I told a friend irl to watch Akagi by telling him, "Akagi = Manliest anime character" and he watched it. He agreed, of course, after simply watching the godly episode 1. I asked another guy to watch it and he was like "meh". Some bitch girl who overheard was like "wuzat manly animu about?" When I said it was mahjong, she scoffed and said something about Japan running out of ideas for new anime.
You're pretty much right.