I'm gonna be real with you all. I know exactly two things about Mahjong: Jack and Shit. Normally this isn't a big deal, since even as somebody who watches a lot of anime it's rarely ever critical that I understand that particular game and its intricacies. But yet again The Day I Became a God has conspired to make a fool of me, this time by constructing an entire episode out of an extended game of mahjong. That's less than optimal at the best of times, but combined with this show's already over-the-top comedic sensibilities it makes for the closest I've ever come to having a nervous breakdown while watching a cartoon. It's fifteen straight minutes of people shouting about riichi's, poh's, yaku's, and I'm pretty sure there's something about Dora in there, but I have no clue if this one's an explorer or not.
To some extent that makes me relate harder to Yota, who also has no clue how to play and gets sucked into this by Hina in a misguided attempt to let him meet his celebrity crush: an attractive lawyer named Kako Tengan who's sponsoring a mahjong tournament. The rest of the episode is our hero Calvinball-ing his way to victory through luck, bluffs, and the apparent unbridled elasticity of the actual rules. I imagine this sequence could be pretty funny if I knew what in god's name was happening – something akin to watching my friends livetweet a pair of vtubers playing chess terribly, maybe. But for an ignorant American like me, this is one of the most culturally impenetrable anime episodes I've encountered since I tried watching Joshiraku without knowing what rakugo is. It just keeps going, and going, and after a while it almost felt like my brain had twisted itself around to understand whatever rancorous, mutated form of mahjong Yota and Hina had constructed. I'm pretty sure that means I can see all seven planes and converse with the Old Ones now.
The one and only saving grace of all of this is that in the end, it turns out this was all, somehow, an attempt by Hina to get Yota laid. Yes, apparently playing really bad(?) mahjong just gets Kako Tengan's juices flowing, and we're given the audacious and uncomfortable final scene of her “inviting” him to her hotel room with a dumptruck of mahjong puns, capping everything off with, of course, a double entendre about him giving up the chance to “score.” As somebody who peddles in terrorizing people with laborious puns I can't help but admire the audacity to spend an entire episode building up to a combination boardgame/dick joke. Sure it's still kinda creepy to see an adult propositioning a high school student, and Yota really needs to talk to his tiny god goblin about consent, but hey, where else am I gonna see something this stupendously, confidently dumb?
Though the episode isn't all mahjong. The extended cold open brings us back to Hacker Bro Suzuki hunting down an associate of his target, and learning that the mysterious physicist was obsessed with “quantifying love” in some fashion. I have no idea what that implies, or how it connects to anything with Hina or Yota, but at least this is the kind of nonsense I can understand. It's graceless, mildly obtuse, and totally disconnected from the main plot of this story, but by the gods I can at least gel with this kind of high-concept gobbledygook, and right now that's my life preserver in an episode that had me drowning under terminology I still don't understand. Please, stay on this level for the rest of the series Mr. Maeda. Don't go where I cannot follow you.
So yeah. At this point I've just made peace with having no idea where The Day I Became a God will go next. Maybe next episode will be about Yota and Asura starting competing hot dog stands. Maybe it'll be about Yota experiencing ego-death as he overdoses on PCP. Both are possible and could happen in the same episode at this point. For the record I'm still locked in on Jun's wild ride, but I'm increasingly uncertain whether I'll be smiling or screaming in the post-ride souvenir photo.
The Day I Became a God is currently streaming on Funimation.