Mahjong Media Reviews: The Diva League
Hello everyone, after a small break, I`m back to review a new mahjong resource. So far in these reviews, we have covered books, games, and even some comics, but today, I want to introduce a new media: DVDs. I`ve recently started watching mahjong DVDs as a way of trying to better my game, and have found it a surprisingly fun, time efficient, and effective way of studying. So today, I`m here to review:
Mondo21`s The Diva League
The diva league was an all female pro mahjong tournament (that appears to be taking place every year hereafter.) 10 participants were chosen personally by three mahjong pros, one being Kateyama Masayuki, the creator of Obaka Miko. The participants then trained for an entire year under the three pros, until finally everything came together in the “Queen of Diva” tournament. No, that`s not a spelling miss, it`s just Japanese.
What the DVD box set actually includes are the core matches of the tournament. While they do skip over the occasional round, you still get 360 minutes of action spread across 3 dvds. The actual tournament consists of 2 preliminary hanchans, followed by a 2 hanchan playoff with the 4 best players, and finally the winner going on to a “master`s game” where she plays the three pros While they do skip over the occasional round, you do get to see about 90% of the rounds from start to finish. There is a lot of mahjong to be watched here. The DVD set comes in a nice, high quality protective display box which is nice, but not necessary. Considering the already abnormally high price of DVDs in Japan, I’m sure they could have just as well used a regular box and cut the cost down 10 dollars, but it is nice.
Here is the bulk of the content. The best part about this DVD set, is it`s fully commentated by 3 pros. That by itself is very informative, but what makes it even better, is the 3 pros trained the girls personally throughout the last year, so they are very familiar with the girl`s playing styles, tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses. They often talk about these points while the girls are playing. What`s even better, is the pros are very animated in their commentary. If there is a mistake made, you clearly know it. The pros aren`t afraid to call out a bad move or to offer a better move. This is all pure information for the viewer.
While there is no doubt the purpose of this DVD set is the mahjong tournament, on the last disk they also include a “making of” kind of segment that interviews all the players, talks about their journey, and how much they`ve improved over the last year. This was all a nice addition because you get to hear about their mistakes and how they worked hard to improve them.
For the person looking to use this dvd set as a study tool, I’m happy to say this is one of the easiest and bests mahjong dvd sets I’ve seen thus far simply for the commentary alone. Most pro matches are commentated, but you rarely find commentators that are so invested in the players. You not only get the commentary on what is going on, but also you get many personal notes about the players, and most importantly, what the players themselves need to improve on. This is good for the viewer because you know what mistakes you need to watch out for in your game as well just by hearing what they need to watch out for. At face value, this dvd set can also just be treated as a massive what would you discard quiz. I had my remote in my hand the entire time I was watching this dvd set and often I would pause it after a player drew a tile to try to decide what I would discard in the same situation. Also, it`s good to rewind sometimes to try to decide why that player discarded that particular tile.
While the set is fully in Japanese and at times can be hard to understand, for the most part, it`s very easy to follow. 90% of the conversations are purely about mahjong and as long as you`re familiar with the Japanese terms (Reach, Tsumo, Pinfu, Sanshoku, names of the tiles exc.) You should be fine even if you aren`t very strong in Japanese. The pros are so animated in their commentary that even if you speak no Japanese at all, you can still follow when a mistake was made, and what should have been done / discarded. The Yaku are always displayed at the end of a hand along with the score, and the players names are all posted nicely in both English and Japanese.
I really enjoyed this dvd set. If you decide to pick it up, watch it with your remote close by and pause it to think about what you would do. If you were curious about different ways to study mahjong, I suggest you give the DVD sets a try.
The only thing about mahjong dvds are they are particularly hard to obtain and expensive sometimes. This set runs around 5000 yen, and can only be bought online. One alternative though for people living in Japan, is you can rent these DVDs through the various online rental websites. I rented this set through www.DMM.com which offers a month free trial.