Ten - The Blessed Way of the Nice Guy
is an earlier series by the creator of Akagi
, Fukumoto Nobuyuki.
Takashi Ten is called to a Mahjong
club one night to play against a young mahjong player. Having just robbed Ten's friends blind at mahjong, Ten arrives to take back his winnings. Ten's mahjong style becomes more apparent as the game progresses...amateurish! Ten cheats in the last round, using a move called the Tsubame Gaeshi, and winning with a Tenhou hand. Hiroyuki is angered once Ten admits he cheated after the game. Ten is a friendly guy who happens to be good at Mahjong. Or, more appropriately, good at cheating at Mahjong. If someone is betting on a Mahjong game and ends up in a pinch, they call Ten to win for them. He always does, and because he understands how frustrating it is, always has the courtesy to give the people he cheats against a chance to beat him up. With his friends Hiroyuki, Ken, Akagi
, and others, he eventually decides to take on something much bigger than cheating in small gambles.
This manga provides examples of:
- Adventure Rebuff: For Hiroyuki.
- Always Second Best: Hiroyuki suffers from this to the point that it makes him utterly miserable for most of the series.
- Anime Hair: Ten, of course.
- Art Evolution: The early chapters of Ten have "softer" lines than usual, and the characters look more "round" than "pointy" (for lack of better words); this changed as the series went on. Fukumoto would later re-use this early style in Atsuize Pen-chan since it was more fitting for the light-hearted story of that manga.
- Badass in a Nice Suit: It's a series about Yakuza. What did you expect?
- Badass Mustache: Hitoshi Washio.
- Better to Die than Be Killed: Akagi chooses to go through medically-assisted suicide rather than have his mind deteriorate due to Alzheimer's. The fact that he was never afraid to face death makes it easier to digest...the fact that his mind was the greatest weapon he ever had and the fact that he was only in his early fifties doesn't.
- Bittersweet Ending
- Blonde Guys Are Evil: Harada. Okay, evil might be a strong word to describe him (although he is a Yakuza), but he is an antagonist, and supposedly blonde.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Ten does this in one of the earlier chapters.
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Averted.
- Card Sharp: Ten. He starts to rely less on cheating later in the series.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The manga starts out lightheartedly, in an almost slice-of-life way, though somewhat centered on Mahjong. Ten and his family do stupid things all day, Hiroyuki gets annoyed, etc. As the story goes on though, it gets more and more serious, with Yakuza and dangerous Mahjong matches becoming the main draw, Ten getting a character change and becoming all serious and actually very good at the game, and all the humor is stripped away to the point that there is not one single humorous panel in the later chapters. And in the last arc, all the main characters are frantically trying to stop Akagi from committing suicide, and in the end they can't make it. A bit depressing, to say the least. That said, this was one of Fukumoto's first works. He was probably still looking for his own style in the earliest chapters.
- Character Development: Especially for Hiroyuki.
- Character Title
- Cheaters Never Prosper: Actually they do in this series, with a few exceptions.
- Christmas in Japan
- Combat Commentator
- Continuity Nod: The last few chapters reference the events of Akagi; we even get flashbacks of Urabe and Washizu.
- Cool Old Guy: Akagi and Sawada. Souga deserves a mention, too.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Ten through and through, especially in the first part of the manga.
- Decoy Protagonist: Ten gets slightly overshadowed by Hiroyuki and Akagi.
- Defictionalization: A faithful replica of Akagi's grave exists in a bar in Kichijouji.
- Dirty Old Monk: Kanamitsu. Priests are generally not involved in gambling between Yakuza gangs after all. He was also in Hawaii picking up chicks for some time along with several other characters, and takes a piece of Akagi's tombstone hoping it will bring him luck.
- Driven to Suicide: Akagi
- The Gambler: Especially Akagi.
- Go Out with a Smile: Akagi
- Katanas Are Just Better: Early on, Sawada uses one to cut Ten because the latter was caught cheating.
- The Lancer: Hiroyuki to Ten.
- The Men in Black
- Narrator: Hiroyuki at times, though the commentator takes over as it continues.
- Prequel: Akagi to this, and Washizu Lord Of Mahjong Hell to Akagi.
- Polyamory: Ten has two wives. Yeah...
- Professional Gambler
- Time Skip: The first one (two years) happens fairly early on. After the final "battle" there's a nine year time skip. And after the Tear Jerker, there's an epilogue set three years after the death of Akagi.
- Scars Are Forever: Ten has a lot of scars on his face; he got them from allowing people to beat him up after he cheats in games with them.
- Slice of Life: Early on.
- Spin-Off: Several.
- Akagi is the most famous one, as it got an anime adaptation. It provides backstory to, well, Akagi. The manga is still ongoing.
- Washizu Lord Of Mahjong Hell, which is about the Big Bad from Akagi in his younger days. It wasn't written nor drawn by Fukumoto (although he is credited as an assistant since he owns the characters), so its canonical status is debatable. CLAMP also made a 4-page gag manga that was about Washizu.
- HERO, which is a sequel to this and has Hiroyuki as the main character. Written but not drawn by Fukumoto. An (even) older Ichikawa from Akagi makes an appearance.
- The Idiot from Osaka: Ken, to a certain extent. He's young, brash and enthusiastic, even directly challenging Harada- who, despite also being from Osaka, is a much cooler, calmer character and thus accordingly loses his accent as the series progresses.
- The Rival: Harada to Ten.