Another great episode full of revelations and flashbacks, but where not much time passed in the present. Still, with this episode all the casino’s tricks and Kaiji’s answers to them have been revealed (I’m assuming), so the finale of this arc should follow soon. 🙂
The episode opens with some facts about Kaiji’s current situation – he has 5,000 balls left, about 250 of which will make it passed the pins and defunct flipper and into the trays, and of those only 6 or 7 will make it to the third tray. At the time those odds struck me as a bit pessimistic, since in their earlier attempt virtually every ball that made it into the first tray seemed to easily clear both that and the second… I was shocked and happy when this was later revealed to be more than just plot convenience. But first, time to look at how the third tray itself is rigged.
Considering the amount at stake, you can understand why the casino would put a few losing holes between the entry point and the jackpot. But by putting it in the back, it is also harder to see… so that it is virtually impossible to see the small ridge around the back of the hole – Kaiji realized it was there after noticing one of Sakazaki’s balls moving weirdly around it. Without tampering with the trays (which they didn’t do), there would be no way to get around this.
Kaiji noted that in order for Hyodo and Tonegawa to have defeated The Bog, there has to be a way it can be defeated… if it is in the casino’s best interests for that to happen. So he concludes that there is no ridge on the front – if there was, I imagine it would be slightly easier to spot than a ridge at the back too, which isn’t a risk they could take. So why won’t rolling it through the front-facing side of the hole work for Kaiji? Because the tray is tilted. But it would be difficult to tilt it enough to make a difference without the tilt being obvious… so not only is the tray itself tilted, but so is the machine. And the floor which the machine stands on. Again, Kaiji’s amazing observational skills helped him figure out the latter – When Sakazaki failed to defeat The Bog and scattered a load of balls on the floor, Ichijou hurriedly picked up those that fell on the platform surrounding the machine, so that their rolling in the same direction wouldn’t be noticed. Turns out that these tilts are remote controlled so the difficulty can be adjusted – that’s what the 7-7-7 setting at the end of last episode was all about.
So now the casino’s method of cheating has been revealed, and we return to the present to see the situation from the point of view of Ichijou – who once again has regained his confidence.
It isn’t long before things all come crashing down again for him again, but the sign which led him to believe something was wrong was an unexpected one – he begins to worry about the fact that so few balls are making it to the third tray! While this works in his advantage by lowering Kaiji’s odds, it is also a sign that the tilting has been reversed (with the winning holes on tray 1 and 2 at the front of the machine, the usual tilt actually makes it easier for balls to reach the third tray, hence all the ‘near misses’ in their first attempt). His fears are confirmed when one of Kaiji’s ~6 – 7 lucky balls does make it to the third tray, fails to enter from the back of the hole due to the ridge, rolls around to the front… and then rolls back towards the winning hole along what would normally be an upward slope. Of course, with 5 – 6 other chances and 10 million in cash remaining, it is far too early for Kaiji to win, and the ball rolls to the side and finally into a losing hole.
Once again, Ichijou is quick to come up with a possible, logical explanation for the reversed tilt – Kaiji must have tampered with the remote control, reversing the wiring so that their backward tilt setting moved it forwards instead. This possibility is soon ruled out, after a pachinko player on a lower cost machine accidentally drops his balls… which then roll as if on a slant. This leads him to the one remaining, seemingly impossible answer: Kaiji must have tilted the whole building in order to level the third tray.
How on Earth was it possible for him to tilt the whole building? Well he was helped greatly by the fact the ground on which the casino stood was soft (something he was able to learn by speaking to nearby construction workers in episode 13). With that in mind, and with Sakazaki’s knowledge as a former construction worker himself, he devised a plan to get a whole 20 tons of weight on the side of the building (in empty rooms he had rented), causing it to sink slowly and the rooms inside to tilt in the desired direction. But how do you smuggle 20 tons of ANYTHING into a building without looking suspicious? Kaiji has the answer to everything – use water. By using huge vinyl water tanks, which can be packaged flat and filled up on site from the tap.
DAMN, this guy is GOOD.