crucial way: that Kaiji is a fallible human being. Akagi is perfect in everything he does, and the thrill from watching him comes from wondering not if he’ll win, but how badly will he beat his opponent. Kaiji, however, is never assured success. By the rules of anime the viewer knows he has to win most of the time, but never all of the time and always at great cost. Kaiji loses his dignity in rock, paper, scissors; his friends in the human derby, and his ear in E-Card, all to attain a victory he is denied at the end. But Kaiji still grows as a character, learns from his mistakes, grows a backbone, and becomes just as much as a badass as Akagi, who never really had to grow because he was one all along.

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Aside from the strength of Kaiji’s character, the show did a great job with the supporting cast, from the villainous Andou to the noble friend Ishida. None were very deeply fleshed out, but the show did a good job in explaining who these guys were and how they were different from Kaiji. Hyoudou is just as much of a villainous old bastard as Washizu is, and it’s a shame we don’t get to see his comeuppance here unlike Washizu. However, I do think Kaiji suffered in its very unorthodox gambles. Mahjong is an easy game to scheme over and get excited about. Rock, paper, scissors; human derby, E-card, tissue box raffle, not so much. I’ll give Kaiji credit for making these gambles interesting most of the time, but the middle episodes between human derby and E-card really seemed to drag. There are two more manga series to Kaiji, which unlike Akagi is finished, so hopefully we will see more of Kaiji in the future, and finally see him grasp true victory.

That Has To Hurt

Posted by Demian @ 5:16 pm, March 7th, 2008

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That’s certainly one of the most cringe inducing anime scenes I’ve ever scene. I can handle blood and gore fine, but the idea of placing flesh on burning metal is just too visceral for me. Tonegawa may be a bastard, but he didn’t deserve that. The Chairman is the real evil. The E-Card arc has now ended, and while I do think it lasted longer than it should have, it did give us several great moments. Now it’s time for the climax of Kaiji: Tissue Box Raffle! I’m not lying here, just check the wiki page.

Kaiji Achieves GARdom

Posted by Demian @ 8:04 pm, February 28th, 2008

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I can’t believe Kaiji did that. He’s shown earlier on that when push comes to shove he can do some incredible stuff, but cutting off your own ear is crazy. Reminds me a lot of the moment in Akagi when Akagi was willing to get his arm cut off just to prove he didn’t cheat. Truly showed just how awesome Akagi was, and this moment works the same way with Kaiji. I can now say I really respect Kaiji as a character for his sheer willpower. Even the crying seemed appropriate this episode! Still, this E-card stuff is really dragging on, which sucks since E-card is a pretty boring game to begin with. I have no idea how they plan to wrap this up, or they may just not like Akagi, but I really hope we hear word of a second season soon.

Wait a Second…

Posted by Demian @ 5:28 pm, December 17th, 2007

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There are women in Kaiji?! And they don’t look half that bad? Boggles the mind.

Most Satisfying Knee to the Stomach Ever

Posted by Demian @ 9:30 pm, December 10th, 2007

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Andou the bastard gets what he deserves with a good beat down. Kaiji should of given him the kind of thrashing he gave the naked guy, but the one-two knee-kick was pretty satisfying. The last thing I would expect from a show like Kaiji is a mad tirade about the dangers of greed, but the epic crying and table kicking made it an awesomely melodramatic moment. Kaiji is so moe. This arc has dragged on for a bit too long, mainly around the middle, but all the drama at the end has definitely been worth it. Hopefully the next gambling adventure for Kaiji will be as weird as rock, paper, scissors, but with a bit more actual strategy. Yes, this is just me vainly hoping for more animated mahjong.

When it comes to games of rock, paper, and scissors…

Posted by Demian @ 12:30 pm, November 25th, 2007

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Never trust the fat guy. Goddamn bastard. Kaiji should of dropped that guy the moment he betrayed the group in the first place and showed his true selfishness. Wonder how Kaiji’s going to get himself out of that room of naked men now? Though I’d rather not think about that room at all. The one time where Madhouse’s attention to detail is not a good thing.

Headbutt + Children’s Card Game = WIN

Posted by Demian @ 11:23 pm, November 5th, 2007

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Seeing Kaiji unveil his scissors card and the grand strategy behind it was as satisfying as any ron Akagi pulled off. While Akagi is still the Supreme Badass King of Games, it’s been really great to see Kaiji grow in these first five episodes. He’s gone from a whiny nobody to a team leader who knows how to use good ideas and take the logical risks. He already knew everything he needed to succeed, he just had to be put in the fires of hell first to really forge him into a badass. Furuhata and Andou are annoying as hell, however. Whiny, useless cockroaches who cling onto Kaiji’s success. Would of been a lot better if Kaiji left them when he had three stars. Still, he’s a man of his word and I’ll respect that.

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Kaiji has really made rock, paper, scissors an exciting game of strategy and deceit. With mahjong that was easy, it’s a complicated game anyways, but to make rock, paper, scissors such an intense game to watch is really masterful storytelling. All the little visual metaphors, like strings ripping apart and water boiling, really help illustrate the mental situations of the characters. Which, really, is what Kaiji is all about, how these characters react to the stresses of life. It looks like this arc will end soon, with the guy who first ripped Kaiji off being a suitable final boss, but that could still take a couple episodes to finish. I have no idea what the next game will be, but I’m sure it will be bizarre, intense, and completely awesome.