Kakegurui

Kakegurui

Kakegurui anime cover art
Kakegurui Cover Art

Overview

Kakegurui is an anime about gambling. Seems like it should be simple enough, except that the plot makes absolutely no sense. First of all, it’s about a gambling school, which I first thought meant a school where students gamble instead of attending real classes (because anime).

However, that’s not the case. This anime does, in fact, take place at a “normal” school, but between classes and after school, all the students do is gamble with each other. The reason for this is that all of the students are rich children of important people throughout Japan, but is that really a reason?

Now, that alone doesn’t really make sense if you were to stop and think about it, but that’s also not the major flaw in the plot. The school is run by the student council (because anime) and they designate the 100 lowest ranking students (in terms of gambling debt) as “class pets.”

Class pets are considered to be sub-human and it’s expected and encouraged that the rest of the student body abuses them. Again, let me remind you this is still an actual school, so why is this happening? It also seems that all of the students take their gambling and their debts extremely seriously.

Personally, if I lost a bet at a school and was then considered sub-human, I’d probably just not pay off the debt (because there was never any signed contract saying I would in the first place) and I don’t think I’d just go along with being sub-human either.

This never seems to cross the minds of the students, however, since we only see one background character mention thinking about transferring schools due to their debt. Apparently everyone just goes along with what the student council says, including when they create “life plans” for people (again, because anime).

Along with a basic premise that doesn’t really make sense, the gambling in this series doesn’t really have any stakes for the protagonist Yumeko. Because of this, there’s never any real sense of suspense. Sure, another character may be affected, but we know Yumeko will always be just fine.


Characters

Yumeko Jabami is the aforementioned protagonist of the series. She loves gambling and doesn’t care whether she wins or loses as long as she has a good time doing so. This is the first problem with her as a character in a gambling anime.

Normally, at the very lowest level, the protagonist in a competitive anime would want to win and so there would at least be a bit of suspense surrounding the possibility of losing. However, Yumeko is equally accepting of a loss and so losing means nothing to her.

Further, even when there are extremely large sums of money on the line, Yumeko doesn’t care because she apparently has a bottomless wallet. This means that even if she loses, she’ll never really be in a bad financial situation, thus making the gambles even less suspenseful.

Ryōta Suzui is one of the two major supporting characters and friend of Yumeko. He doesn’t really seem like he belongs at the school because he isn’t very good at gambling, and he’s in constant fear of losing or messing up.

The other major supporting character is Mary Saotome, the first person Yumeko gambles with when she transfers to the school. Mary is my favorite character of the series, and not just because she’s your classic tsundere with twin tails (although that is a part of it).

While Mary is initially an antagonist of the series, she becomes friends with Yumeko and together they take down the student council one by one. While Yumeko is the main person taking on the student council, Mary is like her co-conspirator and frequently plays major, but unexpected, roles in the gambles.

Next I’ll briefly go over a few of the student council members who I feel are worth mentioning.

The first is Midari Ikishima, the “beautification officer.” She’s the only student at the school who wants to gamble with more than just money, specifically, she wants to gamble with her life and body in a Russian roulette style.

However, there’s one major flaw with Midari’s character as a concept: she carries around revolvers with live ammo in a school and actively tries to get students to play with her. First, why is it okay for her to have guns in school? Second, handguns are illegal for civilians in Japan anyway.

The next student council member I found somewhat interesting was Yumemi Yumemite. She’s a school idol, not unlike those from Love Live! except she hates all of her fans and finds them disgusting. Nothing about her personality really stuck out to me, but I enjoyed her character design.

The final student council member I’ll mention is the president, Kirari Momobami. Although she doesn’t play too big of a role in this season, I did find her to be the most interesting of the antagonists. She isn’t driven by money, but then again, not many of the student council are.

Instead, she’s driven by a thirst for knowledge, although a perversion of that thirst for knowledge. She wants to see things for herself rather than simply read about them in a textbook. An example of this is that she wanted to see what the back of a human eye looked like, which is how Midari lost an eye.

Mary Saotome from the anime Kakegurui
Mary Saotome

Conclusion

Although the plot of this series doesn’t necessarily make sense, and the stakes of the various gambles don’t really matter, I still ended up giving this series a 7/10. Kakegurui looks nice, and is still very entertaining despite its downfalls.

While we don’t really care about the outcomes of the various games played in the series, it’s still fun to watch them just to see how the characters will end up trying to cheat or figuring out the cheat of their opponent.

Further, we tend to view the games from the perspective of the opponent, not Yumeko. This means that every game, we’re seeing a different perspective on gambling and the nature of whatever game is being played. If we saw it all from Yumeko’s perspective, it would probably get old.

Earlier when I was talking about the student council president I used the phrase, “this season.” Based on how the anime ended, it does seem like there will eventually be a second season.

We learned some interesting information about the president and vice president at the end of the anime which seems like it will have a major role in the show going forward. Further, Yumeko never actually gambled against Runa Yomozuki (the loli in the bunny hoodie).

Runa played a role in the final game against the student council president, but I was interested to see what kind of game she would choose to play against Yumeko. All the other members chose a game that fit their persona, so I wonder what hers would have been.

Finally, a word on the OP. I enjoyed both the music and visuals for the OP (especially Mary punching Ryōta in the head), but there was one part which stood out to me. Right before Mary punches Ryōta, we have a panty-shot of Mary.

Normally I wouldn’t think anything of this if it came at some point within an episode, but I found the inclusion of this in the OP to be an interesting choice, especially since we never see anything like that in the series itself. I get that the OP is over-sexualized, but this one scene still stands out from the rest.

The only reason I can think of for the inclusion of the scene there is to foreshadow the fact that Mary is a tsundere, because that’s generally something we would see involving that character type. However, an emphasis on something like her twin tails might have also done the trick.

Little details like this are what keep me up at night.

The OP for Kakegurui is available here.

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