Who doesn’t like to bet on something?
In anime, characters gamble with money or their lives in dangerous situations, like playing Mahjong with gangsters or breaking the mind of an opponent.
Even though gambling is usually illegal in Japan, that doesn’t stop people from loving stories with high risks.
Gambling is a big and sometimes shady world. Even though poker seems like a boring and boring topic for a show, we still want to see the drama, emotion, and thought that go into intense poker matches.
Or even a simple game of shogi with the family.
Gambling doesn’t have to be a game, though. Have you ever bought a lottery ticket? Or bet on a race horse?
A simple idea like betting on a game can be taken to its logical conclusion in an anime.
Sometimes we want to take big risks. But we don’t always want to see life-or-death risks, the crazy side of compulsive gaming, or the simple age-old question, “Do I win Monopoly or do I keep my family from going crazy?”
So let’s look at a bunch of movies about gambling that really show how broad the term “gambling” can be.
All were ranked and reviewed, and I picked the ones I liked best.
Lets get Started folks.
23. Death Parade
What happens when a person dies?
Where do we go?
Well, it sounds like we go to a bar where the bartender will dare you to a simple game to find out who you really are.
People are dark creatures, and it’s Decim’s job to pull them out of the darkness and make them choose between reincarnation and total oblivion, when even the soul disappears.
This one is definitely dark. If the name didn’t give it away…
If I could, I’d put it at the top, but I think there are others that show the “gambling” theme better.
22. No Game, No Life
Have you ever felt like you didn’t belong?
Like, in this strange world we live in, you’re a gear that doesn’t fit right and is slowly breaking down from all the pressure?
Then this show is where you should put yourself.
NGNL gives you a new way to enjoy isekai.
Imagine if there was no fighting in the world and everything was decided by tossing a coin.
What if the king was picked by a game of chess instead of heated political debates?
It would look like a beautiful world. And especially for our loving brothers Sora and Shiro, who call themselves (and no, I didn’t forget to type in letters!)
People think of them as the best players in the world because they never lose. They do steal, but that’s a different story…
So, it seems like the new world was made for them to rule it.
NGNL has a beautiful color scheme that no other show like it has. Really, you should just watch it, and you won’t regret it.
21. One Piece Film: Gold
In this movie, our favorite characters gamble away money at a very expensive place (Who would buy flowers for $6,000?! ), while the dark side of the business becomes clear. like the use of children as slaves.
The movie is interesting to watch, and I’d be happy to move it up the list… But you have to watch a lot of One Piece to see it.
And I can see why this would be a deal-breaker for some people. So, onward!
20. Rio: Rainbow Gate!
What comes to mind when you hear the word “gambling”?
Most likely, it was a casino.
What does a Hollywood theater stand for? Of course, they’re hot sellers!
At first look, it doesn’t seem like this should even be on the list.
But after reading over a hundred reviews, it seems like people love to hate this show.
This is a good story, but don’t take it too seriously. You’ll get a lot more out of this if you think of it as a comedy.
19. Kengan Ashura
So, remember how I said that betting is also a form of gambling?
Well, this show is from the point of view of the people who are being bet on. Strange way of putting it, but hear me out.
Kengan is really good at one thing, which is fighting. Violence that proves that “Yes, it does matter.”
The bloodshed shows how horrible people can be. Basically, they make people fight to the death and bet on who will live.
This is just a fun show to watch until you realize, “Hey, people really do this.”
Then it’s just sad, to tell you the truth.
There are “cute girls doing cute things” anime in every single field.
You probably can’t picture a cute anime girl doing this, but it happens in Saki.
And I know that most people don’t watch gambling anime because they think it’s cute.
But I can assure you that Saki is worth your time.
Just two words before you laugh: season zero.
Here’s another one that doesn’t seem to fit at first. Yu-Gi-Oh! is a kids’ show, but you can’t tell me that a card game where you can lose your soul isn’t a great fit for this list!
This one, on the other hand, is more fun because, unlike the ones that come after it, it doesn’t deal with the harsh truth of loans and debt.
Yu-Gi-Oh! is another card game. Season 0 is a lot more mature and has a lot more to do with gaming.
Really, there are gaming matches where people burn to death or fall into pits of… well, you should just check it out.
This got dark quickly…
16. Dorei-ku The Animation
This tries too hard to be like Baccano!
And I don’t think it works.
But if we look at it without any other things in mind, it’s pretty good.
There are a lot of different games to play in Dorei-Ku, but they all have the same stake: if you lose, you become a sl*ve.
That’s a really bad example of what can happen when you do something wrong.
15. Hikaru no Go
Even though there are no bets in this entry, Hikaru no Go fits here because Go is still a gambling game (and a pretty good one).
And in this case, we have a little shounen “spice” in the form of an old Go player’s spirit who helps our main character.
Hikaru no Go has a lot of character growth and drama, like a shounen, but it still follows the traditional rules of Go.
But you don’t have to worry, because the show explains Go pretty well. Watch the first show and tell us what you think.
14. C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
Now listen to me.
This may not seem like a “gambling” anime very much, but at its heart, it is.
Gambling is not just about money. Freedom and lives are sometimes at risk.
I heard different things about this, but I liked it.
So I’d say give it a try. You never know, you might win the big prize.
13. Joker Game
Really, if this was a list of the top ten Production I.G. works, I wouldn’t put this anywhere near the top.
Compared to other things, this isn’t very interesting. But from a gaming point of view, this is a treat.
It’s possible that this show takes itself too seriously. And it might not meet Production I.G. works’ base level.
But there is also a message and poker.
In the Joker Game, the whole point is to trick each other by working together (sometimes without your partner knowing). And the real reason to work together is…well, to beat everyone else.
A simple game meant to show how easy it is to trick someone and how easy it is to beat someone together.
Not something you have to watch, but it will keep you busy.
12. Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku: The Legend of Koizumi
Yes, there are laughs in both gambling shows and OVAs.
This 3-episode show is funny because “the world’s greatest” (not Elon, sorry) plays mahjong to decide what will happen to us “plebeians.”
At first, it might seem silly. Believe me, it is.
But when you take it apart, it looks like (supposedly) this is a form of social satire. Like how the decisions of the world leader are as random as a game of mahjong.
But instead, it makes for a great joke that sounds like a crazy dream.
11. March Comes In like a Lion
Okay, this may not make any sense at all, but the idea of the story is that Rei is a professional shogi player.
Gambling itself might not be the main point of the story. Instead, it might be the relationships between the characters.
But it’s a side story that comes up a lot, which is enough to keep gaming fans interested.
This show lets you see yourself in the mindless top shogi player Rei, but not by making him blank (cough Parallel World Rhapsody cough) or too powerful and edgy (cough SAO cough) but by making him… well, normal.
Oda Teruasa is gifted with smarts, looks, and wealth, making him the perfect scion of the powerful Oda Group.
However, his life is tossed into disarray after getting caught up in a nightmarish game with the son of the Belmont mafia family.
9. Mahjong Hishouden: Naki no Ryu
Welp, here we’ve got even more mahjong.
I really didn’t realize how famous it was until I started making this list.
This series isn’t very well-known, but when I looked through Reddit posts, I saw that a lot of people like it.
So, yes, it does deserve to be loved.
Please do watch it. The OVA is pretty fun, and you’ll know pretty quickly if this is for you or not.
8. One Outs
Now, this makes me happy.
A true standard that many people love and no one hates.
This is a simple anime about sports… or what?
It’s easy to play:
The mc will get five million yen for every “out” he throws. But he will lose fifty million yen for every “run” he gives up.
A risky bet, wouldn’t you say?
But the main character loves this kind of game, so he agrees.
So let’s see what it takes to turn around a losing baseball team when millions of dollars are at stake.
In One Outs, only the audience wins.
Usogui is the first of the classics and all-time favorites that everyone knows and loves.
In this show, gambling is so common that a group has to keep an eye on the judges.
In the world of Usogui, there is a group called Kagerou.
Basically, a group of neutral, independent officials whose job it is to make sure no one cheats.
And I’ll be damned if I don’t think cheating here would be a big deal.
People truly bet their lives on a game of poker!
6. Gin to Kin
Morita has trouble finding success, and he takes his frustrations out in gambling.
One day, he meets Ginji, who is a fixer with connections to the underground.
This new world is filled high-stakes gambling and people corrupted by greed.
5. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya
Mahjong is the game of choice in yet another?
Legendary Gambler Tetsuya is one of the oldest anime in this genre. It first aired in October 2000 and is still thought to be the best of its kind.
This show shows cheating, which is a pretty true part of gambling.
People do cheat, and they always will.
But this show is smart about how it all works, which makes it stand out. Even anime fans who don’t bet will find it very interesting to watch.
Even though the style and voice acting are old, you should still watch this gem. It is really great, the gold prize of gambling games.
4. Liar Game
Nao Kanzaki is an honest college girl who receives a mysterious package containing 100 million yen and a note stating she is a contestant in the Lair Game Tournament.
The game revolves around obtaining another contestant’s money, with the loser bearing a debt equal to their loss. When Nao’s money is stolen, she asks a con man named Shinichi Akiyama to help her retrieve it.
After defeating their first opponent, the duo vows to advance through the tournament to free their opponents from their debt and to defeat the Liar Game organization.
3. Akagi: Yami ni Oritatta Tensai
But, really, Akagi is a real beast when it comes to showing us the bad side of society.
Every episode makes the risks feel real, whether it’s crippling debt or betting everything you have just to live another day.
Well, why isn’t Akagi in first place?
Because the person who made Akagi has something even better in store for us…
2. Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
Pretty much everyone agrees that Kakegurui is “The” gambling show. It’s an original Netflix show that really took off in the community.
Mostly because the bets and events can be so outlandish.
Now, I’m not one to watch these kinds of shows.
I like well-thought-out plans and a lot at stake. But I couldn’t just ignore how popular the show is; I had to watch it.
And to be honest, it is a lot of fun to watch these kids throw around huge amounts of money.
Even if I’m not in a hurry, this feels good. And I’m all for it, so I hope you are too.
1. Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
I don’t think anyone is shocked or upset by this choice.
Kaiji is a really great show that shows all the sadness and evil that can come from being in debt.
Kaiji gives us the feeling that the main character could lose.
It really makes us wonder, “What’s next?”
And I think it does this better than just about everything else.
I can’t say enough about how good this show is. It gets a solid 11/10 in every way. If I remember right, you should go watch all three parts of Kaiji.
Check out MAL reviews to see what other people think about this. You’ll soon understand what I mean!