When we talk about anime shows that have surprised us the most, gambling series are often at the top of our list. Here’s why: When you introduce the game of chance in anime—a world where anything can happen— the result is some of the most genius storylines and plot twists that keep you guessing until the very end. The fun for us anime fans lies in the thrill of competition and maybe a tiny bit of schadenfreude when someone loses big. With that in mind, here are our top five picks for the most epic gambling anime series.
1. One Outs:
The challenge to achieve the impossible, the fight against long odds, and the tyrannical owner who only wishes to use Tokuchi as a means to generate income—welcome to the world of One Outs. The anime follows the life of Toa Tokuchi, a brilliant, yet reckless gambler who makes a deal with the owner of a struggling baseball team to help them win games and make tons of money in the process. The deal is that for every out that Tokuchi makes, he will get five million Yen in return, sounds easy enough right? Well, there is one catch—for every run that he gives up, he will lose fifty million Yen! One Outs has rightfully earned a top spot among the gambling anime out there. This is a show that doesn’t rely too much on luck, nor does it turn people into gods who can instantly read a situation and make the correct move. One Outs is a character-driven anime, and that’s what makes it so perfect for every gambling enthusiast.
- Aired: Oct 8, 2008 – Apr 1, 2009
- Episodes: 25
- IMDb Rating: 8.3/10
- Availability: Netflix (Japan)
2. Death Parade:
Imagine you died and found yourself in the afterlife. You were told that your next destination depended entirely on what happened in a series of dice tosses or card games, with no mention of how hard you took the Lord’s name in vain. What would you do? In Deah Parade, patrons who have met their end find themselves transported to a bar called Quindecim where they face off a mysterious bartender named Decim, who places them in games of wits for the simple sake of seeing whether or not their souls are worthy of reincarnation into a better life, or if they should be disintegrated into nothingness. As you can imagine, the games get pretty intense and messy, but the consequences are always worth it. Each episode has a lesson to impart to its viewers; some are subtle, like the importance of forgiveness, some are blatant, like the dangers of promiscuity. Whatever your favorite message is when you tune into Death Parade, you can be sure it will force you to examine your own sense of morality and your place in this world which makes it one of the most thought-provoking shows on this list.
- Aired: Jan 9, 2015 – Mar 27, 2015
- Episodes: 12
- IMDb Rating: 7.9/10
- Availability: Hulu/Amazon Prime
3. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders
As strange as it may seem, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders is less about adventure and way more than weird. The experience down the rabbit hole will leave you with a question mark in your head, but trust me when I say that’s just the beginning of the madness. After all, this show is about an alien baby and a dude named Dio who is somehow able to see into the future. Stardust Crusaders adapts Araki Hirohiko’s manga of the same name and takes place in 1989 where we meet Jotaro Kujo, the grandson of Joseph Joestar. After discovering he has a Stand (a bizarre ability), Jotaro finds out that his mother also has one due to family origins (and isn’t normal…at all). It turns out that Dio is to blame for such development and so our hero goes on a crusade to rid of his influence. Wondering where gambling comes in? In one of their story arcs, Jotaro takes on a mysterious man and his evil brother in a poker game for the souls of Joseph, the main character’s grandfather, and everyone else who lost to the pair of gamblers. It sounds ridiculous because it is—to an extent. A cross between The Lord of the Rings and your twisted nightmares, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventures: Stardust Crusaders is a thrill ride. It’s like the whole world has gone crazy and nothing makes sense anymore. Yet, it’s intriguing and amusingly charming. The show is addicting, over-the-top, and hard to stop watching once you get hooked.
- Aired: Apr 5, 2014 – June 20, 2015
- Episodes: 48
- IMDb Rating: 8.5/10
- Availability: Crunchyroll
Welcome to Hyakkaou Private Academy, an institution for the privileged with a very peculiar curriculum. You see, when you’re the sons and daughters of the wealthiest of the wealthy, it’s not athletic prowess or book smarts that keep you ahead. It’s reading your opponent; the art of the deal. What better way to hone those skills than with a rigorous curriculum of gambling? Kakegurui takes this strange premise of a school dedicated to teaching students how to gamble and turns it into a brutal, exhilarating farce. Yumeko Jabami is a newcomer at the academy and a compulsive gambler who loves taking risks that could bring her all she wants—or ruin her completely. She’s come to Hyakkaou to join the high-stakes gamble where the winners live lives of opulence and glamour and the losers are forced to be “house pets” and drilled into submission. Her adrenaline-fueled thirst for thrills may just bring too many twists for the students to handle. Oh yeah, and her eyes turn red whenever she’s excited, so there’s that too. The show is a super-powered anime if you’re into betting, and can’t get enough of flashy anime action. Based on the manga of the same name, it blends genres to create a winning formula. Kakegurui works hard to earn its spot as an anime addict must-watch.
- Aired: July 1, 2017 – Mar 26, 2019
- Episodes: 24 (2 seasons)
- IMDb Rating: 7.2/10
- Availability: Netflix
5. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya:
After the defeat of World War II, Japan must rebuild itself. But money is in short supply, and the only way to make a living is to play mahjong. Tetsuya, a young man who makes a living off of gambling, thinks that he can never lose. But when he loses his cash to a cheater, he realizes that if he wants to survive, he’ll have to learn how to cheat as well. Legendary Gambler Tetsuya is a mahjong anime based on an autobiographical novel by Takehiro Irokawa. If you’ve never played mahjong before, it’s like a cross between gin rummy and poker. But instead of cards, you’re playing with tiles that look like dominoes. In many ways, this show is the best mahjong anime ever made in Japan. The characters are strong, the plot is involved and intriguing, and it provides a solid historical commentary on post-war Japan. The issue with such an approach though is that it takes a while for the anime to hit its stride, and in a way, you might lose interest waiting for that critical point for the plot to kick off but after a while, the gritty plot pace starts growing on you. This gambling anime is great for anyone who enjoys seeing smart people outwit their dumb opponents. Plus, it’s fun to watch Tetsuya’s internal monologue as he does it.
- Aired: Oct 7, 2000 – Mar 24, 2001
- Episodes: 20
- IMDb Rating: 7/10
- Availability: N/A
Anime has a long history of having the audience connect with its characters and this list is no different. Once you start watching these shows, it is almost impossible to stop. You can easily watch them in their original language or you could watch them with anime subtitles. We hope that if you have never watched an anime about gambling before, you will now. And if you are a fan of gambling anime series but we’ve missed some of your favorite ones, we will be looking forward to reading your angry emails.
In case, the mind-boggling plots of some of these anime are too much to handle for you and you would rather check the latest shows, then we would recommend our list of best TV shows on gambling.