Nani wo Kiru?! (What Would You Discard?!)

If Kindai Mahjong sounds familiar, it’s because they are the same company that put out the bi-monthly manga magazine that I reviewed last time. Like some of their other publications, this is actually a series, and all though fairly old, book one being from 1990, it’s still pretty easy to find. The best part is, it’s dirt cheap to pick up a copy of this publication. I got mine off of Amazon Japan for 100 yen! That’s 1 dollar! That’s less than the price of a coffee! I believe there are around 5 books in this particular series.

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There are many good things about this book and I’m sure by the time this review ends, it will seem more like a rave than a review, but I’ll try to keep my utter love of this series in check. This book is very simple. It’s all one shot quizzes. The book is set up so you can read it while you’re on the train, eating breakfast, or not doing your job. Each quiz can be solved in under 10 seconds, and even for people not proficient in Japanese, you can still pick through the explanations in probably under 5 minutes. The book is also small enough to fit in your pocket. There is an example of one of the quizzes to the right here. The following page gives you the right answer and an explanation why. There are also some cases where you get a “Second Opinion” in which another writer debates the first writer’s answer and gives what he believes is his “correct” answer.

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I like this book because it’s great for all skill levels. Even in just doing the first few quizzes I’ve been able to change my opinion on what is the best discard in certain situations. There are also 3 different kinds of quizzes totaling around 100 questions. The first is the simple “What would you Discard.” The second is “Quiz,” in which they show you a hand and ask questions like “What are the different ways this hand can go into tenpai. Or they give you a series of draws and discards and then ask you what the final yaku (Hand Point) is. Finally, there is the table quiz where they show you a picture of a current game and ask you what to discard based on the others’ hands. This is also really good because it gives you some tips on how to read others’ discards. There is a picture to the left here of the third kind of quiz.

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This is another merit of this book. Even if you speak no Japanese, you can still do most of the quizzes in this book. While you won’t be able to understand the explanations, you can still at least judge your decisions against what the pros view is the “best” way to get to tenpai. The Japanese used in this book isn’t terrible. A JLPT level 3 person with a dictionary should be able to pick through most of the explanations. The explanations are also usually no longer than a few sentences so you can even throw it in an online translator and get the idea of why a discard is considered the best.

Given the very cheap price, there is no reason not to pick up a copy of this book. It’s simple, easy Mahjong and I’d recommend it to anybody. On the difficulty scale, it’s a 2 or 3 out of 10. While it includes a list of yaku (HP) and scoring table, it still assumes you already know how to play the game. This is really a book that all skill levels can take advantage of though. On a language difficulty scale, it’s a 3 or 4 out of 10.

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