Reviews: Kakegurui

The Anime: Not Even a Guilty Pleasure

Kakeguri, in a nut shell, is the story of a schoolgirl, Yumeko, who arrives at a super expensive highschool that runs entirely on high stakes gambling. Nothing else matters in the scope of this show; we don't see the actual classes or the outside world, and everything is built around the extra-curricular card and dice games people play, to the point that students will stake their actual lives for a chance of winning big. Yumeko thinks this is great.

So the premise is completely bonkers; the characters are even crazier. The school council is run by a squad of your typical colourful anime villains, only they come in the form of lesbian schoolgirls, some of whom literally Jill themselves off over the prospect of making bets. If you haven't figured, this show is a shameless parade of kinky fanservice from beginning to end, done with enough audacity to push this thing into pure camp. On top of this, characters constantly scream at one another, and their faces mutate into psycho-sexual nightmares whenever they get a bit carried away at their card game. It is a trifle odd and will probably annoy the hell out of any house mates who happen to not be watching properly.

Now if this was simply just a smutty series with some clever cardsharking, I could have called this a guilty pleasure. Unfortunately the anime screws up gambling, i.e. the thing that takes up most of each the episode. Each opens with Yumeko challenging one of the resident experts at their chosen game; that resident expert usually has customised and rigged the rules of the game to ensure they always win. Yumeko is somehow able to instantly spot how they are cheating and turn the tables on them. This doesn't make a lick of sense within this given setting; if these people love gambling, they are not going to want to play against someone who suspiciously keeps winning some game with bullshit rules they've invented. It doesn't take someone with Yumeko's impossible level of intuition to realise that this school is full of cheats, and thus the gambling actually pointless. What's worse is that there is no real way for us to actually spot how the cheating is going on ourselves. The audience plays a totally passive role, waiting for Yumeko to share the things that only she has seen. That isn't very fun, and yet that's what we are stuck doing the entire time.

I can't really recommend Kakegurui. It's splendidly lively and animated, but lacks any of the basic things to make it compelling, like story, relatable characters, and basic internal logic.