Gambling Anime: What to Know and Where to Start

Gambling Anime: What to Know and Where to Start

The anime world tends to confuse many people. Why are characters constantly yelling? Are all shows about high school life? Is there a good anime show for gamblers? Contrary to popular belief, not all anime films target teens and pre-teens.

Some of the best anime shows target adults. Take gambling anime shows as an example. They are witty, exciting, and action-packed. Sure, they don’t feature regular casino games like slots, roulette, poker and blackjack games. 

Instead, the most common gambling game in anime is Mahjong—a game of tiles whose objective is to get 14 tiles into four sets. It’s mostly played among four people although some variations also allow 2-3 players.

To get you started into the world of gambling anime, here are some popular shows to watch. 

Mahjong Hishouden: Naki No Ryuu

Mahjong Hishouden is a three-episode anime show first aired in the ‘90s. It revolves around a guy known as the Crying Dragon. Surprisingly, he almost never cries throughout the series. Instead, he beats gang members in rounds of Mahjong.

Interestingly, the Crying Dragon wins through a single move called ‘Ron.’ He plays like an underdog while tempting his opponents to make a mistake. Then he strikes with his unique move and ends up winning. 

Because the game focuses so much on Mahjong, it’s an excellent chance to learn how to play the game. Also, you can get some ideas about ‘Ron’ and implement it when you ultimately play Mahjong with friends.

Kakerugui: Compulsive Gambler

Kakegurui is one of the best gambling anime shows out there and for valid reasons. Sure, it’s yet another anime series about high school kids. But it explores Mahjong in an easy to follow and captivating manner. 

Kakegurui is set in a Japanese private academy where wealthy Japanese kids attend school. It’s a normal school during the day. But come night time and the classrooms, dormitories and cafeterias turn into casinos…sort of.

Basically, there’s a popularity contest among students. And the way to the top is through beating everyone in Mahjong. In contrast, losing gets students into debt and become the “house pets” of more successful gamblers. 

As mentioned, Kakegurui is a top-listed TV show—64% on Rotten Tomatoes and 7.2 on IMDB. If interested in watchinf more best-rated gambling anime series, find a great list here. You’ll also discover casino anime movies, manga and a history of the genre.

Legendary Gambler Tetsuya

This one of those oldies but goodies kind of anime shows. It has a storyline dating back to 1947; after the great depression in Japan. It started as a weekly magazine story before becoming an award-winning TV show. 

So, what is Tetsuya about? It’s about an indebted, desolate man who resorts to cheating at Manga to survive. And because it was set during a time of great suffering in Japan, he has no regrets about.

In fact, Tetsuya lives by the mantra “it’s only cheating when you get caught.” If you can cheat and win, it’s a strategy. Cheating aside, Tetsuya is based on a real-life story. And it captures the desperate times of post-war Japan candidly.


In the great wall of gambling anime, Akagi ranks at the top. It’s a classic underdog gambling story: a 13-year-old defeats the Yakuza in Mahjong. A little background, though.

The show starts off with the life of a man who owes the Yakuza man. He then rescues a 13-year-old from a group of thugs and ends up hosting him. Soon, he realizes the young man is a Mahjong wizard named Akagi.

 The boy helps him defeat the Yakuza before disappearing for several years. While away, Akagi continues to show off his impressive Mahjong moves, often getting his colleagues out of debt in the process.

As mentioned, Akagi is one of the most successful anime stories in Japan and sold 12 million copies when released. Because of its commercial success, Akagi also spawned books, films, video games and magazines. 

Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor

Kaiji is a long-running story published on the Weekly Young Magazine since 1996. Ultimate Survivor is one part of the story. It stars Kaiji Ito, a homeless, drunkard that spends most of his time stealing and of course, drinking.

One night he meets up with an ex-co-worker that promises to help him. Unfortunately, he gets him into a gambling trap and he has to play Mahjong endlessly or risk dying. Against that backdrop, Kaiji is a game of survival. And Mahjong is your only chance at getting out alive. Would you survive? 

As a warning, Kaiji features lots of gory scenes. Some characters lose their lives or bodily parts in the doomed cruise-ship. But if that’s your kind of action, you’ll enjoy the show.

Death Parade

You’ve probably observed a trend. Most gambling anime show involve human life as the risk of winning Mahjong. Death Parade is unsurprisingly similar. But instead of a threat on anyone’s life, this show imagines the world after death.

It imagines an afterlife with no heaven or hell but full of casinos, bars and fun places. The objective is to win bowling against the Barmaster—a club man that can help reincarnate your soul. 

Death Parade was originally designed to be a one or two-episode show. But due to public demand, it ended up becoming a 12-episode series in which dead souls fought to come back to life. 

It’s a gripping show full of dark humor, drama and mysteries. It’s also exciting to watch the stiff competition that happens as everyone fights for a chance to get their human lives back. 

One Outs

This another gambling anime shot not about Mahjong. It stars Toua Toguchi, a baseball pitcher that finds himself in a difficult situation. He has to lead his team to victory but at a cost or huge loss.

He wins $45000 every time he makes a successful pitch. But he loses $455,000 but for every run he concedes. With that in mind, One Outs is a show about mental torture and playing baseball like your life depends on it. 




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