「地の獄」 (Chi no Goku)
What a surreal feeling it is to be watching Kaiji again. Three years have passed since the first season ended inconclusively, but the feeling hasn’t changed. It’s still awesome.
Kaiji is a psychological “warfare” anime, in vein to Death Note, but more similar to Liar Game, a very well done manga that I recommend reading if you’re already into this genre. In a sentence, Kaiji landed himself in debt, got caught up in a series of life-threatening games where he was given the chance to gamble back his debt, failed and lost, and now we’re at season two. I don’t think there’s anyone that can’t enjoy a good struggle of intelligence and wit, and if you’re worrying about not wanting to think too much, the show explains most of it for you anyway. Though, in terms of cleverness, Kaiji is not as high as Liar Game nor Death Note, but it remains quite enjoyable (partly because it’s actually being animated).
One of the best things that makes the series work is the strong emotion running through the characters, a clear relatable struggle of pain and anguish, perfectly exemplified by the first episode. Kaiji battles a slippery slope of wants, certainly not helped by the influential Ootsuki (Chou), and then I suddenly saw myself in Kaiji. His decision to make six months into seven to be able to have more extra spending money is hilariously close to how my procrastination reasoning usually goes. “Oh, I’ll just watch this episode until 3:00, and then I’ll start on my homework. Okay, until 3:10, it’s only ten more minutes. It becomes 3:45. Well, since it’s around 4:00 anyways, I’ll let it go to a round number, so until 4:00! And that’s it!” …yeah, I guess I’m as much of a failure as him.
Kaiji slowly falling to his doom is typical for the show (no matter how stupid it seems), and it’s actually quite nostalgic to begin that way. He was actually quite formidable in the previous season, so the new environment cracking him this fast was unexpected. His ride down was deliciously fun in the non-sadistic kind of way due to all the clever detail given to his predicament, and the light psychological battle between the food sellers and Kaiji should really only get your feet wet at this point. Kaiji isn’t really Kaiji without a true gambling game, so as expected, Ootsuki pulls out some dice for a challenge. It might be a simple game of chance and luck, but with other materials nearby, who knows?
There’s really not much that should be said. Madhouse animation, strong seiyuu, and a solid story make this a must watch. No, don’t even give me that, “but Kiiragi, they have such big noses, and where’s my kawaii-uguu bijins?!” or, “but I didn’t watch season one!” Nope. Catch up, grow a beard, then watch Kaiji Hakairoku-hen, and grow a second beard. Don’t worry, this post will still be here, so you can still thank me later. The ONLY bad thing about these types of shows is waiting weekly for the next one. I might just marathon this for maximum enjoyment and a maximum beard.