Gambling Fish is another shonen manga that you wouldn’t expect to appear. The topic is, of course, gambling, and it reminds many of a very popular anime, Kakegurui. Moreover, there were fans who even accused it of being a copy of Kakegurui. The only difference is the gender of the protagonist.
Gambling Fish Manga Review
First things first — Gambling Fish is not really a manga. To be more precise, it is a tankbon. This is a Japanese word for individual volumes of a single manga. Simply put, it is actually a book which doesn’t belong to any series — think of it as a stand-alone edition.
Since I love reading manga, and since I will probably read anything you drop on my table out of boredom, I will often go through a couple of mediocre ones. And I don’t really mind reading mediocre manga — just because somebody deemed it horrible doesn’t mean it actually is. After all, it’s all merely personal preference. Sometimes, I end up growing quite fond of this “mediocre” manga, and I quite enjoy it. At other times, I really do end up agreeing with the reviews and simply accept it.
Gambling Fish, however, is that one manga that completely confuses me. While reading it, I could not determine if I liked it, hated it, or if it somehow fascinated me. Now, this could mostly come from the fact that I genuinely enjoyed watching Kakegurui. Gambling Fish really does resemble this anime a lot in more ways than one.
The protagonist of Gambling Fish is Tomu Shirasagi (or simply Tom), a 14-year-old boy with a genius mind. Just like Yumeko in Kakegurui, Tomu is also a transfer student at the academy for the children of the Japanese elite. The Academy’s name is Shishidou, and the reason behind Tomu’s transfer is to avenge his dad. You should know that Tomu’s intentions are not always very clear in the manga. It took me a while to figure out what he’s actually trying to achieve being in the academy, and why he’s doing it.
And just like Yumeko, Tomu is also too smart for everyone in the academy. At first, the students there continually try to humiliate him. They keep inviting him for betting games, which is how they quickly realize that Tomu isn’t naive at all. Just like Yumeko, his physical attributes are somewhat divine and his intelligence ultimately superior.
Being so smart, Tomu keeps challenging other students — and they nearly always lose against him. At one point, he openly explains how his goal is to destroy the academy and everything it stands for. He is that typical shonen hero who comes to save the day, and he is perfect in every possible way.
The manga did keep my interest up until the point where all of a sudden, dark arts make a grand entrance — which makes no sense at all. Why is there dark magic in a manga that only speaks of gambling? Moreover, at one point even the military comes into the story, which only makes everything that much more confusing.
Gamble Fish and Its Meaning
Although I did enjoy reading this manga to an extent, I could not get rid of the feeling that it copies Kakegurui even for a brief second. However, I soon realized that it was published even before Kakeguri aired. Either way, it could simply be possible that both Gambling Fish and Kakegurui decided to speak of the same topic. After all, we are witnessing an era where 90% of anime start in a high school far, far away. As far as we’re concerned, it just might be the lack of creativity and will of writers to actually bring something new to the table.
I won’t say that Gamble Fish is a bad manga — it really isn’t. It simply lacks depth and genuineness that creative work should have. Otherwise, the rest of the things are ok. The art style is beautifully done, although they did go over the top when it comes to girls. Especially the most popular girl in the academy, Mizuhara. Mizuhara is very smart and knows all the games that are popular in the academy as well as their rules. Unfortunately, all the other female characters remain insignificant throughout the entire manga. In the end, everything revolves around Mizuhara and Shirasagi. You could say this is a typical way of shonen, but their most mainstream manga and anime have a lot of action and character development to offer. Something that creators unfortunately deemed irrelevant for Gambling Fish.
So Is It a Readable Manga?
Well, this is something that depends entirely on you. Personally, Gambling Fish is not the best manga out there but certainly not the worst either. For example, the story is off to a very slow start, but then somewhere in the middle, it starts piling events one after another. This causes you to completely lose focus and end up having no idea what you’re reading.
Additionally, the manga is not too dark or explicit, so you can use it as a night-read — it does make you fall asleep at one point. However, if you are a huge Kakegurui and Kaiji fan, you might like Gamble Fish to a degree. It does have a strong moral lesson to teach you — and that is to be careful who you trust and what you do. If anything , it could suffice as a good replacement for Kakegurui while we’re waiting for the new season.