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Anime Gambling and Why Life Makes Us Tune In

"Anime Revolution 2012" (CC BY 2.0) by GoToVan

What makes anime so popular? It's long been a staple part of Japanese, but what are its underlying influences and why do they appeal to the masses on a large scale? According to the Association of Japanese Animators' 2017 industry report, anime grew by $1.76 billion last year and is now worth $15.9 billion. This kind of interest puts anime ahead of Japan's emerging sports such as soccer. Despite being the biggest sport in the world, it's still a growing force within Japan - moreover, Asia as a whole. All this could change thanks to the Japanese mobile market and sport are merging to help increase interest in things such as soccer.

Indeed, as Nippon Telegraph and Telephone announced a $1.8 billion deal to stream J League content to mobile users, bookmakers around the world have been speculating on Asia's potential soccer success. With bookmakers offering odds of 100/1 on an Asian team taking down a World Cup title in 2018, but shorter odds on it happening in the next couple of decades, sport in the continent is clearly on the rise.

Anime is a Crowd Pleaser

However, at this stage, anime is still a bigger draw than soccer. Now, as we know, sport is all about drama, but what would make people want to tune in to anime over a J League showdown? One obvious answer is anime's ability to connect with real life. Taking real world scenarios and using them to make a storyline more interesting and believable is a familiar tactic among the top anime creators.

One of the most interesting connections made between anime and life over the last few years can be seen via the gambling tropes used by story writers. Using the classic motifs of risk, reward, logic and analysis, writers have given life to a number of storylines and characters. Perhaps the most popular case of casino gaming and betting influencing anime is Gamble Fish. Surrounded by the privileged children of Japan's elite, Tomu Shirasagi joins the Shishidou Academy as something of an outlier. Not rich enough to be there but clearly blessed with a sharp mind, he proceeds to take on his peers in a battle of wits.

Where Shirasagi excels is finding situations where he can gain an edge. Like any seasoned casino player or sports bettor, Shirasagi knows to start betting low and then gradually increase the stakes as he finds ways to win. Moreover, using the "Batman Gambit", the protagonist effectively gets overconfident students to accept a subtle rule change that gives him the edge.

Anime Links Us to Real Life

via GIPHY

This strategy is something all gamblers and gamers will look to do. For example, if a poker player has a tell on an opponent, they will deliberately play hands against them in order to spot and exploit that weakness. Similarly, if a poker player often makes large bets when they're bluffing, a savvy opponent will use this tendency against them in order to get the upper hand.

What this really shows us, other than anime and gambling having a tacit connection, is that people connect to storylines because they take the drama of reality and turn it into an engaging story. Gambling, whether you've ever done it or not, has a certain something about it. From the element of uncertainty and risk to the way savvy players managed to gain an advantage, everything is designed to engage the sense and this is something anime has picked up on. So, the next time you watch your favorite anime, see if you can find the connections to real life.

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