One Outs: Akagi for Dummies

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Madhouse and Yuzo Sato bring us another gambling anime. First was Akagi, a 4chan favorite about a man with no fear taking over postwar Japanese underworld through his ungodly mahjong skills.  Next he worked on was Kaiji, a series about class struggle, and one man’s journey to take revenge on all the rich bastards who exploit him. Now comes One Outs, a series about baseball and gambling. At first, I was worried about how well this could be pulled off. The idea seems like a bit of a one trick pony. However, after watching a good chunk of the series, I have to say that I am thoroughly impressed and entertained.

Between Akagi and Kaiji, I would have to say that Akagi is better. The pacing is better, the gambles more exciting, and Akagi is a badass. He’s not a particularly deep or relatable character, but that’s part of his appeal. He stares death in the face and doesn’t blink. On the other hand, Kaiji is more human. He laments the loss of his fellow man. He is naive and confused. In other words, he is your average Joe. But after watching Akagi, he comes off as kind of a pussy in comparison.

The only problem with Akagi is understanding the rules of mahjong. The basic rules are explained in a flash near the beginning, but the series does a very poor job of teaching strategy. This made the series inaccessible for Westerners, and probably even some Japanese who didn’t know the rules too well. This is probably why Kaiji is getting licensed in the US before Akagi even though its not as great of a show.

Now One Outs comes along, and provides all the badassness of Akagi with a game everyone on both sides of the Pacific is familiar with, baseball. The story is that of Tokuchi Toua, the genius pitcher (played by the same seiyu as Akagi FTW) who is the master of a game called One Outs. The rules of the game are simple, if the batter gets struck out, he loses. If he hits the ball, he wins. Toua gets drafted by a pro baseball team after losing a bet but requests an unusual contract. Every time he pitches an out, he gets paid 5,000,000 yen, but every time the opposing team gets a point, he has to pay the manager that much. In theory, he should even out and not make anything. However, his mad psychology skills have him raking in the dough, much to the manager’s disdain.

I’m not a big fan of baseball. I’ve been to a couple of games, but I don’t know anything beyond the basic rules. I felt baseball is more about the atmosphere than the actual game. You go there, drink a couple of beers, talk with friends, and only pay attention to the game when your team’s star comes to bat. One Outs makes the actual game exciting by taking minor rules and team politics into account. The beauty of it is that you don’t need to know any of these rules or the mechanics of baseball to enjoy the series.

Visually, I find this show to be a bit lacking. But this is probably more because Kaiji and Akagi looked so unique due to their rough, ugly look. The director uses a lot of similar overdramatic angles and shots that gives One Outs the same overly dramatic look that made Akagi both exctiting and funny. The voice acting is standard. No character stands out except for Tokuchi, and there aren’t any big names behind the series. The music is appropriate as it builds up tension, but ultimately sound too similar to the Akagi soundtrack. The OP and ED are both shitty. I have nothing more to say about that.

I definitely recommend One Outs. It’s well paced, easy to understand, and entertaining. The series is only 9 episodes in, so it still has plenty of room to grow. I am greatly looking forward to see how this progresses over the next few months.

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