The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Kaiji

Title: Kaiji aka Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor aka Ultimate Survivor Kaiji: The Suffering Pariah
Genre: Drama
Company: Madhouse Studios
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 2 Oct 2007 – 1 Apr 2008

Synopsis: Kaiji Itou is a loser drifting through life stealing car emblems and slashing tires. When a debt collector contacts him about a three million yen debt left to him by an old work mate, Kaiji decides to go aboard the Espoir, a ship where other debtors such as himself gamble to pay off their debt and try to strike it rich at the same time.

The Highlights
Visuals: Gritty designs may take some getting used to.
Characters: Conniving, deceitful, and human.
Story: Slow paced, but engrossing.
Ending: Eye opening.

Kaiji is not the kind of show you watch when you are looking for something to pick your spirits up. The world Kaiji Itou lives in is dark and filled with people who would stab you in the back to make a quick buck. Due to the crude character designs, this is not the prettiest show out there, but it is one that is very hard to look away from.

Kaiji, the character, is the main focal point of the show, and one of the big reasons the show was so good. His development throughout the series was a direct result of his less than friendly interactions with other characters. He starts out as a loser and a crybaby with no ambition and no money. Early on in the show, he gets swindled and he completely loses it, trying vainly to attack the con-man. After learning the way this underworld works he starts using his head to get by instead of depending on other people and luck.

The character designs of Kaiji takes a bit of getting used to, but it serves to add to the gritty and dark nature of the show. The music also goes a long way to set up a very tense atmosphere for the incredible story to take place in. It may be a little too slowly paced, but the story is impossible to pull away from and almost every episode leaves you on the edge of your seat, wondering whether or not Kaiji will make it out.

In the end, Kaiji is hardly the same person he was in the beginning, and the ending is a big reason for that. He learns that when you are betting everything you have you can not leave things in the hands of luck. No matter how hopeless the situation seems, never forget to think things out before you make your move or you’ll end up regretting it later.

A tremendous psychological drama, Kaiji is great on so many levels. It shows a lot of the darker side of humanity, but also contrasts it with a few of the better sides as well. For all that Kaiji goes through, he still ultimately retains his humanity while battling for his livelihood… and his survival.

The Rating: 9
9/10

Reviewed by: DarkKanti

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