Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji

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Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji
Kaiji makes it rain
Original Manga Nobuyuki Fukumoto
Director/Artist Yuzou Satou
Format Anime (TV)
Made By Madhouse
Episode Length
# of Eps/Volumes 26


Drama, Sports, Suspense, Psychological

Sum it up in a Sentence:

Perennial loser gets suckered into life-and-death gambles with the odds stacked against him, hell on one side and millions of yen on the other.

Main Description

After graduating from high school in 1996 in Japan, Itō Kaiji moves to Tokyo to get a job, but he fails to find steady employment because of his eccentric disposition and because the country is mired in its first recession since World War II. Depressed, he festers in his apartment, biding the time with cheap pranks, gambles, liquor and cigarettes. Kaiji is always thinking about money and his perpetual poverty frequently brings him to tears.

Kaiji's unrelenting misery continues for two years until he is paid an unexpected visit from a man named Endō, who wants to collect an outstanding debt owed to him in Kaiji's name. Endō gives Kaiji two options - either spend ten years to repay this outstanding debt, or board the gambling ship Espoir ("hope" in French) for one night to clear the debt. Using a con, Endō pressures Kaiji into accepting the deal, believing he will never come back from the voyage.

If You Liked This, You Might Like...

  • Akagi - Same author. All mahjong, all the time.
  • One Outs - Baseball gambling manga about abusing psychology.
  • Liar Game

Personal Opinions


Kaiji is a pretty great series. It's all about unusual gambling, all against basically impossible fucking odds. Unlike Akagi, Kaiji is no gambling genius: he's basically an idiot. He's put into terrible situations that very literally threaten his life, but he still manages to pull through. Why? Kaiji just won't give the fuck up. He'll cry when things seem impossible, but you know what? He earned those damn tears, because even still, he'll keep going. He's like the embodiment of determination at the face death.

I thought the pacing was pretty good, and found it all in all rather enjoyable, even watching it week to week when it aired. If you like crazy gambling and lots of ZAWA... ZAWA... ZAWA..., there's few better!


While I thought some of the games very clever and a lot of the solutions were very smart aswell, the games were dragged out for so long it was ridiculous, 10 episodes for some 10 actions in a single game: Not fun, especially when the main character is a giant manchild, seriously a goddamn toddler - he kept starting to cry like a little bitch and him going up against that company twice just defies common sense.

The main character and his companions really drags down if you're looking for something intellectual to watch, as he keeps crying like a bitch after purposely putting himself in the situation and knowing what the company is capable of and what they don't have quarrels doing(killing people for fun). It does get points for smart games. I wouldn't watch it again. 3/10.

Keyboard Kid

(This opinion is of season 1) I loved this show. The atmosphere is great, it has realistic characters and logic, and each game was fascinating with how simple yet how deep it could be. And the show doesn't hold back with the harsh outcomes of bets, either. The pacing is a little off, since there's a good bit of dead time and recap almost every episode, and they could have definitely cut a lot. I'm glad I watched it after it aired, so I could speed through it, because this show is far more addictive than gambling is. It's a unique show from a master of a mangaka, so if you haven't watched it, go watch it right now.

Mecha Gojira

I have to say, as someone who rarely branches out of the same old mecha shows, I REALLY enjoyed this series. Watching Kaiji trying to think his way out of situations way over his head is a blast, and there is a real sense of tension since you know at any moment he could fail. The pacing didn't bother me as much since every second had me on the edge of the my seat. The stakes and chance of failure are always so high I couldn't help but be sucked into the suspense of it all.

If I were to nitpick anything at all, it would be the ridiculous, over-the-top narration and the use of overly dramatic visual metaphors, but at the same time it adds to the series' charm. Definitely worth watching.