Review: Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen

 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)

Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen Episode 26 [Final]

The Future is In Our Hands

Mimi: Just what I wanted to see—Kaiji getting his friends out and having a manly tear fiesta…even though he’s, uh, broke again. GRRR Endou!!! *adds him to my hate list* You know, it’s actually kinda sad that Kaiji won’t be friends with him or that other guy, after all they’ve been through. But whatever. The 45ers are back!!! T_T I just loved this ending. Kaiji is a remarkable friend. In the end, I didn’t need to see Ichijou get tortured in the underground to feel satisfied (though that would have been a great bonus). Warm and fuzzy manly tears FTW!

Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen Episode 24 & 25

Silver Balls, Back and Forth

Tears of Resentment

Mimi: Episode 24 is by far the most…painful one to watch. Who wants to see Kaiji lose his mind, beg Ichijou for a draw, and get slapped around by him? Jeezus! Just imagine how you’d feel after marathoning the entire series in one day! I think I’d be losing my own sanity. So, Ichijou plays one last dirty trick by activating a wind barrier around the winning hole… Why that—

Seriously. As of now, Ichijou makes #1 on my most hated anime character list. Congratulations, Ichijou! You should feel proud of yourself. =D

So, do you remember Kaiji’s old buddy who suddenly disappeared on us? He makes a pretty nice comeback in episode 25, giving Kaiji more “borrowed” money to continue the game. Oh, and one must not forget his tearful manly speech about that evil pachinko machine killing so many men. T_T

I’m not sure whether to be happy or disappointed at the end of this game…  Yes, Kaiji finally wins because hundreds of balls pile onto the third tray, forcing their way into the winning hole. But then…Hyuodou figures that Kaiji still has 1,050 more years of hard labor left anyway, so they’re sending him back underground… Excuse me while I go to another room and scream my head off. ^_^

**Edit: Whoops, I misunderstood the very ending. I’m happy now~ C:

Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen Episode 22

The Might of Benjamin

Mimi: Oh my God… I just want to see a stupid ball fall through the winning hole in the demonic third tray already!! *bangs head against wall* Seriously, this episode is frustrating, with another one of Kaiji’s plans backfiring on him. It was brilliant that the double tilt caused all the balls to pile up so he could get past the first and second tray, but that third one is a real pain in the a–. Not sure how many balls he has left, but he needs enough on the third tray to cause accidents, or maybe Ichijou’s forward tilt will screw up his own plan. I know that Kaiji and Endou have to win somehow… It’s just that watching their mental anguish really kills me sometimes, and this is getting dragged out so long. x_x

Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen Episode 21

Certain Victory

Mimi: Kaiji’s girlfriend is…very creepy. Anyway…

If anything, this episode just makes me hate Ichijou even more. He distastefully rubs it in when Kaiji loses, but fortunately, not all hope is lost. It turns out that Endou has just enough money left in reserve for Kaiji to give the Bog another shot. It takes some very strong convincing and a waterfall of manly tears for him to give up his last dime, and he too entrusts his entire life to Kaiji (eh, unless he wasn’t playing dirty with that contract). I can’t possibly fathom the weight on his shoulders.

Interestingly, both Kaiji and Ichijou notice something in the machine that would give them the upper edge. I just can’t wait for Kaiji to turn the tables by pulling his last brilliant trick, and for Ichijou to face Hyoudou’s wrath. >:3

Kaiji: Hakairoku Hen Episode 20

Crossroads of Fate

Mimi: Has anyone ever seen Kaiji: The Ultimate Gambler (2009)? This episode starts out with a few clips from that and the upcoming second film. I don’t really watch that many live-action films adapted from anime or manga, but this one really caught my interest. Besides, I don’t think I can pass on the same actor of Yagami Light playing as Kaiji. It should also be interesting to review a live-action film, hehe.

Anyway, it’s about time that Ichijou gets his background a little fleshed out. We see how he had to suck up to Hyoudou to get where he is, having to do some pretty nasty stuff like drinking a bowl of wine after Hyoudou soaked his dirty feet in it. Ew ew ew. This episode doesn’t really make me feel sorry for the guy because of his personality, but getting into his frenzied mind does make the game feel more intense. At the same time, I can’t help but laugh a little. Everyone’s life depends on a single ball, after all. Ichijou tilts the plates further back to screw up Kaiji’s plan, which seems to be working for now. But I think luck will be back on Kaiji’s side.