All right, here we go.
I’m going to flip a coin, and if it lands on tails, I’ll review Kakegurui.
If it lands on heads, I’ll flip again.
Looks like I’m going to review Kakegurui!
I’ll be as brief as I can be here. Kakegurui is about a certain academy in Japan that completely revolves around gambling. Students actively gamble in order to keep themselves off of a blacklist maintained by the student council. Enter our heroine, the newly transferred Jabami Yumeko. Yumeko LOVES gambling, to an extreme extent! How will Yumeko handle life in this gambling paradise?
This isn’t a very common genre, is it? And yet, that’s exactly what Kakegurui is. A psychological shounen, and a damn good one at that! You see, within the academy, there are several prominent gamblers – the student council. Yumeko, loving gambling as she does, naturally wants nothing more than to face off against the best of the best the academy has to offer. The higher the stakes, the bigger the rush.
What we end up with is a shounen setup that contains clearly defined obstacles, or “bosses”. The anime will tease a prominent character as a particularly skillful gambler, and then eventually, Yumeko faces off against them. Classic shounen style, and it works so well. I never thought that an anime about gambling would manage to hook me in the way Kakegurui did! This formula definitely played a large role in that.
But then, Kakegurui is a psychological anime. There’s no physical combat – gambling is a battle of wits! In the midst of a high stakes match, the gears of the contestant’s minds are moving. Potential moves, bluffs, analysis… each match is a thrilling mystery. And there’s one more element to add to these matches – cheating. The best gamblers don’t typically become the best through sheer luck! There is an amazing variety of games contained in the anime, and you can bet that many of them were designed to cheat the competition.
Kakegurui manages to combine the psychological battles of high-stakes gambling and shounen progression perfectly.
Variety of Games
One of the biggest draws to the anime No Game No Life for me was the sheer creativity put into the games played – magical chess, magical word games, the potential is limitless really. Kakegurui really impressed me by managing to pull out an amazing variety of games – without the use of magic. Kakegurui doesn’t just settle with your standard poker, coin toss, roulette… There are so many crazy and intriguing games played in this anime, that just learning the rules to a new game is exciting!
Of all the games we saw, I can say that I only knew a few of them. The rest were either unique to the anime, or so obscure that I can’t imagine anyone’s really heard of them before. I actually managed to pick up some interesting games from this that I’d love to play with my own friends & family sometime.
I guess what I’m getting at here is that even if the shounen aspect doesn’t really do it for you, Kakegurui is an exciting watch for the different games alone. One of the worst parts of finishing the anime + sequel is that now I have to wait for another potential sequel to see more games!
The animation for Kakegurui is quite interesting. While a great deal of the animation is the standard high quality that we see in most big titles these days, there’s another side to the animation – exaggerated facial expressions. I could have sworn that the studio for Kakegurui is the same studio that made Prison School, just based on how uncomfortably detailed and exaggerated the faces can get at times, but apparently it’s a different studio.
Scowls, anger, laughter, sadistic smiles, ecstasy… at times the animation really likes to accentuate these emotions. Not only this, but it’s very common to actually see character’s breath as they exhale, most commonly seen with Yumeko when she is in a moment of ecstasy.
I think that this style is fairly unique. At times a character’s face or seeing their breath fill the screen even made me a bit uncomfortable, which I actually believe is the intention of the style in the first place. Someone that might appear cutesy may show an ugly face at some point, you just never know!
I won’t spend too much time writing about the sequel, because you can essentially expect a direct continuation of the first season. Remember, this is a shounen anime, so the progression will continue on across seasons. As a result, both seasons felt about equal in terms of content and enjoyment. You could combine them into a single 24 episode season and you wouldn’t notice any breaks or gaps whatsoever moving from episode 12 to 13.
I absolutely loved Kakegurui. Waiting to binge both seasons was definitely worth it – I couldn’t stop watching this anime! While I normally watch 2 episodes of anime per night, I ended up watching 5 per night until I finished Kakegurui, that’s how hooked I was. Each episode had me ready for more, until there was nothing left.
I give Kakegurui + Kakegurui×× a 8.5 / 10 rating.
The only drawback to the anime is that the story is still ongoing!
Depending on how things continue, I could see Kakegurui as a series easily achieving a 9 or even 10 overall rating, it’s that good.
If you enjoy shounen anime, you’ll enjoy Kakegurui.
If you enjoy psychological anime, you’ll enjoy Kakegurui.
If you like both, then I’d say this is a must-watch!
I’ll also give Kakegurui the Pure Ecstasy award, for all of the intense imagery of Yumeko enjoying herself maybe a bit too much while gambling!
Until next time,
Thanks for reading!