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.
“Part of it went on gambling, and part of it went on women. The rest I spent foolishly.” – George Raft.
To those of you who have watched Kakegurui I ask: Why did you watch this anime? Were you intrigued by the aesthetic look of the show? Or maybe what drew you to Kakegurui was the concept; gambling! The latter was what caught my eye, as past experiences with gambling anime have proven that they hold some of the most entertaining and exhilarating moments I have ever seen. These shows have given me goose bumps from sheer awe and admiration while watching psychological battles of wits
and strategy between people willing to risk their very lives on even the simplest of games. Unfortunately, these kinds of anime are extremely rare to come by, as nearly all of them are practically unknown to most of the anime community and nearly impossible to watch any of them legally. So when I saw that Kakegurui was airing this season and also happened to be the most popular show of Summer 2017, I was pretty excited. I had heard good things about the manga and it was being produced by Studio MAPPA, a studio that I have high hopes for despite not being impressed with any of their previous works. All that was left for me to do was watch it, and this is where the hype for this show died for me. I was disappointed with Kakegurui from episode 1, because even after just one episode, it is obvious to see that Kakegurui is a terrible gambling anime.
Kakegurui takes place in Hyakkaou Private Academy, a prestigious school where the student are the most wealthy and privileged students in all of Japan. I use the term school lightly because there seems to be no actual classes or learning happening, instead the school is more like a gambling den, where every student partakes in gambling. They bet their fortunes against one another regularly, and those who become in debt are practically slaves to the holders of their wealth. The show focuses of Yumeko Jabami, a new student who gambles for the fun of it and is really good at it; too good, in fact. Her actions end up disrupting the student hierarchy of Hyakkaou Academy, causing the Student Council to come up with ways to stop her. Throughout the show, Yumeko befriends beta cuck bitch-boy Ryouta Suzui and fellow gambling gal Meari Saotome who help her as she gambles to her heart’s content. Ironically, Yumeko’s first gamble at the academy is against Meari, and it is here where the first major problem of the show lies.
The game Yumeko and Meari play is a card-game variation of rock-paper-scissors where the crowd of people watching them write the symbol of “rock”, “paper” or “scissors” on cards, where they are collected and put into a box for both players to draw three cards and play the game. Meari manipulates the majority of the class’ votes to her advantage, however Yumeko still wins decisively and reveals exactly how Meari cheated. Throughout the entire game, the audience is given no insight into what Yumeko is thinking or even a hint as to how she was able to figure out Meari’s scheme until it is given through exposition after she has already won. As such, viewers are forced to believe Yumeko was able to piece everything together without fault. Doing this is lazy of the writers as it solely relies on having to tell the audience what happened, rather than show it as it is happening. This problem is apparent in every gamble in the show and kills the opportunity for viewers to engage with the gambling games and the characters playing said games. The games themselves are also poorly constructed; some come off as unnecessarily complex, others are just too simple and easy to beat. Being marketed as a gambling anime makes the show look incredibly dumb and stupid, taking away the chance to get excited for how these games play out. And that leads to what I feel is the 2nd biggest issue with this anime: no thrills.
As you watch Kakagurui, you begin to notice a couple patterns with each gamble: High-stakes are never fully realised, every female character is bat-shit insane and “Yumeko wins LOL”. Seriously, even when Yumeko loses like in episode 3, she has no repercussions from losing. Because the audience is always watching from the perspective of either a mere onlooker or one of Yumeko’s opponents, she always comes across as too good for every situation she is placed in. Because of this she rids the show of any tension it could have had. And when you figure out that most of the time Yumeko gambles, she barely even uses a complete strategy, relying on pure luck to win at random times, which feels like a slap in the face to anyone expecting consistency and/or intelligence from this show. The fact that there are no actual punishments fulfilled from losing a high-stakes gamble also hinders the joy and excitement viewers get from watching. Now while there are consequences for being in an extreme amount of debt (e.g. house pet, Meari’s “Life Schedule”), you never actually see the show go through with these consequences and even then, the punishment for losing rarely ever matches the reward for winning. And in Yumeko’s case, the money she wins never really matters to her at all. She is the kind of sadomasochist that would throw countless amounts of money away to feel satisfied with how high the risk of losing a gamble is. Yet the show never goes through with these risks. So I’m left here after watching each gamble asking myself “What’s the point?”. A lot of fans of the show have been saying that Kakegurui is not a gambling anime, but a great thriller, and I just cannot agree with that statement at all. It is a mediocre thriller at best and that is only if you turn your brain off.
Speaking of which, this show stretches one’s suspension of disbelief so much that you would think this has the quality of fanfiction-level writing. Not just with the gambling aspect of it, but the entire setting is fucking stupid. From the very start I was always curious why there were so many students at Hyakkaou Academy and why they would all gamble. But as I continued watching, the curiosity turned into frustration because it became apparent that there is no proper reason why so many students would stay there or continue to engage in gambling than to make Yumeko even more perfect than what she already is. Yumeko exposes a lot of the games played in gambles as cheat ways to get other in debt, yet that never changes the amount of gambling that takes place within the academy, and that is because most of the students in the background are ignorant buffoons. I would also like to know why only one adult to my memory has appeared in the entire 12 episodes. ONE! I cannot imagine such a prestigious academy to only have one adult working at the academy, but it makes sense with the amount of betting that takes place so regularly. And how in the world are guns and kidnapping allowed? And why does being in extreme debt eventually lead to a life sentence that dictates you to a wealthy future? So many questions that are never explained because this show is not about logic. It tries to look smart but just comes off as a dumb piece of shit. Calling this show psychological is pure lunacy; if anything, it is psycho-sexual because any real sense of logic got thrown out the fucking window!
Nearly every character in this show pissed me off. I have already stated how Yumeko is convoluted out her own ass and is like a vacuum sucking all the excitement away from the show, but she seems like God’s gift to this show when compared to every other character. Meari, who seemed like she had potential, starting off as a cocky bitch that is humbled by Yumeko before being humiliated by the student council. Sadly, she turned out to be a weaker clone of Yumeko by episode 4 and is only used as a way to explain other games Yumeko plays as the story goes on. Literal waste of potential. Ryouta is their other friend, but honestly he does nothing in this show. He just reacts to shit happening around him and nods in response and is a waste of space. Fuck him. The only other characters that matter are the one-note members of the student council that only matter for the one episode they are in before getting pushed to the side. Dishonourable mention to eyepatch-girl with the revolver fetish and a chronic masturbation habit, edgy bitch. Although, there is this one supporting character who literally tried to rape Yumeko that was unironically my favourite character purely for that one moment. All kidding aside, every character is awful in their own way and make the show even more predictable and boring.
Regarding the production, from a company like Studio MAPPA I was really disappointed. The art style is not impressive, most of the female character designs are generic, backgrounds are fairly basic and visual effect are for the most part impressive. The most controversial feature of the animation has to be the facial expressions and I have mixed feelings about them. On one hand, they showcase how broken and mentally unstable these characters get at times, but these faces just do not fit the visual look of the show and come off as cringe-inducing to me. The fan-service used is also off-putting to me, seemingly thrown in at random intervals in each episode. Yumeko pretending to be a cat was a definite low point for my enjoyment and did more to prove to me that it cares more about sex appeal than anything of substance. The music used was fine to me, with the OP being perhaps the best part of the entire show, which is not a hard feat. The ED however, was nice to listen to once but afterwards was always skipped, as I don’t see how Yumeko walking for 90 seconds as her breasts bounce constantly is worth seeing more than once. The voice acting was fine until characters went into their crazy stage and felt artificial and forced, but I suppose that fits the show unintentionally.
In conclusion, Kakegurui was pretty awful, filled with formulaic, villain-of-the-week gambling matches that felt like a waste of time once it was all over. In the end it was only trying to entertaining on a superficial level; it was never attempting to have a real identity, besides being yuri fapbait. Now I have no problem with anyone who liked the show; you are free to like and enjoy whatever anime you want to, but if someone were to ask me if I enjoyed it? HELL NAW. Lemme put it this way: If you liked Mirai Nikki and Akame ga Kill, you’ll probably enjoy this. But if you are anything like myself and thought those two shows were terrible, Kakegurui ain’t gonna be worth your time. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to watch something that is actually worth my time.
For over the past few years in the anime industry, they brought as so many ''Game'' genre animes like SAO, Accel World, Log Horizon, Btooom! and other ''Game'' animes out there. But the thing is, most of them or should I say ''Almost'' of the anime with a ''Game'' genre are about going into a video game itself and it's getting boring tbh. Summer 2017 season is going to end along with one of its unique ''Game'' anime which is very different to other animes this season because not only it excels to the ''Game'' genre with being different to other animes out there but
also it excels on the psychological part of it. Welcome to Kakegurui. A 12-episodes anime that offers both the craziness of gambling and mechanism of it.
Kakegurui brought as a simple story where a student (Jabami Yumeko) just wants to gamble even further, exceeding the expectations of a normal human being like her subordinate Suzui Ryouta.
Gambling for her is like soft drinks which has a very good feeling to the body. Not only she's crazy but also she's competitive that from the beginning of the anime (Episode 1 - 3) she has taken an interest to gamble every member of the school's Student Council. The story focuses about competition and power through gambling. If one is a failure, he/she is automatically dropped on this anime's atmosphere. If one is successful, he/she will be consider as an elite on this school. Kakegurui is unique itself from its setup of the school. Normally, school animes are about high school life, romance and other stuffs, but here, competition is a must.
That's what makes Kakegurui a worth-to-watch anime this season because of its characters focusing on one goal. To be the best. But of course Yumeko is an exception. She just loves gambling.
What makes this anime famous this season is the art of the anime. Mostly, it's about the facial expression of each characters whenever they are thinking, devastated, or confident on winning. Some actually see it as a disturbing one but on my opinion, it reflects the character's attitude and thats the reason it's excellent.
Though it's not only the facial expression. The normal sketches of the anime is already good you know. Though sometimes you think that the normal face is lacking something but when the expression changes drastically, you are quite shocked.
Do you ever get the feeling that something is going to happen when the sound changes? Or something feel ''uneasy'', well there are parts on Kakegurui that will offer you some a little bit of suspense. Just a little because if it goes high, well this will be a horror anime. Speaking of sound, the opening is excellent with the jazz and music on it. Then followed up by a change of music with the ending.
To be honest, from episode 1 - 12, we have seen all the character's traits and development because of the good plot that Kakegurui brought as, though some are lacking history while others are rich of it. As for the MC she's an exception though we can see her development pretty quickly along with some other characters as well.
My enjoyment for this anime is pretty simple. To see how the character's react, think and make decisions on every game and the anime did it on a splendid well. With gambling as the main core, they derived their strategies and make it simple for the audience to understand like us. I don't know any rules about any gambling games but I understand it a little because of this anime.
Overall.. I rate this anime as 8.5/10 or 8/10 for the fact that it focuses on its genre more, character development and the craziness it offers to us this Summer 2017 season.
I’m not a fan of using buzzwords but it’s hard to ignore the edginess when watching Kakegurui. Based on the manga of the same name, this adaptation translates to a gambling story. I can’t help but think of a wicked thriller when watching this show. It basically takes the idea of gambling and transform it into madness with its characters, setting, and ideas. However, does it live up its hype and worth watching? The answer is quite the opposite.
Getting into this show for some people will likely not be easy. It’s not a recommendable show for anyone unless you really fancy a psychological thriller that
deals with a crazy cast of characters. The show itself takes place at Hyakkaou Academy. It’s a peculiar school that prepares students for proficiency related to strategizing, mental strength, and of course gambling. To survive, you have to outsmart your opponents and become part of the hierarchy. In other words, it’s survival of the fittest.
The first episode definitely will get you into the mood as we meet Yumeko Jabami, the main protagonist and new transfer student. While Jabami may seem like an ordinary girl at first glance, it’s easy to notice how far she is from normal once she gets herself involved in gambling games. The show chronicles her school days as she takes on opponents with high risk. I mean, it’s gambling. There’s always risk but what’s peculiar about Jabami is that she gambles for the thrill of it rather than for fame or money. In addition, the show makes it clear that Jabami is intelligent as she quickly learns the inside and outside of the school’s gambling games. In fact, there are episodes where Jabami beats her opponents at their own game. However, I can’t firmly say that Jabami’s personality is one that people can appreciate. She is highly unpredictable and truly enjoys the thrill of gambling. From every episode, she has orgasmic reactions when she thinks about gambling. To a certain extent, the show truly wants us to accept Jabami for who she is but I find it difficult to do so. The reason she gambles is irrational and I can hardly find her relatable to anyone. Not to mention, this show doesn’t do an adequate job of getting viewers to understand her better. Her morality regarding gambling is absurd and really lacks reason. She just wants to gamble and treats it as the most exciting thing in the world. I also have to confess that Jabami’s character change from an elegant beauty to a psychotic freak to be difficult to watch at times. In retrospect, Jabami has a lot of flaws in her character and this show doesn’t do a decent job at repairing them.
Beyond Jabami, the majority of the cast isn’t far off from their psychotic characteristics. Mary Saotome, the first gambling opponent of Jabami at the school shows her own crazy antics. The majority of the student council has various characters ranging from the mysterious president Kirari Momobami, the violent head of Beautification Committee Midari Ikishima, the calculating Kaede Manyuda, part-time idol Yumemi Yumemite, nail loving Itsuki Sumeragi, and among others. The show tries to make them appealing by injecting their personalities in the most devious way possible. What we get as a result are weak background stories, generic characteristics, and abominable morals. To me, these characters are pretty much all the same and serve as an obstacle to Jabami. The show has Jabami fighting against some of the key members of the student council but the result usually ends up being extremely predictable. To be quite honest, the anime itself is nothing short but predictable from the start. Even though Jabami isn’t invulnerable to losing, it doesn’t make us feel anything about her situation when she does. Jabami herself doesn’t even seem to care and in many ways, the show tries to express offbeat ideas that come out as uninspiring.
Character relationships in this anime is also very questionable. The most normal character at the school would probably be Ryouta Suzui, one of Jabami’s very few allies. He has a very lack-luster personality and I honestly feel like this show would be much better if he didn’t exist. His relationship with Jabami is easily forgettable as the two are very polar opposites. Others also make him look like a fool and to be quite honest, it’s pretty much what he is. That being said, the show makes it clear that the society has many fools. Thanks to the hierarchy that the student council president has made, there are those that are labeled as “house pets”. Essentially, house pets are those that sink into large debts and are mistreated by the public. Why? It’s the simplicity of social status. Unfortunately, we never really get a full understanding on why this system exists as the show focuses way too much on Jabami’s gambling adventures than anything else. It’s one of the major weakness of the show as everything seems to be about Jabami. The show is like a loop with the same formula. Jabami faces off against an opponent, plays against them at their own game, and gets the orgasmic thrills of it. It becomes tedious fast and lacks substance because of Jabami’s morals. I also don’t really find the games themselves to be thrilling as most are predictable. The games puts emphasis on psychology rather than strategy so don’t expect this show to be smart in any way. I mean, a good majority of the gamblers cheat, manipulate, and do anything to win. Then, there’s Jabami who just wants to enjoy the ecstasy of gambling. On the plus side, adaptation standards remain mostly faithful as the show captures the expressive faces of the characters. Each chapter is adapted carefully with panel by panel storytelling. However, it’s still an incomplete adaptation because manga itself is ongoing. A 1-cour adaptation like this really leaves open a lot of questions and doesn’t tie any loose ends in the end. There’s also original content added in for this adaptation.
Adapted by Studio MAPPA, the producers apparently went all out to bring out the sheer entertainment value as much as possible. First, there’s the character expressions that really borderlines inhuman insanity. The art shift is pretty noticeable for almost every gambler in this anime. One minute, they look normal but as soon as gambling business picks up, they go full facial with highly stylized features. Jabami is the guiltiest of this with her psychotic eyes, intense blushing, and body language. The show decorates itself with fan service although this sometimes looks like a satire. Also, it seems this show can’t sometimes hold back on the violence so don’t be surprised if you see blood, vomiting, etc. It’s a crazy world after all.
By technical elements, Kakegurui’s soundtrack, music, and voice acting is impressive. The theme songs are very stylistic with piano chords, eerie beats, and haunting lyrics. Both theme songs also have a clever tempo that matches the momentum of its creativity. Plus, it’s also hard to ignore the show’s OST during any gambling match when it’s at its highest point. Finally, I have to admit that a good amount of character personality comes from the voices. This could likely be Saori Hayami’s best role to date as Jabami. She had a lot of different voice acting roles in the past before but to me, her character in this show stood out the most. If there’s anything to take away from this anime, it’s to remember the talents of the voices.
In the end, Kakegurui turned out to be a cheap cash grab that serves as a giant advertisement of the manga. It’s hard to forgive this show when the storytelling is so blend and the characters are brutally depressing to watch. The anime tried far too hard to sell whatever it intended to and ended up delivering a nakedly dumb adaptation. Some of the visual elements, music, and voice acting saved this show from total catastrophe. However, it still makes this show look like a crude joke.
Gambling is a fairly common topic in manga, though it is seldom adapted into an anime. There is good reason for this: there is little in the way of action that would benefit from adaptation, and exposition really drags on when it needs to be voiced rather than just read. And alongside these conceptual problems, there's the moral repugnancy that Kakegurui revels in, which should serve to further alienate any potential audience. But despite all of this, Kakegurui has somehow won against a stacked deck, and in this review, I'll take a look at how this oddball became a mainstream success.
This anime covers the first
27 chapters of the manga, and then adds on an anime exclusive ending. These chapters essentially serve as an introduction to the world of Kakegurui, establishing the characters and the rules that the world follows. It’s really just setup for the much more interesting second arc, though considering the events of the new ending, I wouldn’t hold my breath for a second season.
In gambling, there are always two games going on. There’s the game that the characters are playing on the table, but there’s also all of the mind games and cheating that are going on surrounding it. Pretty much all of the games played in Kakegurui are original, though simple and straightforward enough that the audience can quickly understand them. On the other hand, some of the tricks employed are poorly explained, which can be frustrating. But despite the occasional misstep, the gambles generally succeed in remaining tense throughout.
In general, the cast of Kakegurui are terrible. And by that, I don’t mean that they’re terrible characters, but that they’re terrible people. They’re manipulative and sadistic, and with few redeeming traits. But while their actions are regularly cartoonishly evil, there is actually a bit of humanity behind them. For example, there’s a scene in episode eight where one of the villains talks about her ambitions of becoming an actress, and while it in no way justifies any of her behavior, it begins to make her understandable. This pays off when once-villains return as allies, which happens twice in the territory covered by the anime, and a lot more in the next arc. These are easily my favorite games in the series, because Yumeko isn’t actually a very interesting gambler. She can fix dice rolls and memorize things to an insane degree; she’s too good for there ever to be any worry of her losing, and she lacks motivations that the viewer can get behind. Luckily, the show seems to understand this, and often adopts the perspective of her opponents, which keeps tensions high.
But while I may not particularly like Yumeko, her portrayal by Hayami Saori is easily the highlight of the series. She seamlessly transitions between ladylike calm, playful teasing, and manic edge, and I could not imagine any other seiyu being as perfect a fit for the character. Besides that, the rest of the cast also delivers nicely, but Yumeko is a step above. In regards to the music, it does an excellent job of setting the mood, both through its fantastic opening and the almost constant jazzy background music, and the only place it really stumbles is in the ending theme, which falls behind the standard set by the rest of the soundtrack.
There’s been a lot of praise given to this anime for its faithfulness in recreating the wild facial expressions from the manga, and I’m not sure that I agree. These faces worked great as single frames, but when they need to be put into motion, they lose the sharpness that made them so iconic. In addition, by focusing so much on faces, other details can suffer. In particular, hands are regularly animated with 3dcg, which is really off-putting once you begin to notice it. But credit where it's due, the opening theme, directed by Yamamoto Sayo, is a real spectacle. Kakegurui is always visually ambitious, and when it works, it can be fantastic, but more often than not, it’s more than Studio MAPPA can handle.
In the end, Kakegurui has its faults, but it has also demonstrated that it’s possible to make a gambling adaptation work. I would love to see more gambling shows in the future, and hopefully Kakegurui's success will pave the road for that to happen.