Season aired: Summer 2017
Number of episodes: 12
Thoughts: Kakegurui takes place in a special academy of elites. Classes take place of course, but what really matters to the student and the school as a whole are the gambling that occurs in between classes and after school. Learning to manipulate, carefully choose allies, as well as having a good hand at gambling is the key to winning, and it’s a never ending battle to see who gets to the top.
I’ll be honest: this was my favorite anime that aired, even if the ranking fell during the course of season. A huge part to it largely stems from the execution of the main character, Jabami Yumeko. Saori Hayami shines as the Chaotic Good protagonist whose penchant for risks brings her over the edge and to many gambles that many would not want to risk taking. The thing with Chaotic Good characters is that they’re hard to pull off. Sometimes they’re portrayed as too crazy, sometimes too morally uptight, and it’s hard to find that ultimate balance between “crazy but still a good person”.
However, Kakegurui prepares the perfect setting for the debut of such a character. In a world where girls are willing to even bet their fingernails for the sake of a gambling game, a Chaotic Good character is the exact type of personality needed to disrupt the niche and cycle of the school. Even more so when the academy is ruled under an iron tight rule of the sadistic but calm student council president who created the order of dominance in the first place.
The storyline does an excellent job of portraying Jabami Yumeko’s own moral lines: an unwillingness to cheat, a particular disgust towards those who do cheat, being nice to people that others bully or don’t care about, actually seeing the people around her as friends, and ultimately forming allies through an actual bond instead of servitude. Yet all this morality takes away none of the craziness, as the character hurls herself into the most dangerous situations and doesn’t even blink an eye to the consequences that might result from it.
The characters are over the top and in some way, theatrical, but that was a purposeful choice considering the situation and location of the storyline. From Sumeragi who would bet the literal nails off of girls to Mary, who forced almost an entire class below her significance, thankfully, the show made sure that there was at least one character who served as a voice of reason. That is Suzui. He serves as a window to how the audiences might react to the gambles and operations of the school.
The anime was smart in choosing which characters to develop and which characters to remain unchanged. Choosing Mary and Sumeragi for the development helped the audience connect to not only the protagonist but also the supporting characters. Suzui’s blatant jump to risks and understanding the thrill behind gambles in the last episode opened the audience’s eyes that the only normal character has a crazy side to root for as well. Yet, the script smartly kept Jabami consistent. After all, there was no reason for her to change in the first place as she is the trigger for changes to the people around you. That is incredible characterization and writing for the anime’s behalf.
The games are extremely fun, and I had my fantasizing share of imagining them as activities to share with my friends. The art is very stylized. Crazy facial expressions star as the crux of the story, and one must be able to adapt to it before continuing into the series. The only critique I have of the anime is I wished the rug was pulled out underneath Jabami more often. As the series continued, it became predictable on her winning, even if the style she wins at remained unique and different. Only a single Jabami loss occurred, which left the stakes particularly low for the character and series as a whole.
Kakegurui is clearly ongoing in regards to the manga, so the anime series did reach a rather unsatisfactory conclusion. I can only hope that a second season is planned in the future. However, where it ultimately ended, I can also see how the series might end at the end of the first season. Only time would tell whether the story would continue in the future.
Overall: the storyline is unique and fun, the characters are electrifying, the voice acting is absolutely incredible, and we’ve got a fun soundtrack to boot. If you can get past the scary expressions characters make, I think anyone would enjoy this wild ride of an anime.
I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.
Voice acting: 10
FINAL SCORE: 82