Kaiji Season 2 episode 12 – the worst possible thing that could happen

June 24, 2011

Simply put, no, they didn't beat the Bog.

As I feared, Sakazaki was swallowed by the man-eating Bog, but the extent of his humiliating defeat was more than I had anticipated. We are introduced to a new character, and left with the slim hope that Kaiji has a plan that can still turn things around before he is captured and tossed back into the pit. This episode was strong on showing just how unfair the game they are playing is, and chronicling the destruction of Sakazaki. It also gave us our first glimpse of a new villain, the manager of the illegal casino.

Sakazaki loses control of his bodily functions several times as the excitement builds.

Watching Sakazaki was kind of disgusting. By the end of the last episode, he had already lost, but he refused to accept that he had been beaten, and he continued to make things much worse. We are given several views of Sakazaki’s futile battle against the Bog, a rigged pachinko machine that he should know he has no hope of beating. From Kaiji’s view, Sakazaki is somewhat heroic, risking almost certain death in a desperate attempt to better his future. From the perspective of the casino management, Sakazaki is a useful fool, out of control, and throwing away his money.

Deluded fools.

From the perspective of those crowding around, Sakazaki is a welcome spectacle. I’ll admit to getting sucked into the excitement as well, but the ironic thing is that there was ultimately nothing of interest to watch, as the result was a foregone conclusion. Sakazaki never had a chance.

Most pathetic is Sakazaki's own internal perspective.

And last we have Sakazaki’s own perspective. Here we see a man who believes he can can have the happy life he once knew, if only a single ball will drop in the right hole. Despite knowing that he was set up, lied to, to convince him to spend his money on this fixed machine, despite seeing his finances getting sucked into the Bog, despite the warning from Kaiji about “the block” (a sensor which, turned on, enables the machine to prevent every ball from dropping), Sakazaki persists in his futile pursuit of a quick return to happier times. As his chances dwindle he loses control of his body, which oozes various liquids, and eventually fails him almost entirely.

With Sakazaki passed out, the villain decides to make his presence known.

One of the great things about Ichijou, the manager of the casino, is the way he refuses to hide the fact that he has the upper hand. He starts right away by letting Kaiji know that he is aware, not only that Kaiji is working as Sakazaki’s partner, but that he knows who Kaiji is, before revealing his own name and position.

What kind of balls do I have? "Brass balls, sir".

He then calmly reveals that they have stocked the machine with brass balls, thus their “magnetic beer” trick was completely ineffective. They truly never had a chance of winning. He then taunts Sakazaki, a man who just dumped 43.6 million yen into a pachinko machine to, “Go on, chase your dreams,”. This kind of arrogance, combined with a guaranteed winning hand, should make for an effective adversary for Kaiji.

Pin maintenance equipment.

Some of you might recall from my Bakuman posts (and others) that I have a thing about process representation. I think artwork (including animation) that attempts to depict everyday processes, such as fixing coffee, or the activities of professionals, is really interesting. I even hold the radical notion that TRUE “slice of life” would dwell more on the representation of these everyday activities, not on the humorous interactions of fictional chaacters.

Pin maintenance in action.

In this case, these images of pin maintenance tools and process seem to be hints about how Kaiji will defeat Bog, the demon pachinko machine, and its master, Ichijou.

4 Responses to “Kaiji Season 2 episode 12 – the worst possible thing that could happen”

  1. Mad Chemist Says:

    I felt kind of bad for Sakazaki as he broke himself against The Bog. As stupid as it was, he had pretty much squandered his life by that point and there was nowhere left for him to go but slightly farther down, and if he didn’t get that payout he’d lose his future or get jailtime. I know it’s his fault in the first place for believing the lies of the establishment and going into his Bog run half-cocked, but I couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for the guy.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      This is the sort of character you meet in Kaiji’s universe. I’m sure there are many of them in the real world as well. I guess at some point you could feel sorry for him, but honestly, he got there from his own stupidity and avarice. It’s not just the Bog; he ended up in this situation by making many mistakes over the years. I’m sure there were plenty of earlier times when he bet the money his family depended on, and lost it, just like he had no right to gamble the money he took from the safe. The result is he ended up wishing he had his family back, but he didn’t learn from his mistake. And this is why you meet these people in Kaiji, because there is always the chance that one ball falling in the right hole, or a horse that a “friend” says is a sure thing, will turn everything around.

  2. bonehimer Says:

    Damn, I actually felt fooled when they revealed the brass balls. I am constantly impressed how this show pulls out twists without feeling like bs or forced.

    Ichijou’s character is the type I love to hate. That fucking smile with his eyes closed.

    • Joojoobees Says:

      Yeah, when Sakazaki put the beer can in the tray, my jaw dropped, because I thought that was going to get them beaten up, if not killed. When it turned out all of the tension over trying to bend the course of the ball’s path with his “magnetic beer” was effectively voodoo, and wasn’t having any effect at all, I realized how much I had been sucked in by the power of the narrative. I didn’t have any faith in Sakazaki from the beginning, but the elaborate trick with the two beer cans had me believing it might work!

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