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  1. SSMB acts like such a tough guy when it talks about anime but honestly you guys haven't watched a real anime until you've watched KAIJI ざわ‥ざわ‥ Kaiji isn't your average hero. Quite the opposite... he's your average fucking loser. He wastes his life away by vandalizing fancy cars and gambling away what little pocket change he's able to muster from his meager paychecks. Unfortunately that's not the worst of his problems, as he finds himself millions of yen in debt due to unwittingly co-signing a loan from a yakuza group; in order to pay it off, he's enticed to enter a gambling competition aboard a ship, on which players can either walk away with their debts cleared or be forced into illegal underground labor. And that's only the first story arc - Kaiji eventually finds himself in a web of mind games and manipulation, crossing paths with devils and unexpected allies. So, this show is pretty much all about gambling, of course. The first half of the first season deals primarily with a rock-paper-scissors card game, while later ones change things up. What comes directly after the first arc is a surprise you should see for yourself. In season 2, there are also dice games and pachinko, and from where I am in the manga, there's mahjong thrown into the mix. When all is said and done though, you're not just watching some dudes playing casino games with each other: it's so much more than that, and the anime gets this message cross very clearly from the second episode onwards. The first is used to set everything up, and the viewer is just as unsure about what they are getting into as Kaiji himself is. Once you're on the rollercoaster though there's no getting off. What makes Kaiji (the character) stand out is that you see how fucking pathetic he can be, and the anime doesn't skirt around how miserable his life is as it currently stands. HOWEVER..!! his greatest asset is his intelligence and resourcefulness. Kaiji has a tendency to view things at face value and his naivety gets him in frequent trouble, but when backed into a corner, he transforms into a fucking jackal. Much like how Phoenix Wright can turn a case around at the very last second by the skin of his teeth, so can Kaiji when the stakes are high and his hopes go crashing into the abyss: he can perceive his enemies' tactics and think quickly on his feet, or bide his time and strike back with the force of a tsunami. And it's all so god damned entertaining to watch. You think that just because this anime is about gambling that it's all about slot machines and dice rolling and sheer, dumb luck? Hell no. The anime is intricate about its details, exploring each characters' motivations, thought processes, and their reactions and actions' consequences - with a hammy, testosterone-pumped narrator to spice things up. At times it can be pretty drawn out, especially during the pachinko arc in season 2, but it at least ensures that there is never a dull moment to be found. You cheer Kaiji on and lament his losses, while chastising him for his fuck-ups and savoring his opponents' disastrous downfalls. You can feel the effects these games have on these characters, especially as the stakes get higher and go beyond simple monetary gain, putting characters' lives and even their very futures on the line. Also did I mention that there is a lot of crying in this show? Kaiji hates it! (He hates it!) HE HATES IT! (HE HAAAAATES IT!!) Both seasons of the anime are on Crunchyroll, subbed only. I can't really imagine a dub being quite as good because the narrator is fucking incredible (here's a fantastic drinking game: take a swig every single time he yells the word "HOWEVER!" at the top of his fucking lungs) and Masato Hagiwara really sells his performance as Kaiji to a spectacular degree. Now, the anime only covers the first two parts of the manga (think Jojo's Bizarre Adventure), but I think it ends on a pretty satisfying note. If you want to see more of Kaiji's moolah shenanigans, there are unfortunately not a lot of options. Part 3 is partially translated, but I can't locate the remainder of the series anywhere. If I find the complete series somewhere I'll be sure to update this topic. Honestly though, I didn't really care for what I've read of part 3 so far and I think season 2's ending is a great way to end the series, so you can go into it without feeling like you're missing out on stuff later on. EDIT: I found part 3 here. It appears to be complete. Part 4 begins here, although I think it's in the process of being translated still if the upload dates are any indication. If so then this obviously means that part 5 has yet to get a fan translation. Anyway, if you'd rather read the manga than watch the anime, this is where you start, but be warned that on this site the chapter organization is a mess. The anime covers up to chapter 134. Oh and lest I forget: the music is a god damned work of art. It was all done by Hideki Taniuchi, who also worked on Death Note's soundtrack. Despite Death Note being fucking garbage I can't fault just how intense that anime's soundtrack got at times. Just check out these pieces from the first and second seasons respectively and see for yourself:
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