In Defence of Kaiji

I read a blog post about Kaiji and the person wrote that Kaiji is an evil series that promotes sin and a bunch of other things. Yes, the characters lie and betray one another for personal gain and greed. Yes, some characters have died or are subject to inhumane human labour. Yes, some characters have lost limbs as a result of losing a gamble. Does the manga promote crime and murder though? I fail to see it.

It’s a work of fiction. Am I as a reader going to go and start deceiving people for my personal gain because I’ve read this series? Of course not. What I got from the manga is an intense and exciting reading experience. Most of the time, you read manga for entertainment. Am I a bad person for reading this series because some characters have died and other characters are in terrible life situations? What series doesn’t have something like this.

Kaiji Itou is a man thrown into unfortunate circumstances. He’s not particularly smart like Akagi, for example, and sometimes loses his gambles. What strikes me about him is his perseverance and desire to overcome his obstacles. This is why many people became interested in the series. I am caught up on the manga and do not think that this has changed. Kaiji still has obstacles he needs to overcome but he has been vigilant and cautious in Part 6 of the manga.

At least in my experience, I feel motivated after reading Kaiji. Seeing Kaiji so determined makes me want to do something. This “something” can be as simple as getting out of bed. Sometimes I look at my life and think, what would Kaiji do? He wouldn’t give up like this. There are many inspirational quotes in Kaiji.

As for the Tonegawa series and comedy spin offs, I think they are fine as long as they are separate from the Kaiji manga (and they are). I’ve read the spin-off manga and watched the spin-off anime. I know that spin-off Tonegawa is not the same person as Tonegawa in the Kaiji series. That being said, spin-off Tonegawa does not change how I view Tonegawa in the Kaiji series. Tonegawa is a separate series and should be seen as such.

Manga Review: Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji

Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji is Part 3 of the Kaiji manga. The events that take place happen after the second season of the anime.

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Synopsis: Kaiji is living in Mr. Sakazaki’s new house but he doesn’t work or do anything. Mikoko adores Kaiji, but the feelings are not mutual. (The scenes in the ending theme song of Kaiji season 2 were showing the future!) Maeda and Miyoshi, two of Kaiji’s friends that were freed from the underground labour camp, approach him to gamble. Kaiji accepts, and the rest is on mahjong.

Kaiji plays against the President of a casino in a game of 17 Steps. 17 Steps is a different version of mahjong in which you do not pick up new tiles. Instead, you can only discard tiles. The stakes are high – if Kaiji loses, he’ll have to pay the consequences.

Thoughts: I loved the beginning because you see Kaiji’s day-to-day life when he is not gambling. It will be difficult to understand the match if you do not know how to play mahjong. However, I don’t think you have to know how to play it because it’ll still be interesting to see the tensions building up and the emotional turmoil the characters experience. It’ll be beneficial to know how to play mahjong, but not required.

The art takes a while to get used to, but it depicts human emotions and suffering so well. Yes, it distorts features of the face and exaggerates expressions, but the art is so expressive.

Out of the three story parts so far, I liked this one the least. Don’t get me wrong – it’s great and it’s better than most manga I’ve read. Compared to the first two parts, however, it’s less exciting. Do I recommend this? Absolutely yes, but you have to start from the beginning.

Kaiji is my second favourite series. Kaiji Itou demonstrates so much resilience despite all the sh*t he’s been through. He’s been betrayed again and again, has nearly faced death many times, has been in the lowest situations imaginable, yet he still has faith in humanity. He still clings onto hope.

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Freedom feels relaxing in the beginning, but when freedom is prolonged, life feels empty and meaningless. Thus, I have a blog. 🙂

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A reminder to myself in all situations.

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I was reading Kaiji on a day I was feeling sorry for myself, and this page sparked something within me. I think that perseverance is a strength in all of us.