Akagi (アカギ?) is a mahjong centric Japanese manga, written by Nobuyuki Fukumoto and first published in 1992. It is featured in the weekly magazine Modern Mahjong, and is a prequel to the author's previous work Ten, in which Akagi's titular character also appears. Due to its popularity, the manga has been adopted into two live action movies, and a 26 episode anime series which aired in Japan in the fall of 2005.
The story revolves around the Mahjong gambling exploits of Shigeru Akagi. After a death-defying game of chicken one evening in 1958, Akagi nonchalantly enters a Yakuza Mahjong parlor to shake the cops' trail. Even unfamiliar with the rules of Mahjong, his gambling intuition is enough to save a small time gambler, Nangou, and grant him a seat at the gambling table. As the night progresses, the stakes are raised both within the game and for Akagi, who is under the suspicion of local police. However, Akagi overcomes the situation with his tactics, defiant of both life and chance. When he leaves the gambling house, no one present is in doubt of his genius.
During the story arc, Akagi faces and defeats several opponents in Mahjong, each with their own, distinct style of play. Akagi's genius allows him victory, ultimately defeating the "behind the stage king" of Japan and becoming a legend.
- Shigeru Akagi (赤木しげる Akagi Shigeru?)
- Voiced by: Masato Hagiwara
- Akagi is introduced as a deceptively adult looking young boy, whose spark of genius transcends age and resides in gambling, especially in the game mahjong. Throughout the story, Akagi utilizes techniques other gamblers don't dare to, in order to sway his opponents: brazen cheating, extremely risky maneuvers, far fetched bluffs, a blatant disregard for his own life. These actions make him a heretic among "ordinary" men, yet allow him to unflinchingly defeat his opponents with a level of play that is marked as godly. After gaining mythical status at 13, he disappears for 5 years and resurfaces to become a legendary figure in the whole of Japan.
- Yasuoka (安岡 Yasuoka?)
- Voiced by: Tesshō Genda
- A dirty detective who has connections to the underground business. He is one of the first people to realize Akagi's talents in mahjong, and takes advantage of this to great personal gain. In the manga he also plays the role of narrator.
- Yagi (矢木 Yagi?)
- Voiced by: Wataru Takagi
- The first professional mahjong player that Akagi plays and defeats. He uses techniques to cheat during the game but loses in front of Akagi's ability.
- Ichikawa (市川 Ichikawa?)
- Voiced by: Hideyuki Tanaka
- A blind professional mahjong player. Ichikawa was a player that would play by the book while Akagi incorporated luck into his playstyle. Ichikawa is similar to Akagi in the way that they are evenly matched throughout their 1 on 1 match in Sasagawa Restaurant, however in the end Akagi emerges the victor.
- Yukio Hirayama (平山幸雄 Hirayama Yukio?)
- Voiced by: Ginpei Sato
- The representative mahjong player for the Kawada Yakuza group, after he was first discovered by Yasuoka. Despite his physical resemblance to Akagi, his playing style is based solely on mathematical calculations and probability, in contrast to Akagi's natural gambling insight and psychological manipulation abilities. He lacks the courage required to be a true gambler, making him unable to be beat Urabe by falling for his strong bluffs. He is eventually killed by Washizu for failing to beat him in Washizu mahjong.
- Urabe (浦部 Urabe?)
- Voiced by: Morio Kazama
- The representative mahjong player for the Fujisawa Yakuza group. He and Akagi fought over thirty-two million yen. Urabe was the person responsible for raising the stakes, so when he was defeated, he was brutally mutilated by the Yakuza.
- Iwao Washizu (鷲巣巌 Washizu Iwao?)
- Voiced by: Masane Tsukayama
- An old man who had made a lot of money, and one of the most powerful people in the underground. After building up massive funds from shady dealings in Japan's post-war era, he uses this money to tempt people -especially young people- to bet their lives for the chance to win a large amount of money. He enjoys doing this, so a match between Akagi and Washizu was arranged. Washizu and Akagi played mahjong in an unusual way, of which Washizu calls 'Washizu Mahjong' in which glass tiles replace most of the tiles that make the game different in many ways.
- Nippon Television Network's Akagi website (Japanese)
- Akagi (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Akagi (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia