Winner Take All: Three Times Gambling Made An Appearance In Anime

Posted on July 21, 2017
Tags: Opinion

Patchinko” (CC BY-NC 2.0) by rolleh

Japan is no stranger to gambling. If you’ve ever visited a Japanese city, chances are you’ve seen bright signs trying to pull you into noisy, smoke-filled buildings. These colorful parlors are home to one of the most famous forms of gambling in Japan, known as Pachinko, a pinball-like game where the objective is to catch metal balls in specific slots.

In bigger cities like Tokyo, there seem to be Pachinko parlors on every corner, but just as popular as this form of gambling in the land of the rising sun is, as most of us know, anime. In many cases, Pachinko parlors and the machines themselves will often use anime imagery to garner attention from people passing by, a marriage that seems successful, judging by the amount of patrons in these locations. Even online casinos have blended the two forms of entertainment. On Guts casino, where the slogan is “play online casino games if you have Guts“, there’s a game called Legend of the White Snake Woman. The game is both drawn in the cartoon style and based on the Japanese folktale that praises white snakes and the good fortune they bring.

But just as anime has found a place in gambling, how often has gambling been showcased in anime? Well, to anime based solely off of the concept of betting it all to some more popular anime showcasing a quick wager here and there, there’s plenty to choose from, but here are some of the more notable entries that made our list. Place your bets now on what they might be!

King Kai Bets on Goku in the Other World Tournament

It’s one thing to put some money at stake but another thing entirely to wager your freedom, but King Kai does just that when he bets West Kai that his fighter, Goku, will beat his rival’s champion, Pikkon. The prize on offer? West Kai’s planet is taken away if he loses, but if he wins, King Kai has to be the former’s slave. Talk about confidence!
Then again, it’s not every day that you can bet on the strongest Saiyan of all time. And luckily the match ended in a draw when both fighters touched the ceiling. Nothing gained; nothing lost. If given the chance, most people would put some money down on the DBZ legend. You’d just make sure he wasn’t going up against Superman. We’ve all seen how that ends.

Kogoro Mouri and His Off-the-Job Hobby

Source: Ran Mouri on Twitter

One of the most popular anime/manga in Japan, Conan, features the comic relief “sleeping detective” known as Kogoro Mouri. While most people in the show recognize him as a legendary detective, a title Mouri-san earned solely because of Conan, he is actually more of a gambler than a crime fighter. In many episodes, we can see the moustachioed man spending his time playing Pachinko. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses, but of two things we can be certain: Given the opportunity, he’ll always test his luck in the Pachinko parlor and by the end of most investigations, Conan will use him as his own personal puppet. We’d gamble, too, if we were literally solving cases in our sleep.

Kaiji: The Anime Based on a Legendary Gambler
This is going to be the lesser-known anime of the bunch, but it has the most to do with high stakes. The character that the anime gets its name after likes to play it fast and loose. According to a synopsis on, he always wins enough money to keep putting chips on the table. When offered the chance to join a casino cruise and the ability to win unimaginable amounts of money, he simply can’t resist. But people aren’t just lucky to get off of this cruise with a few extra dollars; they’re lucky to get off alive.

It’s chances like this to win big and an admiration for the sport that puts Kaiji into countless scenarios where he’s pushing his mind to its maximum potential. But it’s his drive as a survivor that lets him escape unharmed after most situations. Kaiji is an anime that focuses on the thrill of being a gambler – a realistic take on something exciting that is rarely portrayed to such extent in other anime.

While most anime might be about super-powered heroes or high schoolers in love, it’s nice to see some shows that take on the topic of such an artform. If you’d like to check out the few other shows like this, be sure to look over the list of gambling cartoons at and see if anything catches your eye. You might be inspired to play a hand or two!

Article written by Jason O’Shea