I’m going, to be honest with you here, folks. Kakegurui was not something I anticipated getting into in the year of our Lord 2022. The anime has been airing for a while now. But it was only this year, during one of many, many Netflix binges, that I finally bit the bullet and decided to give the gambling show a try. Let’s just say I was not prepared.
I mean, how do you prepare for something like Kakegurui? The anime is known for its wild antics, gorgeous character designs, and very, very suggestive reactions. In retrospect, it’s the exact kind of anime I despise: the ones that are all style and fanservice, but no substance. And yet, here I was, not only binging through the anime but actively looking into its entire expanded universe as well? What the hell?
Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler is a manga written by Homura Kawamoto, with illustrative work done by Tōru Naomura. It was picked up for an anime adaptation by Studio MAPPA, with the 1st season being released in 2017, simply titled Kakegurui. A 2nd season, Kakegurui ××, aired back in 2019. Since then, not only have we had a live-action-drama series, a video game, and a movie come out, but this year we got the long-awaited release of Kakegurui Twin, the prequel series.
But, apart from the obvious appeal, what sets Kakegurui apart from other game-based anime? I mean, after all, how many times could you show someone playing poker and make it engaging every time? The way gambling is portrayed here makes it an insane monster that is akin to 4D chess in terms of strategizing. Either way, let’s discuss whether this anime is worth your time!
Kakegurui: Not Your Average High School Anime!
The way the elite school, Hyakkou Private Academy, is set up, it should’ve failed all inspection visits by the education department. This is a school for the top 1% of the country, said to train future leaders of the country in all aspects to prepare them for a successful life ahead.
Turns out, one of those ways is by putting your money where your mouth is, and possible eternal servitude to the Student Council that inevitably rules the school with an iron fist. In this school, your grades don’t matter, nor does your athletic prowess.
Nope, what matters is your gambling spirit, and whether that will land you as a high roller at the top of the hierarchy, or a ‘pet’, basically subhuman amongst the student body. And that is unfair, no doubt. But that is what makes the whole experience so surreal.
Who Runs The World?
I love chaotic women. Women being an absolute menace is so, so refreshing to see in anime, where the main heroine often ends up either a Mary Sue or the pinnacle of innocence. But the women in Kakegurui are multi-faceted, no character here is fully good or bad. This is what ends up making the dynamic of the show so intriguing.
With a protagonist like Yumeko Jabami, who is chaotic neutral at best, and supporting characters like Mary Saotome, minor-antagonist-turned-ally, it’s a diverse mix of characters that somehow doesn’t end up clashing. Even outright antagonists such as Kirari Momobami, the icy President of the Student Council, are layered with questionable motivations but precise actions.
And when Yumeko teams up with Ryota Suzui, our male protagonist, they work as foils to each other. Ryota is the docile voice of reason whereas Yumeko is a high-rolling powerhouse. Again, that role reversal works so well here, and they balance each other out.
Sure, the fanservice can get pretty heavy-handed, but that’s the only complaint I have with how they handle the female characters in Kakegurui.
Chaos Is Fun In Kakegurui!
I’m not going to pretend there is some higher intellectual reason I like this show. Because there simply isn’t. And it doesn’t need it either. Sometimes, an anime is just fun to watch and that’s enough.
Following a simple ‘villain of the week’ premise, Kakegurui introduces its audience to a very convoluted and yet genuinely impressive world of gambling. I didn’t know half the games they showcase in the show, and the lengths one would go to win at them is fascinating to watch.
It’s so strange because, again as high stakes as gambling can be, seeing it being translated into an anime in such a bombastic way makes for great entertainment. I didn’t expect it to make for a compelling premise, but the chaotic nature and over-the-top reactions seal the deal here.
Is Kakegurui Worth the Watch?
So, in the end, do I think Kakegurui is worth streaming? Honestly, hell yeah! It’s good old-fashioned fun and sometimes, that’s all you need. With hilarious characters, exaggerated emotions, and great animation to boot, I would recommend this to anyone in an anime slump who just wants something crazy to indulge in!
Kakegurui is a guilty pleasure for sure, but one that leaves you feeling pretty satisfied!