Rio: Rainbow Gate

December 7, 2012

Girls. Gambling. Glamour. Greed. Well, those are the things I conjure when I start to think about the word ‘casino’. But really, can gambling actually bring you happiness? If you are on the winning side, that is. How often does that happen? For every winner there must be hundreds and maybe thousands of losers. How many broken homes have gambling contributed to? So it was rather odd when I watched Rio: Rainbow Gate because it seemed like they painted the world of gambling to be a fun and happy affair. Maybe they just show us the happy winners and their 15 seconds of victory.

I thought this series would be somewhat like Kaiji. Only difference you put in lots of girls in skimpy outfits and fanservice. Okay, I admit. I didn’t really watch that show so I can’t really compare about everything else. As far as this series is concerned, we follow the footsteps of a popular casino dealer, Rio Rollins Tachibana who works on the island casino of Howard Resort owned by the ever-smiling big-teeth cigar-smoking Tom Howard. Rio has this legendary status as the Goddess of Victory because if just merely walks pass you, your bad luck streak will instantly change into good fortune! It’s no wonder everybody wants to flock to her. Wait a minute. Am I hearing this right? I mean, if a dealer brings good luck to the gamblers, how is this good business for the casino? Think about it. If every customer wins, where in the world will the casino get its money to finance its luxurious facilities? Mind boggling indeed. That’s why I said it was rather perplexing of me to find that gambling here is such a fun and happy occasion on a general level. So if Rio uses this ability on her customers, won’t Howard Resort be going broke anytime soon? If not, just how rich is this dude? Does he have financial backing somewhere else? Something ‘underground’? Let’s not get that far and give him the benefit of the doubt.

Of course such animes would be boring if we just see Rio who do not turn down customers’ requests no matter how absurd or silly they are because she lives by the principle that she will fulfil each and every of their needs. Just because they’re the customer. Yeah, customer is king. As gambling is such a big business, soon Rio will find herself embroiled in Gate Battles to collect all 13 legendary cards known as Gates. Whoever collects them all will be labelled the Most Valuable Casino Dealer (MVCD) (that means the best dealer in the world) and probably see a ‘rainbow’ when all the Gates gather. Want to guess what that ‘rainbow’ is? Nah. I don’t want to think too much and will wait and let the series surprise me with that.

Episode 1
Mr Clark, the wealthy grandfather of Mint Clark can’t resist the temptation of Howard Resort and makes his way to his favourite gambling casino. Hey wait a minute. Do casinos admit underage girls too? Thankfully Mint isn’t a gambler wannabe so she takes a stroll on the island with her stuffed teddy bear, Choco and she hears the rumours about the Goddess of Victory and becomes curious to meet her. So she tries to find her and follows the crowd who are excited to see this Goddess of Victory. I guess being small has its disadvantages because Mint has been pushed away not able to get a glimpse of the Goddess. Till Hollywood Star, Rosa Canyon points out Rio’s name. Even Rio’s popularity overshadows Rosa’s status. That’s how famous she is. Rosa lets Mint follow a white ferret, Chip which will take her to the said Goddess. Unknown to them, a guy in weird glasses, Orlin Dunhill is spying and targeting Mint. Mint follows Chip to Rio (in the midst of working her ‘magic’) and when they meet, they become friends. Mr Clark is Howard’s good friend too and is introduced to Rio as the casino’s best dealer. Seems Howard has this fetish of putting embarrassing outfits on Rio. To please the customers? I’m sure it’ll be more pleasant if they hit the jackpot. That night as Rio accompanies Mint, Orlin and his men confront them. He wants Mint to hand over Choco. Rio is no pushover and she unleashes her kung fu kicks to send the men retreating. Wow. Best dealer, now best bodyguard too. Mint follows Rio and sees her at work. She also meets the other bunny girl casino staffs, Tiffany Abbot and sisters, Elle and Ille. There is this customer who is in a dilemma because he is betting his marriage proposal to his proposal on this roulette game. Rio tells him to think about the person he loves with all his heart. Rio throws the ball and it lands on the number he picked. There, happy ending. See how happy money can make the couple?

Orlin steps in and wants to challenge Rio to a duel over Choco. Of course Rio won’t refuse his proposal but if she wins, he must reveal why he is fixated over Choco and then leave this island. Rio must also wager something equally important. If Orlin wins, Rio will strip naked! It is like Howard anticipated this moment and approves of the duel instantly. Yeah, he’s got all the setup ready for the showdown. I’m sure it’ll be a feast for the customers’ eyes if Rio loses, eh? But then again, has Rio ever lost before? Rio dresses as a bride to be in one with this poker game. Orlin is confident and shows them why he is called Queen Killer. He changes all his cards except the queen of hearts. He could’ve easily gotten a flush if he only changed the eight of clubs. He is confident he will get all 4 queens. Rio also changes 4 of her cards. Then both of them unleash their Roll Ruler. I don’t really understand what this special ability is but as far as I know, it changes the ‘battlefield’ to the player’s advantage and possibly the outcome favourable to the player. It’s like entering to another dimension looking for the right cards whatsoever. Numbers and cards are just flowing everywhere. It’s so abstract. In the end, Orlin got nothing! Rio on the other hand got the weakest hand: A pair of twos. Well, she won, right? As promised, Orlin reveals he is a plushie fanatic and collects dolls to retrieve the pain of his wife’s desertion at the altar. WTF. Orlin knows Choco is a rare find and made in Belgium. Unfortunately a closer inspection reveals Choco is in fact made in China! Maybe he needs to get his eyes checked. Rio hugs him and comforts him. Knowing that he has admitted his inability to identify dolls, he can stop wasting money and stop collecting fakes. Howard must be a little upset because it would’ve been great if Rio lost too. Wait no further because Mint is so enthralled with Rio that in her attempt to chase her, she trips and rips her wedding dress. I guess everybody is a winner in the end.

Episode 2
Rio is made to dress in a Brazilian samba dance outfit. It’s that or guide a new dealer recruit from Russia, Anya Helsing. I suppose the choice is obvious. Anya seems to be a good amateur so Rio has no further lessons to teach her. Anya notices Rio in possession of a Gate. Since Mint doesn’t know all the terms, we are briefed about Gates, Gate Holders (those who hold Gates) and Gate Battles and its implication for one who gathers them all. For this Gate, Rio didn’t actually win it, someone gave it to her after watching her impressive game and felt she was qualified to hold it. There is a noticeable trait Anya possesses. She is clumsy! I wonder how many glasses she broke. How many times she tripped? She can even cause a domino effect on the slot machines! I guess if you have good luck embodied as Rio, you need someone who is opposite like Anya. However it’s not that all bad because Rosa hit the jackpot due to Anya’s clumsiness. A narcissist Gate Holder, Elvis (and his flock of babes) enters the casino to challenge Rio to a Gate Battle. He claims he is loved by numbers and women (I bet they’re sticking around because of his money or fame). Thank goodness Rio is not such a cheap girl. And it’s like Howard knew this was coming and accepts the challenge. Yeah, he got even the props ready for the battle. Since Gate Battles are rare, anyone who witnesses them should consider themselves lucky to be alive. So in today’s Gate battle theme of roulette (despite its exaggerated and outlandish contraption), the rules are simple. One person will bet, the other will toss the ball. There is only one round. Black or red. If the ball lands on the colour bet, that person wins or else victory goes to the tosser. Elvis gives Rio the choice to choose which position she wants (including his cheesy line that choosing him is not an option. Oh please…). Rio will bet. Because Elvis has never seen this contraption before, he decides to test play first. This is to calculate every possible angle and velocity imaginable. Well, I thought he’s like a robot when he could see numbers and formulas at every turn and space. And to hit it right… Well, that’s just like a machine, isn’t it? So the game starts as Elvis rolls the ball. Rio makes her bet and using their Roll Ruler, both engage in some beach volleyball trying to outdo each other to gain favourable advantage. In the end, Rio wins because Elvis’ calculation went a little off when he forgot to take into account the little band aid on his finger that got stuck on the ball when he rolled it. Yeah, that little band aid was enough to throw everything off course. Scary! So Elvis lost everything. His Gate, the girls, the attention. See, nobody loves a loser. His perfect calculation even lost to chance but as Anya puts it, Rio works hard instead of leaving it to chance. Anya and Mint are to celebrate Rio’s victory but the clumsy Russian trips…

Episode 3
Howard has recently bought an old castle-cum-casino called Misery. With a name like that… Well, it’s supposed to be the name of a woman owner in the 19th century. With a name like that, is it a wonder why it met its demise? Anyway Rio is in charge of the revival of this casino. Just hope it is not haunted. Rio wakes up from a dream whereby she played Blackjack with Misery and wagered this casino! Hope this stays as an eerie dream. Well, the frightening lightning and thunder aren’t helping her with a good night’s sleep either. Next morning, Rio is done with her photo shoot and learns from her colleagues that the resort’s chicken wings have mysteriously disappeared and Rosa laments she has put on weight despite going on a diet. Well, it seems this Misery ghost is indeed real (the lightning the night before must have ‘materialized’ her when it struck the painting of her) as she walks through the Howard Resorts’ casino and turns bad luck for all its customers. She met her match in Anya. Yeah, even the ghost experienced pain in her clumsiness. She got so pissed off that the entire island blacked out temporarily! So the girls report to Howard about this Misery lady they see. From the surveillance video, they can’t see her face clearly due to some interference but Howard just tells security to kick her out if she comes again. While Rio shows Anya the painting of Misery, Elle and Ille follow a trail of eaten chicken wings to find Misery munching on them! They got caught by the ghost. Rio reports to Howard about Misery being a ghost but he doesn’t believe. She has also done her research on Misery. She is a gambling addict and loved chicken wings. One day a challenger challenged her and she lost everything in that single night and the casino was eventually shut down. Even if Howard finds it hard to believe, why would a ghost without a body want to eat chicken wings? Yeah, I wonder too. Then it hit Rio. Misery may have possessed Rosa. Rosa is trying to fight her inner self. Too bad she lost and even steals chicken wings from a delivery girl. Rio rushes to the castle to confront Misery to leave Rosa’s body. But she challenges her to a game and if Rio wins, she’ll do just that. Or else Howard Resort belongs to her. Rio has no choice but to oblige because Misery has also possessed Elle and Ille and have Howard trapped in a magician’s box. Only thing is, the splitting of his body will be real. The game is simple. Guess it is odd or even by the throw of the die. But Misery is confusing Rio with her batty illusions. Fortunately Misery gets a taste of her own defeat because the chicken wing she is enjoying is laced with spicy hot chilli. Thanks to the delivery girl. Rio is snapped out of the illusion and is able to concentrate and win the game. Misery leaves Rosa’s body as Rio goes to thank the delivery girl for her help. She turns out to be Rina, her sister. Not exactly her biological sister but someone who grew up close with her enough to be one.

Episode 4
Seems Howard has hired Rina as a dealer and knows about her relationship with Rio. Rio never met her father and was raised by her mom, Risa Rollins who was once the world’s best dealer. Rina on the other hand, her mom was hospitalized and her father rarely came home from work. Thus Rina was left in Risa’s care. They stayed together till Rina went overseas to study. Rio shows Rina around the island and Mint is not happy because of a new girl monopolizing Rio. Hey! Whoever said Rio belonged to her? And wasn’t Mint monopolizing Rio all to herself before? Eventually she allows Rina to ‘borrow’ Rio for the day. The sisters talk about Risa who was the only person ever to hold the title of MVCD and was known as Double R. Rio became a dealer in hopes she could be closer to Risa. They go see the fortune teller, Dana and it seems the tarot card shows the symbol of death. Risa gets a call that Anya is in trouble. Some fat American cowboy, Bull Hard is holding her hostage. He challenges Rio to some vending machine game. He brags his awesome terrifying legendary skills but lost to her in the first round. Then they’re supposed to finish their drink the fastest but that stupid guy had to select a hot drink. The victor is obvious, eh? Howard thinks that with the juicy sisters together, he can use them and make some money to open another casino. While Rio is bringing good luck to her customers, Rina is just somehow tiring them out. The sisters get called by Howard to put on a skeet shooting competition. If they miss a disc, a piece of their clothing will disappear. Which part of the clothing will be decided by the opponent. Which guy wouldn’t want to miss this? A definite attraction, I’d say. The game starts not in Rio’s favour because the wind is throwing her shots off (causing her a piece of a shirt button that almost exposes her breasts). Though Rina is ruthless and will do what it takes to win, Rio makes a comeback and in the end Rina misses her targets. But Rio isn’t so bad and just vanishes her hat and arm band. Though it ends with a draw, Rina notes Rio is the winner because she was looking out for her. She lost to her kindness. While the guys are moved by their sisterly friendship, Rosa has a feeling Rina may have missed the final shot on purpose. Mint exposes Rina’s safety pants, the reason why she could stay calm throughout the game and not feel embarrassed like Rio. The crowd cheers on them because, they get to see Rio’s tits. Meanwhile Bull Hard meets his employer who wants to understand everything about Rio’s strength.

Episode 5
Rio is once more put into another weird outfit. A prawn? Howard is happy to open his latest Sky Resort and the official opening will be tomorrow. It will be the highest altitude casino in the world and Rio and co will be in charge of that place. While checking the place out, they bump into another dealer of Sky Resort, Linda. She takes them around the place, various facilities and attractions. They notice something strange about Linda. Does she have superhuman strength? Then Anya’s clumsiness has Linda’s head to fall off! Oh sh*t! As revealed, Linda is the main terminal for Sky Resort’s computer systems. It bugs me that her head could easily fall off despite being an important terminal that handles everything. So Howard officiates the opening of Sky Resort as the building launches itself into the sky, wowing all the customers onboard. While flying in mid-air, a mysterious kid enters Linda’s room and hijacks her. Rio continues to give her customers good luck, Rina isn’t cutting hers any slack and Anya… She’s still tripping. Suddenly Linda challenges Rio to a Gate Battle. Was Linda a Gate Holder? Never mind because this is a chance Howard won’t pass up. Yeah, another Gate Battle. The game will be based on a signature attraction of Sky Resort. They’re supposed to slide down the water tubes that go all over the resort. Some are dead ends and some slides have certain angles that will change the speed of their sliding, which is pivotal to the race’s outcome. The first one to reach the goal at the end of this long winded tube is the winner. So the ladies slide down the tube (Linda seems to be having more fun despite being a robot) and though Linda reaches first, it is Rio who crosses over the goal line first. I guess that’s what happens if you lose your head. Linda returns to her normal self but has no recollection on what she’s done. Howard is being confronted by Cartia Goltschmitt in his office and knows she was the one who made Linda malfunction.

Episode 6
Mint tries out the space pinball simulation. Maybe the asteroids are too tough for her. Soon the girls are being called by Howard about Cartia. Her goal is to take over Howard Resort and he has received her official challenge letter. I guess you can’t refuse Gate Battles even if the resort is at stake. Besides, if Rio wins it’ll be good publicity for Sky Resort. Yeah, now Sky Resort rests on Rio’s shoulders. For now, her opponent is known as Jack but he is not on the list of guests. Mint decides to help out and has Linda sketch on how this Jack looks like. Despite being a computer terminal, her drawing sucks. But Mint recognizes this horrible mug. She thought of seeing this black afro samurai while she was playing the simulation. She tails that loser and finds him on a losing streak. At this rate, it’ll be easy win for Rio. As for Rio, she has been receiving prank calls and even a large photo of Misery in her room. Rina thinks this is a psychological warfare to shake up Rio. While Mint continues to watch that idiot afro samurai (he’s really an idiot), Choco falls off the balcony. A kid uses his levitating powers to save Choco. He has to leave with his comrades who call him Jack. So this kid is Jack?! True enough, this kid is Rio’s next opponent. The Gate Battle will be space pinball using the hardest route and the one who rake in the most points win. Mint felt Jack’s magic was cheating but he denies and says it is his Mighty Power. Isn’t that the same? His family always had this power since they’re dealing with bombs so this levitating power evolved as defence. Cartia wants to use his power and if he wins, he will get his wish. Oh, and that loser afro samurai is Carlos Tanaka, a former dealer. The game starts and not only the players have to look out for asteroids but space sharks as well. Space sharks? Jack is engulfed by them but Rio saves him. Jack didn’t return the favour and fires on Rio (which is legal in the game). Rio isn’t giving up yet because she abandons her pod, rides a space shark and use it has her own machine to rake in the points. In the end, Rio catches up and wins the game. However Carlos bumped into Linda and she loses her head to cause the system unstable. Mint is sucked into the game but Jack saves her using his levitation power to prevent an asteroid crashing into her. Rio uses her Roll Ruler to return things back to normal. Jack admits his defeat and gives his Gate to Rio. Mint also wants to reward him and asks him to close his eyes. He has Choco kiss him.

Episode 7
Rio is exhausted but ruthless Cartia has another Gate Battle for her. This time with Queen. Rio dreams how she purposely lost to Rina so that they have equal amount of snacks but Risa thought it wasn’t nice to do that. In the next Gate Battle, both players are supposed to float upwards a vent while shooting targets. The one who gets the most targets at the end wins. Meanwhile the other girls are investigating behind the scene because somebody is hacking Linda and locking her out of the system. Queen plays dirty to send Rio crashing down though Cartia calls it coincidence. Rio uses her Roll Ruler and with luck (Anya bumps into Linda, her head comes off and somehow messes with the system by boosting the wind power to send Rio flying faster up) she beats Queen to win the game. That’s no coincidence, right? Mint finds Jack to get some answers about Cartia. She has locked Sky Resort and is the only one who knows the password to unlock the system. Until Rio loses, Sky Resort will keep on floating. He is not sure of Cartia’s real goal because she owns many Gates and gave it to them. They were told to just face Rio and win. Since he lost, he is useless. He wanted to gain his freedom by winning but I guess that’s not possible now. Tired Rio takes a bath with Rina. Noting that Gates are Rio’s only connection to Risa, Rina says it’s her turn to protect her now. Rio felt somebody watching her. Dana predicts chaos and betrayal in the sky. In the simulation room, Bull Hard holds Rina hostage and turns the simulation on. Rio has to avoid speeding trucks, tentacle rape and falling into the lava. When she wakes up, she sees Risa. However mother tells her she is not cut out to be Goddess of Victory because she brings misfortune to others. Citing that Rina is still bitter and that it’s her fault that everyone is trapped in misfortune, everything she love will leave and soon disappear. Rio is found unconscious and Howard knows this is Cartia’s tactic to wear her out and make her lose her concentration.

Episode 8
Unconscious Rina is tied to the casino table and Cartia assures Rio she hasn’t done anything to her. Facing off with King in this Gate Battle, all Rio has to do is to guess which hand the coin King will toss is in. Even if it does not involve physical activity, it is nevertheless a focus based match. Something Rio isn’t up to right now. As we are told, King is a con artist that never used tricks. Huh? He is an expert in this game because by the time he catches the coin in one hand, his tremendous strength crushes it to bits, leaving no trace. Thus, he always wins. So when Rio picks, she says it’s not in that hand. Well, the rules never said she had to choose which hand the coin was in, right? Oh sh*t! And just like that, King lost.  Shouldn’t have crushed it too soon, eh? Besides, King as revealed is another big idiot. He knows the English alphabets up to Q… However Rina is missing from the table and Cartia insists that she did release her. Where she goes is up to Rina. See, two can play that game. Linda is trying to fight the firewall Bull Hard is guarding. Jack joins it and makes it easier by turning it into a shoot ’em up and wins it. Rio despite exhausted goes out to find Rina. This leads her to a church-like room where she meets Cartia who wants to initiate the final Gate Battle. Her final opponent will be… Rina! As revealed, Rina is a spy sent by Cartia to get Howard Resort. She is more amazing than Rio because she gathered all the Gates and gave them to Rio’s opponents. Rina’s intention is to have revenge against Rio and Risa. Even if Risa loved her, it was before she discovered the truth. Her mother was sick and dad had to take care of her in hospital. Thus Rina was sent under Risa’s care. One day, father left mother without a word and she went into a coma after that shock. Soon Risa discovered that Risa and Rina’s dad once dated in the past and even after the latter married, he still flirted with Risa behind her back. Cartia saw them eloping with her own eyes. Rina is bitter that she was separated from her mom and vows to separate Risa from hers. Cartia says she is just aiding Rina in her revenge that’s why she had all those Gate Battles to train Rio and make her worthy to take on Rina. Poker will be this final high altitude high stakes’ game. Risa gets engulfed in Rina’s Roll Ruler, a dark forest that somewhat reflects the darkness of Rina’s heart. Cartia gives Howard the password and returns Sky Resort to him. Rio collapses from exhaustion.

Episode 9
Though Sky Resort is back in Howard’s control and drifting in the sea, but Cartia has taken over Howard Resort and renamed it Goltschmitt Kingdom. I guess this means Rio has lost. Mint and Jack help cheer Rio up by helping her to clean the casino tables. Rosa bumps into Dana as the latter warns that agents of ICDG (International Casino Dealers Guild) are watching closely. Elsewhere, Rina seems disappointed in her win over Rio. But happy or not, she notes Cartia will be happy if she gets all the Gates. Speaking of which, 2 more are missing and Cartia has assigned her men to find them. Meanwhile Orlin and Elvis have returned and even though they win big, they don’t feel satisfied. They felt something missing: The Goddess of Victory. They go to see Rio and seek a challenge from her. She won’t turn them down despite the rest thinking they’re back for revenge knowing that Rio has weakened. The loser will leave the casino world forever. In the first poker match against Orlin, the Queen Killer finally gets all his queens but Rio gets a higher ranking straight flush. Against Elvis in a roulette, once more Rio emerges victorious. With Rio getting her confidence back, Orlin and Elvis are happy that even in defeat, they felt great to have challenged her. I guess Misery wasn’t really exorcised from Rosa so she points out Jack had a hand in Rio’s victory. Jack admits he did use his power because everyone would be sad if Rio lost. Misery says Cartia is about to demolish her castle and she will lose a place to stay. I don’t think Rosa would want her to stay in her body forever. Better do something quick! That night, Rio meets Howard in a joker outfit. He shows Rio a prank he is about to pull on Cartia by cutting off electricity using a secret terminal (why hide it in a telephone booth? I guess nobody uses that nowadays). However it has no effect because Cartia has saw through his schemes. Her men take them to her. Cartia offers Rio to work for her since the customers are asking for the Goddess of Victory. She’ll make her the general manager and will give her the freedom to hire her friends back at Sky Resort. Howard wants her to take the deal and then hire him but she rejects! Haha. On their way out, Rio has a brief showdown with Rina. She follows Howard but realizes this person is not him. Suddenly she is summoned into Joker’s Roll Ruler along with Dana.

Episode 10
Rio can leave this Roll Ruler if she beats her via Blackjack. Joker wants to see Rio’s Roll Ruler but she says she doesn’t have them now. Joker reminds her that dealers can’t just deal cards. Using Roll Ruler to control victory or defeat of the player is the mark of a true dealer. The Blackjack games always end in a draw. Nobody wins and nobody loses. This will go on forever. Over the games, Joker reminds her what is Roll Ruler to her, is she bringing happiness to others or just satisfying herself. Back to that scene again whereby Rio purposely lost to Rina. Rio is being told she doesn’t understand Rina’s feelings. Because her heart is wavering, Rio lost her hand. The rest of the girls are trying to find where Rio and Howard are. Detecting them in Howard Tower, Jack flies Mint over there (was the superhero costume necessary?). By the time they arrive, they get to know that Rio is now experiencing successive loses. Then on the next card, Rio wins. Joker wonders if she plans to continue winning without using her power. Noting her confidence, Joker gives Rio a Gate so she qualifies to fight Rina. Bull Hard reports to Cartia that the 13th Gate hasn’t been found yet. She gets desperate and threatens the project will be cancelled. This is news to Rina as she pesters for answers. It’s obvious Cartia is acting nervous despite just wanting to see the rainbow. Rina is baffled why Casino Guild would want to collect the Gates now. But she assures she will become strong and collect all the Gates. Howard discusses with the rest that ICDG’s goal wasn’t about taking Howard Resort since they have no interest in managing casinos. Their target is indeed the Gates or perhaps someone who can be like Risa. Rio is being summoned by Dana, who to her surprise is a Gate Holder. She wants to test Rio to see if she is worthy to hold that person’s Gate. The challenge is if Rio can safely cross the bridge, her Gate is hers. Each time Rio steps on a tile, dangerous obstacles appear to take her out. To Dana’s surprise, Rio can see the location of the traps and steps on all of them to activate it. This is so that the traps can eliminate each other. Well, thankfully the traps aren’t that intelligent. So with Rio admitting her immaturity and accepting her fate as a dealer as well as Rina’s emotions, Dana gives Rio her Gate. Mr Clark is surprised Howard is conspiring to make the sisters fight. I’m sure you would’ve guessed by now that Joker is in fact Risa. Rio exuding with confidence returns to her girls and they plan to take back Howard Resort.

Episode 11
How are they going to take the casino back? First, the ladies dress up in their stunning dresses. Then they waltz into the casino and play all the games and slots. They’re going to buy back Howard Resort this way? Hell, they’re on a winning streak! Even Anya is on a hot streak. Her clumsiness proves lucky for once. Since Mint is underage, I guess she just watched. The girls have won 15% of Cartia’s empire and it was enough for them to swim in all the cash they won! But they have a bigger crisis. Choco is missing so they have to put their gambling on hold to find the teddy. Risa talks to Howard about the irony how MVCD tore her family apart. The moment she gathered all the Gates, Casino Guild tried to kidnap her. That’s why she went into hiding to protect Rio. She will protect Rio and prevent her from walking this same path. She thanks Howard for looking after Rio but he brushes it off that he is just after the $100 million dollar cash prize. The girls lose all their winnings to a pair of Chinese vampire girls, Yang-Yang and Ang-Ang. They even have a talisman on their heads. They are dubbed Number 10 by Cartia and are her trump card. She challenges them to a game. If they win, she’ll double their earnings to 30%. But Rio doesn’t care about that and wants Choco found instead. Cartia brings them to a building called Concentration Bomber. Howard built it but locked this attraction away. In this memory game, the pair will have to choose the same pair of cards. If they succeed, they get to continue picking the next pair. Otherwise it’s their opponent’s turn. The one with the most pairs at the end wins. Oh, picking the wrong card means Bomber Time! It means you go boom if they don’t match! Dangerous. If Team Rio is bad, then thank heavens that Yang-Yang is also equally bad because her prediction computer is off since it is made in China. So her prediction doesn’t work here? And why is Elvis the referee getting beaten up for each wrong match? The game has 4 cards left and both teams are equal. Mint is nervous but Rio hugs her to calm her down. Then Mint starts to see toys floating and among them is Choco. It seems the bear is pointing out which cards to pick. In the end, they choose the right cards and win. Howard realizes Cartia is using Concentration Bomber and calls her. He says he sealed off the building because of its instability. Using it will cause it to explode. Thanks for the late warning. If it only came a little bit earlier. Unlucky Mint bears the brunt of the explosion but Ang-Ang comes to her rescue. Suddenly Ang-Ang turns into Choco! It is revealed Yang-Yang was lonely and saw Mint’s Choco. She stole it from her and turned it into Ang-Ang. So why Choco? Seems her spell only works on stuffs made in China. I’m not sure if this statement means China stuffs are superior or inferior. Though Cartia notes she didn’t really lose much, Rina has returned from her break and will take back what Cartia lost. Rio challenges her to it and surprises her with the pair of Gates she has.

Episode 12
In a press conference, Mr Clark has Howard and Cartia sign an official agreement for the Gate Battle. But before the big battle, Howard takes his girls on a vacation as reward. Well, they’re suspicious of his goodwill because they used their winnings for the trip and Rosa got this luxurious cruiser for them. Plus, Carlos, Orlin and Elvis are coming too. The more the merrier? On the island, Rio meets the old caretaker of her family’s villa. It’s been years she hasn’t come back but he still recognizes her. So after the hotsprings and ping pong games, Mint wanders herself to find Rio. She meets the old caretaker and asks for directions to Rio’s villa. Speaking of that, Rio is at that place. Brings back nostalgic memories, eh? Rio gets a call from Howard that Mint is missing. She is about to go look for her but can’t help notice Chip is looking at a door. He won’t budge. So when Rio opens the door, nobody is inside the room. Well, I think there was somebody there. Want to bet it was Rina? Mint somehow got herself lost in the woods slides off the slope. She could have been a hungry bear’s dinner if not for Rina. She uses her Roll Ruler to shoo the beast away. Rina puts unconscious Mint on the park bench and calls Howard to retrieve her. Howard tells her Risa didn’t betray her and Cartia lied about her father eloping with Risa. Rina says she knew that a long time ago. But if she accepted that, she won’t be herself anymore. Even if it’s just a lie, Cartia’s words lifted her out of despair and revenge made her stronger. That was all she had to live for. Mint wakes up safely in Rio’s arms and tells her how Rina saved her. Before the big showdown, Howard tells Rio that Rina is trying to escape from Cartia. If she didn’t, she wouldn’t have gone back to that town, a place filled with nostalgic memories. Cartia isn’t amused Rina went back there but she says it’s to turn her nostalgia into hatred. But Cartia cautions she will have her henchmen intervene at the slightest uncertainty. Elvis was supposed to be the dealer but Joker knocks him out and takes his place. Since Rio and Rina do not mind, it’s set. The winner of this match will get all the Gates and obtain the title of MVCD. The first person to reach 15 wins in this poker game wins. Rina uses her Roll Ruler to draw first blood. And again for her second consecutive victory. But Rio is not worried.

Episode 13
Rina has won for the 14th consecutive time! Just one win away from MVCD… Rio’s friends are starting to get worried. Is Rio that bad? Howard thinks Rio is trying to lose on purpose to atone for what she did to Rina. But that is not kindness. That is a lie! He’s not saying it because he is concerned for Rio. It’s because his resort is at stake. So win the game, damn it! Rina is not pleased if that is the case and thinks Rio is looking down on her and wants her to give her best. On the contrary, Rio has always been giving her best. It’s just that the casino’s luck has been by her side. Till now. Subsequently when Rina uses her Roll Ruler, it has no effect. What does this mean? It means Rio has stopped her losing streak and has turned the tables on Rina. She makes an awesome comeback to tie the match at 14 wins each. I guess for once she fights for herself instead of somebody else. Before the final match, we have this convenient explanation from Dana that Gates may contain lost technology of ancient civilizations called OOPARTS. No one knows who made them and were believed to be ancient predecessors of tarot cards. The Gates are awaiting the birth of its new owner. Rio and Rina enter Rio’s Roll Ruler, where every secret is out and there are no lies. The sisters are surprised to learn Joker is Risa. She explains how Casino Guild tried to use her for evil when she became MVCD. Knowing they would go after them, that’s why she ran away and disappeared with Rina’s dad to prevent their powers from awakening. Rina despite loving Rio, she too hates and can’t forgive her. Then she remembers her father told her he is an executive officer of Casino Guild and will be away for a while to stop radical members and to look after mom. Mom on the other hand knows Rina will be lonely and doesn’t want to her to blame dad. She also wants to think of Risa as her own mother. But Rina couldn’t live without winning. So by surpassing Rio and becoming MVCD, the world that hurt her will fall at her feet. That’s what kept her going. As for why Rio fights, it’s to reclaim what she lost. To reclaim her beloved Rina. So back to the final game, both sisters give it their best shot and it ends with Rio winning with the ultimate royal straight flush hand. With the crowd cheering (except for Cartia and her subordinates), Rio is crowned MVCD as the Rainbow Gate opens. Rainbows are supposed to be seven coloured curved lights, right? Well, this one seems like some powerful energy shooting upwards. As explained by Joker, those who pass through it will grow beyond human measure and can use the ultimate Rule Roller to grant all wishes. Rio steps inside the light and well, I guess for us to comprehend the ‘wonderfulness’, we see flowery prints floating across the screen.

Suddenly a group of armed men from the Casino Guild led by Charlie, storms in and holds everyone as hostage. Cartia is in cahoots with them to capture MVCD. Charlie orders his men to capture Rio as part of their final mission. The rest try to stop them but to no avail. Mint calls out Rio’s name and she responds. No wait. Carlos responded first as he slashes and disarms all men! I can’t believe my eyes. Sure it’s this afro samurai dude getting things right? Then he starts lecturing about casino guilds existing for righteous purpose. Wait a minute. Casino and righteousness? Those words hardly exist in the same sentence! Meanwhile, we see scenes from around the world and we could guess what wish Rio made. Everyone got lucky. Heck, the entire world! Even the accident turned out to be reunification of lost love (instant marriage proposal!). Hell, a certain Arab country ended its 30 years of civil war. Whether it is big or small, everybody just got lucky in some ways! What a big happy world! Unbelievable! Carlos tells Charlie and his men to go home and give up this foolish idea. He reveals himself as ICDG police along with Joker and has the badge to prove it. So I guess it’s true. I thought it was Rio’s luck that made him lucky and dependable for those few seconds. But he still sucks at gambling. Ouch. But I don’t know. How are the radical members of Casino Guild planning to use MVCD to control all the casinos and the entire world (thus making the sisters fight)? Heck, we won’t find out because they just failed. Howard warns Charlie now that he knows who they are, he’ll expose the truth if they ever pull this stunt again. Charlie agrees but Cartia is worried. What about her? Since Gate Battles are under her, this means she will have to use he own money to pay for the MVCD prize. Howard will be expecting that. Hehehe… Now she’s gone from one filthy rich b*tch to one broke penniless b*tch. Still a b*tch nevertheless. Rio returns from the Rainbow Gate to reunite with her friends. It’s party time. In the aftermath, Howard Resort is back in business, Rio and Rina continue to be dealers, Misery still possesses Rosa and Anya is still clumsy. Some things never do change. Rina’s mom wakes up from her coma and emotionally reunites with her daughter. Cartia may be waiting for the day she’ll exact her revenge on Rio but for now, she’s got to put up with her little Sky Resort drifting away in the sea. Don’t worry. She’s got Linda for company. If she can stop blowing things up, that is. And what’s this? A pair of villainous looking people watching over the resort?! Wait, wait! Don’t end like that… Too late.

All Bets Are Off!
I guess you could say I lost the bet. The ‘currency’ I placed was hope. True, I wasn’t placing much expectation on this series but I didn’t expect it to go below that expectation. There wasn’t anything memorable and trying to put in a conspiracy of a certain secret organization trying to take control over the world by pitting a pair of sisters together so that the chosen one could unleash some unexplained power/magic that will grant their wish. Is that how I see it? Definitely. A lot of things bugged me. The characters and the concept especially. And don’t start with that half-assed ending. I don’t want to talk about it. As mentioned at the very beginning, the weird part is that they’re trying to paint gambling as something fun and happy. Of course if you do it in moderation but what are the chances as human beings controlling our lust to control our greed? That’s why there are so many angry people. So many broke people. So many broken people. So many broken dreams. It was a nice concept that everybody was lucky for that moment and I really wanted to believe it. However my feet were somewhat grounded and I didn’t experience Rio’s luck. So in a way the worldwide luck thingy felt absurd. It disrupts the balance of the world. Light and darkness exist together so if everybody had good luck, who has the bad luck then? It’s not in my place to say but think about it. The last straw came when the countries stopped their petty civil war and shook hands. Like it was that easy. And to make peace due to a dealer’s win. How ironic is that? Plus, how long would all the luck last? It will have to end someday. Call me a cynic, non-believer or spoil sport. Blame the world for turning me into a cold heartless otaku. But if people like Rio really exists and that gambling would really make you happy (and I don’t mean just in monetary terms), I would’ve been a gambling addict instead of an anime addict a long time ago.

There was a fourteenth episode or as many would call it, an OVA released at the end of 2011 but since I wasn’t impressed with this series, I didn’t get the interest to watch it. So I just went browsing through the web and saw screenshots of this OVA and you can blame me for judging the book by its cover because the OVA, just like any other animes that release an OVA after its TV series has ended, is just a filler rather than to answer any questions that viewers may want to know. So for this particular OVA from what I can see, you’ll get your 2 cents worth of fanservice shots with the girls showering and changing but no visible tits (as far as the comments that I read). Plot-wise, I see Choco been turned into that Ang-Ang and she decides to go earn some money to buy a present for Mint. But do Chinese vampires have luck in casinos? But she gets rewarded for her honesty when she returns Howard’s lost wallet (what’s a few cash compared to his unimaginable pool of wealth?). In another story, Linda, Jack and Mint meet a couple of aliens who crashed landed. Hmm… They look like Bomberman. So Linda gets turned into a giant and rampages around town like King Kong or Godzilla. Even the army and fighter jets are called in. So can Jack in his superhero outfit save the day? Well, till Linda loses her head. Literally. Turns out it was just a surreal dream. But the Bomberman? And as everybody prepares to tug in for the night, Anya is happy she didn’t trip for the entire day (couldn’t say about her other clumsiness) but remember Murphy’s Law. Before she jumps into bed, she trips over sockets of plugs. It not only blacks out the entire building, but the entire casino island! I didn’t know those plugs were connected to the electricity of the island. Oh, don’t ever plug them haphazardly like that!

On to the characters, they don’t really impress me either. Rio the best dealer in the world somehow has this uncanny ability to bring people luck loves helping others till she realizes that sometimes you have to help yourself too (in a good way). Her kind of skill would have made lots of casino owners to stay away from their casino. Where to casinos get their earnings? From losing customers, right? The bigger the better. So it really boggles me not so much how she got this ability (may it’s the ability Risa wanted to shield her daughter from those unscrupulous bastards) but the way she uses it to help her customers. I mean, she doesn’t really turn a customer down even if she doesn’t like it. As long as you’re the customer, she’ll gladly do it with her smile. Good policy to stick to if you’re in the service industry. Care to do porn too? Hah! I suppose she’ll do anything as long as it is related to casino and gambling. Wanna bet that? Maybe that’s why the customers keep flocking back to Howard Resort. They really can get lucky if the Goddess of Victory is on your side. For Rina, she operates on hate to go on living despite knowing deep down that she loves Rio. What would she be if doesn’t have revenge as motivation? Her father’s somewhat gone, along with Risa too, her mother’s somewhat close to sleeping forever, so the only thing she’s got left is Rio. I don’t think she has even considered Cartia as her close enemy. Just like how Cartia considered her as a tool for her goal, I too feel Rina had the same for her. So what happened to Risa in the end? She’s not going back to her daughters? She’s still sticking with ICDG police? Well, the radicals aren’t wiped out yet so it’s hard to say the threat is over. I’m not sure about Howard. It’s like sometimes he is a typical selfish big tycoon and sometimes he’s a good caring guy. But more of the former of course. Increasing his wealth and his resort are his top priorities so he has Rio engage in a lot of weird and embarrassing activities to draw in the crowd and publicity. Always smiling with his big grinning teeth, a cigar in hand and a yellow suit, he isn’t all that bad and you have to give him his dues to. He does look out for Rio in Risa’s absence. Albeit taking advantage of that while he’s at it.

The other characters I feel were just, how do I put it, unimportant. Mint is just somebody who is around Rio like she’s her number one fan. Besides, do they really let kids into the casino to watch even though they can’t play? Tiffany, Elle and Ille are just there to provide some fanservice eye candy and don’t do much. Just like Mint and the rest, they just give comments while watching whatever event Rio gets involved in. But the annoying thing I find about Ille is that although she speaks in a rather monotonous voice as compared to Elle’s livelier expression, Ille has this habit to repeat what Elle says or agrees with that she says. It’s like hearing the same thing twice or confirming it. Doesn’t she have a dialogue of her own? For those dojikko (clumsy girl) fans, I guess this is where Anya comes in. What’s the use of hiring somebody who just trips and breaks everything? Don’t tell me they’re going with my theory of balancing yin and yang. Otherwise, she’s just to provide comic relief. Same case with Rosa. She would’ve been downgraded to a has-been Hollywood star and someone whom I would have forgotten a long time had not Misery possessed her. So it’s like she is sticking around and showing her face partly not because she’s part of the gang but because a ghost is residing in her. Thus from time to time we could see that Misery popping up and turning young pretty Rosa into an old ghastly hag. Yeah, I find that funny. Can’t she go over to the next world already? Is there something she needs to do in this world? Oh, I don’t know. Win big in her gambling or eat all the chicken wings? Linda? Why have a robot that is always losing her head? It feels like she has a few screws loose in them. Which I think is the case because the slightest nudge could send the system overloading. Is this what the entire Sky Resort casino system is relying on? Dangerous! Feeling a bit like a shonen anime, Orlin and Elvis, opponents whom Rio once defeated return to become her supporter. For other opponents that Rio faced especially the ones Cartia sent, they may appear like formidable foes and someone tough to beat. However you’ll later realize that person is like a total idiot or useless person. That Carlos guy, he has got to be the biggest joker and comic relief of them all. Whenever he barges into the scene, it seems like his frantic and panicky disposition would make us distress that something bad has happened. Then it turns out to be his own personal problem like stomach discomfort. Yeah, real funny. Real useless. Till he makes he reveals his true identity. I guess that’s not a joke.

There are a few more things that continue to bug me. For instance the Gate Battles. Though any Gate Holders can challenge another Gate Holder anytime and anywhere, it just bugs me that some of the Gate Battles have nothing to do with gambling games. Since Gates resemble playing cards, I thought such battles should resemble games that use them. Take for instance Rio’s Gate Battle with Linda. I mean, sliding down a long water slide? I know the odds of reaching the goal is like gambling itself. 50-50. But riding a water slide? Why not do a kendo match instead. Other Gate Battles are just too short. For example the one with King. Which hand is it in? Why not just ask a yes-or-no quiz. So I don’t know. It can be long, it can be short. It can be complex or it could be very simple. As long as there is a winner in the end. I’m sure the spectators are the ultimate winner getting to witness such great events despite some of them feeling cheap.  Then comes the storyline. Just how does ICDG distribute all of its 13 Gates? I’m sure they have their criteria but when Risa won hers, how were the Gates distributed again? Who was that person who gave Rio her first Gate? Don’t tell me it was Risa because from that flashback, I could tell it was a guy. Who was that guy who was willing to give such a precious Gate to another dealer by just watching? So now that Rio has all the gates, when will the next distribution of the Gates be and how? Maybe I shouldn’t think so much since it’s not I’m going to lose a limb (maybe brain cells for thinking too much). And the Casino Guild? I thought it was just a fancy name for a group of guerrillas. Yeah, they certainly look more like mercenaries than anybody interested in organizing casinos. I guess they bet their ideals and life on the line, eh?

I guess if you’re watching this series, you would probably be here for the little fanservice too. Even if you’re not, consider it as something a little extra. But it’s not something that ecchi fans would go gaga over. They’re just teasing you with the little bust shots especially Rio’s boobs which seem like it would want to burst out of her tiny little dealer jacket anytime. Anytime now… A button may just pop off… Nope. Don’t bet on it. If you fancy seeing Tiffany in something even skimpier than her already skimpy red bunny bikini, don’t hope anymore. Though I didn’t watch the DVDs, I’m not sure if you’d be able to see real tits seeing that the OVA itself lacks them. I could be wrong since I haven’t really seen them but if you are really a hardcore ecchi fan, you’d be happier looking at somewhere else. For the art and drawing, I suppose they are your typical Japanese anime style with some of the characters looking a bit westernized seeing Howard Resort had this American Las Vegas feel except that it is on an island on not in the middle of the desert. Certainly you don’t see this kind of casinos in Japan, right? Not that I know of. Because pachinko parlours are the more popular choice there. Speaking of which, this series was based on a pachinko game. Hmm… Maybe that’s why the ending sucks. Maybe that’s why the storyline felt mediocre. One other thing about the drawing, I find that the characters’ eyes, they’re drawn like U-shape or horseshoe. Weird…

The voice acting is pretty decent. Nothing really extraordinary. Marina Inoue as Rio doesn’t feel unique at all. So much so I thought her role as Maria+Holic’s deadpan but sarcastic Matsurika sounded better. Probably I wasn’t concentrating enough that I couldn’t identify Mint’s shrieky voice from Ayana Taketatsu (Vanilla in Yumeiro Patissiere, Alice in Highschool Of The Dead). I thought Minori Chihara as emotionless Dana made her sound like her other character such as Nagato in Suzumiya Haruhi No Yuutsu and Chiaki in Minami-ke. Other casts include Chiaki Takahashi as Rina (Tsumugi in Hoshizora E Kakaru Hashi), Kouji Ishii as Howard (Garterbelt in Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt), Yukari Fukui as Anya (Nia in Gurren Lagann), Sayaka Ohara as Linda (Alicia in Aria The Animation), Kaori Shimizu as Rosa (Akira in School Rumble), Eri Kitamura as Misery (Ami in Toradora), Youko Hikasa as Linda (Mio in K-ON!), Kikuko Inoue as Risa (Belldandy in Aa! Megami-sama), Yumiko Kobayashi as Jack (Black Star in Soul Eater), Aya Uchida as Elle and Ille (Ascoeur in Kiddy Girl -and),  Wataru Takagi as Orlin (Komiyama in Ichigo 100%), Hiroki Takahashi as Elvis (Eiji in Prince Of Tennis), Asuka Oogame as Yang-Yang (Mikazuki in KissxSis), Saki Nakajima as Tiffany (Dorothy in MAR), Daisuke Kishio as Carlos (Suginami in Da Capo series) and Katsumi Chou as Mr Clark (Victor in Karin). The opening and ending theme sound like typical anime idol pop. Not that it interests me anyway. Sekai To Issho Ni Mawarou Yo by Love Roulettes is the opening theme while Miracle Chance by ULTRA-PRISM is the ending song. The opening animation is filled with floral shapes and card suits floating all over the screen while the ending theme has your usual fanservice to accompany the cards and roulette table and wheel.

So in the end, my perception on gambling isn’t going to turn favourable even if this anime somewhat indicate otherwise. Unless it’s for fun and knowledge and no going overboard, my suggestion is to stay far away from it. Treat it like drugs. I may not be an angel myself but imagine if everyone won the lottery and became rich, who is going to do all the work? What happens when there are all kings and no slaves? Yeah, world balance upset. It doesn’t work that way. Forgive me for always finding myself to keep saying this. But like life itself, it is one big bet. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes you are not. You either make it or you screw up. Maybe it’s luck, maybe it is destiny. Who knows. But it is you who ultimately make the decisions in your life despite you can cite and blame other factors in influencing your decision. That’s why even if gambling relies purely on luck, it is still you that everything depends on. So leave it to yourself and have faith. Not let some other third party to give you the luck. Sorry Rio, I don’t want to leave it to you. I’d rather walk and make my own path and destiny. Because I’ll be much happier and in control no matter what the outcome. You can be darn sure that I’ll definitely bet on this one.

P/S- Joke: What is the difference between a guy praying to God at the church and a guy praying at the casino? The one in the casino is dead serious! Haha!

Rio - Rainbow Gate