Here is a show I did not expect to be reviewing. Maybe a Yuri Quickie but I chose to instead go into detail what I thought about the overall product. Let us take a look at the insane gambling world full of deliciously creepy meme faces of Kagegurui.
Alternate Title: Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler
Genres: Psychological, Thriller
Themes: Gambling, Social Class, School
Number of Episodes: 12
Plot Summary: At Hyakkaō Private Academy, the sons and daughters of the wealthiest of the wealthy engage in a unique curriculum geared to teach them to how to read their opponents. Specifically, students have a rigorous curriculum of gambling where winners live like kings and losers are put through the wringer. When Yumeko Jabami enrolls, she decides to teach the students what a real high-roller looks like.
The tone of the show can be best described using two images. The first one above represents Yumeko when not gambling. She does her thing strolling around with her sidekick Shizui and not putting up much of a fuss despite everyone around her being morally corrupt.
This image represents the mood during EVERY SINGLE GAME!
Basically Kagegurui is about a crazy woman taking on an establishment (student council) run by other morally corrupt and crazy people because only crazy can stand up to or beat crazy. Putting that into a narrative this is one of those anime/manga that goes into great detail describing every single move made during a game. Think card game based series like Yu-Gi-Oh mixed together with shounen or sports anime like Saki and you have a good idea of how most battles flow.
Speaking of card games, this being a gambling themed anime the games played are primarily card games such as Poker, Solitaire and even a card variation of Rock-Paper-Scissors…except each one has a twist that makes them more challenging. Knowing the rules is not enough to beat your opponent in these games. Also because this is a gambling show…expect fair play to be a rarity. Besides watching the games play out another draw is for the viewer to try and figure out the strategies and tricks implemented to see if you can come up with how victory was achieved or the loser could have prevented the loss before it is revealed by the characters.
While the main draw of the show is the deliciously creepy cast with their deliciously creepy meme worthy facial expressions, there are also psychological elements to the show. The show being set in a school for rich kids that means the drama surrounding each character who gets screen time are…kind of “first world/upper class problems” heirs to thrones go through such as living up to expectations, pride, ultimate power, wealth and the like, or in Yumeko’s case the thrill of the game. Then there are characters whose motivations are…let us just say I do not think even psychiatrists or psychologists could help these people…oh dear me. Perhaps viewers with degrees will be able to identity why some of the characters behave the way they do. This show is a thriller so while it may not be scary it is oftentimes freaky, creepy and disturbing in both a good and bad way as there are times the stuff is hilarious and other times it is messed up. It is the delightful kind of crazy.
The animation is really good. It has to be to make the faces top notch freak-factory goodness after all. Let me put it this way. Every time the characters were going crazy I could not stop smiling. It was THAT creepy-freaky-deeky and I LOVED IT! The soundtrack is nice but the OP and ED are excellent.
As I already said the show’s top players are mostly crazy people (some are just morally corrupt) who most of their allegiance can be described as “lawful” or “chaotic” evil. Yumeko herself is “chaotic good”. See, while she is not erotically insane outside of the battlefield she is not exactly an upstanding citizen either…yet deep down she is not selfish or deplorable. Think of her as Dragon Ball’s Goku…if his excitement to fight stronger opponents were replaced with getting aroused every time a life threatening wagers/bets are made during matches. The riskier the bet, the hornier she gets essentially. Otherwise she trusts and cares about the friends she makes. Speaking of…
So yes there is yuri in this show. A casual viewer would only see it as sensual fanservice that only serves as mind games between the ladies. HOWEVER, not only are some of the girls interested in other women (Viewers do not need to read the manga to confirms this. It is clear as day for some of the girls) but also despite Yumeko’s super friendliness with her female compatriots…there is one blonde she is ESPECIALLY friendly with.
Two more thing. Yes, the show is co-ed but the kind of co-ed where the ladies rule and the men drool. Besides Suzui and the sole male member of the student council no other guy on the show is worth worrying about. Regarding the two relevant guys, I expected to not care about Suzui but as far as him Yumeko’s sidekick goes he does a good job helping her and being her cheerleader/worrywart buddy. As for the student council guy…as weird as it may sound the “boss fight” against him was my favorite, mainly because listening to him amused me for some reason. Oh and do not fret, neither guy gets in the way of the ladies being awesome.
The second thing. The anime has an original ending to help the show not feel like a blatant “manga lure”. I thought it was a fair attempt by the writers to end the season on a solid note but the manga goes in an entirely different direction…since it if of course ongoing. What this means is in a way the whole show was a well done “manga lure”.
Overall Kakegurui is an enjoyably creepy-freaky-deeky show. The leading lady and most of her opponents are crazy. The gambling battles are fun to watch unfold and try to figure out the strategies and tricks, the animation and soundtrack are really good and the cast are delightfully nuts. While the show’s main draw are is the gambling and craziness it does a good job giving these rich snobs multiple layers and making them interesting nut jobs to try and figure out what makes them tick. The yuri is good enough to give viewers a taste of what more the manga has to offer. However, it can be really uncomfortable at times (stomach churning levels of uncomfortable for some) so it is not for everyone.
The show’s ED is pretty sexy but the main source of eroticism besides sensual yuri are LEGS!