Friday, March 31, 2017

Akagi Chapter 295

There are only 2 chapters of Washizu Mahjong remaining!! How will this never-ending roller coaster ride finally end?! There's only one way to find out!

Thanks to Crump for the cleans and to Tambur for the typesetting. There will be a mahjong night tomorrow on the IRC at 4:00 PM MST.

Chapter Link

"WE SURVIIIIIIVED!!"


Well... shit. That settles it then. Washizu just randomly died when there were still things left that Akagi's team could do. This whole chapter was devoted to establishing Akagi's definite victory and showing how Washizu's henchmen value his life.

I said last post that I thought the series got cancelled, but really I don't think that's necessarily the case. We were given the hint of the Haku way back in the drama, so it shows that at the very least this ending was being considered a year ago. And to tell the truth, this is probably the one ending that nobody saw coming. Akagi has always been about surprising the viewer with outrageous twists, and having Washizu die here was nothing short of surprising.

Something that feels missing though is Akagi's last triumph. The moment where everything seems hopeless but Akagi still pulls through and shows us that he had everything under control. The moment where he puts the finishing blow on his opponent and gets to taste his hard-earned victory. Here, there was none of that. Akagi only made it out alive because Washizu just couldn't hold on any longer and he got saved at the last possible moment.

But... if you think about it, isn't that how Akagi has always been? He beat Yagi to a pulp, but when he wanted to go double or nothing one last time he was denied it because Yagi was too humiliated. He overcame Ichikawa only to find him cowering away from the table, fleeing from the finishing blow that Akagi wanted. He never got the rematch with Fake Akagi, and Urabe backed away from the rematch even after swearing he'd have his revenge. Nakai was never worth his time in the first place.

And that brings us to the moment that really spells it all out for us: the game of Cho-Han. If it weren't for Yasuoka and Ohgi's intervention, Akagi would have died in that gambling den. He would have died after playing to the best of his ability and doing everything it took to win.

Perhaps... that's what Akagi wants? Could it be that in his heart of hearts, he wants to die? Not just any old death, but a death where he has put every ounce of his strength into surviving, every tactic he can think of has been deployed, and where he is overpowered by a being that surpasses even his immense talent. His life has been nothing but a string of victories, and unlike Washizu who accepted it and took it to bolster his ego, Akagi became bored of it, tired of his constant victories. What he really wanted was to find someone not only equal to him but superior to him, so that once in his life he could really feel what it was like to lose in a fair fight where both parties gave it their all.

Need proof? Just look at Akagi projecting here:



When we see what Washizu is really like, Akagi's description of him isn't really all that accurate. Washizu is haughty and arrogant, perfectly happy rising above all the peasants below him. He is a King, and he wants to live as long as he possibly can. So much so that he despises those younger than him and kills them for their threatening to outlive him.

So who is Akagi really describing here? Himself. HE'S the one tired of living. HE'S the one alone at the top. HE'S the one for whom death would be a bliss. Especially if that death came at the hands of someone who was able to beat him while he was playing his best, while he was holding nothing back and trying to live with all his strength. I could probably point to tens more instances of this implication in the manga, but I think this one should be good enough.

And just when he was about to have that long-awaited, MEANINGLESS DEATH he has always wanted... he is saved again. Saved by forces beyond his control, that he had no hand in. Washizu simply died from blood loss right as he was about to put the finishing blow on Akagi. Again he is denied the taste of defeat he has always wanted to try, and this time, it was exactly what he had always wanted. Washizu had left him only one means of escape: to have Yasuoka pon and then to have Washizu draw the 5-sou. But for Washizu, that kind of draw would not be possible. This was effectively checkmate, after Akagi had played a perfect game and outwitted Washizu time and time again. He had done everything he could possibly do, and yet he was about to lose. That was exactly what he wanted to taste, but again it was denied to him.

So while Ohgi, Yasuoka, and the rest of the gang is busy celebrating, Akagi is left sitting alone, after having been promised the kind of death he'd always wanted but having it ripped away from him. Just look at the sadness in his eyes, the boredom that Nangou saw in him after he defeated Ichikawa all those years ago. Just like then, Akagi had rushed headfirst into danger with the full intention of being ripped apart, but with no intention of giving in. And just like then, he found the opponent that he thought would be the one to teach him what it meant to lose at his mercy, in no state to fight him again.

These are all things I've thought about since I first read this chapter about 2 months ago. If you asked me before then how I thought the Washizu arc would end, I would have confidently declared it would end with Akagi doing some crazy trick that nobody saw coming and having his long-awaited victory over Washizu, his greatest opponent. But now that I've read this chapter and thought it over... it might really be the only ending there could ever be.

14 comments:

  1. "It might really be the only ending there could ever be."
    So are you satisfied with this? I feel a bit disappointed, honestly, but I couldn't tell you what I would have been happy with.

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    1. Well there's still a chapter for Fukumoto to make it a better ending but even if next chapter is just "lol gg" it still feels like Fukumoto might have been planning this ending since the Cho-Han arc. It totally ties into Akagi's character and allows him to have experienced total helplessness without actually dying. It's possible that just the taste of defeat he had here might be enough for him to accept his talent as a blessing rather than a curse and go on to dominate the mahjong world. I'm sure Fukumoto won't leave us hanging and he'll explain exactly what this near-death experience means for Akagi. So yeah I think I'm satisfied.

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  2. I remember hearing rumors of this ending a long time ago, before even the drama came out. It's unreal that it actually happened; I can hardly believe it.
    It's also crazy to think that the horrid pacing of this final round might've been a way to make Washizu's sudden death more acceptable to the readers. If this round had normal pacing we would question how Washizu could just suddenly die after everything that's happened, but he's been on the brink of death for literally years now. Even if you try to read the whole thing in one go you'll still get bogged down in the final pacing, no matter how fast of a reader you are.

    I really don't know how to feel about this. Hopefully the "conclusion arc" will end things on a better note.
    Also, thanks for the rationalization Sonic, it helped me feel better about this chapter.

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    1. No problem, it took me a lot of thinking to feel okay about it too. It's been such a long, intense ride that any ending would probably feel lackluster, but hopefully the next chapters will give us the conclusion this arc deserves.

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  3. i have high hopes for the next chapter.

    this is actually kind of a brilliant twist. FKMT probably realized that no victory, no matter how spectacular, could ever justify the decade+ he spent building up dramatic tension. So instead he took us right up to the edge and let it fizzle out into something totally unsatisfying. from Yasuoka and Ohgi's perspective, it's the best possible outcome. from Akagi's perspective, it's the ultimate let down. in the next issue he's going to tell us about it.

    i'm betting he's going to refuse the money. or do something even more irrational that i haven't thought of yet. like -- demand that one of the henchmen step in to replace Washizu, and let him call the haku. well, i guess we can't really hope for the game to continue now that we know there's only one chapter left. i dunno. i just have faith that FKMT isn't going to fuck this up.

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    1. Well, he needs to get the money to buy that ballin' suit somehow.

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  4. This is the prequel to Ten after all, so interested readers can simply read that series (which finished ages ago) to connect the dots regarding Akagi's personality and the time he spends from the end of this series to the start of Ten.

    Gambling to Akagi was about dying a meaningless death from the vagaries of luck and chance. Skill (which he had plenty of) could minimise the impact of outrageous slings of fortune, but 13-year old Akagi was doing chicken runs with older delinquents on cliff tops so living on the edge all the time has always been his raison d'etre.

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  5. The way I see it, Washizu's death wasn't really random. To me it feels as if he was staying alive thanks to his fighting spirit and desire to beat Akagi, but when he finally had the chance to kill him, he realized just how much he respects Akagi, he probably never met a man like him. So his admiration of Akagi beat his hatred and rivalry in the end, so he lost the energy that kept him alive.

    Anyway, 2 more chapters, we'll see.

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  6. Will Washizu revive just long enough to say his final words or is he already gone forever? Is this really the final result of this game of mahjong? Eagerly awaiting the next chapter which I believe was just released in Japan today.

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  7. I've been trying to avoid spoilers since forever because I've stopped reading since the start of the last match. Could anyone tell me when we can expect the two last chapters to be scanlated? Are they even released in japanese yet?

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    1. Chapter 296 was released today. Based on the flow of the recent releases, it should come out in the second half of April and May respectively.

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  8. OwO are they going to do mouth-to-mouth?

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  9. This was kind of expected really.

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