Otako: A first look at Kakegurui


Otako will be the column for everything about anime. From reviews to power discussions and more. Today it’s time to look at one of the summer anime. Except for the new FATE this season seems a bit lacking in terms of big titles. So what do you pick to watch? With titles you are unfamiliar with it’s always a gamble. So if we are gambling anyways how about an anime about gambling. So I chose Kakegurui.

No Game No Humanity?

In this anime, we follow main protagonist Yumeko Jabami, a girl who enrolls in Hyakkaou Private Academy. This is a school for the elite, future world leaders, head of huge companies and that sort of stuff are being trained in this school.
To show one’s ability to perform under pressure a special form of entertainment has arisen in these schools. The students gamble….a lot! If you rack up to much of a dept you will lose you humanity, meaning your entire social status will be revoked and you will be the pet of the more successful students around.  Yumeko is shown around by Ryota, one of the schools dogs after losing his humanity in poker to their class’s ace gamble Mary.
From the get-go I get No Game no Life vibes from this anime and that excites me, my tentacles curl up in excitement as I see the intro and I can’t help to feel a little off put.
The opening is great in a way as it perfectly captures the anime’s atmosphere with a jazzy theme and almost casino royale like visuals. But like so many anime it has the tendency to spoil what’s to come.
Not in a very intrusive manner yet there certainly is a lot of foreshadowing.
Don’t get me wrong I like weird anime and from the opening you can already see it’s gonna be one of those anime but there is just a way how the music flows and the lyrics move against it that sort of unsettles me.

Royal Flush of Crazy

After the intro we get thrown into the dark world of the academy and Yumeko’s seemingly naïve nature. But once she starts gambling she goes fully crazy, crazy in a kinda sexy way, but still too coocoo for cocopuffs.   The raven haired beauty gets so excited by gambling it almost feels sexual…well the almost lasts about four seconds before you will go, ooh they went there.
Yumeko’s crazy, the people she gambles with are crazy and the entire school is crazy and yet, the games are horribly mundane. Sure the intro implies Russian Roulette will be played at one point but variations on memory, janken and roulette do feel a bit lackluster in light of the other craziness of this series. I am entertained but I , and this is saying something, am weirded out.  The way the characters act feels so over the top that it kinda feels wrong. In Jojo’s they act over the top but there it feels right, even though they do pose here a well it just feels…….less fitting I guess would be the best way to describe it. It just feels to me like I am watching a less imaginative version of No Game No Life.
The biggest problem I think I have with this show s that Yumeko is such a basketcase that I don’t feel for her. She doesn’t feel like a protagonist.  It’s like trying to imagine what Yu-Gi-Oh was like if Bakura was the main character.  The support cast is just as, if not more crazy and though I can’t help but feeling drawn to it’s craziness. Yet for me it doesn’t  gel that well. This place doesn’t feel like a school but like an asylum.


Visually this show is pretty well executed yet tends to be a bit on the boring sight. The emotions in the eyes and the craziness is done exceptionally well. The animation in the opening is even spectacular.  However in 70% of the show Yumeko is sitting down playing some game, the lack of motion in these scenes can make the games, like mentioned earlier a bit underwhelming. Anime like No Game no Life , Wixxos and Yu-i-oh add in some special effects when drawing or getting the winning idea. Kakegurui just adds crazy eyes when our protagonist is about to lose. It’s not bad but for me it enforces the misfit again.  
The game moves on a different pace than the craziness, if the mental warfare has been resolved the game still continues and can even reach a different conclusion then you might expect. It leaves me feeling numbed and overwhelmed. Kinda like your reading Naruto text balloons in a Bleach novel. 
The fact that all games are filled with cheating take a bit of excitement out of it as well, this is a gambling anime that is not about who can play the game the best. It’s all fixed, the plot moves rather predictably and uses all the tropes, yet they try to hide it by burying you with craziness. This is an anime that’s all about the cheating and it’s makers are cheating as well. The concept is very interesting and I am certainly willing to give this anime a chance to grow onto me, after all I hated Stein’s Gate after the first three episodes as well. After giving it a few more episodes it turned into one of my favorite anime of all time. Kakegurui might just do the same….I just would not bet on it.


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