Gambling, while it is an easy way to lose money, can be an exhilarating experience. Great minds do battle for high stakes; planning cheats, bluffs, and tricks to win big at the table. While in the West it's poker that rules, on-screen gambling in Japan Mahjong is the number one gambling TV star.
A good gambling story has high-stakes, high-tension, and believable characters willing to bet their lives in the present for a better future; watch interesting characters win and lose it all up close and personal in these anime. Would you be willing to risk everything you have on the dice?
9 C: The Money Of Soul And Possibility Control
In a world where money is everything and lives mean nothing, second-years Economics student Kimimaru Yoga is invited to gamble in the East Financial District. Here, money is abundant and weekly matches decide players' fates. It is in this world that Yoga operates under the name 'Entre' to protect his fortunes and his future.
This action/mystery/thriller will keep you on the edge of your seat and keep you thinking; it's not one to spoon feed its viewers. This anime is dubbed for the folks who aren't into subtitles and it is 11 episodes long - perfect weekend binge length.
Saki Miyanaga has a complex relationship with Mahjong; playing it at New Years' would cause her to lose her gift money to her parents if she won or just plain lose. She quickly learned how to walk the line between winning and losing, aiming to get a neutral score of ±0. When she is forced to join her school's Mahjong Club by a friend, how will she cope? This anime manages to inject energy and fun into the simple gameplay of Mahjong and can get you hooked even if you've never touched a tile. There are 25 episodes total which contain some filler and an open ending but is a sweet and easy to follow romp.
7 Mahjong Hishouden: Naki no Ryuu
A mysterious stranger known as the Crying Dragon plays Mahjong against gang members for survival. The Crying Dragon always wins using one specific move, Ron, which requires you to wait on your opponent for the perfect strike. This action/drama will keep you hooked on mahjong as you see how the protagonist struggles to manipulate his opponents to do his bidding.
The season is three episodes long and, while it is an old nineties show, packs a lot into three short episodes. Definitely worth a watch in the evening or when you next have some time to spare.
6 Stardust Crusaders (D'Arby The Gambler Story Arc)
Of course, Jojo's Bizarre Adventures made its way onto this list. In this story arc, Jotaro battles against a mysterious man, D'Arby, in a game of poker to win back the soul of Joseph and everyone who ever lost against D'Arby. In typical Jojo fashion, this is a wild and ridiculous ride for nigh impossible stakes. Jojo has its own way of creating tension and keeping you hooked. While it seems that D'Arby will ultimately steal everyone's souls, but Jotaro has a few tricks up his sleeve. This particular arc occurs in episodes 34 and 35 of Stardust Crusaders and is an entertaining 40 minutes.
5 Legendary Gambler Testuya
Another old but gold series, Legendary Gambler Testuya follows the traveller Tetsuya, a man who mops the floor with his opponents in Mahjong parlours. When he finds himself in Shinjuku in 1947, he comes across a man who shows him that he still has much to learn before he can truly master the game.
This historical anime is another tense but interesting look into the Mahjong games of the past and a lesson that there is always more to learn. This 20 episode series is for those who want to peer into the past and learn more about the classic tile game that is Mahjong.
4 Mahjong Legend Akagi: The Genius Who Descended Into the Darkness
Nongou the impulsive gambler has accumulated over $27,000 in debt. He soon finds himself in the darkest corners of society playing Mahjong against the Mafia. In a bid of desperation, he offers his life but soon realises that things are not what they seem. This 26 episode series packs a real punch of tension and is not afraid to threaten its characters with serious consequences. You will be on the edge of your seat as you watch Nongou dance with fire in some of the most intense Mahjong games ever seen. The psychological and thriller elements only turn up the heat, so be prepared; who knows what will happen?
3 Death Parade
In the afterlife, there is no heaven, only gambling. The chance to reincarnate or lose your soul in the void rest on the whims of Decim, the barmaster. It is in the supernatural bar that darts, poker, air hockey, and other games decide who lives again and who will be lost to the darkness.
What was once a single episode intended to train animators blew into a 12 episode series full of tension, dark humour, and the ultimate stakes around; your soul. This psychological/mystery/drama will really grip you as you watch strangers battle it out in the worst circumstances over a round of bowling.
2 Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Written by the same author who wrote Akagi, this white-knuckle ride is not afraid to put its characters through the worst trials imaginable. Kaiji Itou is tricked into owning his old coworker's debt and is invited to participate in illegal gambling on a cruise ship. This cruise becomes his own circle of torment as he is forced to survive while playing against greed, cheating, and other people's worst natures. Faced with the prospect of playing for his freedom, Kaiji must do everything to save his life, skin, and other body parts. Kaiji does have gory scenes, so please proceed with caution.
1 One Outs
Toua Toguchi is a talented baseball pitcher by profession but a passionate gambler at heart. He plays a simplified version of baseball called One Out on the streets of Okinawa. However, when Toua is charged with leading a real baseball team to victory, he has to follow one simple rule; for every out he pitches, he wins $45,000. For every run he lets go, he loses $455,000.
A 25 episode sports anime with gambling and psychological elements, One Outs is for all the sports fans looking to make their games a little more interesting. Don't go getting any ideas, folks.