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Gambling Manga: Introduction.

Updated on February 12, 2013


Hello! It's me, sora63.

I think it's time to discuss again about manga. I already did a review of the anime series Kaiji, probably one of the most popular gambling animes (and it's pretty unknown).

So, l said there I would talk about gambling manga, sometime. I think it's time we take this topic back and talk about it!

As you can guess, the number of gambling mangas are way higher than the number of gambling animes. You'll find a list of the most popular ones, the first three mangas; and then another list of less known ones, the other last three.

Yeah, that's right, a list of 6 mangas! You have some homework to do.

I tried to pick very different mangas from each other, but they're all in the same genere, so they have common flaws, like you'll see.

Look around them and pick one to start in this sub-genere; or pick a manga you didn't read if you read something already.

Let's start the other introduction to strange and thrilling world of gambling, then! (manga edition!)

Kaiji manga series

Ummm... well, the drawing is... similar to anime indeed.
Ummm... well, the drawing is... similar to anime indeed. | Source

Well, there's not much to say really.

The things I said in the Kaiji anime review can be applied to the manga. There's some differences, though: the manga is slower than anime. You have to think that each anime episode compresses a half of a volume. That's right, 100 PAGES in one episode, or even more.

The another aspect I have to recall is that anime doesn't cover all the manga. Only the first two parts.

Parts? yes, parts.

This anime is divided in parts: Each ones has 13 volumes of length. And guess what? This manga has FOUR parts (one still serializing):

- Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji.

- Tobaku Hakairoku Kaiji.

- Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji.

- Tobaku Datenroku Kaiji: Kazuya-hen (on-going).

Some translators are doing the fourth part, Datenroku Kaiji: Kazuya-hen. Check it around if you're curious. The third part is already translated.

In conclusion, a very good series. Lot of tension and cliffhangers. Lot of human physcology and even thoughts of our society sometimes.

The gambles in this series are the most "realistic". Sometimes they're a bit silly, sometimes they're totally invented, and sometimes they're just a variation of a common japanese popular game, but they're all games that you could play with your friends. A feeling you'll surely won't feel with the other mangas.

The drawing is very weird and the humor is almost non-existent, but that's because the author wants to focus in the cruel, putrid world of gambling.

If you forgive the two main flaws of the series, along with the incredible slowly peace it has, you'll love Kaiji.

Let's move on. We just started! (I have a deja-vu while I say this, I don't know why...)

One Outs.


I also discussed this one in the Kaiji review, so I will be short here, too.

Basically, we hear the story of Tokuchi Toua, a pitcher who signs to the japanese baseball team "The Lycans". He signs what he calls the "One outs" contract: He will earn 5 million yen every time he pitches a player... but he will pay 50 million yen for every run he gives to the opposite team.

Geez, pretty fair, huh? Well, that's what the author wants you to feel. Afortunately, Tokuchi is very smart, so he'll try to make his team win, while he tries to make money with the contract.

The manga has a total of 20 volumes, and a sequel which has 7 volumes. The anime series covers only 13 volumes of the first 20 ones. Both parts are finished.

So like I said before this manga is about baseball, but in a "gambling" way. Almost all strategies used in the manga would have a completely "different effect" in the real life (or they would be directly impossible to do), but it's pretty fun to watch and there's lot of tensions and cliffhangers.

Although the strategies are unrealistic, but the author talks about them in a serious and realistic way, and that's the real fun of the manga. Besides, they're not VERY unrealistic, so you can do a leap of faith and "believe it" easily.

One of the major complains I have of this manga is that the main character is super good, and super awensome. He plays with the opponents the way he wants, so he never loses. This makes the series a bit predictable, because even if you don't know HOW the character will come up of the situation he's in, you know he eventually WILL go out.

Sadly, the next ones also suffers from this error (they're made by the same author) although it's not as exagerated as this one. Same goes with other mangas in this list.

And that's a personal opinion, but the only manga which can succesfully erase this feeling of "incredible gambles which always wins" is Kaiji, for me.

So, now I made this little break, we can go on with the reviews.

I hope the review of One outs wasn't a little chaotic, by the way. I wanted to give some random thoughts, because I already talk about it.

In conclusion, good baseball series (but a little unrealistic), with some notes of humor and a clear but a little poor drawing. The main character is very well done (but with the flaws mentioned) and there's some good supporting characters too.

But don't expect any serious character envolving, even with the main one.

Liar Game

Seems like a shojo cover for me!
Seems like a shojo cover for me! | Source

Liar game. Time to get serious.

This one is, along with Kaiji, the most popular gambling manga in japan (at least is the most sold.)

So, what's about liar game?

This manga of 13 volumes and a dorama adaptation, centers around the story of Kanzaki Nao, a very innocent girl who is unable to lie. She gets, without her will, involved in the liar game tournament: a game where characters get in some twisted games, betting lot of money.

The games are very different, but they have one threat in common: You have to say lies to your rivals in order to win.

So she gets in contact with Akiyama, a boy majored in phsycology who decived a multi-million yen company.

Sooo... well, yeah, you see the tone is very different from the other two ones. That's because this manga is a SHONEN, not a seinen like Kaiji and One Outs.

Still, don't get this etiquete decive you: Liar game is a very good manga. The strategies going on here are very deep and complicated. You'll never predict what will go on next, because the games has lot of hidden rules and tricks (the two first ones are kinda simple, but this don't last long). This makes the series very fun to read... but also complicated.

Here lies the major flaws of liar game, for me: Some game's rule are TOO complicated. Trust me if I say that I had to read a chapter explaining the rules more than two times to fully understand them. And, of course, all the games are made by the author and his imagination, and that's very remarkable for me.

The explanations are sometimes very redundant, they explain how the tricks and strategies were made, sometimes, in a very complicated way.

And although the game is about lying, and the author spends lot of pages talking about how cruels humans are, maybe you don't really feel it completely.

But not everything is bad in Liar Game: There's tons of interesting characters, it's very fast-paced (the gambles takes only a few volumes, at least), and the notes of humor are more frequent here.

In conclusion, it's a manga less "serious" than Kaiji or One Outs in the field of showing the cruelty of humans, but that's because it's a shonen.

If you like to start with gambling manga but you hate slow-paced mangas, or you like mangas with lot of interesting characters, check this one. This one also has the most complex strategies of all the mangas in this hub... but this can be a flaw, because sometimes the strategies or explanations end up too complicated and they spend lot of pages explaining things, to end up in the same point where other mangas use a more simple trick or strategies, but more surprising.

To resume this last wall of text, you can say that Liar Game wants to surprise your "mind", but Kaiji and the other mangas explained here surprise your "heart".

(One outs it's kinda in the middle).

I don't know if you'll understand the same thing I want to express, I hope I put it clear.

Gamble Fish

Wait, a shojo girl, fishes...  Is this really a gambling manga?
Wait, a shojo girl, fishes... Is this really a gambling manga? | Source

You can see it from the cover. This manga totally shouts "I'm shonen and I know it". With the good things and bad things that this implies, when it comes to gambling manga.

Let's talk of general plot and general info first. Gamble fish, a complete series of 19 volumes, We're reading the story of a teenager gambler of 14 years old (yes, fourteen) called Tomu Shigarashi. He enters to Shishidou academy, an academy where the elite of Japan studies.

But he doesn't care about studies, he cares about gamble, and in the first episode he literally challenges anyone of the whole highschool to gamble in any game, and betting any quantity.

That's the main idea of the first episode of the series. Another characters worth mention are Mizuhara, the roommate of Tomu Shigarashi, a very smart guy who has his hair head shaped in a mushroom form (you can see it from the description: yes, he's the comic relief character) and Mika Shishidou, the great-granddaughter of the academy's dean. There's more of them, but they're presented further in the manga.

You see the one is lightier than the other ones. This is not a gambling shonen manga, like Liar game, this one is a shonen gambling manga. So this one totally break the suspension of disbelief: The manga takes itself seriously, but the author doesn't. This can apply to gambles: they seem serious, and there's lot of stake, but they get more and more weird/epic and more epic, as events go on, most of the time.

The main example is that almost all rivals of Tomu Shigarashi are girls with huge boobs. Yes, huge. And they have tight dresses.

Although the important thing, the games, are good and some strategies and tricks are surprisingly unpredictable, they're mostly over-the-top and lot of times are so epic that they're silly, or vice versa.

With the things I said you can already put piece together: Some humor + big boobs + bikinis everywhere + "epic" gambles. A shonen, in the strictly part of the meaning.

I don't want to spoil much want happens, because if you less know about a manga, more you'll be surprised when you read it. I would love to put more accurate examples about why this manga is so-silly-it's-awensome type, but I would ruin the fun.

We're talking about gambling mangas, a type of mangas that they rely of cliffhangers and unexpected events to catch the reader and make them buy more. So I think that if I spoil you those even you'll enjoy them less.

Especially if we talk about Gamble fish.

In conclusion, this manga has some good trick in his sleeve to surprise you. The history is interesting but the situations and characters are incredible over the top most of the time. If you can forgive this, you'll find a good shonen manga, with a very nice drawing, lot of humor, lot of characters, some good cliffhangers and some BOOBS, too.

Oh, and another flaw: The character is like One outs: The character is one of those "I-never-lose-because-I'm-the-hero-and-I-have-faith-in-my-friends" type. Like One outs, it can ruin the fun a little bit.

So you see we started with some "unrealistic" gamble mangas. The next one is even more unreal... but in a totally different and epic way!


Okay... wat
Okay... wat | Source

To start with this one I put a random panel instead of the cover of the first volume to show you the tone of this manga:

Look at the crazy face this man has. And it's just a random panel.

The first thing it impresses you when you start reading usogui it's the drawing. Your head shouts "what the hell is this? it's so creepy".

That's the tone of the whole manga, so if you don't like this kind of tone you can start skipping this whole section.

Anyway, Usogui, an on-going manga of 19 volumes, tells us the story about a young man called Usogui. He enters in a tower when a strange man is in. He's a member of Kakerou, an organitzation of impartial refrees. This organitzation existed since the samurai era and cares about giving impartial judgments to any gamble or play they're called off. Usogui wants to destroy them, somehow.

The first gamble of the manga is easy: Usogui and his friend are in house. They have to go to the exit. The man has to stop them. There are no rules.

So yeah, the argument it's pretty shoneish too. But this one is totally different from the other mangas: The drawing and the gambles are just twisted.

They're horribly wrong. If you like the tone of this manga, you'll end up loving it, because the whole manga has the same crazy tone. If not, you'll hate it, like I said.

Sorry that I keep mentioning the same over and over again but it's the main reason why you like or hate usogui. Like Gamble Fish, or Kaiji; it's a kind of manga that has a general tone thanks to the author's intentions and/or the drawing, and you have to accept it to be able to read this manga without thinking every 3 seconds "this is incredibly silly."

If we leave this, Usogui is an ok manga. It's lot of fun to read. There's also lot of cool tricks and lies that the main characters does and keeps the tension constant in all the games.

There's also a good point in Usogui, and it's that the other characters, apart of him, take a good role in gambles. In fact, one of the early gambles of the series are not played by Usogui, so this makes it pretty interesting. Apart of this, the main character is another type of "I'm invencible" guy, but the author doesn't never make it boring and he can put succesfully some situations that it's not sure if he will be able to go out safe succesfully.

Not much to say really! Apart of the crazy drawing, Usogui has the same good points of the other mangas mentioned above.

To sum it up, it's a good manga with a crazy, unique tone; and another "invencible" main character. If you can forgive this and keep reading, you'll find a very good manga, with good characters apart of Usogui, and lot of tension, which remains constant in all the gambles.

And also you'll find that maybe the character is not that invencible, and some games are not played by Usogui himself, so this gives some fresh air and variation to the manga.

So, I reviewed the most important mangas (the first three ones) along with some other strange-and-unknown-but-still-good gambling mangas.

Don't worry, we're almost done. I want to introduce you another one I liked a lot, which is also lot of fun, and it'll be a good way to end, because it's written by the same author of Kaiji, the initial manga of the hub: Nobuyuki Fukumoto.

Gambling legend emperor Zero

With fukumoto we started, and with fukumoto we will end.
With fukumoto we started, and with fukumoto we will end. | Source

We're in the last wall of text! YAAAAY!

ejem... well, like I said, this manga is made by the same author of Kaiji. It has 8 volumes, and a sequel, still on-going, of 5 volumes.

You can think that this will have the main flaws of kaiji... but no! They're quite different, considering they're both gambling mangas.

The story goes around of Zero, a very smart teenager (yes folks, another smart one) which gets involved in a gambling contest.

It's pretty hard to resume the first two episodes of this manga, but stick to the main idea: They gamble and stuff.

Basically, the gambles you'll find here are... EVERYTHING. This manga is incredibly fast-paced, almost as fast-paced as Liar game. There are lot of gambles, some seem incredibly stupid but they have lot of hidden tricks; some of them are pretty quick, some of them involves maths (yes, maths) and some of them are variations of common games.

This manga has a smart guy and a "invencible" guy type, a thing common here like we saw, but the author manages to do not make this boring. It even feels like he's weak, in lot of games. And if you find a gamble boring, because the premise doesn't catch you or because seems too obvious he's going to win, there's another one coming in some chapters.

This manga has also lot of supporting characters which they're very interesting, and some good humor, too.

To sum it up, the author of kaiji is drawing a very fun manga. It's very enjoyable because there's lot of interesting characters and humor, along with serious cliffhangers, which they're mostly incredibly suprising. It's very fast-paced too.

In the other you can think that some of the games are just too boring or silly.

So, that was quite of a travel.

Now you have a general idea of gambling manga... you're ready to bet for the manga it gives you the better vibes and start reading?


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    • sora63 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Spain


      Yeah I know I left akagi, but I talked about the series in the Kaiji review I mention.

      If I have sometime maybe I'll do a review in the future!

    • Hideki-ryuga profile image


      8 years ago

      Great Hub. I watched Kaiji first and second season. It's an awesome anime. I may watch it again. By the way, you should add Akagi to the list it is by the same author of Kaiji, Nobuyuki Fukumoto.


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