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Gambit Roulette / Anime & Manga

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Gambit Roulettes in anime and manga.

  • As befitting a gambling anime, the titular character of Akagi has zero problems betting his life on the spin of this trope (and it helps that he's Born Lucky). The cool thing is that even if you know zero mah-jong, the bystanders in both examples below will give you enough context to tell you that no sane person would bet their life on his strategies.
    • First episode of the anime? Akagi bets that the cops looking for him show up at the perfect time... so he can swipe mahjong tiles from the discards and turn his hand into a monster while everyone's attention is on the unwanted cops; not only that, the Yakuza he's been playing against won't even be able to retaliate, because, well, cops.
    • One episode is actually called "The Magic of Coincidence," featuring TWO roulettes. His whole strategy that episode partly boils down to "the tiles are at the right place at the right time", and the rest, of course, mindgames.
      Akagi: Reason won't work. I'll get stuck at the keyhole with reason alone. By trying to open the lock, you'd have to use another force. If I had to call it something, it'd be the "force of coincidence". You're defenseless when things happen by accident.
      Opponent: [agitated] This is stupid! He's depending too much on coincidence!
  • Berserk:
    • The plot of the Golden Age Arc relies on a certain series of events that would be otherwise meaningless without each other. Griffth's fall from grace, for instance, requires four things to happen in sequence or it's for nothing. Justified by events being orchestrated by an Eldritch Abomination.
    • Griffith's plan to capture Doldrey involves a legitimate Batman Gambit, but it also works flawlessly in spite of a factor that Griffith apparently left up to chance but would have ruined everything if it hadn't gone his way. After Griffith lures Gennon's forces away from the castle, Casca and her group simply ride in through the castle's front gate which has been left wide open despite a battle being in progress. While this stroke of luck was caused by the idiocy of whoever was in charge of the castle's defense (Adon Corbowitz, we're looking at you), Griffith did not even know that this would happen and was not shown to have had a plan for Casca getting past the gate if it had been closed. It could not have been because he knew from spies or other sources that Adon had an ill-conceived plan to let the attackers in and ambush them, because the ambush came as a complete surprise to Casca, who surely would have been told by Griffith if he had known. The anime version has this flaw in Griffith's plan as well. The film adaptation fixes this by Griffith having an actual plan to get Casca inside, by having her group disguised in the armor of Adon's Blue Whale Knights and using Adon—who they captured in the woods in this version—as a Trojan Horse so that the defenders would let them in.
  • In Bleach, most of Sosuke Aizen's longwinded plans rely on this, which is odd given that he's easily powerful enough to get what he wants via brute force. Later on, this gets brought to its logical conclusion: Aizen claims the entire plot (or at least Ichigo's role) has been exactly as planned. It's never fully expanded on, so it's possible he was just lying to mess with Ichigo. Also, Kisuke Urahara engages in Gambit Roulettes as well, to the point where the first 2/3 of the series can be reduced to these two Chessmasters dueling one another in a case of Aizen's "Just as Planned" attitude versus Urahara's "just as expected" attitude.
    • It's finally expanded on years later, both in real life and in-universe. Aizen was telling the truth when he claimed to be responsible for Ichigo's birth. However, it wasn't actually planned and mostly amounts to a lucky fluke; one of his modified-Hollow experiments was derailed by the unexpected presence of both Captain Isshin Shiba and a Quincy, Masaki Kurosaki. But Aizen finds it fascinating when one of his experiments doesn't go as planned, and being a big fan of Xanatos Speed Chess he immediately incorporates this event and its inevitable consequence (the birth of Ichigo as a Shinigami/Quincy/Hollow hybrid) into his plan. Urahara was around to witness this as well, explaining how he was able to guess that Aizen's plans would involve manipulating Ichigo. Despite this, it's still unclear—and debated by the fandom—whether he really planned for all of Ichigo's fights—which lead to him getting killed, twice,—or if he was just screwing with Ichigo's head.
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    • Yhwach, leader of the Quincies, isn't any better. Taking out Yamamoto who he isn't strong enough to take head on? He planned for that. A possible betryal from Uryu, who just joined the Quincies? He planned for that. Kisuke restoring all of the shinigami's stolen bankais and preventing them from being taken again? He planned for that. Ichigo leaving a path open to the Soul Palace after going there to train? He planned for that. While Aizen at least had to improvise once in awhile, Yhwach seems to be able to predict literally everything his opponents are going to do. His second in command later reveals Yhwach is literally omniscient once his powers fully awaken, though somehow Yhwach was successfully predicting all of his enemies' moves even before that happened.
  • Near the end of the Blue Dragon anime, Zola reveals that she had managed to use events since she was a child to ensure that she could release darkness upon the world, managing to find all seven Soldiers of Light required to free it, recruit five of them, kill off Nene so that Deathroy would choose a weaker partner in Delphinium who couldn't oppose her alone, and lure both Delphinium and Logi, the last Soldier, to the Sealed Grounds, unleashing the darkness. She almost succeeded in consuming the world as a result too.
  • While Code Geass's main draw was the Gambit Speed Chess, sometimes it drops into this trope:
    • There's the time Lelouch checkmated Schneizel. Earlier in the series, he'd recorded a fake conversation to make Mao think Lelouch was really speaking to him. It worked because it was broadly focused. Lelouch never went into any specifics and Mao was too obsessed with C.C. to fully focus. Lelouch just had to say things about C.C. that would rile Mao. When he did it again with Schneizel, Lelouch somehow knew the first thing Schneizel was going to say, how he'd respond to any of his statements, the exact timing of the responses, and the moment Schneizel would interrupt him. Granted, Lelouch knows his brother a lot better than he does Mao and this could help him predict the reactions better, but the reverse is also true and (unlike Mao), Schneizel is supposed to be Lelouch's equal in intellect. The conversation was edited for the dub which made the responses broader and removing the interruption entirely. That said, it was just a delaying tactic so Lelouch could ambush Schneizel; it wasn't meant to work perfectly but work enough that Schneizel can't realize what is going on until it's too late.
    • Schneizel turning the Black Knights against Lelouch would also count. It almost didn't work, until Ohgi came in with Villetta and told his fellow comrades to turn on their leader. That said, they were at the tipping point when Ohgi came in so likely Schneizel had another piece of information or some reason to think he would be able to push them into betraying Lelouch even before Ohgi showed up. The Compilation Movie for instance had them, including Ohgi, not wanting Lelouch killed before they can actually hear the truth from him, but Schneizel's men ignore this and try shooting him anyway (though Schneizel himself never told them to), leading to the events that still happen.
  • Justified in Darker Than Black. The reason Amber's plans are always so ridiculously convoluted is because she can control time. It's implied that she's had to live through the same events many, many times to get everything to work correctly.
  • Death Note is filled with these.note  The most impressive is the plan that changes the course of the entire series — Light arranging L's death while coming off completely above suspicion. This involves an extended Memory Gambit, at the end of which every element needed to be exactly in the place they were in order to work. Such utterly unpredictable elements include: a cop Light didn't know prior to the Memory Gambit missing when he shot at the temporary owner of the Death Note and Light killing Higuchi while holding the Death Note, so that he could reclaim ownership of it and make the memory restoration permanent. Note that he was handcuffed to L at that point. Had the bullet been just an inch to the left, Higuchi would've died too soon and whoever picked up the Death Note first (most likely the cop who shot him) would become its official owner and Light would have had to kill him to ensure that he didn't lose his memories for good, something that would've been a bit harder to do without giving L enough evidence to prove Light is Kira.
  • Detective Conan once figured out a case just in time by subverting this trope. He had several suspects as to who was unknowingly given a bomb, narrowing them down by whether they had something that could hide a bomb and an electronic device that could set it off. He eventually deduced the only person it could be was the woman with the cell phone, as all other people's devices were unpredictable and accidentally pressing a button could set the bomb off too early.
  • Digimon Adventure 02: Each villain appeared (and sometimes believed himself/herself) to be the Big Bad, only for it to turn out that another, higher villain had orchestrated everything from behind the scenes. It all leads to one final Big Bad, MaloMyotismon, having used people to use other people to use still others, with no one Disc-One Final Boss aware of the next one's influence. The aspect of this that most blatantly puts the lie into "I totally planned all that" was Arukenimon, the one villain who did know she wasn't the top dog: her arc was about her plan to destroy seven Cosmic Keystones and cause The End of the World as We Know It, which would have made it impossible for her boss to get what it turns out he wanted (and leaving him dead.) Somehow it's doubtful that this is what he had in mind, and the same goes for his boss, the aforementioned MaloMyotismon, who wanted the world(s) intact and accordingly conquerable.
  • Hiruma, the quarterback of the Deimon Devilbats, of Eyeshield 21. Most of the quarterbacks, actually. Takami of Ojou White Knights and Hiruma once had a "Is that what you thought I'd say?" battle in the middle of an intense play. It was noted by other characters that Hiruma actually knows the odds of all his gambits and only use the sink or swim ones against teams way above his rookie team's level since they already needed a miracle to win anyway so might as well plan one. It's even referred as a Signature Move by the end of the series: Hiruma's Demon Magic.
  • In Fairy Tail, Jellal reveals his Gambit Roulette after the Magic Council fires a magic laser for the purpose of destroying his aim to resurrect an evil mage. When the dust clears, it's found that it had been his plan to do so all along, as some special crystals have absorbed all the magic fired, giving him the power source to resurrect him. One could say that it was more of a Batman Gambit considering he planted an astral projection of himself in the council in order to guide them to that point, but there was no guarantee they would use the magic laser, hit the tower straight on, and the crystals would absorb all the magic, and that he wouldn't be found out... etc.
  • In an episode of Galaxy Angel, one (fake) debt leads to the faking of a kidnapping plot by Ranpha and Mint - which leads to another fake kidnapping plot by Volcott - which leads to another fake kidnapping plot by his commander - which leads to that victim's family landing another fake plot - which somehow results in some random little girl and bear faking one... Which results in the original perpetrator falling ploy to the plot, leading him to increase the random on his plot. The story ends on an infinite loop.
  • Gundam:
    • A frighteningly good Roulette is used in, of all the Gundam series, the much-less-serious-than-usual Mobile Fighter G Gundam. Neo-Japan's previous Gundam-Fighter and now military advisor was behind the intrigue to claim the Devil Gundam in order to use it to rule the world. Therefore he blamed Kyouji and removed Domon's father from the scene. He even used Domon to get his hands on his toy of destruction. In the end he can foil Neo-Hong Kong's prime minister to get his hands on the Devil but it is of no use to him.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Milliardo Peacecraft takes over leadership of White Fang and says that in order to bring peace, he's going to destroy the source of all conflicts - the Earth. Cue his former best friend Treize Khushrenada, who assumes command of the World Nation and vows to fight Milliardo to the last man. It's subtly hinted in the anime, and outright stated in the manga, that they're faking it, and their real intention is to scare the world towards peace by showing them a horrible and pointless war - so subtly that, unfortunately, many dismiss Milliardo's actions as a hamhanded retread of Mobile Suit Gundam: Char's Counterattack. This is because Milliardo either needed to act convincing enough to seem realistically motivated (thus fooling the audience as well as his cohorts) or he actually believed in destroying the Earth like Char. Milliardo goaded Treize into retaking leadership of the Romafeller Foundation as a means to ensure that someone would play off him, since he knew Relena wouldn't be able to. However the whole battle feels more like an elaborate abstraction of chess ala Morton's Fork. This is best hinted at during the scene in which Treize almost sacrifices himself charging Libra in a Thanatos Gambit, where immediately afterwards, White Fang realizes the whole incident was a farce to get them distracted from Treize's commando troops.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny, Gilbert Durandal's quest to push the Destiny Plan into motion is really hard to pin down if he's playing this trope or if he's playing Xanatos Speed Chess. A lot of this hinges on how much he knew about the assault on Armory One, the "Break the World" incident and the assassination attempt on Lacus Clyne.
    • In Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Aeolia Schoenberg, a scientist who passed away 200 years before the setting, invented every essential technology required till the present to obtain his supposed ideal of humanity traveling to the stars. Therefore he initiates the creation of Celestial Being and probably the Innovators as well, and possibly foresaw all the important events of the series, e.g. the failure of the first CB actions, the birth of the federation which would turn corrupt and then be beaten by CB again. Though, it's unclear how much of Ribbons behaviour was in unison with his plans. Ribbons claims his rule was the final goal, but that's highly doubtful. It's more likely that Aeolia anticipated Ribbons' betrayal, or perhaps even considered as a necessary part of the plan. There's also the implication that the supercomputer VEDA is making alterations to the details of Aeolia's plan to still achieve the same end result, given how ridiculous it would be for a single man to predict all of this happening hundreds of years after his death.
  • InuYasha's father, who died before the series began, is the driving force behind many events in the series, having set it them up so that his sons would get stronger and get along before they killed each other (or someone else killed them).
  • In JoJo's Bizarre Adventure when Dio received brain damage and could barely move, he tried to run away only to be stopped and beaten by Jotaro. Then it was revealed he really wanted to get near Joseph Joestar's body to drain his blood and heal himself, manipulating Jotaro into throwing him right there.
  • The events of the first season of K were a plan of this sort from the Green King. Really, being the King of Chaos, he might not have cared what happened - his main goal was drawing the Silver King out from hiding - but he seems to have put enough faith in the Silver King to know that he would come out on top after all of this - and considering that the Silver King has been alone in an airship with no contact with anyone for seventy years, and that he does nearly get himself killed in solving it, that is a lot of faith to put in him.
  • In Naruto Madara Uchiha reveals the truth behind Obito Uchiha becoming the Big Bad. Obito's Face–Heel Turn was originally after his childhood crush Rin Nohara died when she was abducted by the Hidden Mist. All of the abductors were being mind-controlled by Madara and Rin herself had seal on her heart in order to she couldn't kill herself so Obito had to watch her be murdered not knowing she likely chose it. The entire thing was planned to destroy Obito's idealism and turn him evil. The fact that Rin committed suicide via Kakashi was a happy coincidence. As was the fact that Rin and Kakashki both picked up the Idiot Ball and forgot their mentor Minato is a seal master who can teleport, and thus didn't send one of Kakashi's dogs to get his help stabilizing the seal placed on Rin.
    • But of course this plan nothing to compared with Black Zetsu's plan to revive Kaguya. First he caused Indra's betrayal of Ashura in order to start the Uchiha-Senju feud. Then he edited the Sage of the Six Paths' tablet in order to make the Uchiha Clan his pawns. Then he watched over both brothers reincarnations in hopes of finding someone that would be able to awaken the Rinnegan: Madara. Note  From there, he had to rely on Madara creating the Moon Eye Plan in order for his plan to succeed. In the process, Madara was somehow tricked into thinking he had himself created Black Zetsu. And guess what? His plan went off without a single hitch.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion: Subverted. The convoluted plans of nearly all factions have as their crux being able to control Rei Ayanami, which, right at the last minute, rebels.
    • While the two major players of the game, SEELE and Gendo had private, secret agendas which ultimately failed, everything occurred just as planned by a very hidden player, Yui Ikari. Maybe.
    • Rebuild of Evangelion plays this trope completely straight with Gendo's convoluted scheme to start another Impact.
  • The overarching plan Blackbeard concocts in One Piece borders between this and Xanatos Speed Chess. While there are a number of elements to his plan that rely largely on chance, they're mitigated by how either Blackbeard put himself in the best position to succeed, or the chance occurrence simply made things easier rather than being absolutely critical. For example, the start of his plot hinges on Blackbeard finding a very specific Devil Fruit, when finding any Devil Fruit at all is an exceedingly rare occurrence; to deal with this, Blackbeard joins Whitebeard's pirate crew, realizing that he stood the best chance of finding the single fruit he wanted there. Later on, Blackbeard plans on breaking out several of the most dangerous criminals of Impel Down. To even aproach the prison he has to gain favour with the government, which he plans to do by beating a high bounty-head, and delivering said person to the government. He decides on Luffy, as he was at the time worth 100.000.000, beat a Shichibukai and was relatively close. Luffy barely escapes, and Ace later catches up with Blackbeard (BB killed a crewmate to get the fruit, Ace got pissed) and after a fight Ace takes Luffy's place as a prisoner. At the prison he happens to arrive just as Luffy, who had broken into the same prison earlier in order to rescue his brother, has begun his efforts to break back out alongside several allies he had made along the way, which makes things much easier for Blackbeard. This is lampshaded by how Blackbeard and his crew often talk about the role of fate in their plans, as if recognizing that the plot will allow their plans to succeed eventually. Blackbeard himself admits to Sengoku that his plan hit a snag here and there, but overall it worked out as planned.
  • In Soul Hunter it turns out that the entire houshin project was really there to destroy an omnipotent being, who was in turn manipulating history. The main character turns out to be the same person as a major villain, the person whom they were, was a member of the same race as the first omnipotent being, and he had predicted the whole series of events hundreds of years earlier.
  • In the anime and manga Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna, the ability to ravel and unravel Plans and Roulettes is, although it's not stated quite so baldly, a superpower many characters possess. Most of them assert that everything in the plot is a giant Roulette planned by the protagonist's older brother.
  • Yuuko of Xxx HO Li C and Tsubasa -RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE- seems to be aware of all "effects" to all "costs" via Wishes and manipulates them together to affect the future in ways mere mortals can't possibly predict. Yuuko's one limitation is that only other people can initiate Wishes, and she has to be a Literal Genie to get the result she wants. Things get complicated when the villain of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle uses his ability to see the future through dreams to manipulate fate this way too, often with the same costs and effects. There are other dreamseers in the series pulling strings as well, but most of them are allied with either Yuuko or Fei Wong and incorporated into their plans. Also, every member of the initial party is somehow working for Yuuko or Fei Wong. All of them had been previously manipulated by the two chessmasters into the circumstances which led them to Yuuko's shop. Only one of them knows which side he's playing for from the beginning, but even his memories were changed to better serve the Big Bad. Topping it off, everything both of them planned was secretly part of Clow Reed's plan, which also incorporated the entire plot of Cardcaptor Sakura. Clow has been dead for centuries.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!
    • Dartz, The Leader of the Doma Organization, used this to recruit his followers; except for Mai, Haga, and Ryuzaki, all of his servants' past troubles that eventually lead to their joining the Organization were orchestrated by Dartz himself just so he could inflict a rage against humanity in them and use More Than Mind Control to cajole them into signing up.
    • Later on, Yami Bakura's master plan comes up, which took over 200 bloody episodes to come to fruition.
    • Furthermore, in every duel in the series, the opposing duelist is always thought to be a Chessmaster, no matter how competent (or not) the duelist actually is. The Magic Poker Equation is responsible by no small measure. Yugi's duel against the mind-controlled Strings is a good example. While Marik's "Five God Combo" was lethal when Strings pulled it off, there were dozens of things that could have gone wrong.
  • Yubel, Judai's Stalker with a Crush from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX gives a prime example of this trope. During Season 3 of the show, she completes and executes one of the most intricate and chancy plans of the genre by manipulating everyone and everything with mind-control, possession and, most unthinkably, losing a match on purpose.
  • Though most of Kurama's gambits in Yu Yu Hakusho are justified, the one he used in his fight against Shigure counts. Just how many seeds does Kurama have to plant in demon world? What are the chances such an important fight would take place in one of the few places he could have planted it?


Example of: