Ah, gambling. One of the many great vices we love to endure and suffer because of it. We all love the thrill and intensity of the chances of getting everything you want from money, power, all that good stuff, etc. but all of that can come crashing down in a fiery rage when you eventually lose and it will hit you like an 18-wheeler, leaving you broke, penniless and desperate to get some cash back.
Or in this show’s case…..you owing them so much yen, you have to become their pet and get treated like shit.
Yeah, I heard about the premise of this show and I considered to put this on my watch list for the summer of 2017 and….yeah, Netflix got it, meaning I had to wait until 2018. No, really, it took them half a year to get it on there but then again, I had too much shit to watch during that time anyway (and some of y’all do anyway. Just admit it!) and with a bunch of new anime from Netflix arriving soon and recently like Devilman Crybaby, I decided to get back into the fray of that but starting with Kakegurui.
Unlike many schools, attending Hyakkaou Private Academy prepares students for their time in the real world. Since many of the students are the children of the richest people in the world, the academy has its quirks that separate it from all the others. By day, it is a normal school, educating its pupils in history, languages, and the like. But at night, it turns into a gambling den, educating them in the art of dealing with money and manipulating people. Money is power; those who come out on top in the games stand at the top of the school.
Yumeko Jabami, a seemingly naive and beautiful transfer student, is ready to try her hand at Hyakkaou’s special curriculum. Unlike the rest, she doesn’t play to win, but for the thrill of the gamble, and her borderline insane way of gambling might just bring too many new cards to the table.
So, I’ll admit, when I was first watching the episode, I had a lot of vibes from Classroom of the Elite, at least with the top elite students having a lot of power and money and the bottom students are treated like dogs….well, less than dogs although unlike Elite, the fan service isn’t that blatant. Yeah, there’s some in this show but not exactly in your face about it while trying to be some deep shit. You are pretty much a slave to the top dogs…..but when some of the big shots happen to lose all that clout and experience that same shit as the others.
There has never been a bigger thrill than the gambling scenes from the thrill of seeing who might win or lose to the aftermath of said match.
And of course, we got the players…..One in particular being Yumeko Jabami, our main protagonist of the show and let’s say the word “poker face” comes to mind with her. First, you get the feeling of her being the kind, sweet new girl but when that first gambling scene with her comes…..she is wild and crazy like a motherfucker!!! She’s the unassuming type of character that manages to surprise the hell out of everyone the first time and the way she defeated the first challenger she faced: Mary Saotome. That girl was once one of the top elite gamblers of the school and those behind her….they are her bitches and once she lost, she went to being the MIKE or MITTENS or basically abused house-pet for the higher-ups.
I’m not going to say this show got some deep shit but when you see the gambling at action, the tension is thick for the competition making sure one of them will win in the end. Some even go into insanity trying to win or cheat or to not lose much money as possible, although for some, they are some terrible assholes that absolutely deserve it. I did think Mary would be one and slightly, she is, but……well, she went to be less of a bitch even though she got her own taste of treatment.
The thing about the matches in here is it is very unpredictable and not just some ‘cheap’ wins and losses all around and the thing Yumeko never just it to win but she just loves the thrill of the game and the surprise it brings. Actually, that’s why I really liked Yumeko as a character. The unassuming nature and the unpredictability of her is a riveting sight to see whenever she’s either in a game or even just being herself. The one male character Ryota Suzui, who was just Mary’s bitch as the show begun, is your average every man milquetoast character and it works better that way. He works as the audience’s surrogate of seeing how crazy the other (far more interesting) characters like most of the Student Council members she plays against.
On to the animation and art-style and let’s get this out of the way. You know the major highlight of that is the infamous facial expressions of the characters and man, it looks so insane and frightening and yet so intriguing of what’s to come for most of these characters. The rest of the animation provided by studio MAPPA aka the anime studio version of “Girl on Fire” is what I usually notice from them as in, it’s very exceptional with some usage of 3DCG (that I didn’t notice until I looked it up) and it’s formidably pleasing to the eyes.
Also, in the opening sequence (directly wonderfully by Sayo Yamamoto, BTW), we get this upbeat jazzy opener with “Deal with the Devil” performed by Tia and it was an fantastic song and a good way to start it out and the ending “LAYon-theLINE” performed by D-Selections…..it is a far contrast with the opening and the rest of the score in the show yet I still dug the song and the animation with Yumeko in her zone.
And more on the Yumeko love, especially in the dub as I genuinely loved Erika Harlacher’s performance as her as she both excels in both the softer, gentle side of Yumeko along with her risky, mad woman side. In fact, whenever other VAs like Erica Mendez, Faye Mata and especially Sarah Anne Williams get into that mode with their character’s crazy faces, it is euphorically fascinating.
FINAL VERDICT: In short, this show was a damn fun time and also ones that does leave you on edge on what might happen in these games of chance and the effects and aftermath of that. Yes, I know this isn’t exactly like that other gambling anime a lot of anime will compare it to but I don’t do that so…..yeah. Also, another show on Netflix that when I binge it, I keep wanting to watch the very next episode.
So, yeah…….KAKEGURUI is on NETFLIX and no one has licensed it in the states yet. A second season has been announced. There is also a live-action TV drama that is currently airing in Japan.
I’m MAK2.0 aka The Blue Hybrid and remind me to never gamble or don’t get too obsessed with it. I’m not trying to be anybody’s bitch.
KAKEGURUI – animated by MAPPA