Kaiji: ‘He fell! He fell!’

kji-onarail

People have written about Kamina, and rightly so, but I don’t want to talk about him today. Today I want to talk about Mitsuzi Ishida.

Ishida owed a lot of money to gangsters. His debt meant that his wife became something like an indentured labourer, working in a pachinko parlour under a false name. Ishida wasn’t clever or brave or physically strong, and if Tonegawa’s analysis of his psychology was right, he lived a life of feckless procrastination. He only survived the first challenge in Kajii because Kaiji saved him. Ishida inspired pity, not awe.

Until that episode back in January in which he died.

kji-enduredit

Everyone, with the possible exception of Kaiji, lost their heads in the second part of the Human Derby, but unlike the rest of the contestants Ishida thought of others before himself. When he realised that he would fail, he passed the ticket for his previous winnings to Kaiji with a plea to press on, win and get the money to his wife. He calmly encouraged Kaiji forward, begging him not to live a similarly meaningless life. Then he fell off the girder, covering his mouth with his hands so that he wouldn’t scream and startle Kaiji into falling too.

Ishida was always pathetic – perhaps never more so than when he was on the girder trembling and bawling in terror – but, as Kaiji himself was quick to point out, his life and death weren’t meaningless. Perhaps Ishida scraped only a very little worth out of life, and perhaps Kaiji wouldn’t have fallen even if Ishida had screamed on his way down, but he mastered himself in the end, which is quite impressive. Besides, as Bernie can tell you, it’s wrong to deny the heroism of a gesture just because it lacks clear, quantifiable results.

So let’s pause to remember Ishida. If you’re anything like me, you’re much closer to him than you are to Kamina.

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12 responses to “Kaiji: ‘He fell! He fell!’

  1. So he screwed up throughout the entire show but did one thing right at the end. He’s still a jerk in my eyes. Remember how he treated Kaiji when they worked at the convenience store? He never cared about Kaiji. He would’ve pushed Kaiji down if it would’ve won him the money. He only kept his mouth shut so his family could get the money. Helping Kaiji was incidental. Screw Ishida. Let’s remember Kaiji instead.

  2. I love little moments of pathos like this in the series – Kaiji is indeed the hero but for me he’s also a hero for inspiring others along the way too. “…it’s wrong to deny the heroism of a gesture just because it lacks clear, quantifiable results.” is important in stories like this, where it’s often claiming the moral high ground that makes for a personal victory rather than a financial one (which would be better for his situation but far less satisfying to watch I think).

  3. I should go watch me some Kaiji some time.

  4. @ Baka-Raptor: You have the wrong person in mind. I think that was… Sawahara?

    Anyway, this is Kaiji’s real role model throughout the series, in a way. He finally realised his worth to others.

  5. @ Baka-Raptor: Mm, as Megumi Kyou points out, it was Sahara that worked with Kaiji in the convenience story.

    Also, we don’t need to remember Kaiji, as he’s still alive and kicking, ready for a second season. (Please?)

    @ concretebadger: That question of a moral victory is a good one, and I think it might link up with the way that things went downhill for Kaiji in the final arc.

    @ schneider: You definitely should. It is, in my not particularly reliable opinion, one of the best anime of 2008.

    @ Kairu Ishimaru: Indeed he did.

    @ Megumi Kyou: Now you mention it, I suppose from this point on Kaiji might’ve been modelling himself to some extent on Ishida’s selflessness, and he was definitely seeking to avenge Ishida.

    @ omisyth: *manly tears*

  6. I’m talking about the store manager:

    If it’s a different guy, can’t blame me for not knowing; all the characters look the same.

  7. They are all very similar, yes. But if I recall correctly Ishida greeted Kaiji as someone whom he hadn’t seen since the night on the Espoir at the beginning of the Human Derby arc.

  8. Pingback: Gaming Humanity in Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji « We Remember Love

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