As a second anime season has just been announced and word of the series generates more hype than ever before, there is no better time to introduce yourself to Kakegurui. Starting from a manga which engages in the common trope of the high-school environment, Kakegurui takes a different direction in that the characters aren’t fighting or creating some sort of unofficial harem but, instead, the focus is gambling and the drama and competition which this creates. So, what is the basis of this anime/manga/television drama, who are the key players, and where can we check this series out?
Setting the Stage
The story in Kakegurui is set in the Hyakkaou Private Academy, which is home to the most affluent students in the entirety of Japan. Rather than going for an entirely traditional grade-based structure, the school opted to go for the much more anime structure of basing placement on an intricate gambling system. Even better, the gambling is itself based on the betting of the students’ family fortunes against each other. As many of these students come from the richest and most well-respected families in the nation, this means enormous quantities of cash on the line.
Ruling over this is the student council, a group which delights in control and the suffering of those it deems to be losers. It is through their rules that those who fall into debt become slaves to the wishes of their creditors. Combine the threat of financial ruin with the vicious and competitive bend of a top-tier schooling and the stage is set for our MC to enter the fray. We’re big fans of variety in anime and manga, and anything which brings in new people and can inspire them to even try out something new, or even give their own creations a go, is something we very much appreciate here.
Our MC in Kakegurui is Yumeko Jabami, the most recent transfer student who relies on a combination of her stunning looks and a seemingly unstable personality to throw a wrench into the works of Hyakkaou Private Academy. Yumeko makes waves by placing bets which the rest of the school see as bizarre and unpredictable, which puts her at odds with the student council and many of her schoolmates. While this is fundamentally based off of her thrill-seeking personality, Yumeko also comes from the position of a Sherlock level of deduction, making her quickly able to turn the tables on her opponents and seize the upper hand. Though it is her skill and nature which sets her apart initially, it is ultimately her ability to forge trust and friendship in the face of great opposition that helps establish her place among the best.
Joining Yumeko is Ryota Suzui, a fantastic student but a lousy gambler and, as such, one who we have to question when it comes to his choice in school. Ryota is quickly brought onto the side of Yumeko, taking his place as her sidekick and conscience, acting to ground her in moments where Yumeko’s aggressive nature gets away from her.
Rounding out the main three characters is Mary Saotome, an initial antagonist who follows the tsundere character arc. While we don’t want to spoil her development for the readers and viewers out there, suffice to say that Mary’s eventual discovery and understanding of the treatment of many of the students cause her to shift focus, making her more a force for good than chaos.
The antagonists in Kakegurui are mostly those who hail from the student council. This includes the utter sadist Itsuki Sumeragi, who has a penchant for taking losers’ fingers, and president of the council Kirari Momobami, the woman who created the slave-like hierarchy to which the students are held.
The Brief but Inspired Legacy
While anime itself has exploded in popularity over the last few decades, this also means that competition is fiercer than ever before. In this highly competitive marketplace, there are two ways to stand out; by doing something popular and by doing something new and interesting. In this, Kakegurui has deftly woven both parts to create something which is fresh and relatable.
The high school-type trope in anime is common these days but the real inspiration for this series ties into the recent proliferation of the area of online gambling. While traditional gambling has been popular for centuries, this more modern form is capturing attention like never before. These deal with real money just as with traditional casinos but the added convenience of playing from home, multiple accepted currencies, and the often considerable bonuses on offer make this form much more appealing for players on the go, and those of us with busy modern lives. As for whether this will mean more gambling-based anime and manga in the future, only time will tell.
Where Can You Check Kakegurui Out?
As is usual, those of us outside of Japan are going to have to seek this out through avenues other than broadcast TV. Luckily for us, Kakegurui has proven popular enough to justify some mainstream releases so nobody has to turn to shady low-quality rips from the dark corners of BitTorrent. Other than the standard DVD and Bluray releases, the series has been officially licensed by Netflix so anyone with an account can easily stream at high quality and without issue.
While your enjoyment of the show will come down to your appreciation of the component parts, those interested in a fresh take on an old anime setup should look no further. You don’t have to be a gambling enthusiast to enjoy this show, and we can only hope we see more from the series in the future.