Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor, Episode 9: Resurrection
So, yeah, another single-episode review. It's a huge emotional moment for Kaiji, and I really do think that it deserves this relatively longer screentime. We get to see Ando's reasoning and... logically, it's honestly not that hard to understand why Furuhata gets seduced by Ando, even with his prior friendship with Kaiji. Ando talks about how they will still have debts to pay even if they waste their money to save Kaiji, whereas if they sell their stars they'll walk out of Espoir far, far richer and debt-free. And besides, they won't ever see Kaiji ever again, so why does it matter?
And honestly, Ando's a dude that Kaiji met like 2 hours ago, his treachery isn't completely out of the blue, and Kaiji's screaming in despair as Ando and Furuhata starts selling their stars for money is amazingly done and delivered by the voice actor. It's a cruel, cruel moment for Kaiji, because he's been campaigning the standard 'friendship and loyalty!' manga spiel throughout the Espoir arc, and, well, he gets backstabbed by them.
However, it's nice that Kaiji is actually formulating a plan in his desperation, observing Okabayashi and realizing the money he's clutching (and covering his junk with) is far too little to actually count for the risk of his friends not selling their stars. It's a bit odd why the showrunners wouldn't remove the patch on Okabayashi's back, but it's something I can look over. Kaiji assaults Okabayashi and bites and punches him, but it's all a feint in order to rip off the patch and get the jewels hidden inside.
And after a bit, Okabayashi and his allies realize that the patch is missing (I think if Kaiji didn't bite Okabayashi he'd be more inclined to realize that the precious thing taped onto his back is gone) and this ends up causing Okabayashi to have to pay to free Kaiji as well. It's a pretty cool plan, albeit one that has a crapton of contrived coincidence. I buy it, though.
And while Kaiji didn't quite punch Ando hard enough for my tastes, it's a neat bit of great karma as Kaiji rips off Ando and Furuhata's stars and money and uses them to save Ishida, the old man, as a big 'fuck you' to the two of them. It's... it's a bit hard to swallow, although I guess the story arc would be a bit too dark if Ishida just sits there in despair and gets taken away to his presumed torture and/or death after him being far more likable and relatable to the audience. It's... it's still pretty dumb for Kaiji to waste all the money, though (and for Ando to let him just take it without much of a fuss -- Furuhata's too much of a pushover to imagine fighting back) considering he walks away from Espoir with a crapton of debt nonetheless.
And I did like the bit at the end where Kaiji gives out this huge, huge rant about all the sick people taking pleasure in watching their suffering and panic. There's a bit of a meta bit where it seems he's talking about us, the viewers (and I did enjoy the story of Kaiji's despair), but it turns out that Kaiji's far more aware that all of this is designed in-universe by a group of, well, audience who has been watching them. It's a bit of a headscratcher why an organization would do all this, but I guess they just have that much money to throw around, and they just want to be entertained?
Cool stuff, regardless, and this marks the end of the Espoir arc, the first arc in Kaiji: Ultimate Survivor. It's thrilling as all hell, and definitely an anime I'll recommend from these 9 episodes I've reviewed. At this point I've actually finished nearly the entirety of the first season, so while I initially planned a bit of a hiatus in the episodic reviews, I don't think it'd be that long. Expect a break from anime reviews for around a week or two, though.