Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen
Mimi: Kaiji returns in the infamous manly tear drama, ready to torture you along with him. This season is split into two arcs: Chinchiro and Pachinko. After the events in Season 1, Kaiji is working in an underground labor camp, and he plays both games at a chance to gain freedom. To describe them briefly, Chinchiro is a dice game where the player has to get two dice out of three to land on the same number, with the remaining number being that player’s score. Kaiji plays this with a bully whose big nose you just want to punch right away. The second game is totally different from anything we’ve ever seen Kaiji do before. All the player has to do is turn the dial, sit back, and pray for one ball out of several hundred to land in the winning hole. Heh, if only it were that simple.
My biggest complaint for a lot of recent series is that they’re way too short. Well, Kaiji has the opposite problem. The Pachinko arc gets dragged out over 18 episodes, which is more than twice as long as any other game in Kaiji. I wish that S2 included more games or just cut back on the number of episodes because the slow pacing was a little torturous. Aside from that one complaint, I love this show. Kaiji continues to charm us by outwitting his opponents and designing his own schemes. The Chinchiro arc would have to be my favorite because of its dark atmosphere. Kaiji has to deal with the harsh conditions of his new environment and gets bullied by the other workers. And the Pachinko arc, despite how easy it sounds, turns out to be the most clever and wicked. After all, they used up more than half of the season to develop it.
Kaiji has always been about mind games—toying around with the opponents’ psyche. The suspense comes from the characters having “crazy talk” in their heads while fearing for the worst. You just never know what the outcome is going to be. Zawa~ zawa~ However, there are differences in how the suspense works in both seasons due to the style of the games. In S1, Kaiji is forced to undergo life-threatening situations and physical torture. Who can forget the episode about the drill in his ear, which nearly pierced his eardrum? Now that’s what I call suspense! In S2, there’s only one episode where Kaiji gets seriously hurt, and it’s not even used for suspense. In fact, I think that the Pachinko arc sacrificed suspense just to pull off as many clever and dirty tricks as it could…and to torture Kaiji for as long as possible. These differences don’t necessarily make one season better than the other, as it really just depends on what kind of games you prefer. The ending to S2 is a lot more satisfying, though. =)
Of course, one cannot complete a review for Kaiji without mentioning how superb the voice acting and sounds are. I think I’m in love with Kaiji’s VA, Hagiwara Masato. He is best-known for his role in this series, next to Akagi. I would also replay specific scenes over and over just to hear a certain track being played. The OST is a must-have, even if you haven’t watched the show! Here is just one of my favorite songs. It was very hard to pick. D:
The bottom line is: Kaiji rocks. It has always delivered ingenuous game play and intense acting, which make it a thrilling series. After all, who can resist the odd-shaped noses, manly tears, and the overly enthusiastic narrator?
Mimi’s Score: 8 Meeps out of 10 (Very Good)