Review of Kakegurui

Kakegurui

I have never understood the appeal of gambling, which makes me wonder how I have managed to survive a decade working for online casinos. Gambling isn’t like playing a video game, were you part with cash in exchange for a good story or fun entertainment. In my experience gamblers only derive satisfaction from a big win. Why then trap yourself in a loop of spending cash to make cash? If you want to accrue money, squandering savings on games (were the odds are stacked heavily against you) is illogical. Watching a character stake everything on the roll of a dice can make for tense situations though, which is something that works of fiction like Kakegurui thrive on.

OVERVIEW

Hyakkaou Private Academy is the school where the wealthy elite sends their offspring to study. When you are set for life there isn’t much incentive to earn qualifications, so the students there spend much of their time gambling against each other. I thought that gambling was illegal in Japan, but I guess when you are rich the law doesn’t apply to you. In the words of Seto Kaiba – “screw the rules, I have money.” Those who get lucky at Hyakkaou will prosper financially and make connections that will serve them in good stead later in life. Unfortunates, who go into debt, however are branded pets and condemned to an existence of humiliation at the hands of their peers.

Kakegurui is a twelve-episode anime based on Homura Kawamoto’s manga. The series follows transfer student Yumeko Jabami, as she competes in games of Poker, Concentration and Janken. At first glance Yumeko appears to be a sweet and courteous young lady. Whilst in the midst of a match however her dark side manifests. Games of chance are her biggest pleasure in life and she is darn good at them, thanks to an exceptional memory and ability to read people. Her success catches the attention of the student council who proceed to challenge Yumeko for control of the gambling den that masquerades as a school. Will her luck hold or will she “bust” out… and no I’m not referring to the chest she exposes in the ED.

VERDICT

My rating for Kakegurui is four and a half stars. When it comes to gambling anime this series is leagues ahead of something like Rio: Rainbow Gate. Both those shows have a fair amount of fan service, but Kakegurui stands out because it has substance to go along with the aesthetically pleasing visuals. The encounters between Yumeko and the student council are thrilling affairs filled with suspense, strategy and mind games. The outcome of a match is never certain. Perspective Yumeko triumphs sometimes, in a rigged game, by noticing how her opponent cheats. Other times however Yumeko loses and is only able to recover by courting the aid of rivals that she has previously vanquished.

The eccentric cast is another reason why I enjoyed Kakegurui. Hyakkaou’s student body, for example, contains a one-eyed gunslinger named Midari Ikishima. She doesn’t care one iota about currency so when it comes to wagering she elects to stake her life in games of Russian roulette. The student council’s ranks also include a loli gamer, a pop idol and a masked vice president. Ryota Suzui, who Yumeko liberates from bankruptcy in episode one, is the only character I would describe as plain. In any other show he would be the dull male protagonist, but thankfully in Kakegurui he is just a sidekick. Enigmatic Yumeko is the star of the show and the chief reason why I eagerly anticipate the release of season two. This show’s gambling sequel bet-ter arrive soon.

25 thoughts on “Review of Kakegurui

  1. Sounds good to me. I love the gambling series I’ve watched already – Akagi and Kaiji are both great shows in my top five anime series ever. So I’m always looking for good gambling series to watch. This one sounds way more fanservicey than Fukumoto’s works (which barely even has any female characters at all) but I don’t mind fanservice if it’s not the focus of the show. Will check this one out.

    • If you like gambling shows I imagine you will like this one too. The eye candy is mostly reserved for the OP and ED so it isn’t distracting. For me the fan service was just the cherry on top. The main things that make Kakegurui good are the characters and how the games play out.

  2. Even though I despise gambling in real life, I have always enjoyed playing gambling games in videogames. Weird isn’t it?
    I read about this series last year, and definitely want to check it out (it’s unfortunately not available for me yet). I like the characters you are describing as well, especially the one eyed gunslinger. Hope I can see this one at some point later this year. While it won’t make me love gambling any more than I already don’t (πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚), I think I’m really going to enjoy this series πŸ˜€πŸ˜€ Awesome review!

    • I think the series is available on Netflix, but I no longer have a subscription for that service so I watched it via um… other means.

      Can’t blame you for hating gambling. From my line of work I have learned that many gamblers are unpleasant people and downright insane in some cases. Excessive gambling can ruin lives too. Perhaps I would be less harsh if casino games relied more on skill? I just don’t see what is fun about putting a coin in a slot and pulling a lever.

      • Haha I am getting more and more tempted to use other means too. So many things are not available for me to watch which is kind of annoying.
        Yeah, it’s out on Netflix…but not in my country though, which again is kind of sad. Hope it will be making an appearance later this year.
        Nope I don’t know what the appeal for that is too. I went to a casino only once with my team at work, and really didn’t like it at all. So no chance of that ever happening again. I do like the games though πŸ˜€

      • I think most gamblers have mental issues which society often brush aside, but I don’t like to call them insane or don’t have any real skill. Some of the great writers of all time such as Fyodor Dostoevsky was a gambler. Sadly, I know some talented artist/creative people in real life who have gambling addiction. I personally hate it with a passion because I see firsthand how it ruined people’s lives.

  3. In terms of real life gambling, I’ve not known many that are nice people. Whether that holds true in the majority of cases though, I couldn’t say, as my exposure has been limited. Regardless though, this is one that I do want to see at some point, as it really does look quite intriguing.

    • I would recommend checking out Kakegurui. Shame that it is a Netflix series so it can’t participate in your Crunchyroll tournament. With respect to gamblers I am biased because at work we only hear from the problem cases. I am sure there are loads of nice people who have the occasional flutter, but the whole concept of risking money does seem to attract some troubled people.

      • Unfortunately, it’s mostly the troubled people that I’ve encountered in my limited exposure too. It’s a shame, because people seem to get hooked very easily at times.

  4. I went through a big Texas Hold-em streak back in high school. Pretty much all a bunch of us did senior year in math class was play Texas Hold-em.

    I do like the idea of the protagonist losing sometimes, even if she manages to recover sometimes. Sounds more engaging than always knowing the hero will turn it around somehow.

    • When it comes to gambling I respect Poker more than other games. It has some strategy to it and you are competing against other players, rather than a casino who has the edge on all its games.

      This series would be dull if Yumeko stream rolled over everybody, so it’s good that she losses on occasion. It ups the ante during key scenes, because you don’t know if she is going to triumph or get royally screwed.

  5. I would imagine working for an online casino is a bit of an odd experience if you don’t understand the appeal of gambling.

    I can get poker. Maybe concentration. But gambling on games of Janken? That just seems like it would lack intensity.

    • The type of Janken they played involved having a hand of three cards, which would have random pictures of rock, paper and scissors. It’s more intense than it sounds, but I wouldn’t want to say why because that would be a spoiler.

  6. I don’t get the appeal of gambling either. Maybe it’s because I’ve never really be lucky in gambling, and I don’t know how to play any games like poker. Still, I find story lines involving gambling interesting. There’s always plenty of conflict and lots of human frailty on display (if the story’s good anyway). This sounds pretty interesting. Thanks for sharing. πŸ™‚

    • Not being lucky in gambling can be a blessing in disguise. Some people win big the first time they play and that can encourage them to start wagering beyond their means. It’s sad when that happens to someone with an addictive personality for example.

      Even if games of chance aren’t my thing I agree that they can serve as the basis for good stories. Gambling against someone at the end of the day can be written like people battling in a sport or fight.

  7. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the show and I think I’m finally going to check it out. Thanks for the review!

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