Genre(s): Psychological, Drama
Aired: Jul 2017 – to Sept 2017
Also known as: Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler, 賭ケグルイ
Summary: A private academy, in which many children of the richest people in the world attend, becomes a gambling den after class. With the arrival of Jabami Yumeko, a transfer student who gambles for the sake of thrills instead of for the sake of victory, the school’s hierarchy and status quo is seemingly fated to change.
Review: The series goes all-out with the shock value and spares little time on the explanation side of things. As a result, Kakegurui leaves the viewer feeling left out and uninvolved at times.
What I mention the shock value in Kakegurui, I’m talking about the overly-detailed (some would say ugly) faces that some characters make while they’re involved in a game of gambling. With bizarre actions and sudden declarations, the series seems intent on trying to get you feel nauseated or at least surprised. This direction serves to illustrate just how insane and destructive gambling can be and comes across as trying to scare the viewers straight. If I could liken its strategy to something, then it’s similar to how some sex ed classes opt to show “The Miracle of Life” to the participating students which ends up freaking the kids out.
I’ve talked about this before, but Kakegurui skims on explanations from time to time. Consequently, the viewer might end up feeling cheated, perhaps, because many of the characters within the story cheat and the viewer has no option but to believe what the characters are saying since the viewer is given too little clues to be able to draw conclusions. It’s like we’re reading a mystery novel but we don’t get the clues the detective gleans from the scene(s) of the crime and she / he just tells it like how he thinks everything happens and we all take her / his word for it. There’s little sense of foreshadowing in general. It’s like the author (since this was originally a manga) opted to feature chapters that end with cliffhangers and then was forced to follow up with an explanation that was never properly hinted at so the story can continue. This gets a little better as the series progresses, but one particular episode (featuring idols, no less) felt particularly lazy, especially in regards to animation.
I suppose the most controversial character would be the titular compulsive gambler, Jabami Yumeko. Some people will say her design is refined while others consider to look boring, for instance. And then there’s the aspect with her personality. As stated in the summary, Yumeko aims to get a kick out of gambling, which makes her different from (most of) the others who gamble to win. Despite what I said about the show’s attempt to scare viewers straight, the series also tries to convince readers that gambling is better than sex considering how many times female characters seem to climax as the stakes get raised.
Despite her insanity, she makes a good point when she states that gambling is the very definition of madness. And underneath her lunacy there’s a recurring theme she supports and preaches from time to time: freedom of choice Ideally, gamblers in real life aren’t tied to the games they play and know when to walk away from the table, so I suppose her personal beliefs aren’t outlandish. However, Yumeko never backs down which sort of contradicts with what she’s telling others. She’s a woman of many conflicting, interesting traits, surely.
Unfortunately, she and the other characters aren’t fully explored since the anime series opts for an anime-original ending. As a result, a lot of details are left unexplained just like the way some of the characters cheated during their matches before Yumeko explains everything to the audience. The manga series is still ongoing, though!
The OP was messy (in a good way. Listening to it always got me bobbin’ my head) and the ED wasn’t bad at all (although it gets a bit out of hand with the fanservice, which is actually rather prominent in the series proper).
As for the yuri, there are a few ships to get excited for. Yumeko actually gets text (not a text message. I mean text as opposed to subtext) from the one decent male character in the series due to his indirect confession. And there are some steamy interactions between the Student Council President and the Student Couoncil Secretary, but it’s mostly one-sided. There are some moments where characters disrespect the concept known as personal space, however.
It’s an entertaining watch but it’s not stellar. Just expect to feel left out as a mere spectator at times. Despite the fact that this series review was primarily just me listing my issues with the series, I had fun watching it. But I enjoyed it more when I started seeing it as a comedy. It’s rather easy to do so if you set your mind to it!