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The Best Gambling Anime TV Series for Grown-Ups


The Japanese anime industry was worth a record $19 billion in 2017, thanks to the continued popularity of the media outside of Japan as well as sales to streaming platforms like Netflix and Amazon. Its popularity is thanks to how different it is compared to western media - its concepts are wacky, outlandish and many shows, like those about gambling, are designed specifically for grown-up audiences. Here are some of the best gambling anime television series.

Rio Rainbow Gate

In the 13 episode anime Rio Rainbow Gate, viewers follow Howard Resort Hotel dealer Rio Rollins as she tries to advance her career. Rollins may be known as the "Goddess of Victory" but she isn't at the levels of her mother, who is one of the greatest dealers ever. Rollins will battle against 13 other dealers, collecting a series of 13, legendary cards called gates in order to prove herself as the MCVD (Most Valuable Card Dealer).

The show offers the perfect mix of silly comedy and tense and exciting battles against foes. You'll be rooting for Rio Roller every step of the way. You will hope that the ambitious female dealer will manage to follow in her mother's footsteps and best the many rivals who are themselves aiming to make a splash in the gambling scene. It makes for a compelling watch.

Tohai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai

While animes like Rio Rainbow Gate offer humor and action, Tohai Densetsu Akagi: Yami ni Maiorita Tensai, best known as just "Akagi," is all about a grim underworld. Far from the properly licensed gambling that goes on in real life, in the anime, Akagi is a teenager who ends up gambling in mahjong games that are run by Yakuza (Japanese mobsters).

What makes this one of the best gambling anime TV series isn't just that it offers an unlikely hero, as Akagi doesn't actually know anything about the game of mahjong at the very start. Another selling point is that Akagi is an educational show that teaches players the ropes as the character learns them. Akagi must learn the rules of the game of mahjong in order to get one over one yakuza, making it a fun and helpful show for viewers.

Legendary Gambler Tetsuya

Based on the manga books of the same name, anime series Legendary Gambler Tetsuya is about a phenomenally talented gambler in the area of Shinjuku. If you enjoyed Akagi then you're likely to enjoy this one too, as not only is it set in the very same era as that anime (both are set just after WW2), but it also follows the rookie to superstar career trajectory of the protagonist. The game at the heart of both shows is mahjong.

Along the course of the show, you'll see the protagonist cheat his way to victory. Tetsuya chooses not to outplay his opponent but to use dirty tricks to get ahead instead. He does succeed at this for a while, but (spoiler alert), Tetsuya does eventually realize that he's not that great at the game and that he may need more than just his cheating strategies to become a decent mahjong player.

Usogui

Usogui is another anime that is based on a hugely popular manga. The anime is violent, dark and full of high stakes gambling, making this one solely for adult audiences. Its plot follows a gambler named Usogui, who is a gambler who wagers his life in these high stakes games. These kinds of wagers are quite common and there is also a regulatory body, called the Kagerou, that makes sure that these games are being run correctly. They are essentially Switzerland; a neutral party that doesn't take a side.

But even so, the protagonist Usogui hopes to bring Kagerou down. The anime follows his quest to do just that. Viewers will watch him face off against all kinds of opponents, risking his life to wrest control of Kagerou for himself. There is an additional episode of Usogui, it should be noted, that's available with the manga, so be sure to watch that too.

One Outs

Traditional baseball involves following a team, rooting for them to win, and watching the scoreboard as the runs are racked up. But in One Outs, the baseball battles are one versus one affairs. There is a batter and a pitcher and you will bet on either one of them to succeed.

The character viewers are rooting for is Toua Tokuchi, a talented one outs player who is recruited to a weak baseball team. His skills could take the team to victory but the contract he has set for himself makes this a high stakes gamble that incurs major losses if he fails.

Anime and gambling go hand in hand because it offers fascinating characters and rich storylines. For that reason, you can likely expect even more gambling animes to air soon.