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Manga / Ten - The Blessed Way of the Nice Guy

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Ten - The Blessed Way of the Nice Guy is an earlier series by the creator of Akagi and Kaiji, Fukumoto Nobuyuki. It was serialized in Kindai Mahjong Gold from 1989 to 2002, and compiled into 18 volumes.

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:

  • A Good Way to Die: Even though Akagi takes his own life rather than waste away by a terminal illness, his method of death is painless and peaceful. Not only that he invites the men closest to him to see him individually one last time. Each man discussed how they felt about the situation but by and large received closure. In the end Akagi died fulfilled with no regrets being able settle things with the people closest to him. If you are someone who fears death, you need to read this part of the manga. You will find that afterwards, death might just be a little less scary.
  • A Lighter Shade of Grey: the West side acts smug and is willing to cheat more often, so they are portrayed as the villains, though the East side is also made up of yakuza who are only in it for the money and would cheat when given half a chance. Nobody is a saint, but nobody is a monster either. At the end of the story, the West characters who were invited to Akagi's planned funeral are also trying to stop him, and are seen crying like everyone else when he dies.
  • Always Second Best: Hiroyuki suffers from this to the point that it makes him utterly miserable for most of the series.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Actually they do in this series, with a few exceptions.
    • In fact, Ten gives Hiroyuki a scolding, because Hiroyuki didn't cheat at a time when nobody could have caught him.
  • Continuity Nod: The last few chapters reference the events of Akagi; we even get flashbacks of Urabe and Washizu.
  • 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 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.
  • One-Word Title: Also a Protagonist Title.
  • Protagonist Title: Also a One-Word Title.
  • Polyamory: Ten has two wives. Yeah...
  • 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.
  • Spin-Off: Several.
    • Akagi is the most famous one, as it got an anime adaptation. It provides backstory to, well, Akagi. It ended many, many years after Ten was finished.
    • 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.
    • Yamima no Mamiya, another sequel to this that takes place in the "Reiwa" era, twenty years after the events of Ten. Notable for two things, one a new mahjong variant game, and two the first female protagonist by Fukumoto.
  • 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.

Alternative Title(s): Ten, Ten Manga