No CommentsAnime Analysis, Ye Olde Days / By Scamp /

Mentally preparing myself for Akagi

Madhouse have been rather quiet this year, at least in comparison to the past 3 years where you could be almost guaranteed of at least one Madhouse show to be worth watching each season. But the last two have only seen them produce Needless and Souten Kouro, neither of which is exactly typical Madhouse quality. So I decided to download the anime that was the precursor to the brilliantly addictive One Outs, that anime being Akagi. When it finished downloading, I decided to give myself a feel for the series by watching the opening and immediately stumbled across a rather large mental barrier to enjoying this series.

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The main character’s head looks like a banana.

There is absolutely no way around it. His head is a banana. You can’t pass it off by saying it’s slightly curvy or that this is experimental animating and you are allowed to have unusual character designs. Nor can you say that it was designed to look like a crescent moon. It looks like a banana, plain and simple. The mangaka drew it so it looked like a banana and Madhouse animated it so it looks like a banana.

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It’s not like I’m picky with animation quality in general. I’ve never dropped a show before due to its animation quality. Dire animation has certainly been a contributing factor on occasion for a show getting the boot, but never the sole reason. The thing is, I love Madhouse. They will try crazy stuff that no other studio will even dare to try. They churn out some wildly experimental sh*t that turn out amazing, like Kaiba and Casshern Sins. Even Death Note’s style of animation was a bit of a risk considering what the backlash would have been if they made a mess of an already hugely popular manga. Heck, I decided to watch Akagi because people compared it to One Outs and it certainly didn’t have conventional animation either. Tokuchi Toua certainly doesn’t look like a human. However there is a big difference between looking like a chain-smoking, anorexic spawn of Satan and looking like a banana.

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The problem is not that the animation style is unusual, but the fact that it is a banana that the character’s design appears to be based upon. The banana is the single least cool thing in the universe. First of all, it is yellow. Yellow is a colour that looks kinda nice if you use it to paint your walls, but you certainly wouldn’t use it to look badass. Secondly, the banana is associated with monkeys and practical jokes, neither of which can be considered cool either. I challenge you to stand in front of a mirror and try look cool while eating a banana. See, you just look ridiculous and nobody could take you seriously. Now I challenge you to try pick up a girl while eating a banana. It can’t be done. I do not actively dislike banana’s, quite the contrary in fact. I think they are very tasty and an excellent snack if you are playing sports. But if Akagi is trying to be as badass as Tokuchi Toua while looking like a banana, I just don’t see how it can be done.

If I am to watch Akagi, I must first convince myself that banana’s are indeed, badass.

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Look at how manly that banana looks. Why I dare say he look quite positively badass, maybe even GAR. If Chuck Norris was to eat a banana, this would be it. It’s at time’s like this I wish I had a figurine. This banana could then take my C.C figure and do it from behind, with Major Kusanagi and Hatsune Miku waiting in line. Man, this banana my goddam hero, just look at him. He could just stroll into Morder, whoop Sauron’s ass and walk out while eating a banana. Yes, I combined banana caniballism in there too because that’s just how fucking amazing this banana is. This banana will lead us to victory!

THIS BANANA WILL BE

THE BANANA TO

PIERCE  THE HEAVENS!

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7 Comments

  1. Posted September 11, 2009 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    That’s Fukumoto’s style. He always draws his character that way so if you plan on sticking around you gotta get used to it. I did get used to it after watching Akagi. It isn’t a bad show but it won’t be much fun if you don’t like watching people playing mahjong for keeps. If Akagi doesn’t grab your attention I’d recommend watching Kaiji (same author) instead. Both of the shows are great but Kaiji a lot more fast paced and there’s more action.

    No comments about the OP or ED themes?

    “chain-smoking, anorexic spawn of Satan”
    he really does look like that

  2. Posted September 11, 2009 at 7:44 am | Permalink

    His hair looks like an upside down squid.

  3. i-k
    Posted September 11, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Permalink

    The style takes some time to get used to, but it’s worth it! Thankfully there aren’t that many profile shots.

  4. Posted September 11, 2009 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    @keikakudoori

    Well One Outs moved a bit slow at times so I’m sure I’ll like Akagi. All I was worried about (apart from the whole banana head thing) was my total lack of knowledge of the rules of Mahjong but I didn’t konw the rules of baseball before One Outs so I’m hoping I should be ok

    @RP

    Oh great, now I have to go through the whole process all over again.

    Squids are badass, squids are manly, your squid will be the squid topierce the heavens.

    Madness you say?

    THIS IS A SQUID!

    @i-k

    I’m sure I will get used to it eventually. It’s just the entire time watching the opening I was thinking ‘banana banana banana’

  5. Posted September 12, 2009 at 6:18 am | Permalink

    You said you don’t like the animation quality, but you’re wrong. The quality is actually pretty damn good, it’s the STYLE you dislike. The quality isn’t as high as Kaiji’s due to Kaiji using most of the budget as they came out at the same time, but it’s still average when it comes to quality. The style though is where the ‘banana’ comes in.

    As for Akagi, learn to appreciate varying art styles. Fukumoto ALWAYS draws in this style, this is his one and only – yet very unique every time you see it – style. Kaiji, Akagi, Zero, Gai, Kurosawa, etc, etc, etc. Everything he’s drawn has this same very bold-line, very sharp-edged, very huge-nosed, and giant jutting out chin style. And yeah, I’m a huge Fukumoto fanboy so this annoys me a bit, but it’s your blog so I won’t go on a raging spree of ranting. Point being, his art style is amazing in its own ways, especially after you get used to it. His art might not be moe-moe but its awesome, plus his writing is amazing. I’d recommend watching Akagi, if you can keep to it, and definitely watching Kaiji as soon as possible. After that I’d get to reading the scans Hox has done of Zero (the first 8 volumes worth). Fukumoto is really great, you just have to get over the ‘lol his art’ first which isn’t as difficult as it sounds. This would be like skipping over JoJo because it’s too FABulous.

    As for the show itself…well, Akagi is a bit difficult to stick with for a lot of people. You said you didn’t know baseball before watching One Outs but learned enough and enjoyed it. The problem is, baseball is VERY simple, especially in comparison to an overly complicated game like Mahjong. But if you just keep a clear head and don’t let all the new terms confuse you it’s actually pretty simple as well – To put it EXTREMELY basically, it’s like poker only with a lot more going on – basically you just need to make hands for more points – and obviously different hands are worth different values of points. The hardest part of Mahjong for someone who hasn’t known about it is learning the tiles and learning the hands. I myself had no clue about Mahjong going into this and now I play often on Tenhou and can even hold my own against seasoned Japanese players.

  6. Posted September 12, 2009 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    @Tallon

    Argh, quality/style. I’ve even berated others for making that mistake and here I am doing the same thing myself.

    I do appriciate different styles in anime. I mentioned I really enjoyed Kaiba and Casshern and I generally really enjoy it when a studio tries something a bit more radical then another generic moe-blob character designs. But just because the style is different doesn’t mean it’s an improvement. As much as I love Kaiba, I can’t help thinking it would’ve worked better with a slightly more conventional style. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes it just ends up looking a bit weird. Akagi is the second case.

    Remember I’m only basing this on the opening. I assumed Akagi, Kaiji and One Outs were all made by the same guy so I was expecting something similar to Tokuchi which is why I got such a shock when I saw Mr.Banana Head. From everything I’ve heard about Akagi, I’m pretty sure I’ll love the thing and I’m sure I get used to art style as well.

  7. Posted September 12, 2009 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    Fukumoto – the creator/artist/mangaka/etc of Kaiji and Akagi (as well as a lot more than that) had no part in One Outs, in case I forgot to clear that up. The style of story is pretty similar but yeah, he has no connection to one outs at all.

    And yes you’re right, different style doesn’t mean ‘improvement’ but it doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing either. And even in those cases it’s still technically art so it comes down to opinion and ‘to each his own’ tastes, but it’s definitely good to overlook that (sometimes) and give new things a try. You said yourself you do, so that’s good, just keep it up though.

    I think Fukumoto’s style is probably one of the most difficult to get over and enjoy, but once you do you see it from a very different view so definitely try to push through it as it ends up being worth it, especially with the quality of his stories.

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