Japan has always had a controversial relationship with the gaming world. Not that the country is strictly against it, but many see it as a taboo subject. This has led many directors and producers to view gambling films as the perfect opportunity to add mystery, controversy and adrenaline to their big screen projects.
Today we’ll take a look at which are the top five Japanese gaming movies (in no particular order) and how they influenced both the gaming market and the seventh art.
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Compulsive Gambler – Kakegurui
The first thing that comes to mind when thinking about recent movies dealing with gaming, Eiga: Kakegurui (賭 ケ グ ル イ) certainly comes to mind. In the West, it is known as Compulsive Gambler and is the 2017 live-action animated series film that went by the same name.
The film was directed in 2019 by Tsutomu Hanabusa, who based it on the play anime of Homura Kawamoto and Tôru Nomura.
Kakegurui talks about Hyakaou Academy which rates its students based on their earnings in the gaming world. This is where Yumeko comes in, who besides being gorgeous is quickly becoming the best gaming activity ever, which puts her in conflict with others.
The role of Yumeko is performed exceptionally well by actress Minami Hamabe. She fits the role perfectly to persuade even the most die-hard fans of the original manga series.
Moreover, at the end of May 2021, the next film in the Kakegurui universe will be released, which promises a lot more adrenaline. Let’s see how they’re going to woo us this time around with their gaming skills.
Kaiji: last match
The second film in our small catalog of Japanese gambling films is even more recent. In 2020, Kaiji: Final Game was released. After a good series of previous films, the Kaiji series ends with Final Game to complete a saga that accompanies us throughout the new millennium.
Of course, when it hit theaters in Japan, it drew huge audiences keen to see the end of Kaiji, played by the talented Tatsuya Fujiwara. And compared to the two previous films, Final Game differs in that it is not based on any manga. This is why we can see many more elements of Japanese sports gambling (ス ポ ー ツ ギ ャ ン ブ ル on) on par with casino games, whether legal… or not so legal. This made many fans of the previous two films slightly disappointed with the end of this trilogy. While it is true that for fans of Japanese gambling or even sports gambling, this is a big screen triumph.
In fact, at the gaming level, Kaiji: Final Game brings the greatest gaming adventure, as the protagonist comes face to face with four crucial casino games: “Gold Janken”, “Dream Jump”, “Saigo no Shinpan” and “Babel no Tou. “
Kaiji: the original
We couldn’t just talk about the final film in the trilogy. We must talk about the three! (which spoils the surprise for the following entries).
This exciting and twist-packed film was released as a live-action adaptation of the manga in 2009. Its original name is Gambling Apocalypse: Kaiji. This is the first part of the manga created by Nobuyuki Fukumoto.
The story is quite simple and straightforward. He talks about Kaiji, a postgraduate graduate who can’t find a job and slowly takes on debt. Angry with his situation, our protagonist begins to drink, vandalize cars and, of course, play. This is where the debt collector comes in and gives Kaiji two options. It gives her the chance to pay off her debt over ten years or participate in a night on a game boat to win it all and more. What Kaiji doesn’t know is how dangerous the competition becomes once he enters.
Kaiji 2: the ultimate player
And as you already knew, now is the time to talk about the second part of the trilogy. It was the glorious sequel to Gambling Apocalypse, reissued in 2011 by Tôya Satô, faithfully respecting the manga.
Many fans say that Ultimate Survivor or Ultimate Gambler (depending on each country’s interpretation) is as good as the former or even better. In this sequel, Kaiji finds himself in debt again a year after the original story. This time, he has a depraved debt of 200 million yen, which he will try to alleviate by playing a pachinko machine called The Swamp. This machine, which can even be found at a reliable online casino, carries a jackpot of one million yen.
In online gambling in Japan, pachinko machines are one of the main attractions, being very similar to slot machines. Kaiji is unaware that the machine he is playing on is remotely controlled and never pays the jackpot, which will lead to bigger problems.
The last movie we have here is the legendary Pale Flower, which is undoubtedly considered the best Japanese game movie. Critics and audiences the world over love this 1964 film, made with extreme elegance and attention to detail by Masahiro Shinoda. Also, compared to the anime with the game, Pale Flower is based on the novel written by Shintarô Ishihara.
Pale Flower is about a Yakuza hitman named Muraki, who has just been released from prison. He soon goes to an illegal gambling hall, where he meets a mysterious woman named Saeko, who makes things difficult for Muraki. Together, they begin to travel through the underground worlds of Japan, to make life more difficult for each other.
Even legendary film critic Roger Egbert called this one of the best films of all time, which is more than remarkable.
Ashley Rosa is a freelance writer and blogger. As writing is her passion, which is why she enjoys writing articles related to the latest trends in technology and sometimes also in health technology. She’s crazy about chocolates. You can find her on Twitter: @ ashrosa2.