Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji is Part 3 of the Kaiji series, and is the first part not yet adapted into anime as of writing this review. If you've watched the anime, this is where to start reading.
I've not read the previous instalments myself, I've only watched Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji, and from there, began reading the manga.
With that in mind, let's begin the review.
Story : 9
Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji begins after the Pachinko Arc. Kaiji, having finally come out of debt, lives a quiet life. But he's not particularly happy with it, as it lacks the thrills that he's had over the course of the previous instalments. he
lacks a goal in life, and as such, simply loafs around, penniless, crashing at old man Sakazaki's place for the time being.
At this point in time, Kaiji is approached by two of his friends from underground, Maeda and Miyoshi, who explain to him that they've gone back into debt thanks to the wiles of their boss, a shady casino owner. Together with Kaiji, they resolve to get back at him and win their lost money back using a daring plan.
From here on out, the gamble unfolds, and as one might expect of a series like Kaiji, it's filled with to the brim with advanced strategy and twists. It is certainly up to par with the previous instalments.
One of the prerequisites for reading this part of Kaiji is a basic understanding of the game that is Riichi Mahjong. However, there are many sources that can adequately explain the game, and the translation I read has an explanation of the rules as well, so this shouldn't be a difficult requirement to meet. From there on out, you'll be able to understand the nuances that go into Part 3's gamble.
After reading it, I can say that it was quite a ride, and I really enjoy this part of the Kaiji series. I didn't notice any weird ass-pulls or plot holes, and one of the slightly off things I did notice can easily be explained away by the foresight of Kaiji's opponents.
Overall, this part is stellar. Fukumoto is on his game, and it shows. Kaiji part 3 is worth the read as far as story goes.
Art : 8
Fukumoto's art style has never been particularly flattering, but it has certainly grown on me. In part 3, it seems like it's lost none of its detail, and it will look very familiar to anyone reading this after the end of the anime.
The art style is as always very expressive, and lends itself well to showing the emotions of the various characters as the story progresses. It's far from typical, but that doesn't mean it isn't good. It simply takes a bit of getting used to, and it's honestly one of the appeals of the series as a whole, since it's simply so different from the usual; a fresh breath of air.
Characters : 8
The character of the previously introduced characters feels on-par, so no complaints there. The new characters Kazuya and Muraoka also fit in, although Kazuya feels somewhat underdeveloped during this arc. This is understandable given his minor role, but I feel like the focus could have been on him a little bit more often.
Muraoka is the president of the casino that Maeda and Miyoshi work at. He's sleazy, annoying, and tenacious, and it fits his role as well as the story. He's not the kind of antagonist we've really seen before in Kaiji, which is also good, as it means we've not really got the understanding of his character type that we would have if he were more like some of the previously established characters. It's not until far into this part that we begin to grasp the nuances of his character and modus operandi.
Overall, the major new characters that have been introduced feel like they truly belong in the series. I definitely have no complains regarding this aspect of the manga.
Enjoyment : 9
Part 3 is just what you might expect from a Kaiji sequel. It's thrilling, the strategy runs deep, and the outcome feels like it'll swing either way until far into the story.
This means that I enjoy this manga for the same reason that I enjoyed the anime. In my view, it's almost as good. There are a handful of things that could be improved when compared to the previous instalments, but overall, I have very little to complain about.
If you enjoyed the anime, I have very few doubts that you'll enjoy this part of the manga as well.