Kakegurui XX

July 20, 2019

It wasn’t me. I had no money to bet there would be another reason and was just silently praying to God for it and boom! Here it was! Kakegurui XX was unexpected and I supposed somebody made a bet and won over the producers for another season. Or maybe God really worked his miracle. Thank you. God or whoever you are anonymous gambler for giving another season for this great psychological gambling game that had too many interesting potentials and developments that would be a shame had it not get another sequel. Now I can enjoy the second season without betting or risking anything XD. Or do I?

Episode 1
Yumeko, Ikishima and Erimi Mushibami are in a high stakes gambling. In this game, each will take turns to cut a string. One of the strings is connected to the guillotine that will definitely chop off their finger. Of course the first to pull out loses in this extreme game of chicken. The game is supervised by Inaho Yamato of the election committee whose duty is to be the neutral judge. Erimi is not afraid of the outcome. She knows there is a safety plate that would stop the blade from going down all the way. She is relishing to see the chance of her opponents squirm and panic in fear. However as the game passes and they cut fake strings, Erimi is puzzled that they are getting more and more excited. They’re basically orgasming and hope that the next string they cut is the real deal! She tries to play psychology to see how long they will last as she explains her family is in the business of torture and that’s why she has this mini guillotine. But when Yumeko checks with Inaho if she had checked and removed it and Inaho confirms it, Erimi starts to panic. Wait a minute. You mean there is no safety plate?! Prior to the game, for fairness, all the participants waited out of the room as Inaho checked the guillotine and shuffled the strings. Oh dear. Now it’s Inaho to get scared. She’s sweating a lot. Must be the heavy gothic dress, huh? NOT! And Ikishima and Yumeko are only getting crazier as the strings reduced. Yeah, the chances of the guillotine dropping could be any time soon… And there are only 3 strings left… Oh sh*t! And then Erimi starts crying inconsolably… WTF… What the f*ck?! WHAT THE F*CK???!!! Yumeko not looking happy. B*tch, did you just kill my vibe?! Flashback to when Kirari announced after a string of defeats the student council suffered at the hands of Yumeko, she is dissolving the student council and hold an election. Some are opposed to this because it will mean Kirari relinquishing her power. Kirari explains Hyakkaou is a garden she created beautifully based on the law of the survival of the fittest. But someone came to disrupt that beauty. If left alone, the distortion will grow. Hence she wants to stir things up even more. Kirari ushers in and introduces a new bunch of weirdoes. Terano and Yumi Totobami, Sumika Warakubami, Miroslava Honebami, Nozomi Komabami, Rin and Ibara Obami, Miri Yobami, Miyo Inbami and Erimi. All these are the relatives and branches of the Momobami clan. They have recently transferred here to represent their families as candidates for the presidential election. There is also Rei Batsubami but she isn’t gambling and serves as their butler.

Episode 2
Thanks to Kirari’s sudden announcement, the adults panic and sent their kids here since the winner will also become the head of the Momobami clan. Terano accuses Kirari of loving to see all the families panic over this. She hates her for easily taken what she wants and then relinquishes it with ease. While some of the existing student council protest this, Kirari notes that if they want to maintain status quo, all they have to do is win. Everyone has a fair chance with this election. This means the other students too. Everyone will be given a chip that represents their vote. You gamble and win votes of others. The person with the most votes after 30 days wins. Yumeko was happy with this but rued since Manyuda transferred all his money to her, looks like she can’t use it as bets in this election. Mary is wary of this election and wants to stay out (no Yumeko-Mary lesbian combo, I guess). She suspects they could be distant relatives of Yumeko since they all have that Bami name. Meanwhile Terano is the unofficial leader of the branches. She has everyone remember their pact to topple Kirari and until then they will not face each other. As for Yumeko, she must be a fringe family of the clan and they are free to fight or ignore her. Hence Erimi gets this idea to take her out. Rei then goes to get Yumeko who is delighted that somebody has issued a challenge to her. She wasn’t thrilled that Ikishima also got the invitation but soon gets excited after Erimi introduces her game. And that is where we all now. Erimi is struck by her own fear and terror but with those crazy b*tches egging her to go all the way, I guess Erimi has also lost it and just picks up the scissors to cut. A miss! Damn, the tension is running high! Ikishima is so f*cking excited that she cuts both strings at once! Here comes the guillotine!!!!!! Eh? The safety plate is still intact? Because Erimi pulled out first, she loses. Because Ikishima cut 2 strings, she is disqualified. Hence Yumeko is the winner. But Yumeko is very mad at Ikishima for killing the tension. Never show your face before me again! As for why the safety plate is still there, actually when Yumeko hinted to Inaho, it was because she noticed the table the guillotine sits on was unstable. Hence she removed the pads from the table’s feet to add stability. Yumeko praises Erimi for her pride and conviction of staying true till the end. Wow. Erimi really got psyched on this one. Meanwhile Kirari and Terano talk about the latter bringing in Rei here. Her house was expelled from the clan and he won’t do good as insurance. Terano insists she is just a joker whose actions will be unpredictable.

Episode 3
Nishinotouin loses to Miyo and Miri. Yumeko is now delighted to play against them. While Miri is cold and distant, Miyo tries to put up a polite and friendly façade for Yumeko. Runa supervises this nim zero game that Suzui wants to enter too. He thinks he can help Yumeko? Okay. This game has cards labelled from 0 to 3. Each will be given 4 cards and the goal is not to exceed the total 9. The one who surpasses that loses. They will play this for 3 rounds. Because Suzui only has 1 chip, he is offered a service chip. Each chip means 24 hours of service to the student council. Is he willing to take that risk? You bet! In the first round, Yumeko ups the ante by raising 30 chips! The rest follow. Yeah, Suzui follows to and that means 700 over hours of service if he loses… The round completes with Miyo busting her hand. Suzui is puzzled because she had a bad hand so why did she risk this? Suddenly Yumeko collapses. Meanwhile Mary is confronted by Ririka and is forced to play a simple gamble with her. Guess which hand has a chip and all these chips will be hers. If Mary wins, she will follow her around. If Ririka wins, Mary will team up with her to fight. However Mary takes off her mask, reducing her self-confidence drastically. Mary will not be cowed into this and refuses to play. Then she gets a call from Suzui. Help! Yumeko is poisoned and he is told to bring someone with lots of chips. Mary understands where this is going so she picks the correct hand of Ririka. Rushing to Yumeko’s side, she hears Suzui accusing Miyo and Miri of poisoning Yumeko. Their families might be in the pharmaceutical business but he has no proof. Even more so, Runa is perfectly sure there was no foul play during the game. This means it could happened before the game starts, outside Runa’s jurisdiction. Yup, the time Miyo hugged Yumeko during their introduction. With Mary replacing Yumeko, Miyo adds the serum as the wager. She also adds one cannot fold or else you have to press your finger against this nail coated with the same poison. Deep down inside Miyo, she relishes seeing these friends crumble in their noble bid to save Yumeko. The next round begins and Mary wants Suzui to show his hand! Well, that’s not against the rules. Suzui remembers Yumeko’s words to do all that Mary says. Hence he is going to believe in her. That is his bet! After seeing the weak cards he has, she is sure she can win this and raises the ante to 100 chips.

Episode 4
Miyo and Miri have developed some sort of telepathic way to communicate with themselves. Actually they ‘speak’ with their eyes. Whatever. Miyo wants Suzui not to listen to Mary. She will give the antidote to Yumeko and they should join forces to take her down as Mary is only trying to sacrifice him. Suzui rejects her deal because this is not what Yumeko would’ve wanted. The round ends with Miri losing. For the last round, the same thing as Mary has Suzui shows his cards. When Miyo raises the ante to 300 chips, Mary raises it to 10,000 chips! Miyo thinks she is trying to make them fold and is bluffing. They call on her and the game begins. Miyo and Miri realizes despite having good hands, they are the ones under threat. Yeah, Mary is smiling and enjoying the game. Miyo then notices that this could be Runa’s fault. It seems Mary has also noticed Runa’s Gilbreath shuffling style. From what I understand, no matter how you shuffle and cut the deck, every 4 cards will contain 1 from each suit (in this case, numbers) despite being random. So with 16 cards among them and each containing precisely 4 suits, that is why Mary had Suzui show his cards. This means she can tell what the cards Miyo and Miri have. With the limited choices they could make, it makes them easier to predict. Miyo accuses Runa of not adhering to neutrality. However Runa fires back that she has always been shuffling this way. It’s her fault not to take notice. Even so, as a dealer she sets the rules. It is her principle to make sure everyone has a fair shot at winning even if you are dead! The poison takes effect on Miri. Miyo then tells Miri to lose for her. She claims herself as superior. Miri does that and collapses. Miyo takes her away and vows to kill Mary next time. Yumeko is recuperating with Rei’s help administering the serum. Suzui thanks Mary and even Rei. He is glad that Rei is a kind person despite coming from a scary clan. But this makes Rei feel sad. As the gambling rages on, Kirari feels bored with her easy wins. Like as though nobody is serious in taking her out. Rin and Sumika join in and Kirari finally thinks she could at least have some fun. Mary whispers a secret only to Yumeko. Not sure if she can hear but Mary says she is going to be the next student council president.

Episode 5
The total votes so far after a week. The top 10 from lowest to highest: Yumeko, Miroslava, Miyo, Sumika, Sumeragi, Rin, Mary, Yumemi, Terano and of course in a runaway lead, Kirari. After Ikishima criticizes Yumemi as a talentless idol, this makes her go into a rage. Yumemi’s goal isn’t to become the student council president but if she has to influence on the next president, she must convince others she was the one putting them in power. As she has taken all the votes from her fans, the only way to get more votes is to get more fans. Rin thinks back about his match with Kirari. Because she bet all in, Rin folded. He realized it was her way to get them to go into some sudden death match and that has nothing to do with poker skills. Hence Rin and Sumika decided not to continue. The disappointment on Kirari’s face was priceless. Yumemi begs Yumeko to team up as an idol and garner more votes. Then everyone is abuzz with the world’s famous Hollywood actress here, Natari Kawaru. Yumeko is a big fan of hers. What is she doing here? To take part in the election. Eh? Natari’s real name is Sumika! She ignores Yumemi and wants to gamble with Yumeko. However Yumeko won’t be ignored and also challenges her. Natari agrees the dream girls team up against her in a singing performance. Of course Yumemi doesn’t care about winning or losing. It is her dream to perform with an actress she admires very much. However it would be much better if she beats that b*tch. Meanwhile Mary chides Ririka for following her around like a stalker. She claims that promise thingy but Mary will not acknowledge her as her partner unless she gambles and proves her worth. We see Yumeko and Yumemi belting out a typical kawaii idol song. When it is Natari’s turn, she stuns the crowd with her amazing voice while singing Amazing Grace! Holy sh*t! So beautiful that it blew everyone away?! Yumemi starting to look scared. And at the same time so awed that she also cried. Yumemi is not worried because she bribed her fans to vote for her. So here is the result of the first round. Natari thumping the duo 92-8 votes!!! Yumemi starting to look REALLY scared now.

Episode 6
Yumemi realizes the only way Natari could have won was that she too bribed others. But this was how she did it. She gave it to Rei to tell people to vote however they want. In the next match, they must eat 3 macarons. One of them is super spicy. The winner is one who can guess which macaron their opponent ate is the spicy one. Yumemi might look like she hit it with the first one but good acting. Because Natari points out it was the second one. She knows because Yumemi broke her finger just to hide the grimace. Yumeko could correctly guess Natari’s by counting the times she chewed! She took longer for the first one because she was delaying it, fascinated by Yumemi’s acting. But it was just pure gambling and guessing with the remaining ones. When Yumemi realizes she can never beat Natari no matter what, Yumeko becomes mad. B*tch, you just killed my vibe. She only helped because she was going to win but now that she has moved the goalpost, she hates her. In this last game, players pick up a card and set it face down. They can declare its actual value or lie. However they cannot exceed the value of 63. One may pass but this makes you out of the game. When 1 player is left, if the actual total value is below 63, she wins. Over, she loses. With Yumeko being lifeless and not cooperating with Yumemi, the idol thinks hard about her predicament. Indeed she wanted to lose but then she hears her fan scream not to give up. She remembers all those times being an idol and wants Yumeko to pass with her. Yumeko is surprised that she was acting all the time. She gets her groove back again but Yumemi dismisses it and that she wanted to lose and be praised by Natari for trying despite being talentless. Yumemi never wanted to be an idol but an actress. But being an idol made her realize this role is fun and she has been to places she could never have imagined. She doesn’t know if there is any meaning in beating her but she will find that meaning if she continues to look for it. With the dream girls pulling out, Runa counts the cards and it goes over. The dream girls win and Natari hopes to battle with Yumemi the next time. In Hollywood.

Episode 7
Yumeko sees Terano and wants to gamble. Finally Manyuda wakes up but he doesn’t care about his own life anymore. Even when Sumeragi tears up his Life Programme, he still doesn’t mind becoming her slave. Reverse psychology backfired. Here comes Yumeko to talk to them for a favour. Ibara and Miroslava are summoned by Terano. It seems she is in agreement with Yumeko’s plan. As Kirari is running away with the votes, soon none will have enough to challenge her and hence this plan is to pool their votes together to the winner. However Terano will not be joining in due to her promise not to fight her brethren. Rumia Uru oversees this game. Each will be given 5 coins to put in either a personal deposit box or a tax box. Coins in the personal box will be counted to their overall total. But coins deposited in the tax box will be doubled and distributed equally to all players including those who didn’t contribute. This will last for 5 rounds and the winner will get the votes which are from Terano’s. However if they fail to get 40 coins, they will give their votes to her. Before each round, they have time to discuss strategy and can eliminate a player if 3 of them agree. As Sumeragi heads to deposit first, Manyuda asks Yumeko about her passion for gambling. But does she feel remorse for those lives she ruined? None. However this makes Rei very mad and only backed down when Terano instructed her. When the first round ends, it seems they are a few coins short and this means there is a traitor among them who didn’t deposit in the tax box. With accusations flying, Yumeko comes up with an idea by having everyone pick randomly a paper with a number to indicate how much they must deposit in the tax box. While the traitor may get away with 1 or 2 coins, at least this avoids a big betrayal. But by the end of the second round, even lesser coins were deposit so much so that there is at least 2 traitors in the midst for this to happen. Ibara gets mad believing Yumeko is the traitor since she expected this outcome too. With Sumeragi accusing Ibara and Miroslava as in cohorts, Manyuda surprisingly gives his evaluation on who the traitor is. Judging from the circumstances, he points to Yumeko.

Episode 8
Manyuda explains about Yumeko and Terano conspiring together to assure they could profit from this. This makes Sumeragi sad that he has gone senile. In the next round, it’s the same as the last. Yumeko then orgasms that they they’re going to lose. WTF she seducing Manyuda and that activates his desire to bring everybody down now?! So both of them declare they won’t pay any taxes and hence making everyone to do the same. However everyone paid them in full. Manyuda now reveals the true traitors are Miroslava and Sumeragi. You see, it isn’t against the rules to leave your coins for others. Hence Sumeragi left hers for Miroslava whose turn is after her. Even if Miroslava had no reason to trust her, what if the note says to bank in her coins into her own deposit box? Not bad seeing there are no risks and all she need to do is get rid of the evidence. Manyuda calculates the coins received from this and Miroslava is in a massive lead. Hence the majority agrees to remove her from the final round. Miroslava realizes she has been played by Sumeragi but doesn’t hold a grudge against her since they were both allies in betrayal. But she does note she likes Manyuda because she set this up in a way for him to win. After the final round, Sumeragi wins the game. Although the votes are redistributed and Sumeragi is to receive 100 votes, however Rei announces a third party betting. Prior to this, Sumeragi and Terano made a bet if Manyuda would win or lost and achieve 40 coins. Sumeragi betted he couldn’t and must now pay her 150 votes. Manyuda is mad she did this but for Sumeragi, either way it is a win for her. Had Manyuda lost, Sumeragi would win a huge amount of votes. Had Manyuda won, she loses her votes but knew he didn’t go senile and still had it in him. She is happy with either way. Hence this game wasn’t about him interested in finding out what other people think but what is in his own heart. Sumeragi doesn’t see this as saving him. He is her accomplice and now her gamble is now left in her hands. With that, Sumeragi is no longer in the running for the student council president. Sayaka is getting worried that Terano is obtaining more votes and will do anything like threats and expulsion just to protect Kirari. However Kirari will not have any of that. She wants Yumeko to stir things up further. Oh Sayaka. You looking so sad. Is she going to get a heart attack?

Episode 9
Update on the rankings of the election. The top 10 from lowest to highest: Suzui (surprise!), Nozomi, Miyo, Ibara, Yumeko, Rin, Mary, Yumemi, Terano and Kirari. When Yumeko declares to challenge Kirari right now, this is when b*tch Sayaka steps in to berate her and even wants Kirari to throw her out right now. Of course no can do. This has Sayaka wondering if Kirari will look at her more favourably if she beats Yumeko at gambling. Well, if she can. This has Sayaka challenging Yumeko to a gamble. But it will be separate from the election and not votes. They will bet their lives. As shocking this may sound, Yumeko declines. Because that would be too boring. In order for Sayaka to really bet everything, she must risk her relationship and memories with Kirari. That is her ultimate bet. If Yumeko loses, she will never gamble again. With Kirari looking forward to this and wants to be their dealer, it’s do or die for Sayaka. In this tower game, the aim is to move from the fifth floor down to the first floor to pick a flower and then back up to the fifth floor again. The fastest to do so wins. However there are doors and hatches that brings you up or down different levels. Only the central staircase brings you directly to the bottom and top floor. Each will have 5 minutes as they take turns to choose a door to open but each door has a puzzle they must solve. However a word of caution, even if they get the answer correct, it may not be the solution. With Sayaka still thinking about her important ties with Kirari, Kirari ups the ante for her. Let the loser jump off the highest floor and die. So if Sayaka losers, she will die an utter stranger to her. The game begins, Yumeko goes first. I don’t really get the puzzles to the doors that keep changing but it has something to do with hexadecimal and decimal values. Although Yumeko got it right, behind the door is a wall. Sayaka’s turn, she chooses her hatch and her answer allows her to go down to another floor. But reaching the 4th floor, she realizes the other hatch goes down a few more floors. She thought of praying to God for Yumeko not to choose that hatch but screw that. She is going to believe in her decisions and Kirari! Yumeko’s turn, she chooses a door. Not sure if she is making out with the door because she considers this tower as her opponent and wants to get to know more about it. Every inch, nook and corner. Because rather than living in ignorance, better to know everything and die!

Episode 10
Flashback shows Sayaka as a meek girl who met Kirari and wanted to be a secretary. She was enthralled with her gambling style and wanted to be close to her to learn more. Sayaka feared she said too much but surprisingly, Kirari took a liking for her rationality and accepted. As she makes her way to the first floor, she is shocked that Yumeko hasn’t arrived. She cannot have left since her flower is still here. She starts to think what might have happened and on her next turn, tries the central staircase. Brick wall. It is then Yumeko shows up. Sayaka starts laughing and is now confident to beat her. She climbs her way back up, certain that she will win but wait… Yumeko has arrived! Sayaka in shock! Face it. She lost. Yumeko explains about her choice. The puzzles displayed are actually angles. When she opened the door, she just wanted to look at the moon. However there was nothing. It then dawned to her that this entire tower itself is rotating. That is why they sometimes hit the brick wall. So using this calculation, Yumeko was able to use the central staircase and head right back up. Sayaka is still in disbelief. Why would Kirari design a tower that doesn’t not fully utilize gambling? That’s the thing. That’s part of the gamble. Dead fish Sayaka realizes she lost because of logic. Saddened by her fate she couldn’t understand the person she loves, she prepares to jump to her death. After doing so, she is shocked to see Sayaka jumping after her! It isn’t the flower fields that broke their fall. Yeah, safety mats. Kirari explains this is her tower so she wanted to also be the first person to jump off. However Sayaka chose the correct door because other doors would have led to her death. Hence despite not thinking, her mind is still seeking logic. After all this time, she still finds her fascinating. Now that they are strangers, she offers her to become her secretary. She might not understand her but that’s okay. Can we say today is the day Sayaka died and reborn again?

Episode 11
A few received an invitation for the 100 vote auction. But not all those who were invited came. Those who turn up are Yumeko, Suzui, Mary, Ririka, Nishinotouin and Ikishima (totally ignored by Yumeko). The auctioneer is Rei and Inaho invigilates this gamble. Rei cannot disclose the sponsor for the 100 votes up for grabs and explains the rules. They will be using their votes to bid and whoever places the highest bid will win the 100 vote lot. The catch is that they will not know who bids. Also, if you don’t win the lot, you lose everything you bid. I’m not very clear about the rest because if they are limited by the number of votes they have, will that limit their play? Anyway, Mary is confident she can win this as she warns the others this is just a ploy to compete among themselves as the one who actually wins is the sponsor. But with others bidding, Mary is forced to bid higher and wins the first round. In the next round, Mary says the same thing but this time Nishinotouin wins the bid. Before the next round, Mary announces she will bid 99 to prevent anyone from bidding hire (because if they bid 100, they will trade it with the 100 votes they win). But she lied and bid 10. Then somebody raises it to 20. This only confirms her suspicions that Rei is also playing this game to deliberately raise the price. This will go on until the sponsor made a profit. Rei admits she is playing but vows not to participate further. Mary thought the next round would be smooth sailing but somebody is still trying to outbid her. This is when Yumeko realizes that there is another participant somewhere and that they can see them. True enough the other Bami members are watching from a different room and the one who just bid was Ibara. With Yumeko turned on, she points out that Rei is the sponsor and organizer of this gamble. She then brings in 3 billion yen (from her win from Manyuda) and wants to use this to win this round’s 100 votes (apparently she talked to Inaho about some rule amending thingy and it was approved with all those present consented). She wants to gamble with the real Rei, bid this 3 billion and win everything that belongs to her. With Rei admitting that, she throws away her ‘mask’ and reveals her true ‘face’.

Episode 12
We delve into Rei’s past as one of those Bami members who was raised as a livestock ever since. Her role was to only serve others until one day Yumeko’s sister told her the mark on her hands doesn’t mean it is engraved in her heart forever. Her heart is hers alone. This made Rei happy. She continued her role but every time Yumeko’s sister visited, she would be happy. But each time she looks even more and more weak. Until one day she too got devoured and lost in a gamble among the clan’s conflict. Ever since, Rei vowed revenge and take back what is hers. Hence Rei announces she will win this election and become the next clan head as revenge. With the auction continuing, the other Bami members realized this wasn’t an act by Terano that they assumed. They’ve been had. As for how Rei amassed her votes, there was a large gamble recently where one would vote whether Rei could win this. All the girls who were swept off their feet gave their votes to her and hence she has enough votes to compete. The Bami members want to quit but they realize they will lose more if they quit as there is the risk of Rei getting all the votes so they are forced to stay in. The auction continues in the same fashion. Like as though Rei is going to win anyhow. Suddenly Yumeko quickly posts a few 101 starting bids. And then a few subsequent delayed ones. The Bami realizes this delay is that she is looking for an answer so when the next bid starts, the Bami side quickly cast their 101 bid.

But after that, Yumeko then bids 1. As Mary notes she can’t just profit them all, Yumeko suggests they should join in. Hence everyone takes turns in bidding 1 and win the 100 lot to finally ruin Rei. Rei accuses them of collusion which is forbidden by the rules. However Yumeko explains it isn’t so. It is that they clearly understand each other! Hence they manage to understand the need to profit by not competing with each other (the 101 useless bids were just trolls for this understanding). With Rei having no votes left, she thinks she is done for but Yumeko points out that she still has something to wager: Her 3 billion yen. This is her everything. Don’t gamble for the sake of revenge or others. Gamble for yourself! It is your own heart! Rei accepts this final big gamble in which Yumeko wagers her own name. If she loses, she will take on Rei’s forsaken surname. It all boils down to a single coin toss… In the aftermath, it seems Rei has been freed by her imaginary chains and is encouraged by Kirari to write her new Bami surname. So this means Yumeko won the coin toss and is now gambling it all away! Oh dear. Easy come, easy go? Sumeragi stops her before she bankrupts herself out of this election. Then a smoking hot never seen before babe passes by. Oh gosh! Rei is so feminine and beautiful! Yumeko is happy because today is the first day of her very own life. Terano thinks that the joker wasn’t Rei all along but Yumeko.

Luck Not Needed, Only Madness…
Oh God… I think I’m addicted to it… I think this needs another season… Another season real bad… I mean, it can’t just end here like this, can it?! I need more! I need more right now! How to go on without any more money???!!! I guess I’m broke. This means all that is left is to complain and b*tch about this unsatisfying ending. So I guess the real character in focus this season is Rei. With her being finally liberated from her imaginary chains, is this considered a happy ending? Perhaps for Rei. Because certainly Yumeko would also be happy because there would be another one of her kind who would gamble for their own sake and reach that kind of level of insanity. The kind of orgasmic thrills that such extreme gambler could feel when they are on the edge. But that’s another story.

This season is still as interesting and tense as its first. Although there are some points like the mechanisms and the workings of the gamble in play that I don’t really understand no matter how many times I go back and listen to the rules. That still didn’t diminish my overall enjoyment of the series although it could have been a lot more enjoyable had I really understood how the gamble works. For instance the final gamble of this season, the 100 votes auction felt like anybody could just bid any number. Because I thought they are limited to the number of votes they have and this puts those with low number of votes at a disadvantage. Maybe I am missing something here but trying to follow through the scheming but not understanding the system of how it works feels somewhat frustrating.

The psychological tensions are still interesting to watch as we get to see how such precarious situations bring out the best and the worst in all of us. Of course those who are already as crazy as Yumeko, there is nothing more to say. But those who stand to lose a lot and fear in losing all that power, money, fame, status, etc, have a higher chance of showing their true colours and make a blunder. Good example as in Erimi’s case. She wanted to show off but underestimated her opponents and in the end found herself in a position that should have been experienced by her enemies.

Many of the games are simple but with just a slight twist to the rules. Some are elaborate like Kirari’s tower that aren’t anything much ado but are for aesthetics. While they are interesting in their own right, I feel that because of the drama, sly manoeuvrings, deceptions, delusions and psychological tensions being played during the games, this somewhat lengthens and stretches out the games by 2 or 3 episodes. The game would have seriously end very quickly had they not do all this stuffs. But then again, where would all the fun be had it been cut out? Viewers won’t get a satisfied explanation on what is going on and like myself as I have said don’t really understand some of the rules to begin with, will get even more confused if the game ended too fast. Like Yumeko always said, one must truly enjoy a good gamble.

With Kirari being unpredictable and forcing this student election gamble, hence the introduction of a few characters from the other Bami families in a bid to overthrow her. It feels unfortunate that with only a single cour in this season, it doesn’t do any much justice to the existing and new characters. While Yumeko is still the central main character and involved in almost every gamble we see here, in some instances she doesn’t feel like the main character. How should I put it? For instance the Yumemi and Natari’s battle, the focus is mainly on them and while Yumeko maintains her presence, she feels more like a sideshow. After all, Yumeko’s ultimate goal is to enjoy high stakes gamble and not be some typical cliché main character.

Characters from Yumeko’s camp also don’t fare any better. Feels like they have their turn and moments but those were short. Like Suzui seems really forgettable here and he is mostly an observer in many of the gambles. Except for that card game with the Chinese duo in which he participated but it feels like he is more of a puppet than anything else. Mary also feels very much like a side character. The card game to substitute Yumeko felt like some sort of ploy to give her some screen time and remind us that she is still sly in her own right. Then after Ririka weirdly becomes some sort of her ally and accomplice, she doesn’t stand out too much. Even that final auction game even though shows like as though she is trying to take control but I just don’t really feel the impact. What it feels like a last chance for Sumeragi to be relevant and go out with style and respect, is that the reason why they also brought back Manyuda? I don’t think it will be the last I see of them but after making amends and realizing the important stuffs, does the student council election matter anymore to them? Some weird romance they played out here…

I thought this season Sayaka was going to be side-lined since many of the other student council members too were somewhat thrown off the limelight. Nishinotouin and Ikishima going out early (poor Ikishima being treated as non-existent by Yumeko and anybody who talks to her before Yumeko’s presence gets chastised of who the f*cks are you talking to?!), Manyuda in coma (until that revival for that tax game) and Ririka turning into Mary’s subordinate, where would that make Kirari’s right hand woman? It’s a good thing we don’t have to see her getting jealous and b*tch about her precious Kirari but I suppose that gamble with Yumeko once and for all settles this. So let’s hope that with their renewed bond, Sayaka would be a more respectable character than before. Not like it matters anymore considering the direction of the plot. Kirari as the big boss seems like she is just biding her time until somebody crazy and worthy enough pops up to challenge her. I bet it would be worth the wait for her. So aside her, the only other successful original student council member is Yumemi. Even if she can’t become the student council president (she might be one of the top running candidates but I’m not betting on her to win it… Unless…), she still has something bigger to aim and strive for.

The Bami family members are equally as quirky and even as cruel due to each of their families specializing in some sort of specialty (like the Chinese duo in poison and Erimi in torturing). It would have been very cliché and linear if the story would be Yumeko going on to defeat all the Bami family one by one until the final boss but that would have been absolutely boring. After all, if Yumeko’s real goal was that, she would have challenged them all to one huge gamble. Small bets aren’t her style. It is unfortunate that the single cour has limited the fleshing out of these extremely interesting characters and while some have their limelight, others do not (like Nozomi – because I want to know how relevant her dog is). It looks like Terano is the unofficial leader leading the other Bami families to overthrow Kirari but considering this backstabbing family where power is absolute, there might be plot twists to more than meets the eye. After all when in a game of high stakes, you don’t really trust anybody. And it might seem this unofficial alliance is only intact because of Terano but who knows, anything can happen when so much is on the line. Heck, all this might just be a show and for all you know, Terano is actually conspiring with Kirari all along. At the end of the day, I suppose the last one standing definitely has the right to be called the biggest snake. Isn’t that what uwabami is?

I suppose the hidden and ‘star’ of this season is the character Rei. Serving as the butler to the entire academy as well as the Bami family, many things that she does gives off this suspicious aura. That kind of submissive and servitude feels like she is putting on some kind of mask to hide her true feelings. Not to mention that she has some sort of charisma and all the girls start swooning whenever she passes by. All that somewhat paid off with all of them willingly giving their votes to let Rei run for presidency, huh? Rei’s gender is never explicitly mentioned although she acts and dresses like a man but I know better… With Rei finally showing her true colours, it certainly looks to rattle the entire Bami clan but it went out with a sputter after that simple but gigantic loss to Yumeko. But then again, Rei didn’t particularly ‘lose’. She just ‘lost’ her past and gained her new freedom. You could say she won the lottery of this sense.

The other reason why I said she is the ‘star’ of this show is because that is why the second season is somewhat named after her, no? You see, ‘X’ in Japan is pronounced as ‘batsu’, which is Rei’s surname. Hence double X, double whammy? Uh huh. Thanks to that, I have a slightly hard time trying to find more legitimate info about this series. Because it leads me to those damn porn sites!!! I think there’s a reason why they didn’t call this season Kakegurui XXX… Yeah… A whole new gamble here…

Art and animation remain constant with last season. The trademark of this show is those devilish eyes. When the characters get serious or fall into their delirium, you will see a zoom in and close up of their eye. Yumeko is the main offender as her eyes will glow red like as though she is the devil reincarnate. Even Terminator would run towards his mummy. Heh. And oddly, I know Yumeko gets her thrills from gambling, but sometimes thinking about where the gamble is going also makes her orgasmic. Hence your weird fanservice of Yumeko doing sexy orgasmic poses that looks more like WTF than anything stimulating. Sorry folks, no Yumeko-Mary yuri fanservice this season. On a trivial note, why do I have this feeling that Natari’s character is modelled after Audrey Hepburn? She is considered by many to be one of the best actresses in Hollywood history.

This season’s opening theme doesn’t have that playful and naughty bubbly madness as it did in last season. Kono Yubi Tomare by Junna feels just pretty generic although a bit dramatic. Even its visuals in the opening credits aren’t as crazy. The same can be said for the ending theme, Alegria by D-selections. Last season we were treated to some crazy psychedelic delusions of Yumeko. This season we have Yumeko hinting some yuri action with Kirari in the forest. WTF?! You mean the natural forest?! Ah, the rules of the jungle and natural selection. The survival of the strongest and fittest. And yeah, it ends with some weird psychedelic lights thingy too, indicating that Yumeko might be high on some sort drugs. Whatever.

For the voice acting segment, recognizable joining the line-up include Romi Paku as Rei, Ayana Taketatsu as Erimi and Akira Ishida as Rin. Of course Mamiko Noto making her cameo as Yumeko’s sister! Hmm… Once I considered them as clones due to the similarity of their voice and now they are sisters here… How strange. The other new casts are Megumi Han as Terano (Akko in Little Witch Academia), Mitsuki Saiga as Miroslava (Phantom in MAR), Yoshimasa Hosoya as Ibara (Reiner in Shingeki No Kyojin), Ayahi Takagaki as Natari/Sumika (Chris in Senki Zesshou Symphogear), Yumi Uchiyama as Miyo (Hameline in Radiant), Rumi Okubo as Miri (Hibachi in Mushibugyou), Sayaka Kitahara as Nozomi (Mary in Busou Shoujo Machiavellism), Haruno Inoue as Yumi (Kaoru in Nobunagun) and Nanami Yamashita as Inaho (Nanami in Wake Up Girls).

Overall, absolutely interesting and intriguing second season only to be cut short because it is just a single cour. Not enough time to flesh out properly all the other characters, old and new. Some of the games are a bit hard to comprehend for a simpleton like me but that doesn’t greatly impact and diminish the overall enjoyment I had. So back to praying to God that this gets another season. And soon. Don’t want to wait 5 years or 10 years for it to get another season (like a few third season anime series lately like To Aru No Majutsu Index, Date A Live and Chihayafuru being aired after a long hiatus from their second season) so here is leaving to luck and chance! I’m betting that I have a better chance of getting a third season than winning the lottery :’(.


March 18, 2018

If you think Kaiji was too dangerous in its gambling theme, you haven’t seen Kakegurui yet. Equally as dangerous because it is a high school setting where students are allowed to gamble and winners triumph over losers. Money rules. A gambler’s paradise or a gambler’s hell, depending on which end your fate throws you. So if you can’t stomach any form of risk, don’t even think of earning any quick cash if you can’t afford to bet a strand of hair on the table. Why bet something so small and insignificant when you can bet your entire life! Oh sh*t…

Episode 1
Ryouta Suzui is in a gambling game with Mary Saotome. He lost. He believes the rest of his life is doomed until Yumeko Jabami becomes the new transfer student in his class. As he shows her around Hyakkaou Private Academy, she notices his ‘dog tag’. He explains this school’s gambling tradition in which if you lose and is unable to repay your debts guys will be tagged as dogs and girls as cats. Basically, house pets AKA slaves. Yumeko seems excited to receive an invitation to gamble but wait no more because Mary throws her that invitation. In this version of rock-scissors-paper, classmates will draw one of the three before putting it in a box and each of them will draw 3 cards from that box. They will pick one those cards to play. If no clear winner after 3 cards, the game is a draw. As they place their bets, Yumeko starts small and wins. In the next round, she makes a daring jump to bet highly. She lost. Then she reverts to betting small and wins. Then high again. But this time 10 million in cash! You scared, Mary? Cocky Mary takes on her challenge because she knows the game is rigged. Many of the classmates are on her side. All she needs to know is what kind of cards most of them will draw and pick that one that will guarantee her win. To Mary’s shock, Yumeko suddenly accuses her that her classmates are collaborating with her. Mary thinks it is her way to nullify the match if she is found cheating. On the contrary, Yumeko relishes that the true gambling starts now. Confident that the match is hers, Mary puts forth her winning card… And loses! Not only Yumeko has reclaimed the amount she lost to Mary but now Mary owes her 8.8 million! Mary has no way out left as she pleads for some time to repay her.

Later Suzui asks how Yumeko saw through Mary’s trick. Yumeko knew Mary was manipulating the game but needed to know which card would be voted the most. However it would be hard if there was no one to orchestrate which card to draw. She was observing Mary and she did not give any visual or verbal hints. Then she notices everyone’s eyes not on her but on somebody else. The person who would decide which card to draw. And that person is Suzui who was standing behind her. How does Yumeko know that? A handy hand mirror. But as for how Yumeko drew that winning card, it was really down to her luck. Is it because she enjoys the thrill of the risk? Certainly having too much risk or too high advantage isn’t fun. Suzui plans to drop out of this school because of his debt. He tried to earn money to repay his debt via gambling but fell even further. To his shock, Yumeko pays him the amount needed to clear his debt. This is her way of thanking him for introducing him to this school’s gambling and was able to enjoy a great game. Even if he was Mary’s slave, Yumeko hates game she knows she will win or lose. Today’s experience was the kind of thrill she wanted in gambling and it’s all thanks to him. Suzui can tell from that smile of her she isn’t just a gambling addict but loses herself gambling.

Episode 2
Mary is now a cat. Yesterday she is one of the elites. Today she is a slave and everyone is mocking her. Truly a quick fall from grace. Suzui explains that is the norm in this school as many children of politicians and businessmen are sent here and gambling is a way to pick up negotiation skills so that they can perform under pressure and take advantage of others (?!). The student council monitors all gambling and a hierarchy system is updated frequently. Of the 3000 students, the bottom 100 become house pets. Previously the discrimination wasn’t strong until the current student council president, Kirari Momobami defeated the previous one and now the body consists of the school’s strongest gamblers. This didn’t scare Yumeko and this makes her want to gamble more. Speaking of which, she’ll have her chance with Itsuki Sumeragi, the daughter of Japan’s most famous toy maker. She is also part of the student council although she bought her way in. Never lost a card game? Even better for Yumeko… They’ll be playing this memory game. But using 2 packs of card, the numbers and suit must match, therefore only making only 1 possible pair. Both start off equally well. They have never missed a card that has already been opened. Sumeragi wins in the end and with Yumeko betting 20 million, can she repay it? Yumeko emotionally pleads for another game and this is when Sumeragi starts to get creepy. She shows her nail collections that she has collected from losers. It would have been easier to buy them but it’s much more fun to tear them out! Suzui doesn’t want Yumeko to accept this but if she doesn’t, how else will she repay her debts?

Of course we all know why Sumeragi is so confident is because the cards are rigged. There is a small portion that will reveal a mark at certain temperature. She only has a few seconds to remember all those marked cards before those marks fade. With no proof, she’ll never be caught. Or so she thinks. So when Yumeko mocks her for betting so small compared to the market value of her family’s corporation, Sumeragi starts panicking if she knows this secret. Because it will be bad for her company as this means they have been selling cards for cheating. Too bad Sumeragi will never have a chance because Yumeko pairs it all on her first go! She has noticed the markings and they are the same as the pack before. Had they been different, she would have lost. Thank goodness, right? Sumeragi realizes Yumeko may have memorized the cards during the first game and pretended to be desperate to let her guard down. Yumeko is addicted now to continue gambling. This time they can tear the loser’s fingernails and toenails. Come on, let’s play! Too bad Sumeragi is so afraid that she starts crying and can’t do it. She regrets it but this only further disappoints Yumeko. No fun. Apparently after school, gambling stations pop up everywhere so you can bet Yumeko is going to visit them to gamble more. This leads her to the traditional culture research society. They see Mary in a desperate gamble against the society’s president, Yuriko Nishinotouin who is also on the student council. Mary lost. Further spiralling into debt. Screaming will not erase your debts…

Episode 3
More explanation how house pets have the right to challenge official matches but only once. As long as the wager is reasonable, it cannot be refused. Therefore they usually go after the student council in hopes of erasing their debts quickly but often fail. You bet Yumeko wants to play Nishinotouin. She explains this special roulette game known as Life or Death. 10 swords are thrown in a cup so they will land on a board with 30 numbers and holes. They bet their chips in hopes of the sword would land on the number. However if the sword lands face up, you win 30 times the amount you bet but if the sword is face down, you lose 30 times that amount. They play until all their chips are gone and the loser must pay the difference. Yumeko starts betting small to test waters. Neither lost. Before their next game, Yumeko starts mocking Nishinotouin as a despicable woman. She is referring to Mary’s game in which she was given a glimmer of hope but people like her only drive them to despair. Then she continues to make fun of Nishinotouin’s name because it sounds like a combination of numbers and thought the swords would have landed on them. This angers Nishinotouin but she keeps her cool and proceeds with the game. Before the swords are revealed, Yumeko apologizes for offending her because she just was just saying what’s on her mind to bet all her chips on this number, 24 (a combination pun of Nishinotouin’s name). That’s because she is cheating. Yumeko notices that all the members in the society has some sort of metal piercings on their hand. She believes one of the swords is magnetic and it will take the dexterity of the dealer to control the sword and land it face down in a hole.

Nishinotouin argues that if she was cheating, she would have won all the time. But Yumeko knows the best part of this trick is that she doesn’t need to win all the time. The success rate is low considering the magnetic sword might not fall into a certain hole or there are other swords blocking the hole. All she needs is just a slight advantage. That is why Yumeko provoked her to ‘cheat’ on this game. So if the sword actually lands face up on that number, Nishinotouin could stand to lose almost 3 billion in this single game! Nishinotouin is really panicking. She is in deep trouble because if she loses she will be kicked out of the student council in addition to the debt she cannot repay. She will lose everything she has built up. Thinking of negotiating, suddenly Kirari barges in and wants to watch the rest of this interesting game. So please reveal the swords. It didn’t land on 24 but it did land face down on a number Nishinotouin bet. It is Yumeko’s loss and Nishinotouin’s small miracle win. In the aftermath, Yumeko explains to Suzui about the old trick where Japanese houses usually has spaces below and this is perfect for accomplices to cheat in gambling via a very small hole. Yumeko deduces the sword did land on 24 but Kirari somehow managed to magnetically pull it out from the space above. She is excited and wants to gamble with Kirari. Yumeko is now a house pet as her classmates ridicule her. However Yumeko finds cats cute and starts acting like one! Those mockers freak out and leave since Yumeko wants to gamble them and absolve her debts. No takers?

Episode 4
Suzui pays some money back to her to cover her debts but she declines since the student council has not asked her to repay them. Instead, like him, she has a booklet called Life Programme. Mary also has this so she confronts student council member, Runa Yomozuki about this. Seems her entirely life is planned out. From who she will marry to how many kids she will have. Have a problem with it? Then repay your debts… Yumeko is then called by Jun Kiwatari who wants her to strip. When she declines, he is going to rape her. But then Midari Ikishima of the student council wants in and settle this via gambling. She wants to play Russian roulette. Only 1 bullet in the chambers of 6. She will fire and if it is empty, he gets her way with her or else he dies. When he isn’t interested, she makes it more interesting that he should pull the trigger on her instead. However he refuses and leaves. Ikishima is disappointed since the odds were not stacked against him. So she tries it on herself. And lives! She enjoys this thrill and starts masturbating herself. She will make good on Yumeko’s gratitude. An event is held. Student council secretary, Sayaka Igarashi relays the rules for this Debt Exchange programme. They will be divided into groups in which the group winner will take on the lowest debt in the group. But what if the one with the lowest debt wins? Full exemption of the debts. Mary is wary of Yumeko and hopes not to be grouped with her. Too bad fate screws with her and ends up in her group. In that case, there is no choice but to collude with her.

The game is Indian poker. Players are allowed to see their first card but their second card is placed over the forehead. The strongest is a pair followed by same suits. Different coloured chips are provided for each player because the value of the chips are 1/10 of the player’s debt. Also, the student council who will referee the game will turn a blind eye even if there is cheating unless it is brought to their attention. In Yumeko and Mary’s group are Kiwatari and Nanami Tsubomi. Kiwatari is not a house pet but he does owe a small amount to a friend so he is eligible to participate. He is just playing for some pocket money. The game starts off with Kiwatari being confident. Mary folds but Yumeko goes ahead and loses. Next round, Kiwatari also wins after everyone folds. Next round, Yumeko calls a raise and Kiwatari follows suit. Yumeko wins. Mary realizes that if she wants to win, she needs to move in. Her Life Programme is indeed a cushy life. An ultimate life that every woman dreams of. But she doesn’t want it as she doesn’t want others to tell her what to do with her life. When she calls for a raise, Kiwatari is still confident. A single loss to Yumeko will not deter him. After all, he knows they are working together. Because why so confidently bet high when they cannot determine the other card? Unless. He folds but Mary unveils her cards and has a dud.

Episode 5
For the next few rounds, when Kiwatari calls, they fold and if he folds, they have duds. Yumeko and Mary know Tsubomi is obedient to Kiwatari and by the way she places her cards, it signals to him what suit she has. Yumeko even tells Tsubomi a fool proof trick to use hand signals beneath the table. With Kiwatari panicking and telling Tsubomi how to play her hand, it only lets the duo know what kind of cards he has. On the penultimate round, Kiwatari wins and jumps into first place. On the final round, Kiwatari just needs to fold to win it. However Yumeko and Mary get into an argument to bet more chips. At this rate, they will overtake him. When he tries to force Tsubomi to fold, Yumeko talks to Tsubomi if she is okay being used like this. This is her chance to break free from her house pet status. Unless of course she is scared of rebelling and wants to stay one her entire life. This has Tsubomi remember the traumatic time she became a house pet. Kiwatari cut her long beautiful silky hair and she has been ‘dead’ ever since. All her pent up anger and frustration released, Tsubomi rebels and bets a chip instead. Kiwatari is mad but he wonders why Yumeko would do this unless she is sure she would win. The round ends with Tsubomi winning. The total balance is summed up and winning this game is Mary followed by Tsubomi, Yumeko and lastly Kiwatari. Kiwatari is not happy since he has 5 Yumeko chips and this should be worth almost 60 million each. Yumeko and Mary start laughing at him and it seems the duo swapped their debts. It was stated in the rules that you play with whatever debts you reported. The difference Mary handed a cheque to Suzui. Kiwatari is now resorting to violence but Igarashi tasers him out. Now that Kiwatari has incurred the highest debt in the group, he will become a house pet if he cannot repay it. Although Tsubomi is still a house pet and still has her debts, she is no longer angry and thankful to Yumeko for giving her a chance. Mary retrieves her cheque back from Suzui. He isn’t going to cash it in, right? Yumeko is quite happy with their splendid act and gets all touchy with Mary. She wants to be her friend! Does she have a reason to say no?

Episode 6
Now that Mary has cleared her debts and no longer a house pet, those b*tches are being friendly with her again. Mary talks to Suzui about Yumeko. She actually has more than enough money to clear her debts but yet she chose not to and remained a house pet. She believes Yumeko wants to officially challenge the student council. Igarashi has done some research on Yumeko. It seems she has a very vast fortune. Her parents are deceased and her only living relative is an older sister who is in a hospital for treatment. The kind of treatment that needs enormous amounts of money. Yeah, we see her making paper cranes with money! Thinking that Yumeko’s intention is to gamble with Kirari, Ikishima panics and needs to find her first before Kirari ruins her. Hence she quickly ‘arrests’ Yumeko and Suzui for a gamble. In this ESP game, the players and the dealer will be placed in separate soundproof rooms. Only a surveillance monitor connects the rooms. The dealer will deal the cards face down. The players will do the same. Once done, all will reveal their cards. Whoever has more matching cards with the dealer wins. The difference the winner gain as points. But it seems Igarashi will not wager money. She wants to use guns. The winner gets to pull the trigger for every point they have! Both of them will fill up a gun’s chambers with any amount of bullets they want. Be it none or all 6. They put it inside a chute as they will later randomly pick it up. The first player to get shot loses. Don’t worry about getting killed. The president will usually do something to cover it up. Suzui doesn’t want to play this game and leave so this makes Ikishima mad that he is trying to ruin their fun. Kirari won’t play with her so her only chance left is Yumeko. If he insists, she will shoot him! Of course Yumeko intends to play this game as Suzui is horrified how both perverts are on the same psychotic level.

Meanwhile Mary is summoned by Kirari. It seems she wants her to join the student council since she was able to do a rare feat of clearing her debts. Mary tries to decline but Kirari intimidates her by wondering why she would refuse such an offer. Being on the student council has lots of perks. She allows Mary to defer her answer and likes people like her whom she can’t understand. Yumeko sets her conditions to play. They will play for only 3 rounds, Suzui is the dealer and the loser will lose a billion yen. Ikishima is okay with it since she doesn’t care about money. In that case Ikishima adds a condition that she cannot miss if she has the right to shoot. Suzui panics as all he could see is Yumeko’s death. Besides she did tell him that all they need to do is collaborate and win. Just do a sign. What sign???!!! He believes Yumeko wants Ikishima to think they can win with a signal and hence she won’t be so reckless if she knows if she is going to lose. He does some hand signal. Whatever that means. After Suzui places his cards, the girls load up their gun. Ikishima goes for the maximum 6! The big reveals sees Ikishima matches 3 cards while Yumeko only matches 2 cards. Ikishima quickly pulls out a gun and is going to fire at her but Yumeko warns her not to pull that trigger on that gun.

Episode 7
It seems she loaded it with her lipsticks and it might misfire. Ikishima doesn’t care so Yumeko admits she lied. It isn’t loaded. Before they begin the next round, Yumeko asks why she invited her to play this game. The thrill of life and death. She doesn’t care if she wins or lose. Then she shows her missing left eye. Flashback shows gambling didn’t make her happy. So when she lost to Kirari, the latter notes Ikishima is the kind who would rather pay with their lives. She suggests paying back her debt with her left eye because she is curious to see how the back of it looks like. Oh, she’s too lazy to read up on it too. She will prepare for tomorrow’s surgery but Ikishima quickly stabs her own eye! Now that Kirari has seen it, she lost interest. The thrill of pain has Ikishima wanting to gamble with her again. She’ll bet her other eye. She is then invited to join the student council. At first she wasn’t interested but after Kirari says she will kill her someday, she agreed. Suzui is racking his brains on how to line up his cards and decides to go with Yumeko’s first order. Thanks to that, Yumeko got all correct and Ikishima only 3. Ikishima relishes being shot at. She even orgasms before Yumeko pulls the trigger. However Yumeko knows it is her own gun and all the chambers are empty. Well, because Ikishima loaded hers full, she can tell the difference of the gun’s weight. Before Suzui could start the final round, he notices Ikishima is cheating. He is forced to deal his cards now or she will shoot Yumeko right away. With no time, he just deals them. After that, Yumeko pulls her loaded gun on Ikishima and is disappointed in her. Ikishima likes it and believes she is the kind who gets her kicks exploiting others rather than bearing risks. She matches Yumeko by loading only 2 chambers.

When the cards are revealed, Ikishima gets all wrong. Yumeko then reveals she knows Suzui is right handed and previous footage shows him dealing with his left. Also, one of the card patterns is reversed and this means the video is horizontally mirrored. Only the final round he played with his right. This also means Suzui’s feed also shows the girls in mirrored positions (the cheating Suzui claimed). Hence Yumeko accounted for this and he played his cards like she expected. From the first round, Yumeko can tell Ikishima doesn’t care of her own wellbeing and her conditions for victory is being killed. Yumeko reveals her cards. She got them all wrong too. Yumeko couldn’t have loaded none and got it all correct but by doing so and loading only 2 bullets, if someone won by 5 points, it would certain fire. Ikishima thought it would be impossible to tie if she played all her cards wrong. But if she decided to play 1 or 2 correctly, there was a chance Yumeko might be shot. She views this as an insult to gambling. Gambling is interesting because both parties suffer. Ikishima is only interested in suffering herself. She is not gambling and just wants to die. She hates this kind of people the most. Ikishima is turned on by her craziness and wants to be her slave! Please shoot her! Politely declined. Kirari is still waiting for Mary’s answer so the latter asks about the house pet system. She talks about the strongest of the fittest in her aquarium but if you put all the strongest together, they can only be one who is the strongest. Sometimes the weak steal from the strong too. She is interested to see what happens if it is applied to humans. Mary refuses to join and is not obliged to give an answer. Mary is upset inside that Kirari tried to make a fool out of her. She doesn’t view house pets as humans and only objects below her. Her view of justice is warped. She is going to make her pay for that. Yumeko asks Suzui why he continued to play the same cards despite knowing the trick. He didn’t have time to think and hoped she didn’t realize he didn’t know what to do. He was just praying for the best. His answer makes her feel better.

Episode 8
Yumemi Yumemite is the school’s top idol. She is on course to be the world’s best idol. She has a crazy fan club and it is expensive to be a member. When Kirari decided to take leave from school, Igarashi didn’t hear anything about it and begged her to stay. She told her to f*ck off. It has been a week since and Igarashi is growing worried that without her presence, things may fall apart. Especially the treasurer, Kaede Manyuda who is craving for power. Why is Igarashi so scared of him? Yumemi plans to take care of Yumeko and Manyuda agrees to support her and do the necessary preparations. Sumeragi is trying to be friends with Yumeko. It seems her dad has warned her that it is her job to be part of the student council (too bad she got fired) and make political connections. If she cannot do that, she will get disowned! As Yumeko’s rounds of defeating student council members become more prominent, this has given hope to many house pets who believe she is aiming for the president’s seat. In that case, Sumeragi is planning to support her all the way. Yumeko isn’t interested in the seat but as long as she can gamble that is good enough. Besides, she already considers Sumeragi her friend. Only, if she didn’t have to rub her fingernails… Remember your place…

Yumeko soon receives an invitation to meet Yumemi. She is thoroughly checked by her manager, Saori before entering. Yumemi shows some variety show they will be appearing after her next concert. This show is to help select the next new member. The wager is 50 million and enough to clear Yumeko’s house pet status. But if she fails, she will form an idol unit with her. From the way Yumemi describes the glamorous idol life, Yumeko then shoots her mouth. She hates her fans, right? It seems Yumeko has collected and pasted back ripped fan letters for her. Yumemi admits she hates them but Yumeko wants to know her goal otherwise she cannot find a reason to gamble with her. Yumemi wants an Academy Award. She dreamt of getting one since young but the rate she is progressing, she will never ever get it. So what better way to rise up fast in this school and be an idol. Becoming a world class idol would be easy with this school’s power. This is why she is able to put up with the fans and continue her job. She continues to badmouth them like shaking hands with her with their sweaty palms. Yumeko is amazed of her dream and can carry on despite hating her fans. But it won’t be fun if they do not bet their livelihoods on the game. Yumeko has recorded their conversation and will make it part of their wager. Of course she will not make a copy of it. See you on the day of the concert. But it seems Yumeko didn’t intentionally have those ripped letters and recorder. Somebody sent it to her. Yumemi also believes that only someone with a master key could have got into her room where she shredded her letters. The concert is here and after it, Yumemi introduces Yumeko to start their idol championship.

Episode 9
They will play a series of games in which the winner gets a mark they will put on a tic-tac-toe board. You know how to win this, right? It starts off with singing. Yumemi sings an idol song and scores high. Yumeko sings a boring school anthem and she almost scores perfect?! As the game drags on, we hear Yumemi saying winning and losing is all part of the plan otherwise it will be too easy. But don’t bet that Yumeko doesn’t even know. In a game that has them guess a random fan’s birth month, Yumemi thought she would win this and everything since she knows every damn fans’ birthday. And that lucky random fan called is… Mary! Who the f*ck is she?! Yumemi panics. She watches Yumeko’s writing and can tell what month she is writing. But wait. Could this be a trap to lead her on? In the end, both got wrong but since Yumeko’s is closest, she wins. Too bad, Yumemi. You were just overthinking. Yumeko didn’t lose this on purpose. She really didn’t know Mary’s birthday! As Yumemi has lost, it is time for her to pay up. Suddenly Saori slams the money wager on the table. She is willing to give more so as to have Yumeko keep quiet about the recording. However Yumemi says to play it. If she needs to be an idol, she has to have luck. Losing here means she isn’t meant to be one.

The recording of badmouthing the fans is played. The fans are confused. Yumemi confirms it is her. Just as she resigns to her fate, her fans suddenly declare their love and support for her. They have loved her from the start and even more now that she has come clean with her feelings. Renewed hope for Yumemi. You think everything is nicely over now that the dream girls are singing a duet on stage. Not for Yumeko. The torn letter was also the wager as she reveals somebody anonymously sent it to her. With the fans angry and wanting the culprit to show up, Yumemi thinks that because everything was resolved nicely, this would be meaningless. But this is a matter of their pride so she too calls out for the culprit to own up as she calls out to Manyuda. After all, he is the only one with power who can change this event to fans-only and assured them of winning. Manyuda coolly takes to the stage and brushes off all allegations. He has done nothing of that sort and swears on his position and ambition to take over Kirari’s seat. There is lack of evidence so there is nothing Yumeko can do with her accusations. Well, they are not in court so she doesn’t care. In fact she wants to gamble him. He quickly shoots her down that there is no merit in doing so and reminds her of her position as house pet. Speaking of which, she invokes that special right to play an official match.

Episode 10
Manyuda agrees to gamble her. She is a compulsive gambler and doesn’t care about winning or losing. He’ll just have to factor that in. Igarashi is in a bind. If Yumeko wins, 2 of their student council members would have lost in the same day. If Manyuda wins, he will be a step closer in taking Kirari’s seat. The student council vice president becomes the dealer of this choice poker game as she explains the rules. In this version, one cannot fold or call but only raise a bet. After changing their required cards, they are to bet. The one with the higher bet wins the right to choose if the round is won via strongest order or weakest order. There is no bet limit but must play to their fund limit. This of course puts Yumeko at a disadvantage as she has limited funds. The first round goes as Manyuda calculates the reasons and chances of Yumeko doing so and the cards she most likely have. Yumeko wins the bet and calls for the weaker order. She wins. Manyuda is now confident after witnessing her actions as well as hers from previous student council battles, he knows her character well. In the next round, Yumeko not only throws away her pairs but bets all her chips! Of course Manyuda matches hers and raises by a chip. The results: Yumeko has nothing. Manyuda wins. Sumeragi is f*cked because this means all her dreams and hopes she put on her are dashed. Yumeko then calls out to Sumeragi. Could she borrow some money? I mean, they’re friends, right? Friends should help each other out at times like this.

Sumeragi is definitely in a bind since Manyuda notes that she has joined Yumeko’s side after being kicked out of the student council. He badmouths her as having no skill and no right to walk the path of rulers. Yumeko disagrees because who is he to decide Sumeragi has no value. Only she herself can determine that. In order to obtain something, something else must be sacrificed. So either she choose peace as an incompetent or risk her own destruction to reach the top. Sumeragi thinks hard. Manyuda’s path seems to be the safest and she can get what is needed of her. Yumeko is riskier but she gets everything she wants or lose it all. Flashback shows Sumeragi talking to Itsuki and wanting to join the student council. She thought of putting in more money if that is what is needed but he tells her to give up. Being part of the student council also means shouldering a great responsibility. Graduates of their school make up the backbone of Japan and they all have their eyes on it. If their trust is betrayed, it is the end of them. Does she have what it takes to be part of it? She declares she wants to be the student council president. This gets his attention as they both share the same ambition. He will personally recommend her to join and they will both take the throne together. Sumeragi was happy when she was accepted and that she had a secret partner in crime. She realized too late that he was only using her as a pawn. She was despised. Now she is going to pay him back as she personally places 100 chips for Yumeko. She’ll take the throne herself.

Episode 11
Yumeko changes her pair of queens! Manyuda thinks she is going for the same trick again. So when they start betting and raise each other, of course Manyuda is going to win. But Sumeragi decides to help sponsor Yumeko and uses her funds to help raise for Yumeko. Even so, Manyuda is the treasurer and he has billions in his account. When Sumeragi is at her limit, Yumeko suggests they bet everything. Yumeko can bet her Life Programme and Sumeragi who stands to inherit everything from her father’s empire, can bet her life too! The astronomical amount has Sumeragi shivering in fear. However with Yumeko reminding if this is as far her resolve will go, Sumeragi decides not to run anymore and bites off her nails to show her resolve! She’s betting her life! Manyuda rubbishes all that because they are supposed to bet money and betting one’s life isn’t an accurate collateral. But Yumeko reminds him that whatever school rules, the one holding the power is the dealer. And so she allows it! Manyuda objects but she reveals her mask: Kirari! Look at the shock at his face! Didn’t see this coming. Manyuda is in a pinch as he thinks the combined bet of Yumeko and Sumeragi is at 12 billion. If he loses this, his influence and goal will be over. Flashback sees Manyuda’s dad telling him about money is king and the path he must achieve to get all that. What if he fails? Then he is worth nothing. Manyuda then decides to bet his life. Sumeragi panics. His net worth is definitely way higher than theirs. She thinks of having Mary and Suzui chip in their lives too but Kirari tells her they aren’t even worth millions. Ouch. With Manyuda winning the bet, he chooses the strongest and shows set of 8’s. Sumeragi starts to break down. Manyuda thought he has won it but Yumeko lecturing him about how he lost his path, it turns out Sumeragi was just acting all along. Yumeko shows her cards. 3 pairs too. But jacks rank higher, right? In short, his loss is because he underestimated Sumeragi. Manyuda becomes devastated his life is over that he collapses and his hair turn white!!! Truly his world has come to a crashing halt. But looks like the big showdown is on the cards. Yumeko vs Kirari. Supernova explosion indeed.

Episode 12
Sumeragi puts down all the trick tools and equipment for Yumeko’s gamble. Of course she is not going to use all of that. Where’s the fun without the risk? They go meet Ririka and Runa will oversee their match. First they lay down what to wager. Because they consider this school as utmost important, the loser will forever leave Hyakkaou. Mary protests because there is nothing for the winner. Kirari disagrees because if you think about it, gambling bears no fruits and only leads to loss. Even so, people indulge in so because such risks are entertaining. The game they’ll play will use ta tarot cards. They will pick 3 cards from it. But if it is faced up, it is a positive score based on the card’s number and inverted a negative one. Yumeko will be positive while Kirari the negative. Whoever has the most score on their side win. All except for one card called The Fool. Its value is zero. If upright, Yumeko wins. Otherwise it is Kirari’s win when inverted. The duo will pick a card each and they select Suzui as the third picker. At first he sees this another big role too much to shoulder but thinking back, there is something he wants. Yumeko goes first and only gets a +1. Next is Kirari. First she talks about predetermined fate and then flips her card. A -21! Looks like the pressure is on Suzui. He laments his fate because what are the odds of pulling out The Fool? Yumeko assures him the loss is only hers to bear. However he disagrees. He reminds her he wants to watch her play and be with her more. Thus this is also a risk for him! Is that a confession? Suzui thinks hard which card to pick. He notices that there is a marked card. One that Kirari pulled out when she told them The Fool card was the joker. Could it be Kirari set it up so he would pick it? However he won’t flip that card because it is a huge risk. He will not leave that best part to someone else. Yumeko is so thrilled at his words and climaxes?! He leaves it to fate as he picks a card. +20! A draw! This means neither would have to leave! Wow. Everyone so relieved. Especially Igarashi. She can continue to be with her beloved. Sumeragi and Mary get into opposing arguments why Suzui didn’t pick that card. Had it been The Fool, why didn’t Kirari pick it? Perhaps it wasn’t because when Kirari showed that Fool card, she might have stacked another card behind it. But they’ll never know as Runa takes them away and runs. In the aftermath, Kirari does a shake up to the student council and Yumeko continues to gamble at her pleasure.

God Of Gamblers
Looks like fate has it that both Yumeko and Kirari will continue to stay on and meet again one day. This means another season, right? After all, Yumeko hasn’t fully taken down the entire student council and there might be new additions to the body, right? Yumeko hasn’t exactly gambled everyone and dominate the entire school, right? Oh man. I’m getting too excited that there should be more! Am I getting addicted to this series? Sure, it is good and amazing. Having a dozen episodes isn’t merely enough! Need more! But for now, looks like I have to be contented with this season. What to do? No more money, can’t play.

Even if the gambling games are not as creative as I expected, they are still interesting in its own right. In fact, the more interesting aspects are the psychological mind games the players are engaged in. Like the first rock-scissors-paper with a slight twist and variation isn’t much but an interesting concept and variation if you would like to think of it. Sumeragi’s memory game isn’t anything special or out of the ordinary that the focus isn’t on the game itself. Even the poker match between Yumeko and Manyuda is just a freaking normal poker match. Just with an added variation of either you want the strongest or weakest combination to win. Even if you have not heard of Nishinotouin’s roulette game before, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t lose much. You can learn on the fly and it isn’t not as complicated as it should be. After all, the idea is to gamble and not to make complicated rules for, uhm, pure fun and entertainment?

Hence like I’ve said, what makes this a good series is how they execute the psychological mind games among the players. We delve into their mind to see how they think. Usually, many who challenged Yumeko would mostly underestimate her. Even if they don’t, they still are. The problem is they don’t really know much about her. And it really bites them back when she counters it all like they’ve never seen it coming. It really hits them hard. It is those parts perhaps we love to see, the panic look on their faces when Yumeko turns the tables on them for being too overconfident and cocksure that they have it in the bag. Well, always be prepared and expect the unexpected. For now, the plot doesn’t look like it is going to pull off something suspenseful or a mind blowing twist unless more is revealed about Yumeko or Kirari’s home issues. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be something like Yumeko is Kirari’s long lost sister!!! No way!

Yumeko as the main character is as enigmatic as she is interesting. We don’t know much about her except that she is filthy rich and has this love/habit/addiction for gambling. Gambling is like sex to her. What makes her a frightening character is how sharp and observant she is. And she plays it cool enough that you won’t even think she has noticed it. To rub further insult, she acts like a ditzy dumb fool at times. You know what they say about being clever to hide your cleverness. Sometimes I think Yumeko is like the devil reincarnated. She might seem going around to defeat the evil student council body and mostly does so. Even if she losses, she has other ulterior motives. Her sharp observation may awe you and sometimes dumbfound you. Because like I’ve said, it’s like as though she is the devil reincarnated and can read the minds of her opponent. Like as though she has the series’ script and has read it beforehand! Yumeko is even ‘superior’ than God in the sense that she doesn’t need to pray to Him like most other low level desperate gamblers do when they need luck. Heck, many of the characters here do not need to even do so. They all depend on their luck and skill and only have themselves to blame if they fail. I mean, it is you who is gambling, not God, right?

So think thrice if you think you can beat her in any form of gambling because I’m sure if you really want to cheat, you would have automatically have lost. So to have a chance of winning, you’ll have to leave that chance to gambling. That is, play fair and by the rules. But in this school where the high stakes are everything, you’d think everybody would be such a goody boy and goody girl and play fair? One must think if Yumeko is such a talent to see through her opponents or she must have gone through a lot of hell and practice to attain such skill. I think it is plausible to believe the latter. After all, Yumeko is no angel or God (that’s why I call her the devil) because it might seem she is going around and helping those who are in dire need like Suzui but in actual fact she hasn’t done anything for them and is just happy to just gamble. Nothing more. Nothing less. It is more fun to gamble and beat those with bad intentions rather than those who are struggling just to purely stay out of debt, right? Where’s the fun in taking down those who are cornered?

Not surprisingly when you have a school that allows such rapid gambling, there are certainly many other weird characters too. Especially the student council body. They’re all a bunch of freaks, right? You’ve got the cruel Kirari to the lollipop sucking carefree loli Runa to the extreme masochist Ikishima who should be locked up in a mental asylum to the manipulative Manyuda (still out in coma, poor guy), the all-that-glitters-is-not-what-you-see idol Yumemi and the Japanese ghost clone Nishinotouin. I’ll say that the ‘worst’ one is Igarashi because she looks like Kirari’s lapdog. Always concerned about her, the moment she is seemingly away, she starts to descend into some panicky state. Like as though her head will roll if the student council loses its reputation. Maybe. We don’t know what Kirari is capable of. But to see her in that jumpy shape in contrast to when she first appeared and coolly refereed the Debt Exchange programme, it really feels she just went downhill. With Yumeko going around defeating them one by one, I’m not sure if there is a pattern for those she has defeated because some become her ally after that. I guess those people who have lost to her know better which better ship to jump. I wouldn’t say that Mary and Sumeragi are her allies but they have the same common enemy. The enemy of my enemy is also my friend.

Having said all that, the most normal of all is Suzui. He considers Yumeko his saviour and follows her around as a friend. And hence my theory is that so he plays the role to ramp up the dramatization effect. In a game of high stakes where no normal people would have placed such high bets, they would often go into that shocked and flabbergasted expression. Despite believing in Yumeko, he can’t help fall back to being pessimistic at times. After all, the odds are usually stacked against Yumeko. It is not like Yumeko has a 100% record of winning. Therefore Suzui as a spectator must be having a roller coaster ride of emotions and his heart must be real strong to see Yumeko make bold decisions. But usually the outcome turns out in her favour. He gets more prominence in the final episode because the fate of both heavyweights now fall on his shoulder. For once he wasn’t a wuss or a follower but a man of his own. Did he finally get a taste of the thrill of gambling after following Yumeko long enough? But still a long way off if you think there is going to be Suzui x Yumeko romance. I wonder if being in that kind of relationship is riskier than gambling.

In true human spirit, we see how one can actually fall from grace the moment you are in an undesirable position. Mary’s case is a great case study as you could see she was one of the top elites and had control over almost everyone in her class. Then it took a humiliating loss for her to drop right at the other end of the table. Typically we can see how others turn on her and treated her the same way as she treated them. Tit for tat. Just desserts. Karma. I guess this served as a good lesson for her because now that Mary has experienced herself what it is like to be a slave, looks like her eyes are opened and she is going to do something about the school’s system. She can’t do it alone. Wild cards like Yumeko are always a good start.

The setting of this anime is particularly interesting and disturbing in the sense that when you think how the entire backbone of Japan’s government and large corporations are run by such manipulative people. I guess in this dog eat dog world where survival of the fittest counts, you have to start them young and ‘train’ them to be ruthless and manipulative-cum-calculative people. I mean, if you can’t succeed here, how are you going to succeed in an even more cutthroat environment? Therefore to think that Japan in this world is built on such foundation, it is quite troubling indeed. Like as though all the good people are dead or they only helm low level jobs. Why can I only see Suzui as a normal salaryman? Japan being a ruthless nation built upon such people may be a cruel thought because who would ever think of Japan as so? Wait till you see the other crueller atrocities in other countries…

One thing to note are the dramatization of certain visuals. The characters may look normal in every other normal scenes, but during gambling or other scenes that require some sort of ‘baring of the teeth’ to the opponents, this is where the dramatization goes several notches up. For instance, you’ll start seeing the characters having this very evil appearance and expression. Like as though this is the true colour of their soul. Could be my imagination because when you’re on the losing streak and the other person is dominating, it would seem the other party is like the devil, eh? Like when Yumeko teamed up with Mary or Sumeragi, when they expose that they have been in cohorts, you see them in their devilish lesbian mode. Seductive or eerie? Not too sure if this can be considered as horror because Yumeko looks like some sort of ghost when she goes into her gambling ecstasy and orgasm. Ghosts might even be afraid of seeing her!

The other visuals to note are the eyes. The zoom in on the pupils also ups the dramatization effect because look how real they are. So even if Yumeko has those dead fish eyes, when she is in crazy gambling mode, her eyes change to this surreal. Also, sometimes their eyes glow in red like as though they are Terminator or something. I thought they would just burst out of their seats and start gunning everything down with their machine guns like a robot but that is just me fantasizing too much.

Saori Hayami did a very excellent job in portraying the gambling crazy Yumeko. At times she is in delirium, lost in her gambling addiction. That sometimes make her sound as scary as she is interesting. Long ago I once considered Saori Hayami as Mamiko Noto’s clone. With her voicing Yumeko, it is like as though this is her horror character to Mamiko Noto’s Jigoku Shoujo’s Enma Ai. The other crazy one is Mariya Ise as Ikishima. I don’t really recognize her voice till this day but to think she was the voice of Fairy Tail’s Levi and The Reflection’s Eleanor, I didn’t think she would sound this crazy. Kudos. But this isn’t really her first time being casted as an unconventional character. There was that time she did Medaka Box Abormal’s Unzen and can you consider Stocking from Panty And Stocking With Garterbelt to be one too? Other recognizable casts are Miyuki Sawashiro as Kirari, Tomokazu Sugita in full serious mode as Manyuda and Yuka Iguchi surprisingly as Tsubomi. The others are Tatsuya Tokutake as Suzui, Minami Tanaka as Mary (Minami in Wake Up, Girls!), Yuuki Wakai as Sumeragi (Miton in Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu Kara), Ayaka Fukuhara as Igarashi (Lugh in Trinity Seven), Yuu Serizawa s Yumemi (Tenma in Mushibugyou), Karin Nanami as Nishinotouin (Kojirou in Duel Masters VS) and Mayu Udono as Runa (Elza in Nyanko Days).

Adding to all the craziness is the opening theme, the aptly named Deal With The Devil by Tia. The song catches you with its very playful tune and the way she sings it. It might sound a bit out of place because with all the jazzy music and fanfare like as though this was a song for Broadway in the 30’s or 40’s. Weird but unique. Even more so its animation is like one big weird dream. Fish, fruits, feasts, dancing… Lesbianism? The ending theme, LAYon-theLINE by D-Selections is just okay, heavy on the bass beats. But the animation feels like as though it is going through Yumeko’s mind. We see her walking through the rain and strange flashes of lights while petals flutter all around. Looks like she is enjoying the feel of it all. Is this what she feels when she orgasms from gambling?

Overall, this is quite an interesting anime. On par with Kaiji but better than other gambling themed anime series out there. Looking at you, Rio: Rainbow Gate. If I could even consider that anime to be of the gambling genre. Heck, those are the only gambling themed series I have watched and I have ever known. But those who aren’t into the psychological mind play and drama might find it a turn off because this is where all the ‘action’ is. I believe this show isn’t meant to encourage one to go into gambling. Too bad and my condolences if you are. Yumeko’s character should be a big warning never to go into gambling unless you are willing to risk your entire existence for the sake of this thrill. I would love to bet for this series to have another season but since I am not willing to go so far to stake my life, I guess I’ll just be silently hoping. Praying to God then…

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

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…

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

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