When you think of anime, you see epic battles and young teenagers with god-like super-human abilities. However, what if I told you that there’s a niche known as gambling anime, which is one of the most unique hidden niches in anime.
Yeah, anime about gambling isn’t as widespread as your usual shounen and seinen anime. However, they’ve got some of the most dedicated anime fans, and their stories are super unique and are usually gambling-related. On the plus side of being a small niche, there are not as many bad gambling anime out there.
While most other anime series choose to focus on their worlds and their characters getting developed into superheroes. The best gambling anime choose to focus on their characters’ personalities, and how they are at problem-solving. So, without much further ado, let’s get right into our curated list of the ten best gambling animes that all anime fans should definitely watch right now in 2021!
10. March Comes in Like a Lion
The story revolves around our protagonist Rei Kiriyama, a young boy who has reached the status of an elite Shogi player. Now, the thing about Shogi is that he’s very anxious and always stressed, he has an immense amount of pressure from both the Shogi community and his adoptive family. The only solace he finds is when he moves to an apartment in Tokyo by himself.
However, as a 17-year-old who lives alone; Rei barely takes care of himself at all, and his reclusive personality leads to a ton of bullying and mental health issues. However, after a chance encounter with three sisters and their grandfather, Rei’s life begins to slowly change as his loneliness and his lifestyle begin to change with the help of the Kawamoto sisters.
Now, admittedly this anime might be more about Rei than it is about gambling. However, if you’re looking for a gambling-related anime then this is definitely it. It showcases the ins and outs of the gambling community, through the eyes of an elite shogi player. It also showcases the mental toll that professional gambling takes on a player, and it focuses a lot on the character of Rei’s real-life outside of it as well.
Due to her young age; Saki Miyanaga has a deep hatred for anything Mahjong-related. She does like to play mahjong, but she keeps a low profile just so people don’t recognize her playing it. However, one day she is dragged to the school’s mahjong club by her friend Kyoutarou Suga.
There she meets Nodoka Haramura and Yuuki Kataoka, Nodoka being the champion of the national middle school mahjong competition, and Yuuki being a fellow member of the club! As she plays a few rounds with the mahjong club, her talent is quickly recognized by the mahjong club’s president.
Now that her true potential was on display, Saki is made to join the club and become friends with Nodoka. The story revolves around Saki and Nodoka’s friendship and how they begin to dominate the world of national middle-school mahjong!
8. Akagi: The Genius Who Descended into Darkness
Continuing the trend of Mahjong-related anime, this legendary gambling anime chooses to focus on the darker sides of the world that contains illegal gambling rackets. Nangou’s compulsive gambling addiction has managed to throw him in a huge debt of over three million yen. Now, Nangou’s got no other choice but to put his life on the line.
In an attempt to clear the debt, he throws; Nangou bets his life in exchange for clearance of the debt on him. Though, unfortunate for him; he is super close to losing. However, when it seems like his fate is sealed; a young boy named Shigeru Akagi runs into the parlor. Desperate for any attempt at surviving to see tomorrow, Nangou hands Akagi the deck and asks him to play in his stead.
The mafia sees this as a clear win, however, Akagi’s natural gambling and the ability to win anything saves Nangou’s life. Now that he owes his life to Akagi, they both join hands and decide to make Akagi one of the most legendary gamblers in the history of mankind.
His natural talent, combined with Nangou’s experience makes them an inseparably powerful pair in the world of high-stakes gambling. This series capitalizes on the stories of the darkest sides of the gambling anime world. It’s a romp, and everyone should definitely check this series out!
7. Rio: Rainbow Gate!
The Howard Resort Hotel is the setting of this gambling anime, which is a place where people travel to; in hopes to make everlasting fortunes. The casino is popular for a beautiful dealer, her name is Rio Rollins and she’s known all around the gambling world as the “Goddess of Victory”.
Her entire goal is to get closer to her mother, who is one of the most legendary gamblers of all time. Rio collects these peculiar legendary cards known as “gates”. In hopes to collect all thirteen of the legendary gate cards and become an MCVD (Most Valuable Casino Dealer), she does her job day in and day out in exciting dealing battles.
This is a thrilling gambling anime series for the fans of this genre! Managing to be extremely funny, light-hearted and at unexpected times super-emotional, Rio: Rainbow Gate is one of the absolute highest quality gambling anime out there!
6. No Game, No Life
No Game No Life’s story focuses on the shut-in siblings’ Sora and Shiro, who are a terrifying online gamer duo using the code word “Blank.” Their view of the real world is abstract, thinking of it as the most boring game to play. Their lives as a shut-in duo are going great, they’re lonely, tired, and bored all the time; until an email changes their entire life.
This email challenges them to a chess match, which upon opening; throws them into a whole different Isekai world where they meet Tet, the God of Games. Welcomed to the Disboard, a whole new world where the entirety of economical, radical, and physical conflicts is solved not through violence or diplomacy; but through betting on the highest stake games there are.
This system of law-making and rule-keeping unites the two siblings and brings the much-needed thrill of playing games back into their lives. Now, their goal is to reunite all of the sixteen races that live within Disboard and to defeat Tet so that they could successfully take over his world.
Truly conquering this world, becoming the Gods of the game is their only mission, and they will see to it that they’re successful! This modern anime is one of the most fun to watch, and one of the weirdest representations of gambling in anime that I have ever come across!
5. One Piece Film: Gold
This is the first movie and the only one on our list! Monkey D. Luffy and the Straw Hat Crew have been on hundreds of adventures, however, none so gambling-related as this! Their adventures finally lead them to the Gran Tesoro, a ship that hosts the largest entertainment city in the world right within it.
The crew’s entire motivation is to find the jackpot, so their escapades within the casino begin to run rampant. Their seemingly endless luck leads them to acquire a winning streak larger than they have ever gotten.
However, a stroke of luck that seems so endless does come with repercussions. In this case, it was the Gild Tesoro, the master of the casino who somehow scams the crew by making them believe he would help them make a ton of berries!
Now, with nothing else left to do and everything they made in the Casino taken away from them; the crew realizes that there’s something darker lounging beneath the depths of the entertainment city. Their only goal is to reclaim what they made back, and their only plan is a gamble!
This movie is for all the One Piece fans out there, who want to watch something related to gambling. This movie has a ton of casino games, and the classic One Piece humor and the One Piece action all in the same place!
4. One Outs
Toua Tokuchi is a professional athlete by day, however at heart; his entire life he’s always been a gambler. Living in Okinawa, he has nothing but his superhuman intellect and his mean “fastball” that he throws at 134 Kilometers per hour. He has achieved 499 wins in a toned-down version of baseball called “One Outs”; which revolves around the pitcher, and the batter, and no one in between.
However, one day his extreme talent for One Outs leads him into the eyes of a popular slugger that recruits him for his team known as the Saikyou Saitama Lycaons. In hopes that Toua will lead them to win championships, the Lyacons’ slugger puts him to the test and hopes that Toua will rise to the challenge.
Now you might be wondering where the gambling aspect of this anime is? Well, Toua puts his entire wages in a gamble when he challenges the leader of the Lycaons that upon each one out, he’ll earn 5 million yen, and upon each run that is made while he’s pitching; he’ll lose 50 million yen…
One Outs focuses on many other aspects of the gambling world than just the casual gambling that most choose to showcase. It showcases gambling from the point of view of a player, who is putting everything he makes on the line because he believes in his ability to win! This constant psychological battle that Toua fights, is what makes this series one of the best gambling anime of all time.
3. Death Parade
Death Parade is a peculiar little gambling anime. Originally it was a one-shot short snippet; however, it was recreated as a full series. Many people were scared that this would be a bad gambling anime, but to most people’s surprise it turned out to be one of the most unique anime of all time!
After death, people are sent to a bar which is where they put their life on the gamble. Putting their life on the line within this bar, they are faced with the attendant who will provide those challenges. These challenges will have pairs competing against one another to win; whoever wins will get a chance at reincarnation and the losers meet only oblivion.
The games are quite random, from bowling to darts, some even play mahjong and some play chess, or even a quick game of air hockey perhaps! Quindecim is the place, where your future will be decided by the arbiter of the afterlife, Decime.
Death Parade is a super dark gambling anime, and it had no manga series prior to its creation. It’s a completely original creation of its own and has one of the most unique art styles in all of anime.
The only thing that you should know before you invest any time into this series is that it is DARK, it has a ton of violence; even more so than death note and it has a main protagonist that you might not agree with. Despite its setbacks, Death Parade is by far one of the best gambling anime of all time.
2. Gyakkyo Burai Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor
Kaiji Itou’s life revolves around being a loser. He essentially lazes about the entirety of the day, doing nothing, drinking alcohol, and stealing things. One day, however, he is tricked by an old colleague of his, which throws him into a huge gambling debt that he has to pay for all by himself.
However, Kaiji is offered to take part in underground gambling games, on a cruise ship that turns out to be the next hell he’s thrown into. Now, Kaiji’s thrown into a dark deceitful mind mockery of gambling, illegal gambling, cheating to win, and his very own survival.
This anime is based on the very first famous manga of the same name. This manga series written by Nobuyuki Fukumoto follows Kaiji’s luck as it consistently runs out during this hard gamble of life that he leads.
The anime television series blows the manga right out of the water with its consistency in both the art, the voice acting, and the amazing story structure. It’s a series that has managed to push the source material comic book right out and has become a must-watch!
Hyakkaou Private Academy is one of the most unique schools in the world, this school prides itself on preparing its students for the real world. Being home to some of the richest and most elite students in the world, this school has facilities that are beyond regularity.
At first glance; it’s a normal school teaching the students about languages, history, and sciences but by night; it turns into the most despicable gambling den. Teaching its students the art of dealing money, manipulating people, and winning by any means necessary. The school’s hierarchy within the student council revolves entirely around winning and making as much money off of gambling as possible. The more you win, the higher your social status is.
Yumeko Jamabi’s admittance into Hyakkaou will test her naïve and kind nature, as she tries her hand at toppling the hierarchy at the school. Though there is one thing that they don’t know about Yumeko; she’s kind of insane and has a ton of gambling skills! She is a compulsive gambler who plays not to win, but for the thrill of the gamble and she’s willing to bet anything on the line just to come out on top!
Kakegurui is one of the most unique anime out there, not to mention that it is easily the best gambling anime I’ve ever come across. It has high-quality voice acting, some of the best art styles, and incredibly smooth animation to back it up.
Compulsive Gambler’s story follows Yumeko as she descends deeper and deeper into the school’s weird curriculum, both education, and gambling-wise! This anime grips you unlike anything else out there, and it doesn’t let go!
The third season has just been announced, so there’s no better time to catch up on Compulsive Gambler than now and make no mistake; this is a must-watch!
To close this article off, I’d just like to state some honorable mentions. Such as Legendary Gambler Tetsuya, Death Note, Joker Game, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’s Stardust Crusaders, and one of my personal favorites that I absolutely enjoy watching; C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control.
This was our highly curated list of the absolute best gambling anime. These Japanese series have by far the best representations of any card game or gamble of any kind out there.