Rio Rollins is Howard Resort’s most popular croupier. Dubbed “the Goddess of Victory” she has the magical ability to bless gamblers, who visit her table, with good fortune. I wonder why her employer keeps Rio around, given the liability her winning touch must incur. Oh well, never mind. Rio: Rainbow Gate isn’t a show that concerns itself with logic. In addition to her regular duties, Rio competes in the MVCD tournament that pits casino dealers against each other. Winning a duel grants the victor a mystical Gate Card. Once a participant has amassed all thirteen cards the titular Rainbow Gate shall open, which could potentially answer the mystery surrounding the disappearance of Rio’s mom.
Proving that you can make an anime about virtually anything, Rio: Rainbow Gate is based on a fictional character that is used to promote pachinko machines over in Japan. The folks at studio Xebec didn’t have much material to work with so they have opted to entertain with humour and lashings of eye candy. Rio’s default uniform showcases her breasts and the garments she wears during Gate matches are even skimpier. Not to be outdone, the support cast includes a trio of bunny girls and some well-endowed ladies who are dressed in gowns that flaunt their ample cleavage.
Speaking of the cast, the show’s characters are nothing more than one-note caricatures. Rio’s protégée Anya Helsing is a klutz, whose sole standout feature is that she trips over in ever scene. Busty android Linda meanwhile hides her lack of personality by getting decapitated whenever onscreen. Just like the cast, the duels that Rio participates in lack depth. Blackjack and Roulette are games of chance, rather than skill, so the anime tries to spice up the encounters by pitting Rio against rivals who possess super strength, telekinesis and influence over probability. After a while the show gives up on casino games, opting instead to have Rio compete in a waterslide race and various virtual reality arenas.
My rating for Rio: Rainbow Gate is a two and a half out of five. I expect most people will detest this series. If you can forgive the weak storytelling however it can be fun to watch, in a “its so bad its good” sort of way. Thirteen episodes of mediocrity can be overlooked if you have a soft spot for corny gags and beautiful women. I think the series is at its best when it focuses on silly episodic tales, such as the time when Rio crossed swords with a KFC loving ghost. The script fares less well when it tries to add some drama to the mix. Perhaps the sombre story arc that sees Rio challenge a tycoon, named Cartia Goltschmidt, would have worked better if it didn’t hinge on a betrayal you can see coming a mile away.
Another thing that didn’t work for me was the finale. The way that Rio: Rainbow Gate’s conclusion plays out must rank as the most cringe-worthy/ridiculous thing I have seen in 2017. Given that I watched Wonder Momo a few weeks ago that’s saying a lot! I can only speculate that the series was performing poorly with audiences, so studio Xebec stopped caring and decided to go out full retard. If that were the case though, why would they end episode thirteen with some sequel bait? This anime has niche appeal. Gambling on a second season is a wager that not even the Goddess of Victory can help you win.