Kaiji is the devil child [insert Slayer- Hell Awaits soundtrack] among the 2007 Autumn season lineup, an outcast, the underdog just like the character himself – people take one look at those long noses and run for the hills – A TENGU IS COMING!! AAARGHH!!
It also just happens to not only be the best anime of the season; it ranks up among some of the best anime of all time. If there were to be a list of the current best five anime for the 2007 season it would be: 1. Kaiji, 2. Daylight, 3. Daylight, 4. Daylight, 5. Maybe Ghost Hound – nah,
there is still a little more daylight between Kaiji and that show… Put simply, Kaiji is the type of anime that the gods sitting atop Mt. Olympus watch when they take a break from throwing down lightning bolts, swinging tridents, ruling the underworld or doing whatever gods sitting atop Mt. Olympus do. My reasons are explained below…
Firstly, a bit of background. Kaiji is based on Nobuyuki Fukumoto's award winning manga of the same name. More specifically, the anime is based on the first series of the manga containing the first 13 volumes of the story called ‘Kaiji – Tobaku Mokushikuroku', or, ‘Kaiji – The Gambling Apocalypse'. As no real English translations of the manga exist, the story is relatively unknown in the West. On the other hand, the manga, which first started being serialized back in 1996, went on to become extremely popular in Japan and Korea, producing two sequel series of manga which are also a superb read and are highly recommended. At the time of writing 38 volumes of the manga have been produced, featuring Kaiji putting it all on the line time and time again. The anime has followed this trend of popularity in the East, Kaiji the anime regular doubles the ratings for shows apparently popular according to this site, such as Minami-ke.
I am going to be blunt, the character design, like Akagi before it, is ‘bad’ in the traditional sense – but in all seriousness this is a very, very good thing. Let me explain by posing a rhetorical question: “Have you ever seen a good ‘bad’ film?” For example the film Evil Dead looks as though it has been produced on a 15 dollar budget but god damn it’s an awesome film! Titanic on the other hand was made on a bajillion dollar budget, won a whole heap of awards and raked in millions of dollars in profit but let’s face it – IT SUCKED.
Kaiji works in a similar way – the artwork is ‘bad’ in the same way Evil Dead is, and that’s what makes it awesome. Kaiji is not exactly a mainstream anime so it is never going to suit everyone’s tastes, but, as with Akagi, Fukumoto’s art style really does suit this kind of story – In pure Rocky fashion, here we see a gritty battler, the underdog in a fight, grappling with underground mobsters to get out of debt, to reach out and grasp the future within his hands – It’s never going to be a pretty picture…
Adding to the character designs are a variety of original touches, most notably Fukumoto’s trademark, ‘Zawa Zawa’ sound effect, which is derived from the Japanese word Zawameku, ‘ざわめく’ – signifying a tense state of agitation. To put it in layman's terms, it is kind of like the feeling you get when you take a dump only to realize that you are out of toilet paper – ZAWAAA!!! (Apologies for crudeness). In general the voice acting is superb, in particular the standouts being Kaiji’s V.O. Masato Hagiwara and the narrator himself, voiced by none other than Fumihiko Tachiki, the dude who is the narrator in PRIDE! Hideki Taneuchi picks up where he left off in Akagi providing an amazing score for Kaiji. Music is used in Kaiji to a perfect degree, and really helps build the ever-present underlying tension as Kaiji gambles with his life.
Let’s face it, an anime with an art style as flipped out as it is, Kaiji (the anime) is never really going to get anywhere without a decent story. Well, it is in this area that the anime really shines. Thoroughly engrossing, this is one of the few animes around that makes it seem like a painfully long wait for the next episode to come out.
While the basic plot shows Kaiji’s struggle to get out of debt, to survive, the thematically driven story is as deep as an abyss – Fukumoto’s world view portrayed throughout Kaiji is at times deeply profound, at other times it simply rocks the core of your soul. Yes, the plot simply revolves around a series of gambles, but the world of gambling that Kaiji (the character) is drawn into is merely used as an analogy about the struggle to survive in the real world, offering existential notions on the human race itself, where we as individuals stand in the ‘rat race’.
Some of the statements that this anime makes are despairingly stark; sombre realities that really hit home. You will want to disagree with the scornful remarks made by mobsters like Tonegawa and Co. about how the debtors have lived their lives up to this point, but you can’t. You can’t because they simply state the harsh realities of life; realities that we choose to turn our heads away from in everyday life. While mobsters like Tonegawa appearing in this anime may be considered ‘bad guys’ in the traditional sense because they are wrong morally, they have a far greater perception about the realities of life and, dare I say it, simply act as they do to survive themselves in a dog eat dog world…?
The story of Kaiji on the surface, features and draws out just about every possible emotion on the spectrum – the thrill of victory, the despair of defeat, the grief of seeing comrades fall, the anger of betrayal, the fear of looking death in the eye… While this makes for a gut-wrenchingly intense enough experience as it is, the thematic psychological commentary into the human condition that makes up the core that is Kaiji the anime is even more provocative and carries a lot more weight than the gambling action itself. Simply put, this really pulls ‘Kaiji’ above the realm of a simple anime and onto a higher plane. If you watch this show and find that it doesn’t really have an effect on you, try watching the show again once you’ve entered the work force – that is when things will really hit home...
Fukumoto’s world is world filled with men – the sole female survivor of the Gambling Apocalypse appears for about a minute at most. Hey, it’s one whole female character more than Akagi, a 100% increase!! Ahem.. Sorry guys – put away those tissues you had readied, if you look at anime for the fan-service, then you’re going to be one sorry fan. Look on the bright side though; brain-dead harem comedies are in plentiful supply…
Yes it truly is a man’s world in Kaiji, men gambling on the edge of despair. I won’t bother laying out each and every character for you, mainly because finding out about the personalities, traits and motivations of the characters that inhibit Kaiji’s world for yourself is a large part of the experience. I will give brief mention however to the lead, Kaiji himself because Kaiji’s character development is another one of this anime’s great points. As the plot summary suggests, Kaiji starts out the show a loser on his way out. A character simply floating through life, someone who chooses to not chase down ‘opportunity’, living in the medical sense that he has a beating heart and working lungs, but really ‘living’ to the fullest sense of the word. Not a real inspiring guy right? No, he isn’t, not to begin with. But as his dawdling way of life, where he cannot really see things as they ‘really’ are, places him into his predicament (i.e. a mountain of unpaid debts), his predicament is also what saves him, for it is only when Kaiji confronts the fear of death does he realize the value of his very existence, in a sense he ‘awakens’ from a deep sleep. With his back against the wall, he grows to become an absolute god of gambling in one sense, but in another way his development as a strong human being (both mentally and emotionally) is really what makes him an engaging character, one of the best leads I have ever seen in an anime. Personally I love the character of Kaiji and feel a lot more in touch with his struggle than I ever did with Akagi…
God this is a long review… And I still feel as though I have only just scraped the surface of what makes Kaiji so great… Ah well, you can figure the rest out if you watch the show. I’m not going to guarantee that everyone is going to like it – hey, everyone has different opinions, tastes, personalities… But if I can convince someone who had no interest in Kaiji to at least try it, then I feel my job here is done. Excellent anime. Top marks.
This review was originally written after the first arc, and has since been revised to cover my opinions of the entire show, with minimal spoilers.
Story: Itoh Kaiji, a bum with 3 million yen worth of debt gets into a gambling cruise to pay off his debts. The game played on the cruise is Gentei Janken (Restricted Rock-Paper-Scissors), where the players get four cards of each type and battle it out. What's the catch? Several things; each card can only be used once, cards can be bought off of other players, con men abound, and losing forces one into the vaguely established but
horrible "other room". Also, one must not only break even in the actual matches, but also earn enough through the buying and selling of "stars" (3 of which equate a trip off the ship) to pay off their debts. A simple premise which gets expounded on to a cleverly intense degree. That, mind you, is the first arc. The later arcs follow up with themes on society, and it gets philosophical in a gritty sort of way. But, unfortunately, the"ending" is not anything of the sort, devoid of climax. The last 4 episode arc feels a bit tacked on, and leaves season 2 wide open.
Art: I looked at the promo picture, and I thought one thing: Elves. These noses are big, and the faces look pretty weird at first. However, once one gets past the first five minutes, it really becomes apparent just how expressive these faces can be, as the characters go through one emotional crisis after another.
Sound: Nice intro, nice ending. Where the sound really shines, though, is the intense scenes. It's well integrated into the rest of the show's experience - so much so that I didn't notice it except after watching a second or third time. However, once I did look into the more dramatic half of the soundtrack, I found it a fairly nice score.
However, soundtrack isn't the best part of this show's auditory arsenal either. That honor goes to the best voice acting I've ever heard. It may sound silly, but I have never heard anyone cry as effectively as Yanaka Hiroshi's character. Ever. The voice acting really captures the gritty, dreamless atmosphere which the show exhudes. Also, an extremely dramatic narration often helps the story along, and helps the viewer make sense of sometimes subtle mindgames.
Character: Sheeit- there's just too much to say. Men (absolutely no women in this show) betting their lives can make for pretty deep plots, and this is perhaps one of the very best. Kaiji himself is a normally hopeless person whose survival instincts lead him to fight off the system intended to break him down, and he takes himself down a number of pegs to help people who have nothing to give him (and occasionally stab him in the back). The rest of the cast of characters is a bit less scrupulous, and Kaiji suffers three major betrayals by con men and friends alike in the first nine episodes. In the antecedent arcs 2-4, shit hits the fan for our hero, though he is never betrayed after arc 1. Plenty of manly tears make the whole process very entertaining.
A major part of Kaiji that I feel I shoud mention is it's haves vs. have-nots dynamic. Rich "haves" are constantly responsible for the suffering of impoverished "have-nots", and situation which naturally causes tearful frustration for the have-nots. At times the narrator's observations of both sides sound like Hobbesian logic.
Enjoyment: A couple of major highlights: fistfights, naked wrestling behind a one-way mirror, and a fat guy being kicked in the corpulence. The presentation is terrific, dramatic, and bold. Just be aware that, when the chips are down and everything is at stake, there's a very real possibility that Kaiji will lose...
Overall: Kaiji=Pwn+Max Drama-A Decent Ending. If you don't want to be dissappointed, stop watching at episode 22 and wait for season 2 before watching episodes 23-26. There's no reason to skip the first 22, though. If you have any free time, what are you doing still reading this review? Watch it now!
Starts off strange to say the least. A young man is deep in debt and is being given a chance to repay it by boarding a cruise ship to do the 'gambling' (?). At this point I was already a bit wary, because why would a loan company give an opportunity to repay the debt and get rich on top of that to somebody who owns them money? Surely that's not a profitable thing to do. Why not collect the money from them or make them repay somehow, idk. On the ship though, this series becomes amazing, and I mean
top-tier material, the plot is well thought out, the mechanics of exploiting the faults of the restricted rock-paper-scissors are very well done, there's betrayal involved, competition is dynamic with worthy opponents, kaiji's brain is being turned inside out from all the stimulation and he really becomes a much much better gambler after that, who is able to think outside the box and quickly adapt to various difficulties he faces on later in the series.
However after that this anime completely destroys itself. The so called 'gambling' is no longer gambling but rather a selection of sadistic game for pleasure of the wealthy. By the way I hate this trope, the rich that make poor risk their lives to do crazy stupid things for money, which involves gore and death that supposedly gives them great pleasure somehow. This is completely unnatural, this goes against human common sense of what is pleasurable and what is merely disgusting, and eventhough such twisted people might indeed exist, there would be nothing of such scale of cruelty that is portrayed in the show.
The biggest issue I have with the show is not the fact that 2nd half of it is pure garbage from the logical point of view, or that the 'gambling' games are unoriginal and not intellectual in any way, but rather the pacing. It's so fucking slow it's unreal, the 'card-game' arc with Tonegawa lasts forever for no apparent reason, the narrator repeats everything at least THREE times that is obvious to absolutely anybody watching who has at least 1/4 of the mean IQ value. The series was dragged out for so long that I genuinely started to lose the feeling of tension and suspense that you develop when engaged with the series. About 5 episodes before completion I was so annoyed that i wanted to drop the show despite being so close to the finish line.
Another thing that annoyed me was how the outside people were brought into the plot. There were a bunch of crippled men (after the disgusting sadistic 'gambling' competition) who were cheering Kaiji on and helping him moraly and providing first-aid. WHY????????????? All those delinquents hated each others guts, treated each other like trash during the 'cruise ship' arc, and then they suddenly developed friendly feelings for kaiji when he won the 20million from Tonegawa. Were they just after the money? Perhaps, but then they had plenty of opportunities to steal the money whilst kaiji was busy, but they didnt. But even if they weren't after the money why was kaiji so willing to trust them after being betrayed so many times in the first part of the series?
The show is simply put illogical, everybody acts irrationally, completely against what real-life humans would do in most of the situations. I can't stress that enough. This is a show about gambling after all, psychological interactions needed to be thought out properly, but instead we get this. It rendered the show completely useless.
What drew me to Kaiji was the interesting premise, gambling. Considering the manga had over 30+ volumes, there had to be something to this. However, the question pops in my mind “how is one able to make an anime about gambling?” In the end, I found that a more important question is “how can one make a good anime about gambling?” and Kaiji isn’t a very good example.
Itoh Kaiji owes 3 million yen to the yakuza and is forced to go into a special cruise ship to gamble his way out of debt. The gamble is
based on rock, paper, scissor, while simple at first there is quite a bit flexibility to mess with the system in your favor. This is what makes the first arc so interesting. My roommate and I discussed the many possibilities after each episode and eagerly waited to see what Kaiji was gonna do next. Near the end of this arc the story really started to drag on, but it wasn’t too bad as I though the story would end on episode 13. If I were to rate Kaiji based purely on the first arc it would have gotten a high 7 or low 8. However, Kaiji didn’t end on the first arc…
The next arc consisted of 3 major gambles, human derby, e-card, and umm… “awesome box.” Here Kaiji loses what made the first arc so interesting, the open nature of the gambles. The human derby arc wasn’t really a gamble per say, instead it was a task to complete for money and entertainment of very rich guest. Here Kaiji tires to create human drama and really delve into the minds of the characters. Well there’s only one problem with this, Kaiji never had strong characters. The people participating in the human derby were newly introduced and we don’t know anything about them, they are effectively faceless. So why should the viewer care what happens to them? People die everyday so why don’t we weep for them too? Yes, I’ll admit it’s quite tragic and on some level I do feel sad for the characters. Even for the title character, Kaiji, I felt very little, this is because the first arc only really focuses on the gambles and very little on the Kaiji himself. So there is no big pay off, so to speak when things get dramatic (ie My Hime). Instead it’s more like watching the 10pm news.
In this arc they also really delve into philosophy and psychology. The philosophical aspects were too in your face, reminding me of the extremely blatant Ghost in the Shell movies, especially Innocence. This is because of the delivery, long winded speeches from supposed sage. This wise old man steps on to the podium and lectures not only Kaiji but the viewer as well. There is nothing subtle about this nor was it very grey, this is how the world is because he said so. As for the psychological aspects, visuals were often used to convey the inner struggles, its just that they really over did it and kept repeating the same damn thing. This leads to my major complaint overall with Kaiji.
The thing that made Kaiji lose the most point is the fact that they dragged things for way too long, far longer than the first arc. The omnipresent narrator didn’t help either; I was ready to scream at the screen “shut up, we get the idea already!” As for the other 2 gambles, they faired a bit better…only a little bit. They were actual gambles, but featured the same things that made the human derby arc bad, too dragged out, shallow drama, and overt philosophical ramblings. However, in the E-card arc it did give me back a little of the “how’s Kaiji gonna get out of this mess” feeling. Although, the nature of the gamble is very closed, thus I remain a passive viewer. Finally the way those gambles ended was way too contrived for my tastes, suffering from the “just as planned” syndrome.
Let me add that Kaiji is extremely overt with the way it handles itself, from the emotions to the thoughts of the characters themselves. In some ways it feels a bit caricature but I guess that’s mainly the art that gives that impression. Visual metaphors are used to ram their ideas into the viewers head as well as the omnipresent narrator constantly tells the viewer exactly what is going on. It doesn’t help that the narrator is using an overly dramatic voice, reminiscent of movie guy.
Animation was excellent; it was very smooth as well as extremely consistent, as expected by Madhouse. For a very dialogue based story they made use of many visual metaphors, once again it gets old fast. It would have been better if they simply used more dramatic angles and shots as in Death Note. Art is well…ugly, very ugly, which makes me wonder why Fukumoto (the mangaka) was allowed to keep drawing manga. He should have someone else draw and he’ll work on the story.
The music is easily the best part of Kaiji, I loved the instrumental pieces and was surprised at how good the music was when I listened to the ost. Not only that the music was especially fitting considering the gritty tone of Kaiji. I just wished they used it more often. Most of the time there isn’t music, instead the narrator sets the tone and the trademark “zawazawa.”
Oh let us not forget about the ending… Kaiji ended on an extremely open note, so open that I wondered where the next episode was gonna air. While open endings can work, they only work for character based stories and Kaiji didn’t have the story structure to support such an ending. I’m not going to be that critical on the ending as I’m sure they plan on animating the rest of the Kaiji story. What I am gonna be critical on is the fact that Kaiji seemed to have grown dumber in the end. Ok let me rephrase that he’s grown smarter as a gambler but dumber as a person. There is a sense of irony when Kaiji, minus 4 fingers, an ear, and even more in debt, was talking about how he’s stronger now and will defeat the chairman next time. There is no evidence showing that he stronger as a person, only as a gambler. Even during the interlude between the first and second arc he is shown unable to live in normal society. Now I feel he is even more unable to adapt and live under normal circumstances.
I was an active viewer during the first arc and that was what made things interesting and fun. However, when they took that aspect away I was made into a passive viewer. Here, the flaws with the narrative, pacing and characters became apparent. The pacing was horribly dragged out and extremely slow. Perhaps I would rate Kaiji higher if I didn’t watch it weekly and marathoned it, but what’s done is done. In addition, they suffer from the “just as planned” syndrome too much in the 2nd half. Now that think about it I didn’t really mention the characters in my review yet. Well that’s because all the characters are flat. As for Kaiji himself, he is someone with no past and based on the ending, he also has no future.
Kaiji, maybe is one of the genius anime that would be rarely be consumed these days. Many reasons for it, like people these days are just loooking for anime which have cute girls (or we can said seeking for MOE). Cant blame on it since anime industry now are using cute girls for their sales and of course for seeking profit. Anyway, there is no cute girls in Kaiji so please step out if you’re looking for it. But honestly you would miss a show that would make hold your breath from the beginning to the end.
Kaiji itself have a simple story, Its about
a man named Kaiji who is a thief but then his life changed when he is being visited by a debt collector. The debt collector said Kaiji has an unpaid loan which Kaiji had previously co-signed for a work-mate. But his work-mate had disappeared, the loan then fell on Kaiji. Hopelessly to find a money to pay the loan. Then he find there is one way to solve his loan and that was playing a gamble.
There is so many things that makes Kaiji is so attractive, one of them is the gamble or we can said a “game” that Kaiji must play for paying his loan. What they’re playing is just a simple game like Jankenpon but simply its not just a simple Jankenpon, Fukumoto (Kaiji’s creator) makes it into a serious and psychological game that you’ve ever seen. The game is clever and usually depends on psychological to win the game. And if you’re thinking the game is hard to understand then dont worry, since they’re really explained it well and moreover, its just a simple game (like Jankenpon or anything like that) that been modified a bit by Nobuyuki to make the game more interesting.
Another fun part about Kaiji is guessing. This series is really know how to keep you on your toes and as you keep guessing as the stakes get higher and the games become more absurd,Like any mystery and detective show, we’re usually trying to guess on whats gonna happen next or probably trying to solve whats the trick between it. Well, Kaiji is not mystery or detective show but at least thats what i felt when i watch this show. The way how Kaiji solving each game is really remarkable and unexpected. And another great things about it was how logical Kaiji solution was. Well, sometimes another series use some illogical and unrealistic tricks but not in Kaiji, They’re all making sense and that part what makes Kaiji is so amazing.
Another aspects that really prominent is the art. Kaiji’s art is superbly good, not in the term of realistic nor catchy color but its in term of the compatibility within the story. Sometimes some anime missing the point on what art should be, like an example the themes of an anime is thriller but the art looks so colorful makes the thriller atmosphere being wasted. And Good things Kaiji isnt like that. Their art is probably the most unique one, they using thick lines for the characters to make it like a comical style and the character design is unique, probably you cant find it in anywhere. The originality style that Fukumoto (Creator of Kaij) bring probably hard to watch for someone who’re not used watching something extraordinary like this but the comical style that Kaiji use is bring out the advantage for themselves. Like it can increasing the expressive of each characters so we can feel the emotion within them. Its truly beautiful.
There is no other way to make Kaiji more epic than the sound. The background song or the soundtrack within every scenes is really remarkable, they’re fitting well for every scenes that occurs. Like when Kaiji is being despair, there is a sound that you would notice along the series, “ZAWAAA” or it can be translated as agitation. The sound like the one i notice before increasing the despair atmosphere and thrilling the audience. Its like the song forced us to feel the same way as the kaiji does. Well, its not astonishing since the music composer is Hideki Tanuichi, the one who responsible for Aoi Bungaku and Death note music. He did briliantly again in this anime. The opening song in this anime is also amazing, “Mirai wa Bokura no Te no Naka” that being played by Hakuryu is really fits with the anime. This 45 seconds opening song is quite wacky and random but somehow this is quite addicting. After talking about the song, lets talking about the seiyuu voice. There is two name that i should mention for this. Hagiwara Masato and Fumihiko Tachiki, They are the one who responsible for making Kaiji become so epic. Masato voice is really fits with Kaiji, his voice that heavy is really suitable with kaiji that a middle aged man. He succesfully makes Kaiji like himself but in anime version. In other words, Masato is bring the life for Kaiji. For Fumihiko, his roles in this anime is narrator. But dont take this lightly, because his energetic and passionate voice in every narrating the story would stun you up.
If there was something that makes me so addicting with this series,it was Kaiji and the other characters. Kaiji is one of the best main characters out there, but he can also the most lamest main characters. There is too many way to describe kaiji, he can be a hero but also a loser. Loser in this term is how Kaiji sometimes following his desires for gambling and ended up to have much of debt but in the other way, when he was in pinch, he could turned into a heroic character. Last, his personality that clever and tricky make this story become more interesting to follow. Not just kaiji, The other characters also one of the aspects what makes Kaiji is so amazing. Every characters that appears in this anime isnt just for a side show,they playing some important roles too andThe other characters acts like what in real life do, like when you are in the pinch with your friends and you have a chance for escape for yourselves, what would you do? I believe if we are in that positions, we are choosing for escape by ourselves and abandon our friends. That question is for describing what the characters in kaiji is. They would do anything for saving themselves, betraying is one of the way that they would do. The realistic things that every characters do make this anime become more interesting to see.
Lastly, after all mumbling that i said before i can safely said Kaiji is one the anime that you should watch. Despite its lackness in moe and cute girls on it, Kaiji would bring you an amazing thriller story with just some simple game. From that simple game, prepare for feeling some intense scenes that would make you hold the breath from beginning to the end.
I can see everyone staring at the straight 10s on the board and either think im being biased, or that I grade too easy. According to the ratings here, I grade more than a point lower on average than everyone else. Well, in any case, I will explain why every category deserved a 10.
Story: While not being too complex, it exists. The main character has worked himself down to having a massive debt that would take him countless years to pay back honestly. Everybody Kaiji gambles with are people who once were hopeless gamblers that are given a chance to win
it all back. Although the story doesnt sound to be the too intense, this anime focuses on the strategic part of the gambles rather than on what is going on. Some might think I should then have given the story an 8 or a 7, but I think that any more story would take away from the suspense.
Art: Why such low values on the art everyone? This art is unique, and its hilarious. Whenever I see Kaiji from a side shot, I almost start crying with tears of laughter. They capture emotion in the drawings of the characters, so I feel as though the akward designs of each character fit their personality extremely well. And there is enough of a background to keep you interested, nothing very groundbreakig going on there.
Sound: Im not a big sound man, but the seiyuus (spelling?) seemed to portray plenty of emotion, and the bad guys talked like you wanted to punch them in the face. Effective voice acting. While the music isnt very memorable or anything, its the perfect music for sitting on the edge of your seat in anticipation. For an anime that focuses on situational suspense, this is the music you should use. Something catchy will take you away from the situation.
Character: Excellent villains portrayed to be absolute jerskoffs. I absolutely love to hate them. You got the pompous gamblers who think they are all that, and then you got Kaiji. Kaiji seems to have a feer of dedication. In the beginning he didnt do much of anything. After being faced with the gambling trials, Kaiji is starting to learn how to think up ways of getting out of certain situations, and is willing to take sensible risk. The anime is nowhere near over, so I have yet to see his full character development, but he is definitely a different person in episode 14 than he was in episode 1.
Enjoyment: As you can see, I watched the first 12 or 13 episodes in one night. I was glued to the screen the entire time in absolute awe. Whats gonna happen!!!!! Havent gotten a feeling like this since I first started watching anime, which is quite a feat in my opinion.
Overall: Great characters, great development, seems to be executed well, and is on its way to becoming a masterpiece. Although the slightly non-cutting edge animation might be what deters people from this anime, and what make it fall short of masterpiece status. Its an 07/08 anime and looks like it could have been animation in like 01/02. Doesnt bother me all too much, I dont need Hayate the Combat Butler resolution 24/7.
What happens when you take the "No one win's but I" attitude and you place it into the hands of a bunch of desperate, shameless losers? Why, you get Kaiji of course!
Art - 7
I understand that the art style was supposed to echo the tone and content of the story. Many will say that the character design is supposed to depict “real-life, gritty” characters. I would disagree. I think that Kaiji is a very stylized, over-exaggeration of “gritty, real-life.” If this is supposed to indeed be a more realistic art style, I just don’t think everyone has pointy chins, noses,
and eyes, even if you are Asian. What especially throws everything over into the hyper stylized corner is the very harsh, thick, black lines and angular nature of character designs. It just wasn't my cup of tea. However, I will give it credit for being consistent within the show, and throughout various body types. That is a difficult style to maintain across characters, shows that strive for such quality in execution, such as Bleach, should take note. I also have a problem with the bad integration of CG in this show, some of it was needless, like fountains and light fixtures, and it was a distraction in a show that was otherwise well directed.
Sound - 6
Honestly, I don’t remember, good or bad, anything about the music in Kaiji. What I will say regarding voice acting is that it matches the exaggerated tone and style of the show, so that is a plus. The degree of “badness” of a character is mimicked in the “evilness” of his voice. This goes double for the wimpy voices of the “pathetic” characters.
Characters - 5
The title character of the show, Kaiji Itou is a bit of an anomaly. Utterly unlikable, he is a character crafted for the viewer to pour copious amounts of sympathy onto, thereby making the viewer feel much better about himself. The execution of characterizing Kaiji is a job well done. After a couple of episodes, the viewer clearly understands his motives and can predict his reactions. The problem however, is that he is so predictable and starkly characterized that he quickly becomes a parody of himself with his over-emotional reactions by about halfway through the series due to a lack in growth. Kaiji himself is a horribly progressed character who fails to learn from any of his mistakes. Even if the point of the show were to paint the portrait of a deluded loser, I don't think that writing for Kaiji supported his journey at all. Unfortunately, because ultimately, this show is about Kaiji, the supporting characters are quite bland, forgettable, and one-dimensional. Everyone is sharply one personality type, with no nuance or depth to differentiate themselves from one another.
Story - 3
Initially, the show does a great job of setting up Kaiji and the overall tone of the show. There is a natural sense of humor that mixes well with the more adrenaline inducing gambling scenes. After the first round of gambling is over, however, thing go at a slower pace, and proceed much more predictably. Too much time is spent explaining the rules of the each game, and because a proper job is never done, the rules regarding strategies have to be reiterated. There’s always a twist, and Kaiji always manages to find someway to claw himself out of total defeat. Kaiji continuously attempts at forcing the viewer to empathize with the bevy of “tragic” characters by making someone cry in virtually every episode. This is a problem because none of the characters are well developed enough, besides, perhaps Kaiji, to fully empathize with. There are a wide array of emotions at the writers’ disposal to add depth and meaning to the cast, so with the varying backgrounds and personalities of the characters, I felt it was hopelessly shallow of the show to only display frustration or despair through crying and bitching for every character in the same way. Everything seemed to suffer under the gimmickry that is the gambling set up. However, byy far the biggest problem that I had with Kaiji though was the terrible visualizations of metaphors. They aren't any axioms or sayings that one hasn’t learned by freshman year in high school. As a viewer, I'm not so stupid that when I hear the narrator say that "Death was breathing onto the napes of each competitors' neck" that I need to see it play out on screen, that is the point of figurative language. The narration was quite useless, and 9 times out of ten insulted my intelligence by regurgitating what is very clear on screen.
Enjoyment - 4
I really did enjoy this show at the beginning. It had a great mix of familiarity and unabashed ness (very much like it’s main character) that worked very well. Though I did enjoy seeing a lot of losers plummet to their doom, unfortunately, it couldn’t sufficiently maintain any of the momentum it had accumulated in the first few episodes, and suffered under the weight of its flatness.
Overall - 4
At the very end, yes, Kaiji is a bold and courageous attempt at an anime. This show was very disappointing for me because of what I saw as promising early on. I think that the creators at almost every step second-guessed that what they were doing would actually read across clearly on the screen, leading to much of the redundancy in imagery and writing, and in attempts to herd the viewers to a certain “emotional space.” Kaiji just tries so hard to be different that it suffers in style over substance.
I chose to write a review about this anime because people have to know how good it is.
It's actually one of the very few that i'd give a 10/10 without hesitation, it's my personal opinion, but i really can't see someone who like psychological thrillers not liking this show so much, so i think you should give it a try at least.
If i had to describe Ultimate Survivor Kaiji, i'd say that this anime is a pure psychological thriller, it's actually the only anime i've seen so far that was totally realistic and showed how scary the world is, how weak humans are, and how
evil they can get... and i gotta say, i watch a lot of thrillers, not only in anime, and this was one of the best.
This show succeeds in being both psychological, and thriller...
As for being a psychological, it always describes the emotions of people in details, from their joy of victory, to their hopelessness in despair, to their fear of death, and their shock of failure, they even describe a lot of psychological problems that most of the the society have, i bet most of the viewers felt like the show is talking about them, you'd probably feel the same way when you watch it, and it may open your eyes and inspire you to change.
As for being a thriller, almost every episode in the series is a freaking cliffhanger! i started watching the first episode before i start studying for an exam, and i swear to god, i watched the whole series in one day, and couldn't study! and what makes it one of the best thrillers, is that you can't expect what's coming, it's very realistic that you won't believe in things like resolution and friendship anymore! all that you see in this show is reality and despair.
I believe i already said enough to make you excited about it, but if you think i'm wrong, i'll minimize the points of the review for you:
It's about a very ordinary young guy called "Kaiji" who lives a useless life, and suddenly a guy appears telling him that he's got a huge debt, and he tricks him to participate in a gambling game, the rest of the series is all about surviving the game... it's similar to liar game, but darker and focused more on gambling.
The story might not sound special, but it gets deeper later, as you can see Kaiji's personality in its brightest and darkest sides, he'd save a person then regret it and think he should have had the money instead.
People may complain about the art, but they don't realize that if they give it a chance, they may like it so much, so you shouldn't judge it too early, once you get into the series, you'll know what i meant.
The soundtracks are great, there are moments when i couldn't hear what the characters are saying because i was totally focusing on the background music, as for the opening and ending, i didn't really like them, but most of the fans did, you might like them as well.
Kaiji's characters may not get a high rating in most of the reviews, because obviously, most of them are ordinary, however, due to the way you always care about them and set on the edge of your seat when they're in danger, i gotta say that instead of making great anime characters, this anime shows you a detailed image of the people in your society, and you gotta give it a credit for this... not to mention that there are some great characters, like Kaiji, Tonegawa and Hyoudou.
I already talked enough about this, it's an anime that if you regret watching, it's because you'll want to watch it again and again and again, it's the easiest to marathon, and there's also a second season, which is as good as the first.
This is a masterpiece, if you're gonna spend your time watching something, then i highly suggest that you give this one a try, you WILL love it, i assure you.
Kaiji Ultimate Survivor explores human vices, the temptation of evil & the shattering of hope all through the usage of gambling. Kaiji is a psychological thriller building much tension as Kaiji's thoughts on society & goodwill are put into question.
The story of Kaiji begins when he takes a massive debt from this friend forcing him to resort to gambling on a secluded cruise called Espoir. (French for Hope) From this point onwards, Kaiji enters the gambling world where games cost millions of money & where a person's life matter less than money. Throughout the series, there's many challenges that emphasizes hope being nothing than a
dream; that human beings will backstab each other for the sake of their survival. Half of the anime follows this grim realistic concept as Kaiji learns society's vices through the most hellish experience.
I wish not to explain any further of the content found in Kaiji as it will lead to some spoilers. All I can say is be prepared to marathon the anime in the following sittings.
10-15 Starside Hotel
16-22 Slave & Emperor
23-26 Tissue Box Lottery
The music of Kaiji is performed by Taniuchi Hideki whose done music for series such as Death Note & Aoi Bungaku Series giving a suspenseful & ominous tone in the Kaiji anime. Animation is done by Madhouse but due to being a gambling series revolved around dialogue, the animation constantly looks good & being dramatic when it needs to be. I should note that the mangaka's artstyle is very angular with characters having thick outlines & pointy chins or curvy faces. The anime for Kaiji is also accompanied by a narrator that can be over the top at times possibly to relive the viewers' tension. Narrator is voiced by Tachiki Fumiko (Madao, Zaraki, Akainu, Youpi,).
Overall, the Kaiji series can be very depressing as it constantly breaks human will leaving them to die full of despair. Its 2nd season however, offers the light at the end of the tunnel but is a bit dragged in its final arc. In this anime, Kaiji is pushed to the limit where he utilizes as of his intelligence to achieve survival at the cost of others lives. Lastly, expect a lot of crying in this anime that may make its viewers feel the same anguish as the characters in the series. Kaiji Ulitimate Survivor challenges morality due to the influence of human greed & this series possess the most despicable anime villains that I ever encountered. While the characters have no super powers and are placed in a realistic world makes the concepts of Kaiji all the more disturbing & relatable to anyone.
Kaiji was a very interesting series for me, in that I found it to be so incredibly hit-or-miss, it's difficult to review.
First, there are many pros. The art is the first thing you will notice, but don't let the cover fool you; this anime is pretty well-drawn. The style fits, and you won't even notice anything unusual after 5-10 minutes of watching. The music and ambient sounds are some of the best I've come across, as well as most (but definitely not all) of the voice acting. This comes across to give the series a very creepy and believable atmosphere.
The story is
basically what you would expect. It's probably the reason you want to watch Kaiji, if you're a fan of Battle Royale or Shadow Star Narutaru-type tragidrama. It also has many elements of a mystery or puzzle-solving anime that were rather enjoyable to unravel. As for shock value, there are a few disturbing moments, but it's not nearly as shocking as I had hoped, so I was let down in that department. Still, I found it very enjoyable for its premise, and I was not disappointed by the gambles or the characters and the way they handle their adversity.
Now, the cons. The BIG cons. First, every arc is way too long. The reason for this is mostly the narrator, who will start to annoy you right around the second episode. Rather than allow you, the viewer, to grasp Kaiji's situations with your own eyes, heart, and common sense, he will explain everything for you in the most obvious and melodramatic way possible, using similes and metaphors that will remind you of bad 40's radio programs. Oh, and each of these bad metaphors is displayed onscreen as a literal interpretation (Kaiji leaping across an imaginary crevice to overcome his fears, for example), to make you feel even more condescended. Subtlety is something that was mastered by series like Evangelion and Higurashi, and it is most certainly not present here.
Secondly, the crying. There is way too much crying. I don't mind the dialogue, but it just always happens to be accompanied by crying, even when the situation doesn't call for tears. There's even happy crying! This may seem minor, but combined with the cheesy narrator and long anticlimactic story arcs, it's very distracting and only serves to lessen my interest in what happens.
So, there you have it. I love gambling, tragedy, and dialogue, so of course I enjoyed this series. In certain moments I was feeling true fear out of sympathy for the characters, and excitement for what was to come. Unfortunately, the number of times I had to look away or do something else because I was bored/annoyed took some points away from what really could have been one of my favorite animes. I don't see how anyone can give this a 10, since the narrator alone drags it down to 8 for me. I think most "normal" anime fans should probably avoid it, and go try Monster or Higurashi instead.
With the various 10’s all dominating the top reviews for Kaiji on MAL, I found it even more necessary to get a review written of my own for this series. Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is an anime focusing on suspense and intense twists and turns along the way of its storytelling. This series had me on the edge of my seat at times, but I became bored with it at others due to certain segments being drawn out longer than necessary. Let’s break down each section individually.
NOTE- This review contains spoilers.
The unique style of storytelling in Kaiji is what really makes
it suspenseful and gripping. Kaiji is a malingerer in his twenties who finds himself behind in massive debt due to some poor choices made during gambling and co-signing a loan for a less-than-reliable friend. He is therefore approached by some sort of loan shark with an opportunity to erase his large debt and start fresh. Of course, there is a catch. What unfolds is a series of intense life-or-death gambles that will put you on the edge of your seat. One important thing to note in Kaiji is that this is not an uplifting story of redemption… not at all. Expect few victories when you watch this anime, as it constantly seems that Kaiji ends up on the foul end of things. This helped make Kaiji even more unique with the community becoming saturated with overpowered harem animes.
I was impressed with the sheer intensity of the “games” that Kaiji and the others play in attempt to wash away their debts. The initial “rock, paper scissors” gamble seems purely luck based on the surface, but it becomes much more intricate as Kaiji starts to become betrayed and formulates his own internal strategies. It also showcases the true nature of the human persona with the deceit unfolding at the end when he needed his friends to save him the most. I can agree with the multiple comparisons Kaiji has to Deathnote in the complex mapping out of plans and ideas… even though the route they end up taking may be completely different. I wanted to cheer for Kaiji when he thought of a genius strategy, and cry with him when his morale was at its lowest. It’s hard for me to become that emotionally attached to a character I don’t particularly like, but the storytelling was just that good. The ledge crossing game quickly became my favorite due to the common fear I have of heights. I could imagine myself in Kaiji and the other’s shoes and actually ended up feeling somewhat nauseous due to the intensity of the situation.
On the other hand, this score was prevented from being a 10 due to the annoyance I had with the narrator and some of the drug out sequences. I felt the need for a narrator in this series was entirely pointless, and only detracted from the anime. Whenever he talked, I was like “Okay, yeah I got that part thanks.” With the narrator to confirm our estimations of what would happen next at every turn, the hypothesizing from the viewer was ultimately ruined. Also, some of the scenes near the end of the series (particularly with E Card) were paced too slow and felt extremely drawn out. Sometimes this added to the empathy you would feel for Kaiji in his losses, but other times I found myself wanted to yell, “Let’s get on with it already!” The series concluded on a melancholy note, but left room for interpreting an eventual sequel. Kaiji was a cut above the rest when it came to unique storytelling elements, and it became a breath of fresh air with an anticipation factor resonating within me throughout the entire series.
I feel like Kaiji really only has three characters that really receive any sort of development. Our main protagonist is one you can really feel for. He’s young, behind the eight ball but has a thirst for success and vengeance which assured me that he’d never back down to a challenge issued to him. Having this personality also allowed the series to progress in the manner that it did, and Kaiji’s patience and mental fortitude was constantly tested by the gambles he encountered. That being said, there wasn’t much character development to be had other than what was incorporated in Kaiji’s scheming and plots during gambles. You wanted to root for him regardless, but I found myself wondering how he got into the life of gambling in the first place, and some of the decisions he made near the end of the series (i.e. the choice to challenge the director) felt a tad uncharacteristic of someone in his shoes. The director of the irregular gambling organization, Kazutaka Hyoudou was a straight devil. He was creepily aroused by the sight of individuals suffering, even when it came down to his own right hand man. I enjoyed the interactions and mind games he and Kaiji shared in the final moments of the lottery game where he chalked his countless victories up to predetermined luck, based on his own social standing. I also liked Tonegawa’s character and how Kaiji grew to feel a sense of respect for him as the series went on. The scene with him bowing before Kazutaka on the hot plate was one of the most uncomfortable scenes I can recall from an anime. The rest of the characters felt more like filler and neither added or detracted from the overall series.
Let’s be honest, Kaiji can turn a lot of people off to it purely based on its atypical style of art. I personally didn’t like it, but I was given a disclaimer prior to even starting the series that I have to learn to get past the art style if I want to truly enjoy the show. After all, Kaiji is not about flashy artwork or cutesy character models. Hell, I’m quite certain there’s only one female in the entire anime to look at. The environments and backgrounds are drawn nicely, and I never felt as if the artists were being lazy during dialogue scenes... which there are a LOT of. The sound is actually very refreshing and impressive in Kaiji. The OP is a punk rock anthem focused on nonconformity and punches you right in the face with sheer intensity. It’s short, which I loved as well. Too many a time, animes suffer from having intros extending too long and detract from the viewer’s anticipation level. The ED reminds me of something out of a Tarrantino movie, I loved it. The rest of the soundtrack is decent, but I couldn’t help but become confused by the “Zawa zawa, ZAWA” sound effects randomly snuck in. After further investigation, I now know that this is a staple in the creator Fukumoto’s animes and is the Japanese word for an intense or agitating moment. I understand it now, but it still feels unnecessary. Voice acting was also pretty good, I loved Hagiwara Masato’s role as Kaiji and thought he did a fantastic job.
Despite some minor flaws it had, I really enjoyed Kaiji overall. It was definitely a breath of fresh air in the anime community and one that many people might overlook based on its unusual artwork. I urge you to give it a chance, and you’ll quickly see how this series is praised highly on MAL. Though I can’t give it a ten based on the issues I had with the show, a solid 8 is in order for this anime. Thank you all for reading this review and have a great day!
Kaiji is an anime you would probably avoid at first glance. To be honest, I did too when I first saw it. It stayed in the back of my mind for a few months until a friend told me it was great and I found out that the artist and creator was Korean. So, with a bit of reluctance, I started viewing Kaiji and I was blown away. The artstyle quickly became very enjoyable and I didn't mind the pointy noses or weird eyes after the first episode. If you are avoiding this anime due to the odd artstyle, do yourself a favor and stop
being so picky. The art is only a small portion of an anime and it can be easily overlooked if an anime has a great cast and a good plot. Please read the following review and try to muster up the enthusiasm to watch this series.
The cast of Kaiji is relatively small because the story revolves around the main characters thoughts and emotions. My favorite character is definitely Itou Kaiji because he is such an ordinary guy. If you have seen animes like Akagi and Deathnote, you will realized how unrealistic the intelligence level of some characters can be. Kaiji is just an average guy with a dead-end job and only becomes quick-witted and devious through the games he is forced to play. His tricks and lies are never over the top with every possible variable falling into the right place. Kaiji screws up like everyone else but he has determination beyond any average person. I found myself cheering for Kaiji and wishing the best for him throughout the series. This, in my opinion, is the way you can tell if a character is very well developed and likable.
There's not that much to say about the art in Kaiji. It is very unusual compared to most animes and it looks much more "cartoonish". Each person and object is darkly bolded with a black outline and the characters are a solid color with no realistic shading or hues. This is not a con however. The simple and unique artstyle makes it visually appealing after a first few minutes. Do not be turned off by the artstyle because you will eventually forget about it or love it altogether.
The soundtrack of Kaiji is not stellar or amazing, but it does set the right mood of the series. Most of the music is very suspenseful and thrilling and there are some relaxing and happy BGM as well. Don't watch Kaiji just for the soundtrack because you will be dissapointed in that sense. This isn't Bebop or anything of the sort.
I can't reveal too much of the story but I can say ALOT more events happen than what is written in the synopsis. After the night on the ship, Kaiji goes through a couple more dangerous gambles. The story is nothing that hasn't be done before, but it still has very entertaining twists and turns. This series had me hooked from episode one and I was so dissapointed when it ended after only 26 episodes. It could have gone a little bit longer, but I am not complaining. Kaiji, in my opinion, has one of the most enthralling and interesting storylines in anime. I regretted no part of finishing this series and the last episode left a very deep impression on me.
Kaiji is a series for those who have a lengthy attention span and have a hard-on for thrillers and suspense.It's an anime that makes you think a little bit, but that makes the series much more enjoyable. Don't watch Kaiji expecting brutal violence and adrenaline pupming action. It does have a few violent scenes here and there but Kaiji is only enjoyable if you watch it from an intelligent perspective. I hope this review convinced you to start this series. Thanks for reading folks.
Kaiji isn’t a mainstream series like Naruto or Bleach. If your high school has an anime club and that is where you hear about the series you watch, then you probably haven’t heard of Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor. However, if you spend time on MAL and read through suggestions, you have probably at least heard of Kaiji as a sophisticated and highly lauded work. I will be examining this 2007 anime that is already widely viewed as a timeless classic. Instead of my usual format, I will be breaking the review into pros and cons because Kaiji is a special series, so I figure it deserves
a special review!
1. Kaiji is INSANELY addicting. This is one of the best paced and tense anime I have ever seen! You will quickly start binge watching this series and not stop until it is finished. Every episode ends on an intense cliffhanger and you simply NEED to watch another episode to find out what happens to poor Kaiji! Just the fact that this series has the ability to grab the viewer so effectively and make us care so much about Kaiji is a strong point in favor of its merit as a truly great story.
2. The character of Kaiji. We have seen many types of anime protagonists, but Kaiji for the most part feels truly unique. He is a flawed hero that is capable of being selfish, greedy, and above all fatalistic. However, he will regularly put himself at risk to help others and is capable of great kindness. Kaiji also possesses a strong sense of justice and fairness. Unfortunately, he allows other people to influence his life and tends to leave things up to fate. In other words, Kaiji’s largest character flaw is his external locus of control. Kaiji’s other flaw is that he is WAY too trusting and as a result is constantly getting backstabbed and betrayed. This is usually a trait reserved for a “Holy Fool” type character that is tragically too goodhearted and idealistic for the cruel and uncaring world in which they inhabit. It is extremely unusual for a degenerate gambler anti-hero like Kaiji. That would be like a Pokemon with the duel type Ghost/Fighting. It doesn’t freaking happen! Since Kaiji feels like something unique and not an archetype that we have seen countless times, it makes him genuinely interesting to watch.
3. The plot actually feels fresh and interesting. In every arc, Kaiji will find himself in some kind of massive debt and must undertake an insane gamble in order to try get himself out. Very few anime actually revolve around gambling! Kaiji not only dives into the shady side of gambling and owing debt to the mob, but talks about actual superstitions and beliefs that gamblers tend to have. Much like Spice and Wolf, I got to give Kaiji some credit just for tackling a topic that I’ve never seen done before in an anime.
4. Kaiji actually delivers some profound messages and delivers them with excellent poignancy. Instead of simply condemning gambling as purely a vice, Kaiji explains that we all need to take gambles in order to succeed. If we simply eat and breathe instead of ever going out on a limb, we will die without ever having truly lived. Kaiji also delivers the moral that people should be responsible for their own choices and have an internal locus of control, not leave everything up to others be it other human beings, God, or fate itself.
1. I personally wasn’t happy with the art. Firstly, I must commend the anime with taking a risk and keeping the mangaka’s unique art style. It would have been far easier for the studio to follow the pack and draw Kaiji in the moe style that tends to sell best in Japan. That took some balls and I give them credit. However, Kaiji just doesn’t look aesthetically appealing. You have an odd clash of character designs that mostly seems to draw inspiration from the 1970s like Lupin the 3rd and Cyborg 009, but you also have random characters with 90s Nickelodeon lips from Ahh Real Monsters or Wild Thornberries. The result can best be summed up with “BURN IT WITH FIRE!”
2. The main villain. Before I even talk about my problems with the character’s personality and motivation, just open up a new tab and fucking look up a picture of Kazutaka Hyoudou! This is the character design they went with for a villain that they spend 15 episodes building up! He looks like the fucking 4chan Happy Merchant! Was Pepe the Frog not available?! Does this guy attend a council of evil image macros and occupy a table next to Scumbag Steve, Pedo Bear, and the janitor dog that works for free!? Now let’s talk about what a shitty character he is. While Kaiji feels unique and interesting, this guy is the classic evil rich dude that laughs maniacally while his nefarious schemes kill the less fortunate. He is as cliché and melodramatic as possible in a series that takes itself dead seriously. This guy should be palling around with Snively Whiplash, not occupying a series attempting to achieve artistic merit and dignity! Other characters in Kaiji feel generally realistic and fleshed out, but this guy has the depth of a kiddy pool and ruins literally every scene he’s in. It suddenly shatters the series’ feeling of believability and the viewer can’t be moved when supposedly powerful drama happens because you’re too busy laughing at Kazutaka to possibly take the scene seriously!
3. Characters are driven by the demands of the plot instead of the plot being driven by the characters. Kaiji is based on a VERY long running manga. In order to repeat the same formula in every arc, Kaiji must not win enough money to get out of debt, but must do well enough to survive the challenge. Here is why this becomes a problem. Kaiji will end up pulling a bullshit victory out his ass that contradicts all that we’ve learned about Kaiji and derails his entire character, solely because the plot demands it! Kaiji will all of a sudden become a master of reading human emotion and manipulate his opponent like a marionette after repeatedly getting tricked by characters that have evil stamped on their foreheads! Kaiji ultimately ends up a tragedy and in a tragedy where you have a very flawed hero that repeatedly makes infuriating mistakes, it is only acceptable if the character is a truly great and consistent character. When we read The Idiot, we KNOW that things are going to go poorly for Myshkin, but we love Myshkin as a character and we know and accept that whenever he makes a mistake, it is the choice that we feel his character WOULD make in that situation. Now imagine if the hopelessly naïve and Christ like Myshkin had to outwit a cunning adversary solely because the plot demanded it and suddenly for 1 chapter became the extremely cunning and devious financial criminal Ostap Bender from the novel 12 Chairs? It would not only be fucking stupid, but it would ruin the tragic decisions because the reader will say, “where the fuck is the cleverness he had in that one chapter?! WTF is this bullshit!” If I’m going to watch a tragedy that gives me an emotional gut punch it better be damn good and it sure as HELL should have consistent characters. Kaiji is 26 hours and over 10 hours long! I will spend 10 hours of my life for a well written and character consistent tragedy like The Idiot, but I would rather hang myself than watch a 10 hour version of Spike Lee’s Bamboozled!
4. The narrator cuts in every 5 seconds and explains what we already know as if we’re complete idiots!
5. The melodrama reaction close ups whenever anyone reveals a game changing card or move. It was silly when Yugioh did it and Yugioh wasn’t attempting to be taken seriously by mature adults.
6. Kaiji cries in EVERY EPISODE to try make the viewer empathize with him and feel sad. There is such a thing as diminished returns. Having a character cry when they experience a tragic loss or have reached their breaking point can be a very powerful dramatic tool and make the audience truly feel for that character and put themselves in that character’s shoes. However, when you use this technique too much, it stops being effective and seems needlessly exploitive. It doesn’t even feel realistic after a certain point! Imagine you were a slave or child soldier. Every day of your life is a horrible day and unspeakably terrible things happen to you. The only way that humans can survive is to basically shut off our emotion and diminish our ability to feel pain, loss, joy, humiliation, etc. During your 3rd year of hell, you would either have a strong emotional barrier or you would be dead. You would NOT still be crying every day multiple times like Kaiji in his hellhole of a life!
Kaiji is an ambitious series, a unique series, an addicting series, but an incredibly frustrating series. It does enough things well to be worthy of the praise it receives, but you may put your fist through your laptop or TV screen on multiple occasions. I would still say it is worth watching, but you’ve also been warned!
Kaiji is another gambling series done by the same people who made Akagi. If you happened to read my review on Akagi, you will notice how disappointed I was. But the same cannot be said about Kaiji. This time the producers realized their mistakes and fixed it. Now, this is a gambling series done right. Thumbs up.
STORY... The plot revolves around a man named Kaiji, who is in his early twenties and is debt-ridden. It doesn't seem he will ever be able to pay off his debts, but as if sent from the heavens or hell, a messenger comes to him with an "once in
a lifetime" opportunity to pay off his debts... There are 3 story arcs and that's basically how each arc starts. But what keeps things certainly interesting and fresh is how with each arc, there is a new means of gambling for Kaiji, meaning he's not going to play the same game every time. Watch it for yourself to find out, I hate being a spoiler. To add to the unique gambling propositions is that within each arc, there is a heavy load of SHOCK VALUE. It will leave you with your eyes wide open and your jaw touching the ground, constantly making you say, "No way!? That seriously did not just happen! I can't believe it!" There is however, still an amount of internal dialogue, but the producers have cut down on it, so the pacing of the story moves moderately. But still, near the end, the internal dialogue got a little overwhelming. There is a lot of tension build-up that you will keep you on the edge of your seat. What else is great about the plot is that it will keep you guessing from start to finish. All in all, the producers have absolutely managed to make a good story. It even provides insight on the smallest actions of the gamblers in the series, thus, giving you tips on how to become a better gambler. How can you not like that?
ANIMATION... It was the same people who made the character designs for Akagi, so you're pretty much getting the same thing. It takes some getting use to, but you'll realize that there's no problem with it. The character designs fit the dark gambling atmosphere appropriately and the movements of characters are fluid, bringing life to the characters. You can also see sweat, tears, and veins. There's even some blood involved.
SOUND... The soundtrack of Kaiji is likeable and fits the theme of the series very well. The opening theme is an up-beat rock song that you can jam to and the ending theme has a depressed, but there's still hope theme to it. It fits perfectly for gamblers who lose big and still believe that they can change. The background music is okay too. The producers didn't go wrong in this category.
CHARACTERS... Kaiji is the only character that you need to know, and he is by far one of the most characters that people can relate to. Not by what he is, but by what he goes through and his qualities as a person. Kaiji is a low-life bum who resorts to not so conventional means to make a living for himself. He struggles everyday, and at times he even cries about his problems, but then suddenly realizes that crying ain't gonna do him any good. Also, how many of you have been betrayed by people whom you thought were your friends? How many times were your morals tested to the limit? Wouldn't you say that's very human? This is just one of the many sentiments Kaiji undergoes through the series. Kaiji's morals are constantly pushed to the limit throughout the series and it is inspiring to watch him desperately hold on to his dignity as a good human being. But where Kaiji really shines is during the gambles. He has this "keep struggling to pull the come from behind victory" attitude and expresses his emotions loudly. These are just a few of the many things in Kaiji. He is such a great main character. You will like him for the character development he undergoes. Now, there are some side characters, but they don't stay very long, they are somewhat insignificant.
OVERALL SCORE: 7/10= Good
+ Great main character in Kaiji.
+ Has loads of twists and SHOCK VALUE, not predictable.
+ Even provides insight/tips on how to become a better gambler.
+ Has one of the most shocking endings in Anime ever.
- The internal dialogue can drag the series to a boring halt sometimes.
Note: If you're looking for a gambling series, this is it.
This series does not get alot of love. If you don't enjoy enjoy thinking alot about your anime, you will not like this.
However if you can think about it alot, you will enjoy this alittle or very much.
First of all the story deserves it's credit. Gambling is not interesting unless it is presented in a interesting way. The original author of the manga (Noboyuki Fukumoto) has created series based on gambling, finances, detective work, and basic struggle of surviving. And he does his work with perfection in psychological description.
Kaiji is a character you see grow. By the end of the series you will
Kaiji himself gives this series 10/10 in character.
Human nature is a very core part of the story, and it is described through the use of a narrator. Without the narrator the story would lack something. A sound to fill the gaps of the moments.
The art is something I like alot. From 2006 I have noticed animation getting sharper. Kaiji's animation uses hard-solid lines to emphasize the characters facials expressions. There are also visual props for when a character is describing something and I find this aspect intriguing and cool.
The animation is nice. Especially when emphasizing the dramatic moments of the characters.
The sound. The music of the series is made by Hideki Taniuchi. And I love all the tracks of Kaiji. Much the tracks are used to enlarge the suspicious atmosphere of the series. The sounds effects are top notch nothing much else to say. Voice work is fine.
Overall. I give Kaiji it's 10/10 because it was able to do something great. Create a dramatic portrayal of a person's hardships.
First off, the reason that I am writing this review is that I feel this series is too overrated, the two current reviews here are both exemplary of that.
Story had the potential to be great 9-10/10, however, after a while it gets really old, and all the cleverness is taken away, leaving a big sob show.
Art - I am a big fan of this style of art, the huge noses, 2D characters, angular character design etc.
Sound - Nothing memorable, nothing to complain about.
Same goes for characters and enjoyment, will get into more detail in full review.
Overall : 6, vastly overrated due to
people saying it deals with the evils of humans in such great depth, and is shocking realistic, etc.
However, I feel that the majority of a viewing audience will realism that the real world is no utopia, and Kaiji does not realize this, it takes it audience to be the sorts of people that have no concept of the harsher side of life.
Story: The initial concept is quite good, i.e. it has the potential to work itself up to a great storyline, however, after the first Jan Ken Pon arc I felt that it really started to fall flat on its face, there being no more mindgames, techniques, devious characters, just grown men crying.
However, it does manage to redeem itself slightly in the e-card battle, which I felt was quite well done, however, the tissue box lottery was ridiculous, more screentime was devoted to the actual planning of it that the actual execution. Additionally, the spontaneity and randomness of Kaiji's actions in this case do not seem to fit in with the rest of the show.
Art: As previously mentioned, I am a fan of this style, it is exactly the same as Akagi's and I feel it does not spoil the show in any way. The art style is basically, very flat and 2D, very large noses, extremely angular faces. However, the backgrounds, props, etc. are all drawn very well and in a normal fashion.
The art may not be for everyone, in fact most people dislike it, yet I feel that this is actually the strongest point of the show.
Sound: Nothing memorable, there was probably some BGM playing during the sad scenes, of which there are innumerable amounts.
The OP and ED are suitable, but not amazing, and I give the director credit for not taking any old Japanese pop idol with an amazingly high voice and having her do some poppy song that would be completely inappropriate for this sort of show.
Character: The protaganist Kaiji, I personally disliked him, not immensely, but the dislike was there nonetheless.
The reasoning? Basically, he has been living as a bum for an unmentioned amount of years, but I assume since he graduated/left highschool. You think this would harden the man up, make him be aware of the evils that are present in the majority of people. However, he seems to think that all people are good, he unwittingly trusts them, in other words he is a bloody fool.
Yet in other cases, e.g. the game of E-Card he shows that he is amazingly resourceful, can think of great strategies, and can smooth talk to deceive any man. It is just very unusual and flawed in a sense.
Other characters worth mentioning are Tongegawa, my personal favourite character from this show, Kaiji put it quite well saying that Tonegawa is a 'Snake'. Like a snake, he is tricky, apathetic, and devours the 'have-nots'.
This is another failure on the show's part, usually one would empathize with the protagonist, yet here I find myself actually liking the antagonist more.
There aren't any other big characters beside these, there are the two people who initially help out Kaiji on the ship, but they are very linear and behave in the fashion one would expect them to.
Although I did find myself initially enjoying the show, especially the first arc. After that the enjoyment level quickly dropped, I found myself hating Kaiji in ever-increasing amounts. His stupidity, his predictable actions, all attributed to this hatred. Then came in E-Card, if it had ended on that I would have probably given this show a 7/10 instead of a 6, as that was quite magnificently done and well thought out. However, instead of that the director chose to put in some crappy badly thought out ending whereby it just becomes even more obvious what an idiot Kaiji is.
That being said the ending was fairly open, leaving the possibility of a season 2.
I found that Akagi was vastly superior to Kaiji, however, if you are a fan of Hagiwara, Masato (I definitely am, most badass voice actor around), and the style of art, and several mindgames that are logically thought out (few and far between in this show, I'm afraid, although they are still there), give Kaiji a go.
Murphy's Law, whatever can go wrong WILL go wrong. This is the basic premise surrounding almost any anime related to games. As you watch a show like Kaiji, you already know that over the course of whatever game they are playing, things will go badly. The key to these shows it to surprise you anyway, to be caught off guard by the things that go wrong, and to be impressed when the good guys overcome the odds.
Kaiji (mostly) accomplishes this. The main character, Kaiji, plays several different games in which he risks his life/body parts, etc. Some of the games he plays are extraordinarily
clever. The first arc especially, has one twist after another, and had me on the edge of my seat the entire time.
From there, the show is more off and on. A few of the games don't have any clever aspects and strategy like the first arc, which was disappointing, but I do give them credit for at least being pretty intense. These games just aren't at the level of the first arc though. One other game Kaiji plays comes close, but it isn't quite there. Basically, the first 10 episodes of Kaiji are absolutely amazing, and from there the show is a bit more off and on.
Another key to games anime is generally to have some great characters. No matter how clever the writing is for the game, if you aren't compelled to cheer for the good guys, these games lose a lot of their intensity. Kaiji is a bit different from other shows in this regard. I honestly never liked any of the "good guys" in Kaiji. I found the main character to be "OK" but nothing more. I have to give them loads of credit for the bad guys they create though. I absolutely hated the bad guys, and was cheering for Kaiji just to see them lose. Thanks to this, I was able to stay into the show, but it is a shame that the "good guys" weren't that interesting.
The art is pretty unique. The most noteworthy aspect being the large noses. I got used to the art, but I never really liked it. All the characters are pretty ugly thanks to the art style. Also, I felt like they overused computer animation a bit. It's not necessarily bad, but I never liked it. The sound on the other hand, is pretty bad. I hated the opening theme, and I never even noticed the music during the show.
The main flaw with Kaiji is probably the last 4 episodes. They were pretty lame and predictable, and not nearly at the level of other episodes. I was completely uninterested most of the time, despite some crazy moments. The ending was also pretty lame, and pretty much solely to set up a new season.
Another slightly annoying aspect, is how the show constantly tries to give social commentary based on the games they are playing. I frankly did not care at all, and I felt like it was a waste of time.
When Kaiji tries to be both intense and clever, it can truly be an amazing show, perhaps even at masterpiece level. However, Kaiji tries too hard sometimes to just be intense, without the added cleverness, and this is where the show falters. If you are into Hikaru No Go, or Akagi, you will surely enjoy Kaiji. If games anime aren't quite your thing, my reccomendation becomes a bit more shaky. I would suggest that anyone, even if you don't generally like games anime, should give the first 10 episodes a try, as they are easily the best of the show, and from there, decide if you want to keep watching.
This is my first review so please bear with me :P
I am also aiming at keeping this extremely spoiler-free, only explaining my viewpoint and impressions.
The story was very very unpredictable and excruciatingly tense, well paced and v well plot centered. I personally enjoyed the art style which kept its strong consistency throughout. The voice acting was superb, as well as the restless soundtracks. Each character - no matter the role - felt real and distinctive. Very addicting.
Cutting straight down to the chase - I loved the story. The story started off with a very amusing and somewhat relatable mc. The story dived straight
into the plot which was a great plus. The theme of gambling and risk was very prominent throughout the whole anime which is exactly what I came for. I gave this anime a 10/10 because of how unpredicatable and amazing the plot twists are - honestly, the tables can turn in a matter of split seconds, and I was left in awe and excitment every time. The story arcs were a suitable length and I never felt that an episode was too long. It is true that at some point, one 20 minute episode only captured 10 minutes of real time. However, time felt completely unrelevant due to the extreme tension the episode created and I did not feel any loss of time.
Art - 8/10:
The art is very different to say the least, it somewhat reminds me of Ansatsu Kyoushitsu with the black inking/bordering around characters. Needless to say, I am a fan of unique art styles in anime and do place art as the least significant factor in rating anime. In my opinion, the art was pleasing to see yet it was nothing spectacular. The art style was very consistent with barely any mistakes (I only noticed 1). At the beginning, it felt like characters were designed by literally mixing and matching premade facial strucures and shapes, which didn't really affect my liking for the art - it made it seem that everyone is similar in a way. However, the art always kept a high standard and I didn't feel any awkward animations - every seemed to flow very smoothly.
Sound - 8/10:
The soundtracks in the anime were very good - they created a tense and engulfing atmosphere at very crucial times. I absolutely loved the ZAWA ZAWA~ throughout the entire anime. Voice acting was great - the casting, the emotions, everything. It really felt like the character voice's matched them. I really enjoyed the opening and ending songs, doesn't get stuck to mind that much but nevertheless, very fun xD
Character - 9/10:
The massive variety of personalities was awesome. Kaiji (the main mc) was so loveable although all his bad qualities. You pity him at so many points of the anime, feeling his pain and anguish. However, he has such amazing moments of inspiration and motivation, that you sit in bewilderment. He is a great guy, with very terrible luck and fate. His enemies differ a lot - most characters differ quite a bit. Some are extremely hateable yet others are to be feared or avoided, which I think is a great mix. Even the sideline characters have very clear personalities, which are portrayed and developed very well.
Enjoyment - 9/10:
Not much to say about this - its very subjective.
Each episode hooked me onto the next, I was flying through them more than ever. I loved the tension, the uncertainty, the risks.
Money is a very important part of our lives. To even do anything, you need money. Food? Money. Anime? buy a computer, which costs money. Clothes? Money. The only thing I can think of that won't cost money to build or maintain is yourself. So what do you do when you desperately need money, fast? Kaiji's answer to this question is to gamble for it. And damn, there's a hell of a lot of gambles in this anime.
Basically, the story revolves around Itou Kaiji, who's broke and also in debt for about 3 million yen. Some black suits come and talks him into gambling on
a ship to pay off his debt. There's a catch, however. Fail, and he will be forced to do manual labor on an island for 1-2 years. Getting 3 wins (stars) allows him to get off the ship. However, a star will be taken away for each loss. And this is only the first arc. The second arc pits Kaiji on a bridge, the third on a bridge that's electrocuted, another settling with a card game(and a very interesting one at that), and another a lottery. All of these arcs are very interesting, in their own way. Morals, Luck, Right or Wrong, Cheating, and Greed are only some of the things it discusses over the series. Mind that the story is also dark and very psychological.
The art has it's own distinct style. I admit I was turned off by it at first, but then I grew to like it. The animation is very smooth and flawless.
Sound was pretty good. The right BGM at the right moments, and the theme songs kind of fits Kaiji's tone. The voices were perfect for each character (except for Furuhata, didnt like his voice)
Each main and supporting character is very different in their own special way, mostly guys. Kaiji is really a character that I can relate to. He will be betrayed, lose limbs, sees the deaths of his comrades, and thrown into impossible gambles and still Kaiji survives it, mostly through mixed emotions and strategic planning. The rest of the cast is memorable, except the lackeys in which Kaiji usually tells them to do stuff (you'll see what I mean)
I enjoyed it a lot. More than I expected to enjoy it. Kaiji's character, the daredevil gambles, the strategic planning, everything! Well, almost everything. Some of the plans will make you think "why the hell would you do that" and the bad ending might be a turn-off to some people.
Overall, a 9/10. Trust me, you'll have a good time with this series.
BTW this is my first review, please give me feedback on this!!! Thanks!
Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor is an amazing show and one of the best anime thrillers of all time up there with monster and death note well the first half of death note anyway on to the story
A young man named kaiji is poor never has good luck when it comes to gambling as well as slashing care tires and stealing care emblems and putting them on his wall one afternoon being frustrated losing his latest card came with his neighbors does his usual routine of slashing cars and stealing their emblems once he does that he
goes back to his room and crys about how bad his life is and hears a knock on his door opening it a man called endou he would like to have a chat about kaiji and notices his car being slashed kaiji being nervous invites him in and hides all his car emblems they do some little talk and kaiji unfortunately admits he slashed endous car they decide to go back to endous workplace waiting to be picked up kaiji is asking how much endou saying it doesn't matter.Says he has a bigger debt from one of his part time works layed on him and tells him that the original loaner has vanished and now the debt of 3,850,000 yen goes to kaiji and endou invites kaiji to go on a boat which is a tournament which will let kaiji pay of all debt and some cash on the side. sorry that was a little long.
Made by madhouse the animation looks very good for 2007 some people may be irked by the character designs but you get used to them by the second episode fucking kaiji could poke someone's eye out with his nose.
overall the art is very good as well as well as l could not imagine this show look any different as the expressions are very well used and impactful because of the character designs.
The sound in kaiji is great all the tracks have a full on good purpose as well as the opening and ending are very good as well but season 2 of kaiji's sound is better opening wise the sound matches the atmosphere very well the voice acting is very good showing how good each character sounds no matter how terrified or angry they sound.
Ahhh yes the characters sure the story is amazing sure the sound and animation are nice but what would a show be without its character? luckily Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor has some amazing characters as well.
I'm gonna be completely honest right now kaiji is an amazing main character and one of my favorite characters of all time sure he comes of naive at the start and a punk but as he develops you can't help but love him sure he isn't perfect but that's what makes him so great you would like him to get out of each situation and how he will and hope he will l was seriously worried kaiji was gonna die sometimes during some of those matches.
Supporting cast and villains
The supporting cast and villains are good as well not kaiji level but the villains feel like villains they generally feel like bad people and the supporting don't have much and just help out kaiji's development as a character in growth.
This show l marathoned in 2 days and l am a busy person l always wanted to know what would happen next and the show deliverd and had a bit of a cliff hanger for season 2 though luckily season 2 is finished
Kaiji is an amazing psychological thriller you all should watch don't be put off by the character designs this kicks death notes ass and on par with monster but yes i recommend everyone to watch it