Gambling has been a hobby of many civilizations for millennia now. It’s a risky form of leisure that not many dare to try. I guess that the fact you’re playing a game where you could potentially lose everything really brings the thrill. Being such a famous hobby, it is only natural that the Anime industry would pick up on it at some point. After all, combining two popular hobbies into one was only a matter of time.
As of the late 2000s, a lot of gambling Anime have suddenly started to appear. Kaiji the Ultimate Survivor was the first widely popular gambling Anime to appear. However, during the 2010s, another Anime about gambling showed up — Kakegurui. It is an animated TV show about an academy where only children of the most powerful elite can enroll. In this academy, they gamble all they want, and the sums are often in millions, if not billions. Kakegurui definitely stole the hearts of many, including mine. It comes with a fantastic plot, beautiful animation style, and characters that quite genuinely embody the way gamblers think.
The main character, Yumeko, depicts the true nature of a compulsive gambler. She doesn’t care about money — she just wants the adrenaline rush. Moreover, she doesn’t even care when she catches people cheating; she loves that part as well. Once the game stops being about betting and starts being all about cheating and outsmarting, she goes through an orgasmic experience.
If you’re anything like me, you got hooked on Kakegurui the moment it appeared on Netflix — especially once they released the second season. And if you’re a vivid Anime fan, then you were devastated once you realized you’d seen both of the seasons. As we’re waiting for the studio to release the 3rd season, I decided to embark on a journey of finding another Manga or Anime similar to Kakegurui. And believe it or not, I have found a couple of Manga that are outstanding in their own field, and very similar to Kakegurui in more ways than one. It’s time to turn your frown upside down and join me on this journey of finding other amazing gambling Anime.
1. Life Is Money
- Manga: Asaniji, Teru- Yaguraba, Tekka
- Genre: Drama, Horror, Psychological
- Volumes: 3
- Published Date: Aug. 2011 — Oct. 2012
This Anime shakes the core basis of human nature — the love for family and those closest to us. Fukurokouji Meguru, the protagonist, has a very ill sister that he can’t afford surgery for. Therefore, Meguru needs to go into the underworld and earn money in an illegal and dangerous way. What Fukurokouji finds out very soon is that in the underworld gambling there’s much more at stake than his sister’s life.
If you’re a fan of dark-themed anime and manga, Life is Money is the one for you. The manga will show you that failure can often be devastating. If you’re in the mood for sitting at home on a rainy night covered in your blanket, make sure you give Life is Money a try.
2. Ousama Game
- Manga: Renda, Hitori- Kanazawa, Nobuaki
- Genre: Mystery, Drama, Horror, School, Supernatural
- Volumes: 5
- Published Date: 2010 — 2012
This Anime/Manga takes on a typical high school theme that many others have incorporated before. However, this time, there is a dark twist. Kanazawa Nobuaki gets an odd text one day but thinks nothing of it. After all, being in high school often means being a target of jokesters and their pranks. Things get quite weird once Nobuaki finds out that all the rest of his schoolmates have also got the same text. All of a sudden, both him and his school friends become involved in the King’s Game. At first, all the participants only need to prank each other, which they feel ok with at the start. However, the very next day, they need to perform a bunch of disgusting and inhumane things.
The price of refusing or failing is life. This Anime incorporates the game of Russian Roulette in a brilliant way. It is nothing like gambling with your money — there is always a chance to recover. In this Anime, losing means dying, and I don’t think there’s really a chance of recovering from that. We’ll leave that to Fullmetal Alchemist. If you wish to find out what happened to Nobuaki and his friends, make sure to give this manga a chance. It is very different from Kakegurui in a couple of ways.
3. Gamble Fish
- Manga: Yamane, Kazutoshi- Aoyama, Hiromi
- Genre: Mystery, Ecchi, Game, School, Shounen, Harem, Psychological
- Volumes: 19
- Published Date: Feb. 2007 — July 2010
Out of all the Manga and Anime that are somewhat similar to Kakegurui, this one takes the prize. Gamble Fish also uses an academy with rich kids as its central plot. Additionally, it also brings a new character into the school — this person shakes the entire hierarchy. In Kakegurui, this is Yumeko — but in Gambler Fish, this mysterious protagonist is Tom Shirasagi.
The moment he joins the Academy, he demands that all the other students challenge him to the most difficult games. And other students can’t wait to give him their best just to step over his arrogant behavior. Although he is arrogant, Tom is too brilliant to let others defeat him. Just like in Kakegurui, Tom also challenges the student council of the academy and demands that the president of the council gambles against him. If you’re really looking for Kakegurui 2.0, then you should try Big Fish.
4. Dead Tube
- Mangaka: Kitakawa, Touta- Yamaguchi, Mikoto
- Genre: Ecchi, Horror, School, Seinen
- Volumes: 7
- Published Date: Apr. 2014 — Present
In this Anime, there is a website called DeadTube. As you could imagine, DeadTube is a complete opposite of Youtube. While one will provide you with cute and silly cat videos, beauty and makeup gurus, and nutritionists, DeadTube will show you something edgier. It’s a place where you can find all the explicit and twisted material that is banned on the Internet.
The protagonist, Tomohiro Machiya, is a film-maker and a great cinematography enthusiast. One day, a girl called Mai Mashiro approaches him and asks him to film her everyday life for this particular website. It is an offer Machiya gladly accepts. At first, Mai looks like an ordinary girl living through the day. But on day 2, she kills a man while Machiya is recording it. To his shock, she is not sentenced to life in prison — in fact, their movie is praised for being a work of art and receives a reward on DeadTube. Machiya must continue to film this — otherwise, backing down will cost him his life.
If you’re into very dark stories and something similar to popular horror movies, such as Saw and Hostel franchise, DeadTube is the one you should search for.
5. Tomodachi Game
- Mangaka: Yamaguchi, Mikoto- Satou, Yuuki
- Genre: Game, Shounen, Psychological
- Volumes: 9
- Published Date: Dec. 2013 — Present
Katagiri Yuuichi, the hero of the Manga, is a simple man who values friendship over anything else — and that includes potential piles of money. He believes money can get you all the material things you wish for, but it can’t buy you genuine friendship. Conveniently enough, all of his beliefs are tested once he is kidnapped along with four other people. The group then finds out that one of the members of the group is the reason they’re in this situation. Katagiri and others need to find out who this person is, all the while someone messes with their minds. The Manga is very psychological and likes to play mind games with both characters and readers.
Kakegurui and Tomodachi are both Manga that like to play with the topic of friendship and just how strong this relationship is. They ask a very moral question — how far are you ready to go for your friends, and how far for the money? Tomodachi is still on-going, and I’m patiently waiting to see who is the reason for the group’s misery. I personally suggest this one for some high-adrenaline watching.
6. Liar Game
- Mangaka: Kaitani, Shinobu
- Genre: Drama, Game, Psychological, Seinen
- Volumes: 19
- Published Date: Feb. 2005- Jan. 2015
Kanzaki Nao is an upstanding citizen — she is a good student, tries to abide by the law and is a high achiever. She lives according to what her father has taught, and she is full of hope — which is precisely what her name means in Japanese. However, Kanzaki’s beliefs will soon be shaken to the core once she receives a huge sum of money. She learns that she has been chosen for the so-called Liar Game. Her duty is to deceive, lie, and manipulate other players into going broke. Naturally, she is horrible at this. But later on in the Manga, she gets help from a popular con-artist. Kanzaki needs to decide if she can trust this new person in her life or not — is he teaming up with her with honest intentions?
Liar Game and Kakegurui are similar because both Manga demand that, to win in gambling, one needs to be ready to cheat and commit horrendous acts. Unlike Kakegurui though, you’re never too sure which character you can trust in Liar Game. You are bound to have fun guessing which character is good and which one is a deceiver.
The Message Is Clear
What exactly is the point of Manga and Anime that incorporate gambling as its topic? Well, for one, they are trying to teach viewers that gambling can be a very risky hobby. Moreover, becoming a problem gambler is very easy, especially if you fall into one of the many traps this industry can set for you. I hope you enjoy all six of the Manga just as much as I did — before you know it, the new Kakegurui season will be up on Netflix.