Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

March 18, 2017

You know what they say about gamblers being creature of habit. I’m sure there are lots more sayings about gamblers, their addiction, their greed and their baseless confidence they can win big each time but I don’t want to bore you with all those stuffs. This isn’t what this blog is about. Not so long ago, I did mention that I was hit by the survival genre bug after my stint with Mirai Nikki and Umineko No Naku Koro Ni. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is one of those suggested titles on my waiting list and now the time has come to own up and pay its dues. What makes this a bit different is that this series involves gambling and not so much of fantasy elements. I know that I dislike gambling (and it is a good thing since I know I never have much luck to begin with) but I was curious to see how a gambler survives from one hell to another with his so called luck. Hey, maybe I can learn a few tips from here and test my luck at the casino… NO WAY!!! STAY OUT OF GAMBLING, ME ESPECIALLY!

Limited Rock-Scissors-Paper
Kaiji Itou is a bum with no job. He drinks and gambles away. One day this creepy guy, Yuuji Endou comes into his place after he suspects him of vandalizing his luxury car. Kaiji panics and of course this led him to be taken away for a more serious discussion. It seems his friend, Takeshi Furuhata has gone missing and left behind a debt he has not even paid a single yen. As Kaiji is the guarantor, he must pay up and with compounding interests, it blows up to millions. However Endou gives him hope because there is a ship, Espoir that will give him a chance to free his entire debt and even walk away as a millionaire. Of course the game of high stakes will be gambling and he will be facing off with other debtors. Endou paints a picture of hope for him to pay off his debt all in one night instead of slogging for 20 years. Kaiji is hesitant at first but Endou receives a call that there are only a couple of places left. Kaiji then decides to take the plunge. Of course all this was just a ploy to get him to participate. Now he is on board along with the rest with similar fate. Hosted by Yukio Tonegawa, they are given their ‘war funds’ in which a million yen is the minimum. There is a catch that the interest is compounded 40% every 10 minutes. Of course everyone protests at this craziness but what choice do they have? What right do they have? While many opt for the minimum, there are some brave enough to take the maximum of 10 million. Kaiji also can’t be considerate about others and takes the maximum. They are explained the first game. Inside their envelopes contain cards of rock, scissors and paper. They have a limit of placing their hand depending on their cards’ availability. They are also given 3 stars each. Every hand they win, they take a star. At the end of the 4 hour time limit, they win if they can maintain 3 stars. But even if they have more stars but have not finished their cards, they are still considered as lost.

Kaiji meets this guy Jouji Funai who proposes to team up since they are the only ones who took the maximum funds. At first Kaiji is hesitant but Funai mentions he has been on board this ship several times and that you can buy stars with money. After Kaiji agrees to team up, they play each other and draw their hand 9 times. But on the 10th hand, Funai betrays him and wins his hand. He also wins the 11th hand. He leaves Kaiji with only a star left. Kaiji feels betrayed but it is useless to cry betrayal since he let his fate being decided by others. Besides, it’s not like Funai broke any rules. Kaiji then sees his friend Furuhata who is also shock to see him. He proposes to team up. Although they have money and cards, they lack stars and go to find someone who has stars and no cards. Mamoru Andou is their perfect guy as the trio pool their resources to get the necessary stars.

However Andou almost betrays them when he steals a card and plays it. And lost. Saying sorry won’t cut it but Kaiji won’t kick him out of the group even if he knows well Andou was going to betray them anyway because it won’t do them any good. So with only 4 cards left and all of them scissors, Kaiji deduces a dangerous strategy. He has them find a man with more than half cards left and many stars while Kaiji himself goes to buy more stars. However nobody is going to sell to him at this point. When his buddies find the match, Kaiji knows exactly how this man plays. Kaiji pretends to be desperate to get him to play since this guy likes to kill off those with only 1 star left. Kaiji is hinging dangerously on this balance theory. Normally you would discard your cards so you would have a balanced set at all times. Kaiji wins the first round knowing this guy would use paper (since he has more of it). In the second round, Kaiji loses. But this is all part of his plan to make him get confident and blinded by his own balance theory. In the third round, Kaiji wins and in the final round Kaiji also beats him since this guy cannot believe he has 4 scissors in a row.

Thinking of their next strategy, Kaiji realizes something about the balance of the remaining cards. He gets this idea to buy up the rock cards. When time runs out, it will give them a winning chance against the scissors cards. Using their funds to buy rock cards from gamblers with 3 stars, they wait and take turns to check to balance of cards left. However they realize that scissors cards are dropping at a faster rate. Kaiji then realizes somebody else is also buying up the paper cards and thus scissors cards are declining because they have been drawing. With panic setting in, Furuhata and Andou rush to play their hand to avoid their rock cards being useless. They lost. Back to square one. That is when they are approached by Kitami and his group. They are the ones who bought out the paper cards. He praises Kaiji for coming up with this strategy and sees them as worthy opponents. That’s why they have decided to play them as their last opponents. He offers to sell his stars but Kaiji refuses and instead wants to play him in a death match. They will play until one loses all his stars.

However Kitami refuses so Kaiji will settle for just one game. But Kaiji throws down all his money as his wager and bet 3 stars on this single game. Since Kitami has enough stars even if he loses, Kaiji will convince his pals to lend theirs. Kitami will not wait so Kaiji offers all his money if he cannot convince them in 5 minutes. With his friends being selfish, negative and pessimistic, Kaiji hits hard on the need to move forward. There is not much time left. Eventually they manage to agree but Kitami wants to chicken out. This is when Kaiji shoots back about him being a coward. After it has come to this, he wants to back out? So the match begins. Kitami has a bad feeling about this but at this point as per the rules, he cannot change his card or pull out. Kaiji explains from all his actions and words that he exactly knows what extra odd card he has and put out. I don’t really understand the technical aspects but whatever. It seems Kaiji still has a scissors card and wins against Kitami’s paper card. Luckily Kaiji bought this earlier on as insurance. The 30 rock cards were just for them to draw out later on.

Kitami’s group is now arguing among themselves. Kaiji proposes they buy 30 paper cards. His friends manage to get 20 paper cards. Kaiji now talks to Kitami and wants to be his saviour. He tells him his buddies have sold him out and sold their paper cards to them. But for Kitami’s case, he needs to give his money if he wants Kaiji to take his paper cards. Kitami does so and now Kaiji’s group has obtained the necessary cards. They have now 30 rocks, 5 scissors and 34 papers. Kaiji is then approached by Funai who wants to buy some cards. This guy has already more than enough stars and he wants to win more? He is willing to pay upfront his star for cards but Kaiji refuses when Funai tells him to betray his friends. When it’s time to move in, nobody wants to play with them. This is because of all the distrust and the scamming everyone at this point has seen. Their only choice is to wait till more cards are whittled. Then Funai voices out. At this rate everyone will lose because of the suspicions of knowing what card they have. He suggests to start anew and shuffle their cards among each other. This of course puts a damper in Kaiji’s buyout strategy. With more and more people joining Funai’s group, Kaiji’s group also has no choice but to join in.

Counting the cards and types, it seems it doesn’t tally. Somebody out there is holding 3 scissors cards. Anyway Funai reshuffles them and redistributes them. To buy time, he throws and scatters Kaiji’s 69 cards. After picking them up, Kaiji realizes he has all the paper cards. He sees Funai trying to make someone play with him. That guy is hesitating so when Kaiji offers to play, Funai reveals the buyout trick. Now everybody doesn’t want to play with Kaiji. Kaiji feels betrayed and wants to get physical. But when he realizes Funai was going to call his opponent his victim, he realizes that everything was a scam setup by Funai. He recalls the suspicious moves Funai made during the reshuffling. He counted the types of cards remaining instead of the whole is so he could mark them. Victims he targeted, he marked the card by marking a scar. Since he was the one who finally distributed the cards, the shuffling by everyone was a false sense of security. Even more so Funai distributed them randomly instead of in a pre-ordered manner. With that, nobody wants to play with Funai but this doesn’t make Kaiji and co’s situation better. Kaiji realizes a loophole and can win but it is dangerous. He goes to talk to the remaining guys to play him. Although Kaiji knows their cards, he will forfeit his choice in choosing which cards to play. This means he will lie face down 3 cards in which the opponent will pick for him to play. Kaiji wins against the first opponent but loses to the second and third one. However this didn’t matter because it is to lure Funai as the last person to play with him. They will settle everything and he will pay him back for all the betrayal.

However Funai will not play him and calls out to the guy who has the remaining 3 scissors cards. He will even give him enough stars to survive. However nobody responds. Kaiji then reminds him about an earlier incident when a guy was thrown out for trying to flush down his cards. Therefore there is no other players left on the field with cards except them. Funai tries to set the deal to play him but Kaiji will not accept less than 5 stars. Either way it will be the same for him. How? Because now they have 66 cards. Playing 1 with Funai means they have 65. If they draw, one will still be holding a card left and will go down. Kaiji will take the fall. So it is either Funai plays him or sinks with him. No choice, Funai plays and loses but this saves him. Kaiji’s group has a total of 10 stars now and even though they draw the remaining cards, Kaiji takes the fall with the single card left and is sent to the other room. Furuhata and Andou thank him and vow to save him. In the other room, he is stripped naked and put into a room with other losers behind a one-way mirror. He meets Okabayashi and Kouji Ishida who have been waiting for this moment. They have been sending out signals to their teammates for them to win. Because in the aftermath, those with 1 or 2 stars still have an option to buy stars. However they have 10 minutes to do so. Ishida realizes he has been betrayed because the person he teamed up with is now in the winner’s room. Kaiji is relieved that Furuhata and Andou get permission to save him. But when the bidding starts, all the desperate losers hound them to buy stars. Furuhata manages to sell and give one but are they going to do the same to the rest? They need the remaining 3 to save Kaiji. However after seeing the money, Andou decides not to sell the stars and doesn’t care about him.

Andou explains about the debt they’ll rake up if they save Kaiji. If they cut him off, they stand to pocket 10 million each if they leave this ship. While Kaiji is furious, there is nothing he can do as Furuhata even agrees to go with Andou. They start bidding to others to sell their excess stars. Okabayashi mocks Kaiji about friendship and money and everything about it. Because he has some money in hand, Okabayashi’s friends save him. As he is about to leave, Kaiji beats him up till the guards restrain him. Ishida wonders why he did that futile attempt but Kaiji has a plan. He notices Okabayashi does not have enough cash to pay for his freedom. This means he must have hid extra cash somewhere else. Only he knows the location or else his friends would have betrayed him. Because carrying so much cash will be dangerous at this point, he must have converted into some precious metal. Noticed the bandage on his back? It is where he hid his jewels! Once Okabayashi realizes it is missing, it is Kaiji’s turn to have the last laugh. He forces Okabayashi’s friends to save him if they want the jewels. They beat up Okabayashi and are forced to rescue Kaiji. Ishida can only lament by himself since he had already given up from the start. Once Kaiji is out, Andou and Furuhata are in shock. Save your explanation. He beats up Andou and slaps Furuhata. He takes back his stars and cash. He is sick of it all as he uses all his cash to buy the stars to free Ishida. Of course he is as poor as f*ck like them. Kaiji explains he is disgusted with everything that has happened on Espoir. The more they talk about money and fortune, the more they are being played into the hands of those who love watching them wallow in despair. He kicks a counter till it topples over? Well, it was a harrowing life and death experience he was hanging by a thread indeed.

Of the 103 participants, only 67 barely escaped. But only 29 managed to clear all debts. Although Kaiji has cleared his external debts of 3 million, he has new debts totalling to over 6 million from the ship. Kaiji is now working part time in a convenience store with an hourly pay of 900 Yen and his boss hates him. He finds it hard working in an environment with everyone being fake. One night before he leaves, the boss couldn’t find his envelope containing money. Of course he wants to search Kaiji’s bag but he wouldn’t. Calling him suspicious, Kaiji decides to gamble with him. If he checks and finds his money, Kaiji will pay a million. Otherwise Kaiji will get 100,000 Yen from him. The boss things he has hid the money somewhere that’s why he is confident of this gamble. This makes Kaiji mad and wants to kick his ass but his colleague, Makoto Sahara stops him. Later Sahara catches up with Kaiji to tell him that he too was suspected and searched. He quit on the spot. Kaiji knew he was the culprit. Because he must have stolen it and hid it somewhere and when the boss searched him and gave him the green light, quitting means he got a clean escape. Sahara admits to it and decides to treat Kaiji. After all, he hid the envelope in his bag! Kaiji is not impressed but Sahara is also observant. He can tell Kaiji is always suspicious when someone enters a door. Like as though somebody is after him. Sahara even plays a prank on him by leaving him a number supposedly from a man in black. So when Kaiji calls, it turns out to be Sahara’s handphone.

Human Derby
Kaiji is not impressed but on his way back, he sees Endou before him. Kaiji ignores him but Endou offers him another chance to clear off his debt in a single night. He is gathering participants for another party this weekend at a hotel. Kaiji will not accept but Sahara wants to participate. Kaiji tries to persuade Sahara this is a trap but Sahara thinks this is the only way a useless person like him can break out. Kaiji thinks he can repay back the debt with honest hard work but Endou calls him foolish and to open his eyes. With interests, his debts are already increased. At this rate he will only finish paying his debt in over 16 years. By that time he is already 40 years old. Can he wait around so long? Endou shows him 20 million and with more sweet talk for him to grab this chance. After some hard thinking, Kaiji takes up the offer. I mean, what has he got to lose, right? Right?!

Arriving at the basement of the hotel, he is not impressed to see Ishida here too. He suggests teaming up but Kaiji reminds him they are all enemies. Also here is Sahara. Kaiji sees some familiar faces from Espoir and those are the people he must be wary of. When the game begins, the 60 participants are told will be sent in groups of 12. They need volunteers for the first group. No other questions may be asked. At first everyone hesitates but after some volunteer and Kaiji realizes none are from Espoir, he too volunteers. Sahara and Ishida also volunteer to make up the first group. They are then put in a vertical coffin in which they can feel they are being carried and elevated. Once they reach the destination, they see the game. They are on a high elevation and must cross the steel beam. The first one wins it. There’s prize for second place too. However below are gamblers betting and cheering for them to run across. Everyone is shock in the first place but when the first one walks over and falls off, breaking all his bones, the betters laugh. Kaiji decides to take this opportunity to go but somebody in his lane jumps on him. With everyone finally moving, Kaiji realizes the beam is thinning. How can he overtake the guy in front? He has to push him off! That is what the crowd is cheering on. He better be fast because the guy behind him is catching up. Kaiji hesitates to push since he is feeling guilt. But soon after many others on other beams starts pushing.

Kaiji psychos himself about the dog eat dog world. Kill or be killed. So is he going to push after all that? Nah. He won’t push. But the guy behind him will. They struggle and although all 3 fall off, they manage to grab onto the beam. As per rules, touching it with your hands means disqualification. In the end, Sahara wins first place and Ishida takes second place. In the room where they wait, they can hear the next group participating. Even without watching, they can tell what happened. The later the groups, the lesser the survivors and the final group has only 1 man left standing. The winners are then given an envelope. However Sahara is mad that it isn’t cash but a ticket worth 20 million. Everyone is then ushered to the next stage. They are reminded that the ticket has an expiry date to cash in. That’s 2 hours from now.

Electric Current Steel Frame Crossing
They have to walk across another steel beam to reach a room opposite where they can cash it. Only catch is that this is 22 storeys high. Falling off means death. Since there is one spot for the second place open, the other survivors are welcome to join in. Although Sahara scorns at this sh*t, he is told off how normal people will slog their entire work life just to save this amount. You useless people participated in a game that didn’t even last 20 minutes and expect something great? If you want big money, you must risk your life for it. They are assured this one is real. If they reach it, they’ll get the cash. No strings attached. Kaiji accepts this challenge since this is not a competition and doesn’t have to push anyone off. He can take his time to cross. However there is just one slight change to the rule. The beam is also electrified. So if they touch it with their hands, their disqualification will also send them plunging to their deaths. With a few participants deciding to go for this death match, Sahara hesitates at first but decides to join in.

With 10 participants, those who do not participate are ushered away. Now all that is left is for them is to choose the order they are going. Kaiji motivates everyone up that they can do but Tonegawa knows it better. This false motivation is just hiding their fear. All will change when they cross halfway. Unknown to the participants, they are being filmed and watched by a group of powerful and wealthy people who control the world of money. These people have gotten over betting and gambling and are simply enjoying the despair of others. In other words, ultimate sadists. With 2 beams to cross, the participants get a move on. Halfway through, Kaiji suddenly starts hesitating. Fear catches up to him. It made him realize he wants to live. He doesn’t want to money and doesn’t care if he has debts up till 40. Things start to take a turn for the worse when a cold wind blows. Although it is for a short while, the first guy up ahead, Ota continues to feel the chills. Kaiji desperately tries to tell him it is all in his mind but Ota is already at his limits. He touches the beam, gets electrocuted and falls to his death. This leads to another guy can’t take this anymore. He tries to turn back but slips and falls. At this point with the others realizing they don’t want the damn prize and just wants to live, Kaiji tells Tonegawa to shut off the power because they don’t want to win anymore. However they’re not going to. They’ve been told the risks and dangers of the game and yet they want to back out when confronted with the situation. It shows they have never taken life seriously and never will. And then the inevitable happens.

One by one a chain reaction has the rest falling off. Only Kaiji, Sahara and Ishida are left. While Sahara screws it all and continues walking ahead, Ishida is too scared to move. It might seem over for him when he starts losing his balance but surprisingly he recovers. However he knows he cannot hold on much longer. He passes his ticket to Kaiji and hopes he can win it for him and pass it to his wife who is in debt because of him. Kaiji doesn’t care about all that and wants Ishida to do it himself. However Ishida realizes himself as a useless loser who baulks at the end. Kaiji is different. He is the kind who rises up to the occasion and can win. Kaiji tells Ishida he is the greatest human because in his last moment he could still think of somebody else other than himself. The next time Kaiji looks back, Ishida is already gone. Kaiji is distraught to realize Ishida fell silently so as not to agitate him. Kaiji and Sahara trudge on but the wind is starting to keep up. Their voices assure each other and keep the other ‘warm’. It might seem Sahara has lost it but he makes a mad dash and jumps. He manages to cling on to the ledge of the finish point. However Kaiji could see smiling people behind the window. He feels something amiss and warns Sahara not to open. Unfortunately when he opens the window, the difference in pressure causes a gust of wind and blows Sahara off!

Kaiji sees people standing behind the window on the floor above. Then he could see… Magical stairs? He is not seeing things. There seems to be a hidden flight of glass stairs. Could this be a secret path? He is suspicious at first it might be a trap but decides to take the plunge. Once his feet lands on the solid glass, he screams victory. Once he enters the building, the organizers congratulate him but Kaiji is not impressed and wants his money now. Unfortunately Tonegawa tells him he forfeited that right during the crossing. Remember he told him to cut the power and doesn’t want the money? Well, they did cut the power but there were some delays in doing so. So it was at that point Kaiji and co forfeited their right. Kaiji is mad and wants to kill him. However the big boss, Kazutaka Hyoudou wants to give Kaiji another chance seeing it was their fault they delayed the power cut. He views Kaiji as different and rare that the other trash. He wants to test his ability and agility of his soul via this game, E Card. Of course the risk is high and he stands to get back 100 million. He won’t be forced to participate but if he chooses not to, they can’t pay his compensation for crossing the bridge. Kaiji reluctantly agrees so as not to make the other deaths in vain.

He is shocked when he stumbles into the room filled with participants who broke their bones falling off the first bridge. Hyoudou seems to be enjoying hurting them. He explains he never helped anyone even when he is loaded with money. He trusts the truth of this principle that no matter how much he hurts them, he doesn’t feel their pain. It all boils down to his own happiness. He believes all these losers want him to torture them. For money. So for every pain they feel, he throws them money. He adds about kings and the poor in his explanation. The poor can overthrow the king if they don’t desire money. However kings will always rule over the poor as long as the poor keeps thinking about money. Money that they need just to become kings. A fruitless paradox they cannot escape. As long as the king provides sufficient comfort, uprisings will not happen no matter how hard kings drive them.

E Card
Tonegawa explains E Card. Each player will have 10 cards of 3 variants: 1 Emperor, 8 Citizens and 1 Slave. Emperor > Citizen > Slave > Emperor. You either take the Emperor or Citizen’s side. As Kaiji has wagered his life and there is no money to bet, Kaiji will now have to wager losing his sight or hearing. They will bet in millimetres and Kaiji as 30mm safety. The minimum bet is 1mm. If Kaiji wins, he gets 100,000 Yen but this is amplified if he bets more millimetres. That is only on the Emperor side. If he is on the Slave side, the reward is 5 times more. Since there is a maximum of 12 rounds, this is a relatively safe game for Kaiji since he can make the minimum bet and not lose his wager at all. But if he wants to clear his 20 million debt, he has to take the big risk. Kaiji scorns this benevolence of theirs since they showed no mercy when they let the other participants fall to their death. But still, Kaiji is going to win as he has already come this far. Kaiji choses the Emperor’s side first and wagers his hearing. He bets 10mm. Might as well go all the way. As the first round begins, the first card has them tie with Citizens. Kaiji puts up Emperor which beats Tonegawa’s Citizen. His first win earns him a million bucks. The second round, Kaiji follows the same pattern and also wins another million. Kaiji is getting pretty confident but Tonegawa’s wary smile throws caution to the wind. In the third round, Kaiji decides to change his pattern and put his Emperor on the third card. But it seems Tonegawa can read his mind and puts out his Slave. Kaiji loses and the drill inches 10mm closer. It’s deafening. Kaiji thinks Tonegawa’s mind reading is a bluff. Tonegawa claims he is only 50% right in his deduction. He has gambled so much that he can read people’s minds through experience. During the break, Kaiji checked the cards for any markings but none. Even Tonegawa knows about this and assures him they will not do such petty things. In fact they should be wary if Kaiji does any marking.

With the fourth round, Kaiji and Tonegawa switches card sides. Kaiji bets 2mm. First card has them both put Citizens. The second card Kaiji puts Slave but Tonegawa’s card is Citizen. For the fifth round, Kaiji thinks Tonegawa might put out his Emperor first but after all that thinking, thinks he won’t and true enough both put out Citizen. Kaiji is starting to feel the pressure of trying to guess what kind of card Tonegawa is going to put out and all his theories might not be relevant at this point. He thought of using fear as his trump card thinking that Tonegawa has more to fear if he loses to him. Although Kaiji cannot sense Tonegawa’s fear, he wants to try create it. He chooses Slave as his second card but Tonegawa puts Citizen. Kaiji is inching closer to breaking down so on the sixth round, Kaiji bets 10mm. He also uses his same tactic but surprisingly Tonegawa plays Emperor on his second card. Switching sides now, Kaiji is now starting to fear that he bets 1mm (seeing there are only 6 games left and 6 mm to his eardrum). Tonegawa explains why he knows what card Kaiji is putting. Kaiji might think this is a psychological game but it involves emotions too. Tonegawa has observed very well Kaiji’s habits, the character he puts forth when he puts out certain cards. It’s like reading him like a book. Fearful Kaiji puts out Emperor on his first card in the seventh round but Tonegawa has Slave! For the eighth round, Kaiji puts up his first 4 Citizen cards and Tonegawa matches them. This means knowing their last cards in hand, Tonegawa automatically wins. Kaiji is close to losing it. His hearing and his sanity.

For the ninth round on the second card, Kaiji wants to put out Emperor. But he hesitates greatly and ends up putting forth Citizen. He is regretting his decision when surprisingly Tonegawa’s card is Slave! This unexpected win for Kaiji makes Hyoudou mad as he beats up Tonegawa for losing a match he is supposed to win. On the tenth round, Kaiji loses again. Then he starts to think deeply certain words Tonegawa said as hints that would have put him at disadvantage. Factoring in Hyoudou’s actions, he thinks they are cheating. But how are they seeing his cards? There are no other cheats. The only ones who can see his cards is himself. He notices Tonegawa isn’t really looking at his cards but his own watch. It must have some sort of transmitter that sends Kaiji’s heartbeat to him. The ear device must be transmitting the data. Making Kaiji choose the device was just eliminating his suspicions and giving him a fake sense of security. Kaiji thinks he has a way to win. Learning that the device can drill up to 45mm and he is already at 27mm, Kaiji beats the remaining 18mm. Tonegawa is surprised and reminds him doing so might get killed but Hyoudou is more than happy to accept it since coincidentally if Kaiji wins the remaining 2 matches, he can clear all his debts. Kaiji needs time to think and washes himself in the toilet. A spectator talks to him and like the rest wants him to survive and they don’t want him to be reckless. Kaiji gets an idea and has this guy help him out. First he punches the mirror. Then he bangs his head like as though he wants to destroy the device. Tonegawa knows what he is doing as he can still read his body readings. Kaiji then takes a glass and cuts!

Kaiji returns for the 11th game and Tonegawa can still read Kaiji’s readings although he thinks some of them are off. Maybe it is the loss of blood. First card as usual, both Citizens. For the second card, Tonegawa tests him by showing a Citizen. Kaiji’s shock reaction but his readings don’t reflect it means he is bluffing. So Tonegawa puts out his Emperor, causing Kaiji to go into tears. The baddies are relishing to see his death when Kaiji opens his Slave card! That is when Tonegawa realizes too late. Kaiji cut his ear and the device is in the hands of one of the participants, that is why the readings were off. Hyoudou is so disappointed in Tonegawa and berates him as a man who can only take instructions but fail to rise up in emergencies. He is going to get demoted, blah, blah, blah. At this point, Kaiji thinks of taking advantage of Tonegawa letting his guard down but it is a risky trap. If he doesn’t take it now, when will he? Kaiji gives Tonegawa a chance to redeem his honour for the final game.

Hyoudou praises Kaiji for taking risks unlike others who want to stay in their comfort zone. Therefore if Kaiji wins, he will give him his money and make Tonegawa grovel in apology and more as per his request. Otherwise he dies. Another device is placed on his ear. For the first time Tonegawa is panicking because he has no instruments to read. So he is taking an awful long time to decide that Kaiji chides him for it. This riles up Tonegawa but he thinks this might be Kaiji’s tactic to catch him off guard. Tonegawa puts Citizen on the first card. Kaiji expects it. A draw. For the second card, Tonegawa notices blood stains on it. He remembers they are the cards played on the previous round so it could either be Citizen or Slave. Both put out Citizen. Tonegawa is confident his other stained card is Slave but then he has qualms if this is a trap. Maybe he wiped it clean. He opts of Citizen and Kaiji does the same. The final battle in the fourth card. Tonegawa sees Kaiji putting forth a blood stained card and is sure it is Slave. But then he hesitates. What if this is an elaborate trap? Kaiji may have purposely stained the cards and then switched them in a bid to make him think so. Therefore both stained cards are Citizens. He may look like he is in pain but he is a sneaky backstabbing snake underneath all that. That’s why he is a warrior. After all that contemplation, Tonegawa puts forth is Emperor. Kaiji then thanks him for being the snake. Tonegawa thought of reading other person’s thoughts but end up asking himself what to do in that situation. That makes him the snake. Kaiji unveils his card: Slave! Kaiji wins the impossible!

Tonegawa wants an explanation as he thought Kaiji switched his card. This strategy worked because Tonegawa suspected him. Kaiji did switch cards but not as he thought. He just switched them closer. Despite Hyoudou complained about him, Kaiji knew and respected Tonegawa as first rate. A guy like him would notice the blood stains and come up with all that analysis. Because Tonegawa views himself superior than all the other scums and trash of society as he has always won, setting him apart from the rest and cultivating his arrogance. With Kaiji winning, now he wants Tonegawa to kneel and apologize. However Hyoudou doesn’t think it is that simple. Tonegawa might kneel as much as he wants but the question is the sincerity of the heart. Hyoudou knows what it means because he was betrayed before. Borrowers apologized to borrow money but when it is time to repay, they disappear and the sincerity gone. Therefore to truly test one’s sincerity, Tonegawa will kneel on this burning iron platform! He will do so for at least 10 seconds. Failure to do so, he will repeat it as much as it takes. If he doesn’t want to do it, there is a contraption that will make him do it. Of course Tonegawa will do it himself. He begins the kneeling and it seems like eternity. It is just painful watching him get burnt and Kaiji even cries for him! Eventually Tonegawa lasted 12 seconds and passed out. Later in the toilet, Kaiji realizes he was mistaken. Tonegawa isn’t the real enemy. He was just a puppet like all of them. The real enemy is Hyoudou as he revelled in watching others in pain. He wants to fight him and avenge his fallen friends for real but the others persuade him he already has won the impossible, the money enough to clear his debts to start anew. He relents since he has no plan on how to take Hyoudou down. They help him do first aid and even bring back his cut ear, giving hope the hospital might reattach it. They thank Kaiji for fighting and winning for them too. But when Kaiji leaves with them, he gets inspiration on how to defeat the final boss.

Tissue Box Lottery
So this tissue box gives him inspiration? He notices that instead from the top, the side can be opened too. Based on the box’s design, he notices a small slip of paper can be inserted from the side and won’t fall out. It is well hidden and can be pulled out from the inside. Taking paper towels and a pen, he has set up the perfect final gamble: Lottery. It will be a game to see how can be the first to draw the winning paper. Of course he will hide that paper inside this secret side. He will hide this in all the boxes so that when a subordinate brings in any one of the boxes, Kaiji’s victory can be assured. But isn’t this cheating? Kaiji points out everyone has been cheating from the start. If he is going to it, he will be going all out to win. The rest argue about the shortfalls which include the chance of Hyoudou picking up the winning paper on his first try. I guess there is that small risk. What if after Kaiji picks the winning paper and they check the box only to find another winning card? So he’ll lie his way? What if they check the other tissue boxes? One will stay behind and after the subordinate picks it, he’ll flush the evidence down the toilet. There are other tissue boxes from other manufacturers which means not the same design. Hide that. Kaiji is ready and now talks to Hyoudou to convince him to gamble. However Hyoudou argues Kaiji must be feeling lucky now and must know when to stop. When Kaiji thinks he is chickening out and will be embarrassed by his defeat, Hyoudou doesn’t think so. Why should he feel embarrassed? He knows he cannot win all the time like how pros cannot always win against every amateur. Kaiji knows he is trying to give forced excuses. He is relentless on mistakes and losses of others but on himself he quickly worms his way out. It makes Tonegawa and his fallen comrades better people than him.

After all that bugging, Hyoudou agrees. But Kaiji won’t play E Card or any other game he suggests in fear there will be cheating. So as not to make it look suspicious, Kaiji acts and pretends to think of a game. Then he ‘gets an idea’ and starts ‘creating’ it. At first he draws many uneven circles to throw on the floor. This is to avoid suspicions when they check the box after the game, there will be many circles to hide it. When a subordinate brings in the tissue box, Kaiji checks it and then lets Hyoudou check it. Nothing. Pass. After emptying it, Hyoudou sounds like he doesn’t want to go through with it because for such a simple game he took a long time to prepare. But he’ll play along at Kaiji’s request although he has a few conditions. First, the winning paper cannot be crumpled or else he might be hiding a pre-prepared one and just take it out. Secondly, before reaching one’s hand in the box, they have to roll up their sleeves and show they’re not hiding anything. Hyoudou will also like to go first. Because if by chance Kaiji picks the winning paper on the first go, it’ll be a shame Hyoudou won’t even have a chance to play. Last, the wager. Hyoudou suggests betting 100 million each. Kaiji certainly doesn’t have that much money. That’s why he will wage his fingers! 20 million each! So he’ll lose 4 in total. Kaiji reconsiders if the risk is worth it. Losing outweighs than what he has now but since he has come this far, he can’t back down. He’ll bet his fingers. Hyoudou is revved up. To make it look like fair, they both insert the winning paper inside together. Hyoudou draws first. And then he trolls Kaiji like as though he pulled the winning paper! A blank. Gotcha! Yeah, Kaiji is scared the sh*t out of his pants. Now it is Kaiji’s turn. He inserts his hand and tries to grab it at the secret location. It’s not there. Try again. Not there. Really. Oh sh*t. OH SH*T!!!! Panic sets in as he wonders if it got loose and dropped somewhere. He prays to God harder than ever to win on his first try by chance. Did God listen to his prayer? No. Blank. This only gives fuel to Hyoudou to taunt him more because it’s like giving him a second chance, no?

Could Hyoudou be trolling again because he is saying crap like he is going to use his luck to win this time. He could have used it the first time but wanted to give Kaiji a chance. So as Kaiji is hoping is call is a bluff and praying a miracle would happen, he unthinkable happen. Hyoudou pulls out the winning paper! It’s true! Kaiji is in despair but instead of begging for his life, he accepts his loss and to lose with pride. Hyoudou respects him and gives him this winning paper as luck for next time. Kaiji loses his money and his fingers. In the aftermath when they check the box, they don’t see the winning paper they planted. But Kaiji noticed a paper crumpled up in the corner. It turns out to be their planted winning paper. Then Kaiji realizes how Hyoudou pulled off this miracle. This paper had a crease. It was folded. When they both put in the paper together, Hyoudou folded it to mark it. When he went first, he must have took the planted paper and crumpled it. But how did Hyoudou know of this plan? Because after witnessing Kaiji’s match with Tonegawa, he knows Kaiji is the kind of guy who would think instead of relying on luck in a game of high stakes. This means the moment he accepted the 100 million pay-out, Hyoudou knew Kaiji had setup something. But Kaiji knows he has himself to blame. He realizes he could have won because Hyoudou gave him 1 chance. But instead Kaiji did what he should not: Prayed to God. He should know better than to rely on something else other than himself. No use thinking in retrospect, right? Well, let’s hope he could get his revenge on Hyoudou the next time. If that ever happens.

Season 2

Hell
Kaiji is back to his old sloth ways and because he has raked up almost 10 million in debt, he is on the run from MIBs. His debt includes reattachment of his ear and fingers from underground clinics. He thought he found salvation when he meets Endou. Actually that guy has been demoted to collect debts. He is not pleased Kaiji is begging to him for another gamble and is sure to win. But Endou knocks him out and brings him to a place where he will be working for 15 years to clear his debts. It is an underground hard labour where the disappeared go. They even have their own currency, perica. It is the same routine every day so Kaiji plans to escape. He knows the tight security and taking hostage is futile. So he is going to work and save hard so he could buy a single day off in which he will go gamble and win big. Payday comes and Kaiji starts saving his money. However the foreman, Ootsuki tempts him with beer on the house. Kaiji drinks it and feels good. He couldn’t resist the temptation as he buys more beer and snacks to spoil himself as Ootsuki tells it to him. He thought he could resist the next time but succumbs to temptation again. Before he knows it, Kaiji has blown more money than he can save. Can he last till the end of the month? That is when Ootsuki moves in and can advance him some money. Of course there must be something in it for him too. So if Kaiji has no money, how can he earn more? Ootsuki suggests going back to his old ways of gambling. Kaiji agrees to participate after being convinced he can get double the amount and pay off his debts to Ootsuki tonight.

Underground Chinchiro
Ootsuki gets special permission to hold a gambling session. Since we have Kaiji and a young newbie, Tomohiro Miyoshi first time playing this triple dice game called chinchiro, we are explained some of the rules. It’s a bit confusing so I’m going to skip a little. What I understand is that you have 3 tries to roll the 3 dice. The goal is to get a pair and the odd one out is your number. The one with the highest number among the players wins. So if you don’t get any pairs and all are different numbers, you go bust. Of course there are special rules like those with double, triple or big pay outs like getting triplets or 4-5-6 roll. Then there are underground rules special only applied to this place like the dealer cannot win automatically on the first go and the dealer can pass. As the game begins, Kaiji makes small bets just to feel the flow. But as the game goes on, he cannot get the flow and despite his winnings, the amount is so small that it frustrates him. Then he decides to take a gamble with a big bet of 3,000. It is Miyoshi’s turn as dealer and he rolls the weakest play. The bowl is now at Kaiji’s hands as he begins his roll. For the first time he has bad luck. He rolls again and by the third roll, he hits the ultimate worst combination of 1-2-3. This means his loss is doubled. The angry gambler inside him hates losing and instead of backing down, he pushes his luck again in the next round betting again another 3,000. When he increases his bet to 5,000, lady luck shines on him and he wins big with 4-5-6.

So when it is his turn as dealer now, everyone else is scared and only places small amounts. This frustrates Kaiji but Ootsuki and his lackey, Isawa decide to ‘celebrate’ his big bet by placing the maximum 20,000. This means if Kaiji loses, he cannot afford to pay them back and will have to take another advance. This leads Kaiji to berate him as a worst human being. He lashes out that Ootsuki leeches off on the hard work and pay of others by offering the same food and drinks. He also knows everyone here has ganged up against him to break him. Kaiji rolls and he rolls a strong number. Everyone takes their turn to roll and fails to get any better. Kaiji wins big. He has enough to pay off his advances and still has some for himself. Kaiji is revelling in his victory but as dealer he must go another round. Kaiji rolls another strong number and becomes very confident (bordering arrogant) that he can win this. So when Ootsuki reminds him that everyone still has a chance to win no matter how small it is and the reliance of willpower, Kaiji laughs it off. When Isawa rolls, he gets 4-5-6. And when Ootsuki rolls, he gets triplets. Luck has abandoned Kaiji as he has to pay double and triple respectively. This means the money he has now cannot cover the pay out and he is back in debt hell of 20,000.

Kaiji along with Miyoshi received only half pay as the rest are taken by Ootsuki. These men are called 45s. Kaiji has given up to get his day off seeing it is impossible to save up that much and that vacation still depends on management’s approval. So he enjoys himself with whatever pay he has. But when a colleague gets sick and is thrown into the medic room where many others also face the same predicament, he becomes scared in learning men whose bodies have broken down will never return because you need money to cover medical expenses. Debt for life. This convinces Kaiji to save up but his weak resolve means he is tempted to blow it again. This is when Miyoshi stops him and thinks they can save for their day off. Kaiji thinks he is only positive because of his small win. Miyoshi shows the data record of the chinchiro. Kaiji notices Ootsuki seems to be winning on certain games. He spots a pattern. He knows he is cheating and is mad. He realizes there is a way to beat him but he needs numbers. So he talks to the 45s while Ootsuki holds another gambling session with others. He tells them about this and accurately predicts Ootsuki’s outcome on one turn. The rest are convinced that he is cheating and even more so when Kaiji explains how Ootsuki is keeping a stack of money for selling snacks and drinks to them. Kaiji suggests forming an alliance to take down Ootsuki and his subordinates in one big fell swoop. They have only one chance and nobody else must know about this. Kaiji has everyone pool their money and need to build up their funds more. They are going to win big enough for all of them to win a day off.

While Kaiji is on nursing duty, a guy named Hiromitsu Ishida recognizes him. He is the son of Ishida. Like father, like son? This guy seems to be blaming his father for failing to clear his debts. Kaiji cannot stand his trash talk and slaps him! He tells him off Ishida is clearly a different man from him and definitely better than this trash who depends on others. Ootsuki and his men notice the 45s trying to save up and clear their debt. So they trick them to go shower and when they come back, their food is gone (because it is meal time is over). This has Ootsuki tempting to share their food with him with no charge. However Kaiji splashes beer on his face. Ootsuki doesn’t lose his cool and instead ‘forgives’ him. Because the cameras are watching. Over the next many days, Kaiji and his group face daily harassment from doing dangerous work and almost getting killed. This is of course part of Kaiji’s plan. The more Ootsuki harasses him, the more the noose around his neck tightens. Hiromitsu only observes and cannot understand why Kaiji is enduring all this. During payday, Kaiji shows his distrust by counting his pay in front of Ootsuki. All this is being watched by Yoshihiro Kurosaki, the second in command after Hyoudou. He is here to check out Kaiji and notes he still hasn’t lose his fangs.

Gambling night is here. Ootsuki is on a winning streak and Kaiji notes the difficult timing. He needs to have Ootsuki invite him so that they could finish their business and true enough he does. Kaiji then warns he will add a rule that there will be no maximum bet. Ootsuki agrees. Kaiji notices Numakawa, Ootsuki’s other henchman won’t deal so this proves that this tactic only works on Ootsuki and Isawa in their current formation. Kaiji bets 20,000 and some are disappointed thinking he would have bet more. Isawa is the dealer and rolls 4-5-6. Kaiji losses big. In the next round, Kaiji only bets 1,000. He wins but only a small one. With everyone disappointed, this is actually part of Kaiji’s plan as he predicted of this big loss and small win whereby he will be marked as a loser. When Ootsuki tells him to get out, that is when Kaiji places all his money. That’s 52,000. He also signals to the 45s to come in. All of them bet their maximum and their total bet amounts to 507,000! Ootsuki is now sweating as he realizes too late they planned it all out. Could it be they want to become legends because win or lose big, the crowd is now cheering his name.

Ootsuki thinks Kaiji knows his magic dice trick. A year ago he got this special dice which only has 4, 5 and 6 numbers. This means they cannot throw a low hand. He conspires with Isawa and Numakawa on how to cheat the other players by changing some new rules. That is why Isawa and Ootsuki can roll big winners because they have the special dice. Once it comes to Numakawa’s turn, he switches them back to normal dice. Ootsuki is now forced to use ordinary dice. A close 4-5-6 but still a bust. He notices Kaiji and others not reacting. Do they not know this trick? Could he just be overthinking? Ootsuki throws a second time. Another near one but still a bust. Still no reaction from Kaiji and co. This makes Ootsuki thinks they don’t really know and the reason they put up a large bet is because to make him cautious and not cheat and just acting tough. This is when Ootsuki decides to use his magic dice on his final throw. Even if Kaiji is going to inspect the dice after it, he cannot snatch it fast enough as Numakawa will be faster. So how? Before the dice stops rolling, Kaiji snatches them! Ootsuki and his henchmen wrestle and try to get the dice from him as Kaiji reveals to everyone they were cheating. The former foreman, Odagiri will handle this and takes the dice from Kaiji’s hands. It is then revealed the magic dice that Ootsuki have been using.

Ootsuki is now interrogated as the crowd is mad for his cheating. Kaiji reveals his observations from Miyoshi’s notes that he always rolls a good hand on all his first moves. That’s when he planned a showdown. When Kaiji and 45s placed a huge bet, this is to make Ootsuki suspicious that they are on to him. Kaiji knows when he used the magic dice because normally when the dice is thrown, everyone will be focused on the bowl. But he noticed Ootsuki was looking at Kaiji to see if there is any reaction. Had he not looked at him like that, he would have grabbed the dice. Because Kaiji never told everyone about his trick, the reason their reaction was genuine. So when Ootsuki decided to use his magic dice, his focus was all on the bowl. With the crowd getting angrier, Ootsuki realizes his mistake and greed of walking right into Kaiji’s trap and agitation. He thinks he can turn this around by saying that he wasn’t cheating because that roll wasn’t finished and thus doesn’t count. But the crowd is not convinced. Surprisingly Kaiji agrees. He suggests continuing the game but they will use their own special dice. Ootsuki thinks Kaiji is a fool to give him a chance to redeem. The most he might lose is a million or two so it’s nothing. Ootsuki rolls the weakest hand of his magic dice. When it is Kaiji’s turn, he thinks they need to make Ootsuki pay more. So he takes out his special dice that only contain all 1! Snake eyes! Remember, Ootsuki agreed to everyone using their own special dice. So when Kaiji and co roll snake eyes in which the pay-out is 5 times more, they win over 2 million! Ootsuki is heart breaking having to pay this out from his special stash of almost 20 million. However Kaiji says it is not over yet. Ootsuki is the dealer and he has to roll again. The rules haven’t changed. All’s fair, right? Yeah, he’s f*cked. With Kaiji and 45s betting all their winnings amounting to 3 million, they set to win over 15 million!

With Kurosaki coming in and agreeing with Kaiji’s logic, he tells Ootsuki that he might be able to draw and save himself using normal dice and getting snake eyes. Though, the odds are 1/216. Pray real hard. Of course he failed and the total pay-out is 18 million. Kaiji decides to split evenly among the 45s. Although they argue Kaiji should get more because he did most of the work, he credits everyone for their trust. They believed in him and not question him despite Kaiji never explained how he was going to win. This trust is the reason why they won against Ootsuki. Kaiji then makes a deal with Kurosaki that there will be no other conditions for the day off. Kurosaki agrees believing it will encourage others to work harder for this.

Bog Pachinko
Kaiji is out and freedom has never tasted so good. But there is a timer on his wrist to indicate how much time he has left outside. It seems the other 45s decide to pool their resources and give Kaiji extra money and day offs. They figure it is better for him to bet and win big than each of them to bet and win the same amount. Yeah, make him do all the work again. But he’s got all the luck, right? They believe he is a nice guy and can be trusted because he trusted in them. So Kaiji has now 20 days and turn 800,000 Yen into 60 million to buy freedom for all. He knows normal casinos cannot make big killings and he needs to go underground. When a group of people is trying to rob Kaiji, he acts tough and shows his reattached fingers and scares the hell out of them. This impresses Koutarou Sakazaki who has been watching him and notes he is different. He has been trying to find guys like him for gambling and takes him to an unassuming building where there is a hidden casino with bets of high stakes. But the main draw is the pachinko because each ball costs 10 or 100 times more than the average. Then there is the mother of all pachnikos called Bog in which each ball is 1,000 times the normal bet. But if you succeed in getting a ball through 3 correct holes, you stand to win all the balls that other losers lost while playing this. This means a huge amount of 500 to 600 million Yen! Has anybody ever won it? Only 2 in history. Guess who? Hyoudou and Tonegawa! They won billions. This makes it even more suspicious because it could be an inside job. I mean, the house would lose big if somebody genuine had actually won it, right?

Kaiji crashes at Sakazaki’s place. He is shown a mini pachinko. Sakazaki knows somebody who works inside the place and paid millions for this and to keep quiet. With this, they can figure out how Bog works. However Sakazaki won’t tell Kaiji how to operate until the day they take action. Call it insurance. At first Sakazaki will give him only 5% of the cut and although enough to clear Kaiji’s debts, not enough to free 45s. Kaiji negotiates for 10% or else. Sakazaki agrees. Since they are going to do it 6 days from now. He shows Kaiji a maintenance schedule in which he also paid a lot to get. On that day, this is when the Bog has its monthly pin maintenance. This means the pins are looser compared to other days. A paper slips out from the schedule. Sakazaki panics and snatches it back. On the night before the attempt, Sakazaki is acting crazy like as though God has not abandoned him. Next day, he shows Kaiji their war funds of 50 million Yen. He is supposed to only have 20 so did he get this from the loan shark? On the contrary. Sakazaki works as a security in some firm. The paper is a safe combination from his boss. He took some of the money out. Because his boss is having his own issues, he won’t notice. They’ll win big and put it back. Of course this is illegal but they can’t be concerned of what is illegal or not. Win first! Kaiji is then told the plan and he can’t believe it is this simple.

After Sakazaki is body searched, he is allowed to play at the Bog. He takes the maximum bet of 10 million and begins his attempt. He has everyone cheer for him and assures everyone will get a share. Kaiji narrates the odds of winning is 1/5,400! Also, this is the trick they’re going to use to win. Sakazaki showed him that using a magnet can attract the balls. Because Sakazaki will be heavily searched, he needs an accomplice outside. They will hide it in a beer can and switch it with Kaiji during the tense moments. After all, the staffs do not check the onlookers. When Sakazaki wins, during the commotion, Kaiji will swap back the can and leave the building while Sakazaki is being checked again, removing all evidence of cheating. Everything goes as planned but when Sakazaki tries to use the magnet, it doesn’t seem to work. Kaiji then overhears the staff talking about using the block or something. He realizes they have been setup and tries to signal Sakazaki to stop and the need to strategize but he continues to be too focused on the Bog. In the end, he has already blown 20 million. In the toilet as Kaiji reveals they are on to them, he wants Sakazaki to give up now. But Sakazaki thinks they’ll still be alright because they don’t know about their magnet trick. Kaiji tells him to give up now because from this point on he will be gambling somebody else’s money. Leave now and he can stay a free man. But Sakazaki is furious. He has gambled everything and the only way out is to win back his losses. It will be fine as long as they don’t activate the block. Unheeding Kaiji’s advice, Sakazaki continues his gamble.

The staff sees the casino’s boss, Seiya Ichijou. He tells to just activate the block. He also knows about Kaiji. The block is activated and Kaiji knows it because the balls are now bouncing off. Sakazaki might have a little luck left since some that bounced off bounced back in from the side. However all is for naught one none really entered the hole he wanted. Sakazaki feels defeated and this is where Ichijou comes down. They think their trick has been exposed when Ichijou takes the can. He gives it back to Sakazaki and tells him to continue. Oh, he explains that today’s balls are made of brass to stem that magnetic trick. In the end, Sakazaki ends the game and has only 6 million left. Sakazaki back home thinks of gambling the ponies to make back their money and take another chance. Kaiji advises to take the remaining money and run away to another country but this only makes him crazier. When a pachinko ball accidentally drops out from his pocket, Kaiji gets an idea and returns to the casino to observe the Bog. He spends the entire day watching it till Ichijou and his men come down to do a little maintenance. Then Kaiji barges into the staff room to tell them to pay up for this single pachinko ball. Ichijou pays him but Kaiji hangs around in the room and observes certain spots. Ichijou remains cool and gives him his card that allows him to eat and drink free in this casino. Kaiji rips it apart. Ichijou continues to remain cool as he mocks Kaiji he will soon go back to the underground life. After Kaiji leaves, he goes in search of an empty room without electricity. He knows a way to defeat Bog.

When Kaiji returns to tell Sakazaki about it, his place is trashed and a letter from him saying he has gone to test his luck at the horse race. Kaiji continues observing the Bog and while resting at an ice cream shop, he hears rumours about a building under construction for a year. He confirms something and gets another idea. Then he goes to find Sakazaki at the horse race and stops him in time before he makes all his bet. Sakazaki is crazy believing his horse would win because of some bad pun. Well, what do you know? It ends up in last place. Kaiji then tells him his plan but they need more money and manpower. Kaiji has this person whom he can get involve. That guy is Endou and it seems he is being hit with hard times. Getting harassed by loan sharks? A taste of his own medicine? Kaiji talks to him about defeating Bog and he needs cash upfront as well as manpower, guys who are willing to dirty their hands. He agrees after hearing him out as he has got a bone to pick with his employer. Endou does his calculation on the interest of the money and manpower he will loan. Wow. It sure really adds up. Kaiji is upset despite the debt coming up to 130 million, he still wants a 50% cut on the Bog’s winnings. Endou claims he is sticking his neck out for him and if Kaiji fails, he will also fail. That is when Sakazaki pops up and can’t go through with this. Kaiji calms him down and then renegotiate with this deal. After signing the contract for their cut, Endou gives Kaiji 5 million upfront.

Sakazaki enters the illegal casino again but this time wearing a monk’s attire. For luck? While playing, Ichijou cannot sense his gambling lust. Like as though he is acting it all out. Sakazaki loses his entire 6 million. After that he goes crazy and tries to destroy the machine while claiming it cheats. While the staffs restrain him, Ichijou again feels strain. It’s like as though he is acting to distract them. Then it hit him. This is just a distraction. Ichijou and the staffs run back to the control room to catch Kaiji red handed snooping around. Ichijou then shows Kaiji the wall off money behind security laden features. He knows Kaiji barged into the staff room to look for a safe as an illegal casino must stack up on large amount of cash. If it is not there it must be in the control room. He thinks he hopes to find the safe and crack it another day. While Sakazaki is beaten up, they can’t ‘damage’ Kaiji too much because if he is unable to work after being sent back underground, they will replace him. Instead, Ichijou uses a device to tear out Kaiji’s fingernails! OH SH*T! All 10 fingers! A few days later, a new Bog is replaced and nobody played it. On the last day of Kaiji’s freedom, he is back to challenge the Bog again. He has the money. 50 million. This makes Ichijou sceptical. Did he not learn his lesson? They wonder if the Bog is rigged but with close guarding and maintenance it isn’t possible. With Kaiji mocking the unbeatable Bog, Ichijou accepts his challenge.

Ichijou gets a call from Kurosaki. He scolds him for letting Kaiji play because this means he has a plan. Ichijou is confident he will win. Kurosaki hopes so because if he loses, it is the end of him and will be made an example out of. Kaiji starts playing. It seems there are more balls entering the tray than usual. Ichijou then stops Kaiji from continuing and believes he has cheated. He claims Kaiji switched the balls with smaller ones and that is why more are coming through. He uses a tray for standard balls to prove it. But it matches. Kaiji is using valid balls. What if the tray is fake? Nope. It’s valid. Then he realizes it. Because nobody has been playing the Bog and they were the only ones maintaining it, they might have loosen the pins and make the path wider. Rushing back to the room, they realize their maintenance tools have been switched. Noticing concrete dust in it, they head up to the empty room above. They see a big hole on the floor. For the past few days, Kaiji must have used this vent to switch the tools. Ichijou panics and has his men activate the block. Everyone realizes something is wrong when the balls do not go in anymore. Even the balls that bounced off from the side don’t work anymore.

Kaiji finishes his million and shocks everyone by having another 10 million go. Ichijou gets a call from HQ to broadcast footage from the security cameras. Hyoudou will of course be watching this and he also has it broadcast to the underground labour camp. He wants to see how powerless they are as they are rooting for Kaiji to win. Because if Kaiji loses, the amount of debts he has racked will be cleared in over a century! Forever trapped in this hell hole! So he better win this. At this point he has already used up all his balls and puts in another 10 million. The crowd wonders why he is keeping up with this fruitless endeavour. Suddenly the flippers cannot close properly and letting the balls in! After all that hitting it seems the handles have crooked! Flashback has Kaiji explaining to Endou that in order to make this happen, the Bog needs to be destroyed so when the maintenance crew comes to fix it, they’ll swap the flippers with this one fitted with some sort of candy. The chemical reaction inside the flippers will cause the metal to bend but this will come into effect after an hour. Because Ichijou will be suspicious, they will use his cleverness against him to remove it all. Like Sakazaki smashing the Bog and Kaiji sneaking into the control room.

Ichijou stops the game when Kaiji wants to put in another 10 million to continue. He believes Kaiji is cheating and swapped the flippers during the maintenance. However Kaiji tells him back when he was cheating activating the block, he didn’t say anything. Because he had no proof. And now you want to accuse him of rigging the Bog? The crowd rallies behind Kaiji and they know the casino has been cheating and wants Ichijou to continue Kaiji playing. Ichijou then gets a call from Hyoudou himself. Oh sh*t. He berates Ichijou for his poor showing. He wants Ichijou to accept Kaiji’s game. Although Ichijou can stop the game if Kaiji is cheating, however that is if the casino didn’t cheat in the first place. As he has shamelessly activate the block, not only the casino but the company’s reputation will go down. He doesn’t want that to happen. They don’t have to play fair but they must look fair. It’s all about face and reputation. All he has to do is win and let Kaiji destroy himself. Easy, right? Otherwise, fail and he dies. Ichijou knows the trays are impregnable. Just to make sure, he ascertains with his staff that it was untouched during the replacement and they tested it out themselves to be 100% in working condition. He ups the difficulty level too just in case.

Flashback reveals Kaiji explaining to Sakazaki why the ball can never enter the third tray. Because the winning hole is located at the back, it is very hard for the naked eye to see. There is a slight bump which pushes it off the trajectory. Then why not enter from the other side? It is also not possible because the trays and the Bog are tilted! Kaiji noticed this when Ichijou picked up balls that rolled to his feet and not the stationary ones elsewhere around it. The balls will lose momentum by then. Ichijou starts panicking when no balls has gone into the third tray. Isn’t that good? When one does, he starts to freak out. His fears are confirmed when he notices a customer dropping his pachinko balls on the floor. He notices the balls rolling in the opposite direction! Did Kaiji sneak into the office and changed the remote for the tilting? He doesn’t know how but he knows Kaiji didn’t do anything to the remote but the building! How the f*ck did he tilt the building?! Back to that flashback of Kaiji explaining it all. When he learns about the construction building near the casino to re-tilt back, this means the earth around the area is soft. But if they are going to tilt the building with 20 tonnes of sandbags, wouldn’t they get caught? They’re going to use water. Pretending to be delivery guys, they deliver plastic containers to the empty rooms above. Then they fill it up enough in 8 hours to avoid being discovered (something about the daily level check on the roulette wheel).

Ichijou tilts maximum the trays the other way. Although this would prevent Kaiji from passing the first and second tray, it will be very dangerous if the balls ever make it to the third one. Thus he orders to find his staff to find that device they used years ago. That device activated something very obvious and because so, they put it away never to use it again. But desperate times calls for desperate measures. Ichijou can’t lose now. Flashback reveals he started working in this company 7 years ago and put up with all the crap that Hyoudou made him do. He did so because he knows that old guy is going to die and Kurosaki will take over. Ichijou is favoured under him. Once that happens, he will take over all his money. Ichijou also wants to get back at his old high school friends who mocked his loser casino job. Hyoudou once asks what defines being rich. It wasn’t money. Because if the politicians drop a nuclear bomb over his head, money is worthless. It must be something he can continue to live in luxuriously and be protected. That would be a shelter. That is why he is currently building an underground shelter filled with first class facilities and only those loyal to the company and handpicked by him will get to stay. Ichijou is also aiming for this to prove his old friends wrong.

It is a roller coaster ride for Ichijou and Kaiji. Will the balls go in or not? Kaiji has finished his 10 million and now is on to his last 10 million. The crowd notices something is wrong when the balls can’t even enter the third tray. The balls whittle down quickly. Ichijou is smiling luck is on his side while Kaiji is also praying he doesn’t need luck or miracle. He just need that one thing to go his way. Isn’t that luck or miracle? By the time Kaiji discovers a sure way win, he is out of balls. No money left. Ichijou relishes but Kaiji says he isn’t done yet. Taking a toilet break, he talks to Endou in the toilet and knows he has extra 10 million left. He knows the way he thinks because this money is to bail himself out if he fails. Endou will not trust Kaiji anymore seeing he has wasted his money. But after Kaiji tells him about the sh*t life he will live if he runs away now, Endou starts thinking (and crying). At least if they sink together, Kaiji will buy him 3 beers every month till he dies. After signing a new contract and with the extra funds, Kaiji returns to play, much to Ichijou’s dismay. Ichijou tries to stall his time, counting the money to see if it is valid. When one of his staffs noticed something, Ichijou is confident he can survive this and doesn’t need to resort to the device. He lets Kaiji play.

At first it might seem that nothing has changed. Ichijou believes the double tilting is now working in his favour. He is going to tell Kaiji why he is failing but Kaiji will show him a magic trick. He uses his money to cover the view of the trays. Nobody can see anything. After Ichijou rips it off, everyone is shocked to see multiple balls in both first and second trays! They are also moving in unusual motion. Everyone sees the loser holes clogged up! Ichijou realizes the fault of the double tilt. Because of the tilt, the discharge tube is now facing upwards and thus clogging the pipes. This means that multiple balls are now making way to the third tray. Ichijou desperately tries to tilt back but this will take a few minutes. But when all the balls keep missing the final winning hole, Kaiji realizes he has made a fatal mistake in his calculation. He thought tilting it back will roll the balls straight in but he realizes too late this machine is twisted.

Remember when Kaiji tilted the building with those water containers? Well, he realizes he didn’t put it evenly. Because the empty room with water is only at a certain corner of the building, the building didn’t tilt entirely in one direction but towards a corner. This is why the balls keep missing as the pathway is now bended. At this point the clogged balls are already starting to be unclogged. Although Kaiji has around 400 balls left, this final ball in the final tray is the final game. Then it misses. Game over. Endou already jumps the gun blaming Kaiji when another miracle happens. It seems the trays are still clogged! The balls inside the tube must still be stuck despite a few have already come out. Ichijou cannot take this anymore and is about to hit the machine but Endou tackles him and tells him to stay put. But it still won’t mean a thing if the ball doesn’t enter the correct final hole. Then another miracle happens. All the loser holes in the third tray also clog up. When the trays were clogged up, the third tray must have also built up in the clogging before the tilt back. With all the loser holes closed off, the only way is to wait for the ball(s) to fall into the winning hole. Just when it seems that 2 balls are heading straight for the winner, God (or the devil) f*cked over Kaiji again and repels them against each other!

Remember that device Ichijou was looking for? His staff has found and activated it. It seems around the winning hole there are small holes that shoots out air. Thus an invisible air barrier! No balls can go in now! Kaiji takes a closer look and realizes this cheat. There is nothing he can do. He gets his fighting spirit back with the crowd cheering his name and this little sign of hope happened. When a new ball entering the third tray clashes with another ball, it ‘jumps’. But it wasn’t high enough and got repelled by the air barrier. But that was the only time it jumped. It never happened again. When the crowd goes silent, Kaiji looks back and realizes the MIBs are already here, ready to take him back underground. Kaiji is in a pinch. He pleads to Ichijou to make a deal. Let’s call this a draw and he wants to cash out his approximately remaining 30 balls. This will be about 120 million enough to bail himself out and cover Endou’s debt. Ichijou won’t allow it and slaps it. Play and finish your balls! Then you’re going back to hell forever. Wow. I’ve never seen Kaiji so pathetic and desperate. And then he runs out of balls. And figuratively he also got no more balls left at the end.

Kaiji thought his few hundred yen could let him play some more but Ichijou won’t allow such small change. Kaiji is dragged away while pleading for someone to invest in him. Someone please give him money! Ichijou beats him up when Sakazaki returns throwing him 10 million! He returned to his workplace to steal his boss’ money since he is out of town. Sakazaki tells Kaiji to continue to fight and win. This is not just for themselves but all the players who were ‘killed’ by the Bog. Kaiji resumes play and this time Ichijou is the one begging to accept his draw. Too late mister. With the balls now jam packed in the third tray, it won’t be long before it will push through the air barrier. Ironically everyone hears the Bog’s ‘scream of death’. Then it happened. A few balls enter the final hole. Jackpot. The Bog lights up and overflows with balls. Everybody cries. For better or worse reasons. Of course the one most upset is Hyoudou. He can’t believe this happened and will send Ichijou to the underground. At the rate he lost, he’ll be there for over 1,000 years!

Ichijou is taken away and he knows his fate is sealed. Even at this point Kaiji is pitying him. He wants Ichijou to come back next time to challenge him again. Well, if he is still around in a thousand years. With almost 730 million, Kaiji gives some to the spectators who supported him and most important of all cleared his own debts. The remaining is split based on the agreement between Kaiji, Endou and Sakazaki. Endou treats them to a private party. Everything is okay when you have the money. Sakazaki claims he has the smallest share but Kaiji reveals his is. He has to pay off debts to rescue his friends underground. The remaining profit will be split evenly among them. Sakazaki is impressed with his principles and wants to give him his daughter! Say no quick!!! Although Endou praises Kaiji for being a rare man with principals, he is still naïve and this will eat him one day. Soon, Kaiji and Sakazaki pass out. Endou drugged their drink. When they wake up hours later, he is gone. Fearing he might have taken their money and run, it seems Sakazaki’s share is still intact. Only Kaiji’s share has been significantly reduced. A note from Endou claims that the contract for the extra 10 million he signed in the toilet has a 30% compound interest per 10 minutes! So by taking his right of the share, Kaiji with around 190 million is now reduced to 60 million. Kaiji is screwed in the end. Sakazaki fears he might beg for some money and quickly leaves, claiming he needs to put back his boss’ money.

All Kaiji can do is cry till he sleeps. He wakes up when the agents knock on his door. They are here to take off his timer. Kaiji is adamant he wants to save his underground friends because of the promise. Although he can easily renege on the promise and keep the remaining money to himself, he won’t. This means he will be left with only 600,000 Yen for himself. The next day, Kaiji hides as he sees his 45s friends get released. However he is waiting for one more person: Hiromitsu. Although unrelated, he promised his father to help him. However his release will be using the share of profit of them all so Kaiji doesn’t have a say in this. If one of them opposes, this deal is dropped. So when Kaiji sees Hiromitsu coming out too, he is very grateful to his friends. The agents wonder why Kaiji didn’t go out to meet them. He has no money. Wait. What? Why? He should have some left. He claims he lost it all in a pachinko! Since he will be meeting them up and go out for drinks, he can’t possible ask them to spend. So he thought of earning a little. Too bad luck wasn’t on his side. The agent got so mad at his twisted thinking that he gives him his own 30,000 for him. Free of charge. No interest. Just go meet up. I guess there are still kind people around. Kaiji meets up with his friends and they all cry manly tears. Time to party for their freedom.

Life’s A Gamble
At least for now it is a happy ending for Kaiji and his fellow friends. But of course as gamblers, we ordinary people would wonder how long that would last till the next temptation brings them down again. The ending may seemed a bit rushed but I suppose after that long exhausting drama, I think it is best that we don’t drag out an additional episode just to close and tie up things. After all, Kaiji has got his long outstanding debts cleared and kept his promise of saving his friends. What else could he asked for? Sure, he is left with no money but seeing the hell that he has gone through, it is better than to lose scraps of paper than compromising his principles.

I have to admit that despite the long drawn out drama of each of the gambling art, overall they feel interesting despite I still have mixed feelings at the end. As a person who does not know the finer rules of such gambling games, it is all an eye opener. That’s why I noticed I can’t help myself after watching each episode, I crave for more. It was really interesting and curious to see what kind of tricks Kaiji will pull out from his sleeve. On the other hand, like I have said, the very long drawn out drama especially the pachinko game really made it feel the whole arc was a tiring one. It just feels like One Piece or the Dragonball series whereby they can actually drag out a single subject for the entire episode. Let’s face it, the pachinko arc was more of a psychological game of high stakes that goes back and forth between Kaiji and Ichijou’s favour. Therefore while it is interesting to see how the tide of events can quickly turn from one’s favour to another, it is because they draw it out so long and thus why this arc eats up a big chunk of the second season. If they cut out all that drama, they could have ended it in half those episodes and perhaps feature more gambling games that Kaiji would participate in. Maybe it is another psychological drama for us viewers. After being tired out with all that psychological drama, once the end came, it was a big relief for us. The end of a long tiring journey. Hey, we can’t complain by that time, right?

It would be interesting to see Kaiji take on more types of gambling games like horse racing, roulette, slot machines and even poker. But since there has been no word of another season, I guess his game ends here. At least for where the anime is concerned. Because it would be a shame for Kaiji not to get his rematch with Hyoudou and bring down that old fart before fate naturally takes him away. Yeah well, he is like the last boss whom Kaiji should face in the end anyway.

This series is all about Kaiji so it is no doubt when you have a series named after him, a big chunk of the character focus will be on him. Although Kaiji is like your typical gambler, what makes him stand out from the rest in terms of his gambling fighting spirit is his keen observation. This guy has a knack of observing the smallest and oddest details that would allow him to sometimes form a quick strategy to overcome the wall. This is the same instincts that has kept him alive till this day. He would have been dead meat a long time ago if not for this quick thinking of his. It is a survival instinct that has greatly helped Kaiji get out of sticky and deadly situations. Albeit not always perfect but it has helped Kaiji defy death. And yes, because he is the main character. Because of Kaiji’s perseverance, you can’t help feel like rooting for him all the way like how many of the characters pin their only hopes for him. Yes, you don’t pray to God but to Kaiji!

But like any other fragile human, Kaiji also has his weaknesses. The obvious one is being a gambler that led him into this mess. It is hard for me to say if he will get out of his gambling addict because that is what all gamblers say. Before you know it, they’ll be back at square one. I know Kaiji is different because he has grown stronger in both seasons but remember, deep down he is still a gambler. Because at times you noticed that Kaiji also shows his weakness especially during the Bog where he begs for mercy from Ichijou when he has exhausted all his avenues and his naivety to save his friends and put his full trust in a shady person like Endou only to get the short end of the stick. In the end, he only has got himself to blame. But hey, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. After all, he survived getting his ear and fingers cut from Hyoudou’s game, right?! His naivety to save others is also a double edged sword that has him screwed over many times. But I suppose it is better for him this way than to lose his humanity.

The other characters aren’t as prominent as Kaiji and most of them just play a certain role for a certain arc. For example for those guys on Espoir like Furuhata, Andou, Kitami, Okabayashi and Funai, I thought they would come back later in future arcs but as far as the anime is concerned, I guess they didn’t. Once it’s over for them, it’s over. They don’t usually ‘cross over’ to another arc. Well, maybe Ishida was the exception but otherwise like those 45s who were more prominent in the chinchiro arc, they were reduced to just mere praying spectators for the pachinko game. If they didn’t appear, the arc would still carry on smoothly but they have to remind us from time to time why Kaiji is fighting so hard and to add to the nail biting drama. Everybody’s favourite and most used line is calling out Kaiji’s name. Yeah, this guy is definitely God to them.

Hyoudou might look like a senile old man but he is very influential and wields very great power. All because he has money. See the power of money? Nobody can go up against him. It looks like it will take some time before Kaiji ‘powers up’ before taking on him again. After all when you have so much many and so influential, you become twisted and warped in your own ways. Absolute power gives him absolute control of how he wants things done and by merely opening his mouth, he dictates whether you live or die. So don’t you dare upset him in the slightest way. I believe if there Kaiji is to bring down Hyoudou and his corporation, he has also got to take down some of his executives like Kurosaki whose appearance feels wasted here. It’s like an introduction that there are other subordinates rank and file beneath Hyoudou. But I’m not sure if Kaiji would want to take on them all too as he would rather aim to bring down the big fish himself. Why go through all that convoluted mini boss level when you can just take everything down by defeating the big boss. This isn’t some RPG game, you know.

I want to mention something about Endou. Something that bothered me during the tense Bog arc. Like any other typical person, he blames Kaiji if things don’t go his way but becomes happy and elated when it does. This is the thing that bugged me. Because I tend to notice how whenever he is happy, he keeps hugging Kaiji! Man, if that doesn’t look like happy gay, I don’t know what is. He does this hugging so frequently it made me wonder if this guy has got this habit of hugging others when it greatly goes his way. Certainly it feels odd from a shady man like him. And based on this, everybody else I can safely sum up that when it comes to someone winning, they cheer and support for you like as though they placed their future on you. But when the going is downhill, all that support suddenly gets deserted like as though they have nothing to do with you in the first place. Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone. Sure, we see the spectators cheering for Kaiji is because they already lost something. Thus they see him as their saviour and put their avenging fate on him. And for those spectators at the Bog, they’re cheering for him because he will pay them if he wins! No wonder they’re sticking around until the game ends. Otherwise, where is the motivation for them when the going gets tough? You think they are here to watch a good game?

Last but not least I also want to mention about the narrator who over the course of the series has somewhat become a little annoying. At first it was unique to hear some guy narrating what has happened and explaining the rules, terms, etc. But as the drama drags out, it becomes obvious that he starts narrating and telling us the obvious like as though he is a TV commentator of some sport because of his passionate speech delivery. Yeah, yeah. We get it that Kaiji is in a pinch and you don’t have to tell us that or what will become of him. Of course this is to enhance the dramatic effect of the episode and everything but it gets irritating after a while. He should just stick to explaining the rules, that’s all.

Another trademark of this series is the “Zawa, zawa” sound effect that you will hear throughout in every episode whenever Kaiji’s guts tell him that something bad is about to happen. Call it his guts instinct. Look at it as the Kaiji’s version of Spiderman’s tingling spider sense. In the first season, this didn’t sound very clear as I thought it was the leaves rustling but eventually they are actually a group of men whispering this line. Sometimes it feels creepy. Then in the second season, they put in a variety with female voices and this one sounds less creepy.

In the second season at the end of each episode, there is a segment called Kaiji Proverbs Returns. I suppose they are supposed to be inspiring lines said by Kaiji and other characters for the episode. True, they sound inspiring but I don’t think I will be applying them in my life. Because I don’t gamble. Sure, you can use them to as a battle cry for other stuffs but by the time I watched the next episode, I have already forgotten about it. Furthermore, to distract us and make us stay to listen to the proverbs, they have this pretty lady narrating it all. Each episode has her wearing different dress and at different scenes. I can’t help keep my hopes up that she would give us some sort of fanservice… Why do I keep thinking she is some kind of porn star… Oh sh*t. I just revealed one of my weakness for the flesh! Hey, at least it isn’t gambling :-/. Sometimes this segment is also used as a blatant advertisement to advertise the Kaiji movie or DVD releases. Why waste your money on gambling when you can have the full set of Kaiji DVDs!

One thing that obviously stands out is the design of the characters. Well, not its entirety. It is their nose that somewhat makes this series looks weird at first. If you think Kaiji’s pointed nose looks freaking odd, wait till you see the nose of some other characters. For instance, when I first saw Hyoudou, I was thinking what the f*ck does this guy have a peanut for a nose?! I KID YOU NOT! Really!!! I thought this guy really had a peanut for a nose! Then for Miyoshi, I thought he had a dick for a nose! OMG! Or at least a cartoonish hand as one. Closer to home, I thought his nose resembles closely to a local cartoonist, Lat’s nose trademark. Ootsuki? I thought he had a clown nose! And all those other characters who have broad flat nose like Furuhata, Andou, Ishida, Tonegawa, Sakazaki and Kurosaki, I thought they had noses like elephant seals. I’m not kidding. Therefore One Piece’s Usopp should really feel at home in this anime. Just saying…

This is such a manly show that it is really hard to find any females here. There are no female leads or even supporting characters. Mostly they are background characters and even that is mostly in the city. Because men are the ones taking part in dangerous gambling games. Men are the ones who are only working underground. Don’t see any women working to their bones there, do you? Although I remember one (Sahara’s female colleague at the convenience store) that looks decently pretty enough, with all the men around and lack of female characters, you would start to think that even the women might look this manly. This is somewhat reinforced after you see Sakazaki’s daughter! OMFG! So f*cking hideous!!! It makes the ugliest guy, say Hyoudou to look even better! I mean, really. This girl looks so ugly. Sorry if I offended you pussies but really, it’s like trying to tell us to go back to gambling instead of thinking of perverted thoughts. Sometimes it feels like a troll that for the sponsor credits scene, they show her nice body in a bikini and then they zoom up to her face… Damn… Yeah… That kind of face… Zawa, zawa… Masturbation challenge level… Extreme!!! Well, at least the live action movies had good looking characters. Don’t want to go scaring away your audiences, do you? It’s a good thing too that the Kaiji proverbs girl is such a cutie. All hail 3D women? Yeah, it’s ironic for me to say that this is one of the few instances where the 3D female is better than the 2D one. Thanks Mikako for ruining it. The only other hideous thing are Kaiji’s damaged fingernails. Yikes! I’ll have nightmares remembering this. This is worse than Kaiji having his ear cut off!

Other than that, the cell shaded drawing gives the series a little unique edge but otherwise, I thought some of the characters look pretty similar because at first I was confused if Sahara and Furuhata were the same person and just dyed his hair blond. This means some of the unimportant background characters look almost alike but you won’t pretty much notice this if you’re focusing on the game. I thought Kitami looked a lot like Kaiji and once thought he was his long lost brother or something. Not forgetting the exaggerated effects when the character is freaking out with their gaping mouths and manly tears. Man, there are going to be lots of those tears flowing. It proves even men do cry. This series is produced by a veteran studio, Madhouse that made lots of good anime series with varying art styles like Death Note, One Punch Man, No Game No Life, High School Of The Dead, Ore Monogatari, Black Lagoon, Monster, Paprika, Tenjou Tenge, Paradise Kiss, Sakura Wars and the Galaxy Angel series.

Many of the themes are rock based. It is only right and suitable for the kind of hellish games that Kaiji will play. If you think the first season’s opening theme, Mirai Wa Bokura No Te No Naka by Kaiji with Redbourn Cherries isn’t hard core enough, you should hear the second season’s opening theme, Chase The Light by Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. Because its opener is already a wild mad scream!!! If you’re into this really punk rock style, I’m sure you can stomach some of the lyrics that has the singer literally screaming his lines! If you think the second season’s ending theme, C Kara Hajimaru ABC by Wasureranneyo sounds funny despite its rock theme, that isn’t the bad part. It is the ending credits animation that will freak you out. Because we see reluctant Kaiji on a date with Sakazaki’s ugly daughter! OMFG!!! No wonder Kaiji runs away in the end!!! This is definitely a gamble he cannot win!!! Run Kaiji, RUN!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Better to work underground for a million years than date 10 minutes of this piece of ugly crap. The only song that is not rock based but a slow grim country western-like is the first season’s ending theme, Makeinutachi No Requiem by Hakuryuu. A sad and befitting fate for all gamblers if I should say.

Overall, despite the over-dramatizing and the dragging out of the games, this series is overall and interesting watch as it lets you peek into the mind of a gambler and the strategies that one can come up with if you are desperate enough and your back against the wall. As long as there is money involved, you can bet that humans will try all sorts of ways to beat the system or make it unbeatable. The basic human greed has not changed since. You live by the dice, you die by the dice. It is a good thing this anime didn’t make me curious to go gamble. Then I would only have myself to blame for being weak minded. But I’m not making any bets that this series might get a third season any time soon even though I really hope there should be another. My guts are telling me that. Zawa, zawa…