Before I begin, let me admit that this anime has awful art. If you are one of those people who dislikes Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji’s art, at least hear me out before deciding not to watch this anime.
Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji is an anime about gambling and in the first episode we see a guy telling Kaiji that he had co-signed some loan and the guy ran away without paying anything. So he wanted Kaiji to pay the money.This is a scenario we’ve seen countless number of times where an innocent guy signs something to help someone out and gets into trouble. The anime didn’t give us much time to feel sorry for Kaiji and quickly moved to the interesting part. The guy let Kaiji know that he can gamble and pay them back instead. If he wins, he can get out of the debt but if he fails, he has to work for them for the rest of his life.
And thus, Kaiji gets pulled into the world of gambling where he has to put his life on the line to get out of the debt. It is a rather cliched story and yet Kaiji manages to make this interesting. So what makes this anime unique? It is the antagonist and the protagonist.
The antagonist Kazutaka is sort of like a guy taken straight out of a fairy tale. He is cruel and evil to the core. He is different from our typical antagonists. He doesn’t have a tragic past and he is not trying to take over the world. He is just pure evil and likes toying with the lives of others. He is used to getting his way and is drunk with power. He is the kind of guy you might find downright despicable. Yet the anime makes it clear to the viewers why he became a successful person with lots of money and power. He is clever and ambitious. He can calmly analyze a situation and form logical conclusions.
Next we have Kaiji. He is different from all other protagonists I’ve seen so far. He is not noble and is not willing to sacrifice himself for the sake of others. He is not trying to save innocent lives from Kazutaka’s clutches. He doesn’t want to defeat Kazutaka. No sir, he is more interested in saving himself and getting out of the debt. He is the kind of guy who can get on his knees and beg for his life. There was a time Kaiji decided to save a guy and he had to pay lots of money for that. Kaiji didn’t save him because he wanted to be a hero. He was just mad because some guys betrayed him and wanted to throw the money that made them betray him right in front of their eyes. He just chose to save him on a whim. He later regretted it thinking that if he didn’t decide to save the guy, he would have been able to get out of the debt. It seemed realistic. Not everyone will be happy with suffering for the rest of their lives for the sake of saving some stranger. Kaiji is not a noble hero, yet he is human. Once he participated in a gamble that required him to hurt someone physically in order to win. He was tempted to do it but he decided not to anyway. He will save someone if he can but he won’t go out of his way to do it and he definitely won’t put his life on the line for the sake of someone else.
The best thing about this anime is that the creator Nobuyuki Fukumoto is not afraid of pushing Kaiji into a corner and making him break. Kaiji has to face an antagonist who is bigger, stronger and maybe even smarter then he is. From the beginning, we feel that Kaiji can’t really defeat Kazutaka. He might win the gamble and manage to save himself but he can’t do any real damage to Kazutaka. We feel that the guy will always be sitting in a high place and enjoying everything while Kaiji has to paddle through a muddy stream trying to reach a dry place. Very few creators will dare to humiliate their protagonists the way Fukumoto does. Kaiji doesn’t get any convenient power ups and no one saves him if he messes up. There is no guarantee that Kaiji will win. For all we know, he might lose and end up in some dark hole with his limbs cut off. The only thing we can be sure of is that Kaiji won’t die and it was interesting to watch. The plans that Kaiji comes up with look realistic too. He pays attention to details and tries to use them for his advantage.
I highly recommend Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji. Watch a couple of episodes of this anime and then drop it if it doesn’t look interesting.
See you next time ^^/