Mahjong In Media: Anime, Manga, and Video Games
When you start talking about how mahjong is represented in Western media it feels compulsory to include a listing of available manga and anime titles. It even happens any time someone in the room starts talking about a favorite series—someone in the room will start listing off all of the OTHER series they have read. We just can’t help ourselves.
While these forms of entertainment don’t directly represent how mahjong is represented in west (since they are all imported from another culture), it is media consumed by the population here, legally or not.
We’ve listed titles below that are have been legally licensed into English. (If you know specifically of any others that we’ve missed, mention it in the comments!) While editing this listing down to “legal transcriptions only”, especially the manga, it’s saddening how many cool stories do not make the cut. But there is something you can do to change this and help grow mahjong at the same time! Support the legal titles.
Companies that license titles are still companies and their most basic concern is the bottom line on the balance sheet. (Hooray for capitalism!) They will attempt to license titles based off of what is popular, but the line between the niche appeal of Saki and the vast sea of Naruto isn’t as heavy as you think. Translation is not as costly as it once was, and with other publishing options such as POD and e-books available, the overhead involved isn’t as risky for publishers as it might have been in days past. By spending some of your hard-earned money in support, it is more likely that a publisher will attempt to officially license similar titles. More titles means more manga on the bookshelf and anime in the streaming service. This all helps raise awareness of mahjong overall.
See! Now you are a patron.
I’ve included links to publisher pages – most of these are available through online retailers (17 volumes of Saki are available for Kindle); however I encourage you to support your local manga/anime store if you have one. Buy local.
Saki — A staple in mahjong manga. Caution: some readers may take offense at the art depicting young girls.
Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories
— (Mature content) One of the short stories includes mahjong.
Kaiji — Current publication date is listed as January 30, 2019. This series includes a significant mahjong related arc.
Saki — Available for streaming on Crunchy roll. Includes the series Episode of Side A.
Akagi — Available for streaming on Crunchyroll. Includes a 10 episode drama series.
Yakuza — (Mature Content) A recurring title available on the Sony Playstation, with the latest title published for the PS4. These titles include a riichi mini-game.
Japanese Mah-jongg — A riichi game (with a cringe-worthy spelling) available on the Nintendo Switch as a digital store download.
I’ve thrown this list of currently unlicensed titles in to show the stories that are currently lacking from the manga bookshelf.
Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
Akagi (with several spin-off series)
Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku (Reform with No Wasted Draws)
Mahjong Hishouden: Naki no Ryuu
Usagi – Yasei no Touhai
Tetsunakino Kirinji (Thanks, Rosti)
Should add Tetsunaki no Kirinji to the unlicensed list. One of the few mahjong manga to actually represent the game in an approximately realistic way and to focus to an extent on strategy instead of superpowers or unholy luck. Also has some pretty interesting strategy articles between some of the chapters.
Aki is probably worth a mention too, though doesn’t actually feature all that much mahjong gameplay.
Thanks for the insight, Rosti! I’ll update the listing.