Gambling isn’t exactly something you see happening everyday, unless you live in Vegas of course, then maybe you’ll find a casino somewhere and see people playing slots. I’m sure that’s what the common perception of gambling is, people either playing slots or sitting at a table in front of a dealer alongside others betting chips and playing cards. However, a school for teenagers to participate in underaged gambling is a bit far stretched out of this reality, but that’s exactly what makes Kakegurui so interesting.
SPOILERS FOR SEASON 1 BELOW
When I first heard of this anime, I immediately thought that that was gonna be a generic sports anime, however the themes that were portrayed throughout the anime proved me wrong. Not only are slots literally non-existent, but the characters took gambling to a whole new level.
The show is a combination of both power and social hierarchy. At Hyakkao Academy, money is everything, and losing it could mean having your own power and honor stripped away from you in an instant. Losing that dignity to a regular student is one thing, but losing it to a member of the powerful student council could very well mean the end of your life. The same would go for a student council member of they lose, since it’s been established that each and every member of the group have their own reasons for even being on the council in the first place. While it’s common for antagonists to have power that not even the main protagonist may have, cheating could probably be the most cliche element to occur in these “villains” that may very well be “the villain of the week”
The cheating that these, so-called psychologically insane “students” had attempted to do felt out of place. The student council are supposed to be all-mighty, having the power to gamble and win easily without cheating. It seems however that most, if not all of them had to cheat their way to their intended victory while gambling with Yumeko. I would have felt much better if those cheats had gone unnoticed, and that Yumeko wasn’t so powerful for the main character. In the entire duration of the show, Yumeko had never felt any sort of despair or a sense of loss. Losing just once, she gets back onto her feet once again, with Ryota acting as support.
Ryota’s role as the main male character clearly has been established to be support for Yumeko’s gambling spree, or rather her crazy gambling obsession, hence the title of the show. It would have been nice to see him gamble more on his own rather than hanging around Yumeko for the entire duration of the season.
One character that really stands out from the rest is Kaeda Manyuda, the only male member of the student council and supposedly the only one to best Yumeko in terms of financial power. Born and raised in a family of huge financial power, Manyuda had plans set in stone for him from the very moment he was born, and has not failed to uphold his family’s dignity.
The entire background behind Yumeko is as mysterious as a ghost, and I find that character development behind her is literally nonexistent. There should have been a point where Yumeko loses and goes insane, however it would go against her personality to do so, or rather she’s already insane to the point where she doesn’t even care about losing anymore. The entirely of Yumeko’s character is that she gambles for the thrills and doesn’t give a damn whenever she’s in debt or not, and that alone serves as motivation for her goal to challenge the president in a match.
We do finally see the match between Yumeko and the president, but there is a point where an overpowered character needs something to counter them, and that is another overpowered character, something the series failed to do. Not only that, the Yumeko isn’t exactly attempting to battle Kirari alone, and has enlisted the help of Ryota to draw the final card for her. While it was “clever” for Kirari to mark the Joker card and make it blatantly obvious for everyone to see, it still was rather dumb to not see her (or Ryota) flip the card open and win. It seemed clear that neither Yumeko not Kirari had any intention to win the game by “unjust” methods, but rather by shear luck.
There was a lot of potential riding on this season, but there were some elements in the show that made it somewhat unrealistic and predictable. Despite these flaws, the first season was extremely fun and enjoyable, and has my patience for the upcoming second season.