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Gambit Pileup / Anime & Manga

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  • Death Note is basically 37 episodes of Gambit tropes. For instance, during the last few chapters/episodes: Near replaces Mikami's Death Note with a fake copy. But wait, that Death Note was fake, and the real one was in a vault somewhere. However, Mello comes in and tricks Mikami into using his real note, letting Near replace the real one with another fake one.
  • Liar Game is interesting with Akiyama vs Yokoya in the third round (the smuggling game). In the fourth round, there is a third Chessmaster and potentially a fourth although he acts as a proxy for one of the groups.
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  • Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex probably counts, considering that you have to keep up with what's going on all on your own. The second season even more so, considering that towards the end the villain starts to accidentally play into his own fake roulette, the secondary antagonist turns his intended defeat at the hands of the Big Bad into Ascension To Higher Plane Of Existence, and both are foiled by a bunch of spanners in the works doing their own thing against everybody's expectations. Whew.
  • The storyline of Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- has driven so far past this point that it is approaching it a second time. Here's a tip at how convoluted it is: There is only one person in the initial party who is not a spy. That person is not Princess Sakura. Planners include: Clow Reed, Fei Wong Reed,note  Yuko Ichihara, Tsubasa "Syaoran Jr." Li, Cardcaptor Sakura Kinomoto, Ashura-O, Syaoran "Syaoran Sr." Li (aka Cloney) and his wife Sakura Li, Tomoyo-Hime, Queen Nadeshiko and King Fujitaka (before being Ret Gone'd), and probably several others offscreen. None of these people collaborated to any significant degree when planning their gambits, except maybe Clow and Yuko, who collaborated on the early and penultimate stage details and loose end tying. The rest was all independent Gambit Roulettes crashing from all conceivable directions into one another. Diagrams are of absolutely no use here.
    • The fans aren't the only ones who mess up trying to figure things out. By chapter 230, it begins to look like the villain wasn't exactly on top of things — it appears that his ludicrously complex Gambit Roulette to save a loved one's life from death by Heroic Sacrifice is, in fact, what caused her to Heroic Sacrifice. And it is entirely likely that somebody planned this.
  • There's rarely a major event in Code Geass that doesn't involve several different groups or individuals trying to manipulate things. The plot of Code Geass has been described as a train wreck where they just keep sending more trains. It gets even more complicated due to the number of characters that switch sides over the course of the show and the underlying moral ambiguity of both sides, making it hard to distinguish between a Heel–Face Turn and a Face–Heel Turn at times; it doesn't help that a few characters who apparently died return alive and well, so you never know what to expect.
    • The conclusion of the show itself turns into a Gambit Pileup as the separate and intricate machinations of Lelouch, the Emperor, Schneizel, Suzaku, the Black Knights, and even C.C. and Lelouch's dead mother Marianne all barrel towards each other at breakneck speeds.
  • Legend of Galactic Heroes. The whole damn thing. Yes, it's a bigger pile up than Death Note. All the characters have their own individual unique agenda which does come to fruition and does affect the rest of the story. And it goes on for 110 episodes.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist gave 4 good guy Chessmasters 6 months to plan against the Big Bad's culmination of a Gambit Roulette that began by founding an entire nation. The number of smart and powerful pieces and tools each side has boggles the mind. And throughout all of this the various parties are all trying to maintain good PR on themselves, leading one set of protagonists to claim they support The Dragon in an attempt to protect themselves.
    • Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos has its own multi-part gambit collision, with four different parties pursuing the Sanguine Star for their own reasons: a resistance group pursuing freedom and the right to self-determination, two separate villains in pursuit of power (real and fake versions of the same person, for extra confusion), and a fourth party who's more of a minor annoyance and is Only in It for the the Elric brothers trying to find it first, just because they're not sure anyone can be trusted with the Star's power because it's a Philosopher's Stone and messing about with those almost never ends well. Carnage ensues.
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  • The various Chessmasters in Mobile Suit Gundam 00 are locked in a covert struggle to determine who gets to mold the future of the world into their ideal design, with the constantly-unfolding posthumous Gambit Roulette of their centuries-deceased predecessor (a plan several of the aforementioned schemers hijacked for their own ends, with mixed results) contributing to the already convoluted web of machinations for which the original planner may have already planned for. It doesn't make it any easier when several of the key characters on all sides of the conflict all believe themselves to be carrying out the original plan.
  • Detective Conan:
    • Volume 26. Long story short, one person has a plan which is ruined by the actions of someone else, who in turn has their own plan which gets ruined, a cycle that repeats itself at least half a dozen times.
    • The Mystery Train case features a plot by Gin and Vodka to blow up a train they expect Haibara/Sherry to be on when it reaches its destination, Bourbon wanting to capture Sherry alive while the train is in motion, Vermouth wanting to kill Sherry while the train is in motion, Conan planning to fake Haibara's death and discover what he can of the organization in the process, Kaito Kid planning to steal an item being transported in the train, and a random murder plot. The ultimate winner is Conan. He discovers Kid early and blackmails him into impersonating an adult Haibara; using him to convince Vermouth and Bourbon that they've killed her and chasing him off the train before he can steal anything. Gin and Vodka's plan is aborted since the others succeeded. Conan discovers Bourbon's identity and he solves the murder case in the middle of it all. The only member of the Organization to realize how thoroughly they were duped is Vermouth, who won't reveal it because there's no way to do so without exposing Conan, which she does not wish to do.
  • Demonbane has a surprising lack of Chessmasters, considering that there are no less than five different Gambit Roulette going on throughout the series, some of which are so insane that one wonders how they even thought of their ultimate goals, and one of which involved planning from before the dawn of time. Of all of them, only one manages to succeed, and it only manages to succeed in an alternate universe.
  • The end of the Yellow Chapter of Pokémon Adventures started with Evil Plans, continued into some heroic Gambit Roulettes, and in the end Giovanni's apparent Big Damn Heroes moment actually turned out to be part of Lance's plan and Yellow somehow managing to outwit him. It gets crazier later on. Suffice it to say everyone gets to play Xanatos Speed Chess at some point — even GOLD disguised as Guile Hideout!
  • Future Diary. When you've got 12 people, all armed with diaries that can predict the future, trying to kill each other to become a god and forming alliances with each other to achieve their goals, the story gets a little hard to follow.
  • Mahou Sensei Negima! seems to have at least three separate large-scale conspiracies going on, with potential for several more to be present (and that's not counting the ones that existed in the flashbacks, and may still be present). Naturally, Negi and his family end up at the center of all of them, causing them to crash into each other. At least three of these gambits were planned by Negi's own students since chapter one, namely Eva, Chao, and Zazie. One also wonders if the class makeup of 3-A can really be coincidental, seeing as to how no less than half the class is unusual in some regard. Even the school staff seems to be comprised entirely of talented mages.
  • Bleach. The finale to the Arrancar Arc basically pits Aizen in all his Gambit Rouletting glory against the rest of the cast and their respective gambits. The end result is a mess of about dozen Cast Herds' plans hitting each other at the same time.
    • The best example of this occurred at the climax of the Soul Society arc, where about a dozen battles occurred at once, with every participant having a different motive.
  • Naruto has slowly fallen into this: from Orochimaru, to Tobi and Danzo, to the villages it seems that backroom scheming is the only ninja activity that the characters are good at. In short, Sasuke was being manipulated by Orochimaru who was being manipulated by Itachi (who himself manipulated Naruto) who used by Danzo who was being manipulated by Tobi, who calls himself Madara. At the same time, Pain, the head of Akatsuki, had different goals to Akatsuki itself, and was in turn taking orders from Tobi without realising his intentions (while making it appear that Tobi was one of his subordinates and too dumb to plan anything). Then Kabuto comes out of nowhere and shows Tobi, that he has found the body of the real Madara, this means that Tobi was pretending to be Madara and was actually Obito Uchiha. Then, it turns out Obito's "Moon's Eye Plan" was actually the real Madara's plan, and Obito was also supposed to bring Madara back to life to become the jinchuuriki of the Ten Tails. But later we learn that Obito never had any intention of reviving Madara and he himself was using him in order to become the jinchuuriki of the Ten Tails. Nevertheless, when Madara became the jinchuuriki of the Ten Tails and executes the Moon's Eye Plan, Black Zetsu reveals he was manipulating Madara and was exactly the one who led Kabuto to the location of Madara’s corpse as part of his plan to bring back Kaguya Ootsutsuki. So, to recap, Pain was ostensibly leader the Akatsuki, but was actually used by Obito and Madara, who were using each other to their advantage, and all of them were used by Black Zetsu. Oh, and any number of these characters might be taking advantage of plans made by the Sage of the Six Paths hundreds of years ago. Yikes.
    • Played earlier in the Land of Birds filler arc. By the time of the general's failed execution, plots were in play by the general, Konoha shinobi, rogue shinobi infiltrating the compound, Naruto posing as a ghost, the daimyo posing as a ghost, the daimyo's sister pretending to be the deceased daimyo, the daimyo's aid/potential love interest, and a bunch of chimpanzees!
  • The Flying Pussyfoot arc of Baccano!! can be accurately summed up as a "clusterfuck." Trying to elaborate is an effort in futility, but it would probably sound like the start of an old joke: "So a cult, a gang, two immortal bank robbers, a Senator's family, a psychopathic hitman, a bomb-smuggling immortal child, a spy for an information brokering business, and the Chicago mafia all walk onto a train one day..." Oh, and by the way, the company that owns the train is a Nebulous Evil Organisation (conveniently named "Nebula").
    • The trope in effect is best showcased when three different gangs hijack a train car at the exact same time.
    Cultist with machine-gun: Everyone, down on the floor now!
    Gangster with pistols: Hands in the air, all of you!
    Bootlegger with knife: Everybody freeze!
    Old man: W-which one should we do?
  • Katekyō Hitman Reborn! has one during the future arc: All along, the readers were led to believe the whole reason they were in the future was because of Byakuran's machinations and Irie Shouchi was the root of all their problems, only to result in a Pileup with three main players.
  • Eden of the East's premise is that there are 12 Selecao all competing against each other to 'save' Japan in the way they see fit. Anyone who runs out of money without completing their objective is eliminated, those who are deemed unable to save Japan are eliminated by the mysterious Supporter, and no one's quite sure who's running this whole thing. Only the first person to achieve their goal will be considered successful, the rest are eliminated. So as time goes on, the Selecao are all plotting. Numbers One, Two, Six, Ten, and maybe Twelve are plotting against Nine, Akira. Eleven is helping him. Juiz seems rather distasteful of Six and supportive of Akira. At least one person who plotted against Akira is dead. Eventually, ten gets his missile gambit beaten, then vanishes. One takes out another Selecao, Two and Eleven. And Ten is back. Plots, plots plots. Number five wasn't much of a schemer, though.
  • As of Durarara!!'s 8th volume, the following groups and organizations are or have been involved in Izaya's crazy little Mob War and its surrounding confusion: three different color gangs, all of which were secretly created by middle schoolers, only two of whom are now even in high school, a faction composed of an unknowing bunch of people who have been demonically possessed, the Yakuza, The Mafiya, a pharmaceutical company fond of kidnapping immigrants for experimentation, an American Megacorp secretly (and violently) researching the supernatural, a serial-killing Dhampyr, a Dullahan searching for her head (along with her Back-Alley Doctor boyfriend), a man with inexplicable super-strength and no temper to speak of, and a Saitama biker gang. There are at least three other Chessmasters or wannabe-Chessmasters besides Izaya trying to steer things towards their own interests, and about half a dozen Wild Card characters that can make or break alliances at a moment's notice. So far, the only thing guaranteed is complete and absolute chaos. Which is exactly what Izaya wanted.
  • In A Certain Magical Index, several of the villains don't even know about each other. For example, Amata Kihara and Vento of the Front attack Academy City on two fronts, and end up getting in each others' way when they meet. A great example is Volume 15 of the light novels, in which all five of Academy City's secret enforcement groups (GROUP, ITEM, SCHOOL, MEMBER, and BLOCK) stumble into each other's plans and it turns into a city-wide battle royale that involves no fewer than three Level 5 Espers and several sorcerers who have their own plans and use the chaos to their advantage. Everyone's acting at cross-purposes, and keeping track of what's going on and what everyone's objectives are can get very confusing. At the end of the day and when the dust settles, only GROUP remains intact and functional, though ITEM is eventually able to reform.
    • Taken to the extreme is the entire plan of Aleister Crowley who is the man behind almost every single action in the series. Him being cursed to always fail no matter what somehow manages to make a plan that is compromised by an extreme amount of lesser plans including the ones of other characters running against each other and failing, enabling even more plans to start off. Highlighted once by a character who describes his plan as something that will succeed as long as something happens, even if it fails in the end.
    Aleister Crowley viewed both success and failure as a means to reach the desired result. So it was possible that Mina’s betrayal was part of the plan. It was also possible that questioning this was part of the plan. It was also possible that Kamijou believing he had seen through the plan was part of the plan
  • Shin Mazinger. It says something when, at the end of the series Dr. Hell says that everything that happened up to this point was nothing but an endless festival of tricks and backstabbings. And that happens before some of the biggest gambits in the series are revealed.
  • Cho-Katsu Komei from Giant Robo OVA continuity has, according to his backstory, once created this on purpose for his giant, incredibly convoluted Gambit Roulette, and the effect was such a huge mess that even his boss, Big Fire, ordered him to stop it all at once, because he has no idea what's going on anymore. And OVA itself has few gambits playing on one another. And Komei claims it is all part of his plan all along.
  • Windaria The shadowland king wants Lunaria's water, Roland and Veronica want peace, Lunaria Queen wants more money from Shadowland king, Lagado seeks more power, and Alan wants to protect his homeland.
  • Macross Frontier has multiple schemers at work, including The Frontier's scientists, Bilrer, Leon, Grace and an Omniscient Council of Vagueness. In a slight subversion, none of those is actually Out-Gambitted: rather, the Big Damn Heroes come and foil all of them. The movie also contains most of those schemes, however there Out-Gambitted is played straight.
  • Soul Hunter's plot is almost entirely gambit pile ups, and most of them by Dakki. Everyone is fighting for a different faction or very personal reason beyond Taikobo, although he starts off only wanting revenge before character development kicks in.
  • Digimon Adventure 02 has this. The Digidestined are again fighting several enemies who have their own agendas. Most of them are actually manipulated by/following Malomyotismon, but there're some who're enemies to him as well as to the Digidestined. The Deamon Corps and Blackwargreymon are fighting his followers just as hard as they fight the Digidestined, and Kimeramon starts to act on his own will when he seems to be possessed by Devimon's spirit, who apparently is trying to get a comeback, and then there's Dagomon of the Dark Ocean, who wants to claim the power of light so that he can use it for his own plans of conquest.
  • One Piece:
    • The Marineford War is pretty much one big one between the Marines and Blackbeard. Even usual Spanner in the Works Luffy can't stop either side from getting what they want.
    • Happens again in Dressrosa as Donquixote Doflamingo and Trafalgar Law match wits with Luffy caught in the middle. Law gets taken out of commission fairly quickly, but not before Admiral Fujitora arrives with plans of his own, with the Revolutionary Army strategists not far behind.
    • The Totland Arc on the surface revolves around an arranged marriage between Charlotte Pudding, a daughter of Big Mom of the Four Emperors, and Sanji, a son of Vinsmoke Judge, King of the Germa 66. Judge is seeking to exploit Big Mom's power to retake his old kingdom in the East Blue, but is Out-Gambitted early on by Big Mom, who's arranging to murder the entire Vinsmoke family and steal their clone army for herself. But this in turn is at risk of being derailed by one of Big Mom's trusted lieutenants, Capone Bege, who's planning to spring his own trap on Big Mom at the same time she springs hers on the Vinsmokes, assassinating her because he's a sociopath who loves to murder leaders of criminal organizations and watch how the decapitated "body" of the group will respond. And the Straw Hat pirates, informed by their ally Jinbe about the impending pileup, are planning to use the chaos to rescue Sanji's sister and escape from Big Mom's territory alive.
  • Tower of God started out complicated enough. Regulars generally only start to realise what a political stew they've landed themselves in when they have Climbed a few floors, but Baam gets thrown into the deep end from before the start with multiple existing political power-blocs and factions trying to pull his strings even before he's been completed evaluated on the Newbie level of the Second Floor. Some of whom are actually his friends looking out for his best interests (not looking at you, Aguero and Rak). Part 2 only gets more complicated with a greater number of players involved and more information on some of the people behind other people. There are no fewer than eight separate gambits running toward a variety of objectives. And, it's not even certain what any group's full plan or objectives are beyond the obvious immediate hopes of Team Sweet-and-Sour (don't get separated, squashed and/or killed because of the craziness).
  • Attack on Titan: Initially, it was just humans vs Titans. Then the threat of the Titan Shifters is revealed, with their motives initially completely unknown. Political intrigue builds up as Erwin plots the overthrow of the aristocracy, him trying to save humanity while Zackly just wants retributions against the upper class, only to learn human civilization is actually controlled by the Reiss family. And the Military Police brigade serving the Reiss family is actually loyal to Kenny Ackerman, who intended to betray them before learning his plan was hopeless. Grisha Yeager appears to have had some plan in stealing the power of the Coordinate from the Reiss family, but what he was planning is unclear and he may have done more harm than good. And then it turns out that the Titan Shifters are actually working for the wholly human nation of Marley, which itself is at war with the rest of humanity outside the Walls. There are at least seven factions working against each other while the normal Titans continue to eat humans they can get their hands on.
    • You also have Zeke Yeager, who pretended to be working for Marley, but is now claiming he's on the same side as Eren. Zeke is supposedly working with Hizuru's leading family, the Azumabitos, but they have their own agenda. Within the walls on Paradis Island, it's now become the Survey Corps vs. the Yeager factionnote  vs. the rest of the military vs. maybe some of the Marleyans that Paradis captured, and that's assuming Zeke isn't part of his own faction... Nobody knows who's working for whom nor what anybody's planning. And that doesn't include the rest of the world outside the walls.
  • Danganronpa 3: Future: Munakata wants to betray Tengan so he can replace him as leader, and also kill Naegi because he sheltered war criminals. Tengan wants to manipulate Mitarai into using his talent to brainwash the world. Kyoko, Asahina, and Gozu aren't in favour of Naegi's execution for various reasons. Chisa feigns support for Munakata, but in fact she the one who provoked all this situation for a third party who isn't even alive when the story begins. Ruruka (and Izayoi) want Seiko dead for personal reasons, and the feeling is reciprocated. However, Ruruka's pathological fear of betrayal leads her to murder Izayoi. Juzo wants to protect and serve Munakata, but has several secrets that take priority over that desire. All of these characters belong to the same organization.
  • Hunter × Hunter: Kurapika is tracking down people who own the bodily remains of his people, which go for very high prices in the black market, and the last target is a corrupt and hedonistic prince of a major world power. Said major world power is in a succession battle as the king is stepping down, so Kurapika becomes a guard for one of the other princes to try to get closer. Meanwhile, this country's three major crime bosses have started a separate war among each other, as one of the bosses is attempting to seize power by targeting the aforementioned princes—all 14 of them, each of whom also have their own agendas and guards, the most notable cases being Benjamin, who has deployed his own superpowered guards to watch the other princes without looking too suspicious; Halkenburg, a pacifist who wanted out of the battle but, finding out he couldn't, awakened a Body Surf ability and has sowed confusion among everyone involved; and Fugetsu and Kacho, a pair of twins and best friends who are searching for collaborators in order to escape. The Phantom Troupe have also entered the struggle, as they're trying to track down Hisoka, a man who betrayed them, but Hisoka has also been killing various gang members, so the crime bosses have joined them on the manhunt. Hisoka has his own reasons he's in the area, which are unclear. All of this is set in an absolutely massive ship that functions as a self-contained city on its way to an unknown land, and the man who proposed the trip and has been financing it is under investigation by the Hunter Association, one of whom is an associate of Kurapika and has crossed paths with the Phantom Troupe onboard. Unknown to all parties, also onboard is Ging, father of the protagonist, who has created a small team to explore this new land but finds out his rival Pariston inserted himself into this group without him knowing. Gon, the protagonist, is about the only major character to not have been absorbed into this mess.


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