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Manga / Kakegurui

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"Shall we gamble?"Note 

"In a capitalist society, money is naturally life. No sane person would entrust their life to luck. And yet, many people go to casinos, because they derive pleasure from this insanity! In other words... gambling is more fun the crazier it gets!"
— Yumeko Jabami

Kakegurui (賭ケグルイ, "The Compulsive Gambler") is an ongoing 2014 manga series written by Homura Kawamoto and illustrated by Tooru Naomura (who also wrote and illustrated Shitsurakuen), published by Square Enix under its Gangan Joker imprint.

Hyakkaou Private Academy is a prestigious school for the children of the richest of the rich, where the main curriculum is the art of reading others and taking advantage of chaotic situations: in other words, the art of gambling. Within this world, a sadistic regime of Social Darwinism sees students betting huge amounts of money, or even their bodies, for a chance to rise up the social hierarchy where the top rule like tyrants and the bottom students become slaves to their debt.

Into this cutthroat school steps Yumeko Jabami, a New Transfer Student whose innocent facade hides a psychotic addiction to gambling and high-stakes situations. With a keen intellect able to pierce through the elaborate cheating methods used by the most powerful students to rig games in their favour, Yumeko threatens to destroy the twisted hierarchy of the school simply for the thrill of it.

Has an anime adaptation written by Yasuko Kobayashi and produced by MAPPA for the summer 2017 block. The series was picked up by Netflix for western distribution, releasing it worldwide on February 1, 2018. Also has a 2015 Spin-Off manga illustrated by Kei Saiki, Kakegurui Futago (賭ケグルイ 双), chronicling Saotome's own descent into gambling madness one year before the main series. A second season has been announced as well. A 10-episode live-action adaptation also came out in 2018.

Madness is the essence of troping:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: Hyakkaou allows student-gamblers to bet millions of yen or basically be sold into slavery for their entire high school career or even beyond if they lose enough in any game. Later arcs even have players gambling over shooting themselves in the head or injecting themselves with deadly poison.
  • Absurdly Powerful Student Council: By the time Kirari took control of the Student Council two years ago, she instituted reforms such that student-gamblers with high enough debts can be legally owned by the Council, handing him/her a life schedule that will dictate his/her adulthood, thus exerting a huge financial and political sway over Japan.
  • Adaptation Expansion: In the live-action adaptation, Kitawami & Tsubomi appeared earlier than their original appearance.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Jun's fate is left uncertain after the Debt Swapping Game. It's never mentioned whether he manages to pay his debt, if he became a house pet or what. It's only lightly hinted at by the anime that he stopped bullying Nanami, which still doesn't answer any question.
  • Art Shift: While characters normally appear in a plain manga/anime style, as soon as they get serious about gambling, they're suddenly drawn with full-bodied lips, more angular facial structure, nightmarishly detailed facial features, eyes that are so stylized they begin to look inhuman, and so on. In the live-action adaptation, eyes start flashing various colors, and irises and pupils also shrink creepily at certain points.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Despite the chapter title "The Girl Who Became Human" seemingly leading you to believe that Yumeko becomes freed of her debt, the title actually refers to Tsubomi, whom Yumeko willingly gave up her chance to be clear of her housepet status in order to free her from her horrifyingly abusive "owner".
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Nearly every major character, including Yumeko, uses a polite, friendly veneer to disguise the vicious gambler within. The only exceptions are Suzui, who is genuinely nice, and Midari, who is openly crazy pretty much all the time.
  • Book-Ends: Twice over in the ending of the anime's season one, both used for the two main uses of this trope (to showcase something changed or something didn't change).
    • To showcase what changed, the ending of episode 12 is made over Suzui's narration, going over what's happening in the academy and the kind of people there. Both narrations also start the same way, with him saying "Hyakkaou Private Academy..."
    • To showcase what didn't change, both the final scene of the first episode and the final scene of the final episode are a focus of Yumeko's eyes glowing red as the camera zooms into them shot after shot.
  • Bland-Name Product: Episode 8 of the anime references a pop idol's success on "YourTube".
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Good and bad are irrelevant to the great majority of the cast. Most of them are in it to fulfill their own objectives or just to get the most thrills out of it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In the first episode of the anime, Saotome seems to face the audience taunting Jabami's apparent folly of challenging her to another duel... moments before the latter turns the tables on her.
    • The live-action adaptation runs on this trope. Suzui acts as the Audience Surrogate/Narrator throughout the series. Saotome also has a few moments of narrating to the screen.
  • Cast Full of Crazy: Other than Suzui, who seems to be the one sane guy at school, the entire cast is filled with lunatics who bet millions of yen, and even the freedom of themselves and others, on cards, roulette, and even children's games that have even lower odds of actual success under normal circumstances. Other than Suzui, the rest of the cast also break into contorted Nightmare Faces when gambling, with Jabami being the worst.
  • Central Theme:
    • Which becomes particularly clear in the Yumeko vs Kaede game: all great rewards will require for you to put yourself in the risk of losing big.
    • Taking in consideration the Deconstructor Fleet, it could be as well that "If everything that happens in a shounen manga school happened to normal people, it'd be terrifying rather than cool".
  • Cheaters Never Prosper: Many people Jabami plays against are rigging their games to give themselves an overall advantage. Unfortunately for them, Jabami is very good at seeing through tricks and people, and regularly "bets" they will continue to follow through with their little cheats to try and win. When they do, Jabami ends up beating them miserably, whereas if they had abandoned their schemes they could have won against Jabami. This was averted in her duels with Manyuuda and Igarashi — the former simply staked a huge amount of money in a game where money is an advantage, while the latter didn't cheat at all, and was also in the dark about a new structure Kirari introduced them to.
  • The Clan: Student Council President Kirari Momobami belongs to a clan of a hundred-or-so interrelated and equally ruthless families with the character for "devour/eat" in their last name (with Kirari belonging to the "peach eater" family). Many of them appear in the Student Council Presidential Election arc.
  • Cliffhanger: The epilogue of season 1 ends with the President announcing the dissolution of the Student Council, which will lead into the Presidential Election Arc.
    • The live-action adaptation ends after the duel with Midari, and after Saotome refuses to join the Student Council. Not even half of the current student council has been challenged, or even had their faces revealed in the case of the president and vice-president.
  • Collector of the Strange: Sumeragi loves painted nails, so she collects them. Though she says she could easily just collect fake nails, what she really loves are human nails; everyone who's lost to her in gambling has had their nails ripped off so she can add them to her collection.
  • Connected All Along: Right after the reveal that the Momobami Family has multiple branch families, Yumeko refers to some of the representatives of those families as her relatives, confirming that she is also part of The Clan and thus a distant cousin of Kirari (and Ririka). In an inversion of how this trope is usually played, it seems both characters knew all along that they were related, while nobody else in the cast did.
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: Yumeko has stated multiple times to multiple people that she loves high-stakes GAMBLING, pure and simple. She's incredibly perceptive and quick-witted, and able to see through pretty much any trick her opponent throws her way. Yet her opponents seem obsessed with trying to rig the games she plays against her, instead of just letting the raw odds take her down a peg. If they just gave her what she wants: unrigged gambling with no upper limit, and let her play whoever she wants, she would be perfectly happy.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: A variation. The anime opening features a number of candles with the image of Virgen de Guadalupe, an apparition of the virgin Mary and one of the most important symbols of Mexican catholicism. They have no relation whatsoever with the story and are just there for creepy effect.
  • Deal with the Devil
    • The opening song of the anime is called "Deal with the Devil", and its lyrics discuss being offered endless entertainment in return for being owned down to your last hair by a self-identifying insane person.
    • After her initial attempt fail in the Student Council Presidential Election arc, Ririka gets Saotome to join forces with her by revealing that Mary will only be able to save the recently poisoned Jabami from another set of competitors by helping Ririka.
  • Deconstruction: Yumemite's arc takes a long hard look at the dark side of being an Idol Singer. She genuinely dreams of one day being famous, and willingly subjected herself at an early age to the rigors of training to be an idol. However, dealing with a fanbase full of creepers and social losers is slowly eating away on her sanity, which isn't far from Real Life judging how far some fans will go to express their admiration towards celebrities, so Yumemite's fears and paranoia aren't exactly unfounded.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Many of the opponents Jabami beats eventually end up joining her faction at the school, including Suzui (who got out of being a "housepet" from Saotome's clutches thanks to Jabami), Saotome (after the two team up in a debt relocation competition) and later Sumeragi (who thinks befriending Jabami is her ticket to getting back a seat on the Student Council) and gets a few tips from Jabami during her match against Manyuda by betting her inheritance to her father's company (something that Jabami will applaud at). Subverted with Ikishima, where due to Ikishima fix their game so that Ikishima can alone be killed, Jabami ended up despising her even though she would be a very loyal ally for Jabami and giving her a connection to the Student Council who is hellbent on shutting her down.
  • Dehumanization: The bottom 100 student-gamblers are treated as "house pets", and are restricted to public matches, which bear the risk of adding to their humiliation. One of the student council members, Nishinotoin, also lets "pets" play against her for a chance to recover from their debts, though it's severely rigged against them.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: Many of the episode villains would have been able to defeat Yumeko if they had cheated once to gain an insurmountable lead and then stopped. Yumeko manipulates them into cheating multiple times with the same methods, allowing her to discern how they are rigging the game and turn it against them.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: Yuki Wakai (Itsuki Sumeragi) is a member of J-Pop band D.Selections, who performed the ending theme.
  • Elaborate University High: Hyakkaou is an exclusive university for the children of the rich and famous of Japan.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Jabami is usually very polite and doesn't hold grudges even towards those who do their best to destroy her, as long as they do it in a risky way with elements of chance. However, she despises Ikishima, since her way of cheating is trying to guarantee Ikishima's own suffering. Jabami believes this to void the element of chance and risk, robbing the games of all of the fun.
  • Evolving Credits: The live action opening theme, where the main characters sang the theme song along with Jabami's opponent of the episode.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The anime's opening theme goes through the series' general plot from Jabami's point of view, with her discussing how she wins games through Batman Gambits, her condition as a compulsive gambler, and how much she loves the insanity of it all.
  • Fate Worse than Death: The life schedule for the house pets who accumulated a ridiculously high debt, where in exchange for not collecting their debt, they would have to follow the decades long schedule which includes marriage, birth and political future. Though in Mary's (or presumably anybody with decent looks) case, even she herself noted that it is somewhat pleasant (compared to the other examples for this trope) when she looked at her schedule, if she's wasn't enraged at the council for playing her like a fool.
  • Fixing the Game: Jabami's opponents all cheat in various ways to give themselves overall advantages in games. For instance, in the first arc, Saotome has 21 of their thirty classmates placing the same card her "dog" Suzui selects in advance into the draw pool in her Rock–Paper–Scissors card game and thus can predict what kind of cards will be in her opponent's hand.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Each character's eyes glow a different color when they're at the height of their gambling craze. For instance, Saotome's glow yellow, and Jabami's glow bright red.
  • Gambler Groupies: Gender inverted. The Gambling Addict Yumeko Jabami can almost always seen with her fairly attractive male classmate Ryouta Suzui by her side.
  • Gecko Ending: The anime, which played a very different game between Jabami & Kirari instead of Jabami & Igarashi, due to the fact that the Tower of Doors arc would need more than 1 episode to finish, and the manga is still ongoing.
  • Genre Deconstruction: Of your typical school-based action shounen. Things as the Absurdly High-Stakes Game and the Absurdly Powerful Student Council are there, but they are treated as exactly that: absurd. The school's council are seen as absolutely crazy people for what they do so often and what they turned the school into a caste system where the ones with too much debt become playthings to be mistreated, it's even mentioned in-universe that they are more like manga characters than real people. Every character with a semblance of normality are absolutely terrified of the main characters, since they are legitimately crazy and nearly sociopathic in their love for gambling.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The titles of the manga chapters and the episodes of the anime all have the word "woman" in them.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Or, rather, between Sex and Gambling. The series has gone through lengths to show that Jabami gets fulfilled through gambling, regardless of if she wins or loses. Played directly with Ikishima, who believes her ultimate climax will come from losing her life in a gamble.
  • Ironic Echo: After winning the first round of games, Saotome taunts Jabami that she must be having cold feet. The latter returns the favor, word-for-word, once her gambling madness sets in as she asks for round two.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Played with during the entirety of the Debt Swap Game. Jabami and Saotome discover that their opponent, Kiwatari, is using his personal house pet, Tsubomi, to help rig Debt Swap Games, so they work together to take him down. With two different sides cheating, and each making it public knowledge that the other is cheating, it lets the two girls conceal their biggest cheat: that the values of their chips were swapped beforehand. Instead of Jabami's chips being worth 31 million yen, making them the big prize to gain, hers are actually only worth 5 million yen, while Saotome's chips, supposedly only 5 million yen each and therefore not that important in the grand scheme of things, are really 31 million yen each. This allows for Jabami and Saotome to manipulate Kiwatari by carefully guarding the number of Saotome's chips while luring him into going after Jabami's chips, leading to his downfall.
  • Loners Are Freaks: Jabami's gambling ability and the various victories she wins for herself ought to win her popularity and prestige in Hyakkaou Private Academy, but her high-stakes persona is so disturbing that barely anyone wants anything to do with her. She takes it in stride though.
  • Lost Him in a Card Game: Somehow Hyakkaou can allow student-gamblers to bet themselves to each other, and anyone else they now "own", despite human slavery being completely illegal in a first-world country like Japan. Somehow justified in that Kirari belongs to a very influential clan that has the potential to control Japan as they please.
  • Malicious Misnaming: Students who have "house pet" status are on the receiving end of this; male students are called "Pochi" while female students are called "Miike" (in Japan, both of these names are commonly given to pets, a la "Fido" and "Whiskers" in English).
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Deconstructed. The eccentric Jabami's entrance into Hyakkaou allows Suzui to get out of his servitude to Saotome, and even make friends with her later. However, though Jabami genuinely considers Suzui her friend, she still loves gambling much much more, and pulls him into increasingly dangerous situations as the series goes on. The more Suzui warns her against doing something, the more excited Jabami actually gets.
  • Mark of Shame: The bottom 100 student-gamblers are handed dog tags which denote them as "house pets". At the start of the story, Suzui gained his tag after losing to Saotome, then lost it after Jabami defeats her and gives him a ¥5 million tip; Saotome gains hers after that loss, and redeems herself after she and Jabami teamed up in a debt clearance game set up by the Student Council; Jabami also gets hers after her game against Student Council member Yuriko Nishinotouin was sabotaged by Kirari, but ultimately was released after defeating Kirari's secretary, Sayaka Igarashi.
  • Meaningful Name: The name of the school the story takes place, "Hyakkaou Academy", literally translates as "Hundred Peonies Academy". Peonies are known as both the king of flowers in Japan, and in the Japanese language of the flowers, peonies are the symbol of bravery, making it a fitting name for a school where the children of the most powerful families in Japan are expected to regularly put their livelihood or freedom on the line in gambling matches. The western world's equivalent makes a double bonus of the existing trope with the translation of a Latin proverb, "Fortune favors the bold."
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: This series including the spin-offs, where guys that have an important role can be counted on one hand. To the point that after the first week of the Presidential Election arc, Ryoto Suzui's (a rather poor gambler compared to everybody else) 11 votes would have been one of the highest in the boy's side (Only 2 male characters are in the top 10, and 1 of them eliminated himself by gambling against Kirari).
  • Nonuniform Uniform: Though the school has a uniform for all students, most of them don't wear parts of it, like the jackets, or have different dress shirts, leggings, and so on.
  • Outside-Context Problem: Yumeko, for the social structure of the Academy. She just wants high-stakes gambling, pure and simple. No tricks. No cheats. Just the opportunity to be able to blow her money for the thrill of her addiction. Yet not only do her opponents constantly keep trying to cheat against her, but the Student Council perceives her as a threat to their regime, as Yumeko wants to gamble against the Student Body President. Since the current President got her position by out-gambling the previous one, they want to stop such a game at all costs, instead of interpreting Yumeko's wishes literally, as in, she merely wants to gamble with the president with no cheating and no ulterior motives. As such, she is turning the Academy on its head just trying to cope with her insatiable appetite for an actual high-risk game without any interference.
  • The One Guy: Ryouta Suzui for the main Power Trio consisting of himself, Jabami and Saotome, as well as Kaede Manyuuda for the Student Council.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: The cold, manipulative Kirari uses blue lipstick and nail polish. The impulsive "gambling junkie" Yumeko is frequently depicted with red eyes and fingernails.
  • Rock–Paper–Scissors: The first gambling match between Mary and Jabami is a card-game variant, with their classmates drawing rocks, papers or scissors on blank cards and putting them in boxes where both girls pick them at random.
  • Second Year Protagonist: Jabami and her first allies are all in their second year of high school.
  • Serial Escalation: How much higher can the stakes get?
    • In order, the bets from the first part of the series were in yen: 120k, 10 million, 20 million, 40 million, 310 million (in debt to the loser and paid to the winner), 1 billion (and possibly getting shot in the head), 50 million (plus defining how Yumeko would spend the rest of her life), much more than 10 billion (and the winner gets to decide the loser's life plan) and finally, in the battle against Sayaka, the loser loses something important to them and must jump out of the top of a tower.
    • In the second part, due to the election, the numbers are restarted, betting one vote in the finger guillotine, 100 against Miyo and Miri, about 144 votes in the Greater Good Game and 300 votes in the outside bet of the Greater Good Game.
  • Serious Business: The story has characters betting hundreds of thousands of dollars on games like Rock–Paper–Scissors and other simplistic, normally hard to win games. People even get sold into slavery over card games, roulette, and so forth.
  • Shout-Out: The place that Midari takes the protagonists in episode 6 seems to be inspired by the bathroom where the Deadly Game from the very first Saw takes place, specially considering the deteriorated state of the of the walls and pipes. The visual similarities are toned down in the live-action adaptation though.
  • Spoken Word in Music: In the OP, there is a sample from one of former Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley's speeches regarding the 1968 Democratic National Convention clashes: "The confrontation was not created by the police. The confrontation was created by the people [...]."
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Saotome and Jabami in the debt recollection meeting, though more one-sided on the former when she discovers that their two opponents already established a master-and-slave relationship. It more or less evolves to full-on Vitriolic Best Buds (and still one-sided on Saotome's part) at the end of it all.
  • Tempting Fate: During the debt recollection meeting, Saotome wishes to herself not to be paired with Jabami. Guess who she gets paired with...
  • Title Drop:
    • The first arc ends with Suzui straight out calling Jabami a "Compulsive Gambler" (Kakegurui), which is the title of the series itself.
    • The anime's opening Theme Tune also includes the lines "I'm a compulsive gambling queen."
    • When Jabami's worked up in a frenzy in the middle of a match, she invites her opponent to "lose themselves in gambling!" In Japanese, she's actually saying the title (Kakegurui mashou!)
  • The Tower: The Tower of Doors, commissioned by Kirari as the venue of Jabami and Igarashi's game, where they have to climb down and up the tower to win. The structure only contains doors, on the floors and trapdoors, and on the walls, where falling from the highest floor, except for one of them, means certain death.
  • Trapped by Gambling Debts: Students who can't pay their losses in gambling become the winner's "dogs", forced to do whatever their "owner" says until they can pay back what they owe or leave the school.
  • Twin Switch: During Jabami's matches against Yumemite and then Manyuuda, the "Ririka" attending the games is Kirari all along, while Ririka herself attends a Momobani clan meeting as "Kirari".
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Kirari and Ririka Momobami have extremely similar facial features and the same Hime Cut hairstyles as their distant cousin Yumeko Jabami. The only major differences between them is their inverted hair and eye colors, and some slight differences in their builds.
  • Wager Slave: The top 100 most in debt students at the school have to do whatever the last person they lost to says. The student council similarly promises to forgive the debt of students who owe massive amounts of money to them if they go to the universities they say, take the jobs they say, marry the people they say, and so on.
  • You're Insane!: Saotome calls Jabami insane in the first arc for betting 10 million yen on a single game of Rock–Paper–Scissors.