21st Sep2020

How Gambling Made its Way into Japanese Anime

by James Smith

If you’re an avid anime fan, there’s a chance you known Kakegurui—Compulsive Gambler. This 2014 TV show brings together the children of Japan’s wealthiest people into an elite high school where gambling can buy you popularity or cast you into a pit of undesirables. That means gambling is a matter of life and death—figuratively, of course. If you want to be respected and popular, you have to win. Otherwise, you become a nobody among your friends regardless of your parent’s social statuses.

Although Kakegurui is sensational, edgy and controversial, it’s not the only gambling anime series in Japan. It is one of many anime shows that feature gambling scenes. Below are some of the best and why you should watch them.

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

This 25-episode series run on TV between 2007 and 2008 although you can still stream it on YouTube. It stars a jobless alcoholic (Kaiji Ito) who gets into trouble with a loan shark that lost 3.85 million Yen to one of Kaiji’s ex-workmates. The loan shark picks on Kaiji because they share one thing in common: a love for gambling. So, he gives the alcoholic an irresistible offer: Kaiji must gamble and win a tournament or get thrown into forced labor. Knowing the loan shark means business, Kaiji complies and gives us some of the most tense, fast paced gambling scenes anime has produced. There are also some anxiety-inducing scenes, especially when the shark threatens Kaiji’s life.

Rio: Rainbow Gate

Rainbow Gate shares the imagination of every casino player: playing with a dealer that helps you win. The croupier at Howard Resort Hotel doesn’t deal poker and blackjack, though. She takes her luck to the slot machines. And that’s even better. Slot machines pay out thousands and millions of pounds to winners. And they cost cheap to play. With that in mind, Rio Rollins not only blesses you with luck but she also gives you the skills to win when she’s away.

The Money of Soul and Possibly Control

Don’t get lost on the title—this isn’t a soap opera. Instead, it’s a show about business management, finance and of course gambling. It stars University student Kimimaro Yoga; a 19-year-old orphan with simple goals in life. On the one hand, he wants to get a degree in Economics and get any civil service jobs that can guarantee him a decent lifestyle. On the flip side, he wants to start a family and live happily ever after. For better or for worse, Kimimaro’s life takes a new twist when a man debits 500,000 Yen into his bank account. The same man gives him an ATM card the freshman can use anywhere. Unfortunately, using the free cash lands him into a contract that involves losing valuables in real-life when he loses gambling duels. The Money Soul is one of the best-rated anime series on Rotten Tomatoes 91%) and My Anime List (7.3/10). So, add it in your list of “to watch anime TV shows.” Better yet, find more info on gambling anime here. You’ll get more recommendations of casino-inspired Manga shows.

Akagi

Developed by the creator of Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, Akagi is one of the most commercially successful anime series out there. Since its original release in 1991, the TV show has sold over 12 million copies in Japan. It has also spawned a countless number of live-action adaptations, cartoons, comic books and video games. It starts by showing the life of Nango, a broke man who finds himself into trouble with the Yakuza because of unpaid debts. Luckily, he stumbles into a high school boy that teaches him to win the Japanese gambling game of mahjong. The teenager also helps Nango beat the yakuza and pay off his debt. The duo doesn’t last long, though. Akagi—the teenager—leaves Nango after partnering with detective Yasouka to participate in better paying tournaments. Afterwards, he takes a break to work at a factory. But after one of his co-workers gets into debt, he helps him pay them off through gambling.

Saki

Saki is another anime that centers on mahjong, one of the most gambling games in Japan. It focuses on high school freshwoman Miyanaga Saki. She’s excellent at Mahjong but hates it because she was forced into it at a young age. One day, her high school best friends invite her to the mahjong club. And suddenly she’s torn on whether to showcase her spectacular skills or to play them down. To complicate things, the club is involved in mahjong tournaments, so helping her friends would really impress them. Saki is a great TV show if you like series about high school life. It’s also a helpful guide into the world of mahjong. More importantly, it’s fun, gripping and full of suspense.

Mahjong Hishouden: Nako No Ryuu

If anime series seem to focus too much on mahjong, it’s because they do. As we mentioned, mahjong is insanely popular in Japan, which explains why producers keep producing shows based on the game. Mahjong Hishouden is the name of an experienced gambler that likes to take on gang members. He’s has one finisher move he calls Ron and it involves striking at the perfect moment. The series is short—three episodes. So, even if the main character has one notable move, it makes the most of it.

Stardust Crusaders

Although it doesn’t focus on gambling exclusively, Stardust Crusaders features a couple of gambling episodes every anime fan should watch. Jojo take’s the driver’s seat to play high-stakes poker against an unknown man in exchange for the soul of Joseph. The risk is that this is Jojo’s only chance to get his friend’s soul back. And as a bonus, he will also get the souls of everyone defeated by villain D’Arby. Will he succeeed? The unknown man is incredibly talented. But Jojo is determined to focus his entire body and soul into this life-changing game. The two episodes run for 40 minutes, and as mentioned, they are worth it.
______

Sponsored Post
Off

Comments are closed.