It’s finally here! The saga of getting Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji stateside has been a long one, but thanks to Denpa it’s now over. Anime fans are thrilled to read the original manga, and it’s worth the wait.
Kaiji is portrayed as a lazy delinquent. With no job or prospects, Kaiji goes around vandalizing rich people’s cars. Things turn for the worst when he gets a visit from a member of the yakuza. As it turns out, Kaiji cosigned a loan for an old friend that promptly disappeared, and he never repaid it. Also, Kaiji vandalized the yakuza’s car. Now stuck between a rock and a hard place, the yakuza gives Kaiji a lifeline — get on a cruise boat, and play rock, paper, scissors. If he wins, Kaiji can go home not only debt free, but also very rich. Lose and, well, Kaiji wouldn’t want to know.
The one word I would use to describe this manga is “intense.” The consequences of winning and losing are so high that every move Kaiji makes has a huge weight behind it. The actions fell heavy because the game is simple to grasp but deceptively complex. There are tons of layers to “Restricted rock–paper–scissors” that I don’t want to spoil it because it’s pretty genius what the writer Noboyuki Fukumoto comes up with. Not only do the rules allow for creative strategies, but also the mind games at play are really cool to see unfold. Fukumoto even pulls some economic theory into this manga that was compelling to read. Not many manga are able to do that.
The characters in this manga aren’t as complex as the game, but that’s by design as Kaiji acts as an audience insert. The manga was originally published back in 1996 when Japan was going through a rough recession. Many young men like Kaiji were left out in the economic cold, while the people who were rich stayed rich and continued to exploit the poor. The lives of people like Kaiji had just begun, but their futures were seemingly out of their hands. Over 20 years later, these themes of economic strife still resonate.
It’s been a long time coming, but Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji is a great read for those who like mature, intense manga. The game gets more and more compelling as the plot develops, the tight paneling creates an intense atmosphere, and the message will definitely touch many people. A full-on recommendation.
One day, ne'er-do-well Kaiji Itou's shiftless existence is suddenly rattled by a visit from the yakuza. Burdened by debt and resentment, Kaiji is coerced into gambling for his worthless life. As the stakes grow higher and the rules become increasingly more bizarre, Kaiji must finally take the future into his own hands!Add to CartLearn More