Have you ever sat down at a poker table, and with every bet, every draw of the card, sink deeper and deeper into a state of orgasmic euphoria? Yeah me neither. Summer 2017 was around the time Netflix was really buying into the weebness. It was cashing checks left and right to get as many animes as possible to wear the Netflix logo and it was seeming as if no sum was too much. Through the sheer madness and interesting show popped up that changed what it means to gamble. Kakegurui has to be one of the most bizarre, odd, fun takes on what being a gambling addict is all about. It rips out both logic and sanity simply replacing them with twisted facial expressions, fantastic games, a lot of spit, for some reason, and the only term that I can really think of to describe it all, chaos.
Hyakkaou Private Academy is a place that runs a bit differently than most academy’s. Shrouded in prestige and mystery it harbors wealthy and intelligent students that are poised to be the next leaders of the future, in short, they are all ass holes and gambling addicts. The series follows finically poor Suzui, Ryouta, granted I’m not sure how he even got into the school but whatever. Being poor and not a good gambler he quickly finds himself indebted to one, Mary Saotome, a ruthless gambler in her own right, she makes Ryouta her personal pet, forcing him to do odd and end things for her. Now on its face it seems like typical bullying, but what actually exists within the walls of the school is a brutal hierarchy, you gamble big and if you lose, you are nothing more than a house pet.
I knew roughly about this plot before I watched the show and to be honest, I thought it was going to be stupid, which it was. What I didn’t expect is how much of a non-factor it would end up becoming. Being a house pet is like the main punishment for the first three episodes but then everyone just kinda stops talking about it.
Anyways, so Ryouta has having a bad time, but this is anime, he just has to believe in the power of friendship…. Or have a really hot girl randomly transfer to their class and save him. Ah, the pure madness that is Jabami, Yumeko. So Yumeko’s whole bit is she is quiet, attractive, well mannered, but has one, quirk, she is a massive gambling addict. Now let me make this clear, by gambling addict I don’t simply mean she lost her house and destroyed her marriage at the craps table, no she physically gets off on the idea of gambling, the higher the risk, the more pleasure she gets out of it. So yeah, it’s like a gambling anime, but horny. So Yumeko comes into the picture and Mary isn’t having it, so she challenges her to a simple card game, bent on putting her in her place.
I should mention Yumeko is super fucking smart and really, really good at breaking people down. Dueling Mary with wagers of hundreds of millions of yen Yumeko doesn’t only beat her but finically destroys her forcing her down to the rank of house pet. Thrilled off the rush Yumeko leaves the class victorious, and due to helping her out and showing her around the school, pays off Ryouta debts allowing up to shed the house pet name, and just like that the stage is set. Kakegurui in my opinion follows a recent trend to come out of the anime world, much like food wars it takes a concept and forces the world to revolve around it in over-the-top ways. A trend I by no means think is bad.
I found myself rather invested in the world which surprised me in a lot of ways. The games they play, how they interact over the different bets, and Yumeko, in general, was fascinating to watch in a lot of ways leading me to have a blast. The characters are for the most part stupid but as the series grows the group that allies themselves with Yumeko get some decent growth, though not so much outside of the world of gambling. Mary is a good example of this, she is dressed as the antagonist of the series right away but ends up becoming close friends with Yumeko and Ryouta, the woman who defeated her and the man she used to have as a house pet. It’s not so much a redemption story but more of what are you willing to risk to get what you want. Mary sees the student council, the most powerful force in the school, as failing due to the arrival of Yumeko, and she simply just wants to be on the winning side.
As far as the other characters, well, to be honest, they are all just a bunch of greedy rich kids who are trying power plays. The world exists within the school so what you see is what you get, as I mentioned the games that are created and how they are played out is interesting but other than that there isn’t a whole lot going on. To be blunt, when it comes to this series you pretty much get what you expect. You get batty off-the-wall bets, cool games, weirdo characters, and a cute but equally scary heroine in the middle of it all. If I had to put a number on Kakegurui (season 1) I’d be fine with a high 6 or low 7, thinking back I had a lot of fun with the show overall, and plan on watching the second season.
As always thanks for the read!