Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji (賭博黙示録カイジ?, lit. Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji) (also known as "Ultimate Survivor Kaiji") is a Japanese manga series about the art of gambling, written by Nobuyuki Fukumoto. It is published by Kodansha in Young Magazine. The first part of the manga (13 volumes), was adapted as a 26-episode anime television series called Kaiji (カイジ?), which began airing October 2007. Madhouse has revealed that a second season of the anime is planned. A live-action 'Kaiji' movie was released October 10, 2009 in Japan with Tatsuya Fujiwara, most noted for playing Yagami Light in the Death Note live-action, playing the role of Kaiji. Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji is considered Fukumoto's most famous work, and is well known in both Japan and Korea. In 1998, it was the winner of the Kodansha Manga Award in the General category.
After graduating from high school in 1996 in Japan, Itō Kaiji moves to Tokyo to get a job, but he fails to find steady employment because of his eccentric disposition and because the country is mired in its first recession since World War II. Depressed, he festers in his apartment, biding the time with cheap pranks, gambles, liquor and cigarettes. Kaiji is always thinking about money and his perpetual poverty frequently brings him to tears.
Kaiji's unrelenting misery continues for two years until he is paid an unexpected visit from a man named Endō, who wants to collect an outstanding debt owed to him in Kaiji's name. Endō gives Kaiji two options - either spend ten years to repay this outstanding debt, or board the gambling ship Espoir ("hope" in French) for one night to clear the debt. Using a con, Endō pressures Kaiji into accepting the deal, believing he will never come back from the voyage.
- Kaiji Itō (伊藤開司 Itō Kaiji?)
- Voiced by: Masato Hagiwara
- The main character of the story. Kaiji is in poverty - he lives by himself in a slum and is constantly in debt. He bides his time by playing cheap gambling games with neighbors, though he always loses. In spite of this, when his life is in danger, he displays a remarkable hidden capacity for gambling, which allows him to endure the hardships he faces in the manga. He is shouldered with a 3,850,000 yen debt at the beginning of the story by a coworker who convinced him into consigning a loan, leaving Kaiji with the full weight of the debt compounded over a year.
- Masato Hagiwara, the voice of Akagi Shigeru reprises his role as lead in the second anime adaption of a Nobuyuki Fukumoto work, opposite Masane Tsukayama who again plays an elderly, refined villain.
- Kazutaka Hyōdō (兵藤和尊 Hyōdō Kazutaka?)
- Voiced by: Masane Tsukayama
- Wealthy socialite and president of the powerful financial consulting firm "Teiai" (帝愛 "Love Emperor"?), not to mention owner and sponsor of underground gambling tournaments like those onboard Espoir. He is believed to be seventy years old and worth several hundred billion yen. Driven mad by wealth, conventional hobbies fail to entertain him, so he funds gambling tournaments to watch the destitute of society struggle against overwhelming terror and despair.
- He meets Kaiji in the final segment of the first series of manga, where Kaiji is selected by lottery to compete in the "Castle of Despair". Hyōdō's talents for winning in anything have earned him the title of "king" by some, though others merely call him "very lucky". His first full manga appearance was in volume 8 - prior to that, all readers saw of Hyōdō was his finger tapping.
- In many ways, Hyōdō is quite similar to Washizu Iwao, who was also voiced by Masane Tsukayama.
- Yūji Endō (遠藤勇次 Endō Yūji?)
- Voiced by: Naoya Uchida
- A dirty loan shark with ties to the yakuza. He lends out large sums of money to the desperate, but charges an absurd (and illegal) interest rate. He tracks down Kaiji after a client of his, Furuhata, disappeared without repaying a loan, which Kaiji cosigned in an act of weakness. Recognizing Kaiji could never repay the loan, Endō offers him the opportunity to board the gambling ship Espoir, where he would be able repay his debt and make some money as well.
Part 1 - The Ship of Hope, Espoir
- Jōji Funai (船井譲次 Funai Jōji?)
- Voiced by: Hideo Ishikawa
- One of the veterans of previous voyages on Espoir, Funai is an excellent conman and uses the fears and worries of the other competitors to his advantage. He "befriends" Kaiji during his first night and explains the unofficial rules to him, and the two agree to form an alliance - both will exhaust their number of gesture cards without having to lose any star pendants. However, at the last minute, Funai backstabs Kaiji and scams him out of two star pendants, leaving him with a single card and a hopeless situation. He is defeated by Kaiji and loses five star pendants to him in a sudden death gamble near the end of the voyage. In many ways, he is similar to Urabe from Akagi.
- Takeshi Furuhata (古畑武志 Furuhata Takeshi?)
- Voiced by: Yasunori Matsumoto
- Debtor and one-time coworker of Kaiji. One year before the first tournament on Espoir, he lured Kaiji into cosigning a loan for him, making Kaiji liable in case Furuhata did not repay the loan. Although believed to have disappeared, Kaiji discovers him on Espoir and makes an alliance with him after Funai's betrayal. Furuhata is the sharper of Kaiji's allies, and is able to follow and quickly adapt to Kaiji's strategies. He is also more honest and loyal than any would have believed. However, Furuhata also betrays Kaiji and attempts to use his funds to escape the ship.
- Mamoru Andō (安藤守 Andō Mamoru?)
- Voiced by: Toshiharu Sakurai
- A bespectacled, fat man who forms and alliance with Kaiji and Furuhata after losing all of his gesture cards. Unlike Furuhata, Andō is more opportunistic and tried to backstab the group within minutes of it forming. He usually has to have Kaiji's strategies explained to him by Furuhata. After the gamble of Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors ends, he betrays Kaiji, and has no regrets about it.
- Kitami (北見?)
- Voiced by: Kazuki Yao
- A clear-headed man who came up with a strategy of buying up all the rock cards and holding them constant; as the other cards deplete, he and his men then prey on those who have scissors. However, he was surprised to learn that Kaiji discovered the same strategy and purchased all the rocks, so in turn he purchased all the paper cards, effectively making Kaiji's strategy useless. After defeating Andō and Furuhata, Kitami approaches Kaiji and admits he was impressed another contestant figured how to manipulate the game, offering him the honor of being his final opponent. He is outsmarted by Kaiji, then blackmailed into selling all of his paper cards to him.
Part 2 - The Skyscraper of Darkness, Starside Hotel
- Kōji Ishida (石田光司 Ishida Kōji?)
- Voiced by: Hiroshi Yanaka
- A debt-ridden man who opted to participate on Espoir in an effort to clear his debts, but failed. He was saved from death on a whim by Kaiji, but to spare his wife and son from debt he agreed to participate in another gambling tournament, the Human Derby. In the first leg of the race, Ishida accomplished second place, earning a certificate redeemable for 10,000,000¥. During the second part of the race, while overcome by immense fear, Ishida recognized that he was not a man born to be a success in this world, and entrusted his certificate to Kaiji, who he felt had the skill, power and confidence to survive. He urges Kaiji to go forward and not look back, and while Kaiji is concentrating on maintaining his balance, Ishida falls from the steel bridge, covering his mouth so Kaiji would not hear his screams.
- Sahara (佐原?)
- Voiced by: Komoto Masahiro
- Kaiji's younger co-worker at a convenience store he found employment at following his survival of Espoir. Sahara dreams of finding his big break in life, and like Kaiji feels he is getting nowhere with his dead-end job. He begs Endō to permit him to participate in the Human Derby, despite warnings from Kaiji. Sahara's youthful strength and impulsiveness benefit him greatly in the gamble, and he gets a strong lead on the other racers, earning first place in Kaiji's block and receiving a certificate redeemable for 20,000,000¥. In the second leg of the race, Sahara is the first to reach the other side of the second bridge - however, before he can cash his earnings from the Starside Hotel, he falls into a trap set up by Kazutaka Hyōdō and is killed.
- Yukio Tonegawa (利根川幸雄 Tonegawa Yukio?)
- Voiced by: Hakūryū
- A powerful business magnate and the third highest ranking executive in the financial firm Love Emperor. He serves as the host and overseer for both the Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissor and Human Derby games while acting as the opponent for the E-Card gamble. A stout man of middle-age, Tonegawa is a staunch realist, believing those who risk their lives in Love Emperor's tournaments to be street trash at the mercy of society and those with superior abilities and initiative. By reputation Tonegawa is a master of human psychology and the art of observation, displaying acts of insight so profound his abilities appear supernatural. He is defeated by Kaiji in E-Card and thrown out of power by Hyōdō Kazutaka; with his downfall a power vacuum appears in Love Emperor's inner circle, leading to chaos among the management. Many of those who are loyal to Tonegawa's faction within the company, notably Kaiji's debtor Endō Yuuji, disappear without a trace. Tonegawa himself is lead away after his defeat and is never seen again.
- Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors (限定ジャンケン Gentei Janken?)
- The game featured in the gambling tournament the first night Kaiji spends on Espoir, with an average survival rate of 50%. The rules were outlined after the issuing of war funds, which were done a minimum of 1,000,000¥ and 10,000,000¥. The money was in effect a loan, equaling the debt of the contestant and compounded at 1.5% every ten minutes for the four hour voyage; contestants who hold onto their funds for the length of the trip would have to pay 140% of what they invested, thus putting an incentive to finish games early. Money that exceeded the amount needed to repay the loan to the Espoir hosts would be pocketed by the contestant.
- This gamble is similar to the original game but with a twist - the hand gestures are represented by cards, and contestants are given four cards each with the same gesture for a total of twelve. Contestants are also given three plastic stars as collateral to bet on each round of play - whenever one loses a round, the winner gets a star from the loser. To survive the night, contestants must maintain their three star pendants and lose all of their gesture cards. Cards cannot be destroyed or thrown away, to do so is subject to instant disqualification.
- Due to the simple nature of the game, single matches can be completed within ten seconds, and players can win or lose in a matter of minutes. Winners are allowed to go upstairs, where any extra star pendants are exchanged for cash and they lounge in a small cafe. In the event of a loss, individuals are taken to away to a back room by men in black suits.
- Human Derby (人間競馬 Ningen Keiba?)
- The gamble seen during Kaiji's competition at the Starside Hotel, consisting of two parts. In contrast to Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors, contestants are not briefed on the rules of the Human Derby, and are unaware of the nature of the gamble until they accept participating in it. Contestants are loaded into numbered "coffins" and are elevated several floors up the Starside Hotel to a platform overlooking a concrete courtyard. Contestants are expected to walk across four long, steel beams - the first to arrive on the other side of the beam nets 20,000,000¥, the second place finisher 10,000,000¥. The steel beams become more narrow as the contestants begin to cross them, though touching the beam with hands at any time disqualifies the contestant. The pushing of contestants to get out of the way is not condoned but is in fact encouraged, since the contestants (the "horses") are being bet on by spectators below, who enjoy the struggle to the other side. Contestants who fall from the beams suffer severe injury - depending on how and where they land, their injuries can range from serious to fatal.
- Once the winners of the first leg of the race have been identified, they are given coupons redeemable for their prize with a set time limit. To cash the coupons, the contestants must cross a similar but more dangerous bridge twenty two stories above the ground. Falling from this bridge is instant death. Since the hosts concluded that the crossing of the bridge would not be entertaining if the contestants could give up and use their hands to assist in their retreat off the bridge, a mild electric current is run through the steel beams - while not powerful enough to cause serious injury or be fatal, the current is enough to stun contestants, causing them to lose balance and fall from the bridge. Psychologically, this bridge is much more challenging because of the greater peril involved.
- E-Card (Ｅカード Ī Kādo?)
- As the name suggests, it is a card game. Like Restricted Rock, Paper, Scissors it also has psychological strategy to it and it also uses three card types. There are three cards, the Emperor (koutei), the Citizen (shimin), and the Slave (dorei). The game is meant to be a simplification of society that Hyōdō Kazutaka refers to right before the game begins. The Emperor has ultimate power to give money (ie. most powerful card). Citizens cannot disobey him because they want money (ie. Citizen loses to Emperor). The Slave has nothing to lose and has no use of money, therefore the slave can defeat the Emperor (ie. The Slave loses to the Citizen card but wins over the Emperor card). The game is played with one side having four Citizen cards and an Emperor card (Emperor side). The other side having four Citizen cards and a Slave card (Slave side). Since it is much harder for the slave side to win (as Slave cards can only defeat Emperor cards) the players of the Slave side get five times more winnings. Each game is played with 12 matches each match having each player set down one card. In the case of Kaiji, since he had no money. He was given the choice of: A device that would extend a spike to his ear based on the wager of the game if he lost (which would destroy one of his ears), or a device that extended a spike to his eye based on the wager if he lost (destroying one of his eyes). The minimum wager was 1 millimetre (mm) with no maximum bet; the chosen organ will be destroyed after the spike extends 3 centimetres (cm).
- Tissue Box Raffle (ティッシュ箱くじ引き Tisshubako Kujibiki?)
- Unlike the other gambles, this gamble is made by Kaiji himself. After completing E-Card he prepares to leave the hotel but then steps on a tissue box and notices that its sides are open, which he finds fascinating. Upon further investigation of the box Kaiji decide to challenge the Chairman to a raffle gamble with the tissue box as the container for the lots.
- Underground Chinchiro (地下チンチロリン Chika Chinchirorin?)
- A variation on the dice game, Chinchirorin, this game was crafted by Ōtsuki, one of Kaiji's fellow inmates in the underground labor camp. The notable exception to Chinchirorin is that dealer rotation moves clockwise, but each player may opt to pass their turn as dealer. If they opt to play dealer they must play as dealer two times consecutively.
- Pachinko "SWAMP" (パチンコ”沼” Pachinko Numa?)
- An elaborate pachinko game in a high stakes casino featuring a payout of 100% of the earnings from the machine. Taking this into consideration, the house has setup state-of-the-art countermeasures to ensure victory. When Kaiji comes across the machine, the jackpot is up to 700 million yen.
- Mine Field Mahjong (17 Steps Mahjong) (地雷麻雀（１７歩麻雀） Jirai Mājan?)
- A variation on Mahjong where the game is played with two players who make their best hand from a random draw of 34 tiles. Players do not draw a tile as usual, but instead take turns discarding tiles. Since a win can only be declared with a hand in conjunction with a discard, 'ron' is the only way a player may win. If neither player achieves ron after 17 turns, the game is considered a draw, the tiles are reshuffled, the current wager is doubled.