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Anime Profile: Kaiji

USA Info
Japanese Info
Kaiji Kaiji Kaiji
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Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji Gyakkyō Burai Kaiji
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  Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji(manga)
26 TV Episodes 26 TV Episodes
Oct 2007–April 2008 Oct 2007–April 2008
  Nobuyuki Fukumoto
  Yuzo Sato
Action Action
Akikawa Akikawa
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Andou Andou
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Aohiro Aohiro
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Endou Endou
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-- more listed below -- -- more listed below --

Last I checked, this anime was available on DVD at Amazon.

Anime Characters: Kaiji

English Name
Japanese Name
English Name
Japanese Name
Akikawa Akikawa Kitami Kitami
Andou Andou Koizumi Koizumi
Aohiro Aohiro Nakamura Nakamura
Endou Endou Nakayama Nakayama
Espoir Participant Espoir Participant Nishio Nishio
Funai Funai Ohta Ohta
Furuhata Furuhata Okabayashi Okabayashi
Hyena Hyena Sahara Sahara
Hyoudou Kazutaka Hyoudou Kazutaka Takada Takada
Ishida Ishida Tonegawa Tonegawa

Anime Description: Kaiji

Nobuyuki Fukumoto

Japanese manga artist Nobuyuki Fukumoto is known for dealing with themes towards the darker end of the spectrum, with gambling and the Yakuza typical features of his storylines. In the late 1990's he found he had a hit on his hands with his character Kaiji and the story "Gambling Apocalypse"; what a title! The series went on to become two TV anime series and, in 2009, a live-action movie was released.


Gambling and manga, as well as comic art in general, make fantastic partners. They're both about entertainment and escapism, about finding a way to forget the drudgery of day-to-day life for a little while. Japan is notorious for its overworked office employees, and though most gambling is illegal, at least for now, the series obviously struck a nerve with Japanese readers. These days, internet gambling worldwide continues to grow, and some online casinos, including CasinoSagaFans.com even incorporate comic/fantasy art into their themes. The results are immersive and more evocative of the comic-book experience than the usual online casino - even if Japanese players can't legally access them yet!

Kaiji: Background

In Gambling Apocalypse, Kaiji starts out as a young man suffering the effects of the late-90's recession. He's constantly broke and, after suffering for a couple of years, Kaiji begins his gambling career on board a ship, the "Espoir" - under pressure from his creditor. (Interestingly, several attempts have been made more recently in Japan to legalize gambling ships - but it hasn't happened yet.)


What follows is a series of ingenious, increasingly high-stakes gambling tasks, starting with a card-based version of Rock Paper Scissors. The losers are ominously led away by heavies, presumably to suffer an agonizing fate. Next is a terrifying game called Human Derby, which involves a race across elevated girders. Just to spice things up, these are eventually supplied with an electric current, to dissuade the participants from using their hands. Season 1 of the anime ends with Kaiji gambling not only his bankroll, but several of his fingers...


In season 2, first broadcast in 2011, there was no let-up for Kaiji. He finds himself condemned to working in a mine in appalling conditions, with no chance of paying off his debt and becoming a free man. Overall, the storyline explores the idea that people are sometimes forced by poverty to do desperate things. However, the underlying idea that there is always hope lifts Kaiji from being just an exercise in bleakness and cruelty. The crazy gambles he takes along the way are understandable in context, though you'll swear you'd never accept them yourself in the same position!

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