It’s a good time to be an anime fan. Japan is once again starting to take its Western fanbase more seriously and as a result, more and more shows are reaching a global audience than ever before. Recent statistics show that the anime industry managed to consistently increase its revenue by around $2 million (200 billion Yen) for the last three years and collectively, developers, animators and publishers and other creative agencies are responsible for generating almost $16 billion annually. For years, consumption of anime was held back by the inherent impracticality of the DVD (or VHS tape if you go back a little further) needing to be delivered straight to your door, but thanks to the internet and the rise of streaming services, this is no longer the case.
Older shows which were once considered obsolete have now found their place on sites such as Hulu and Crunchyroll and while most hardcore fans will be aware of some of the newer and more popular animes such as One-Punch Man, Fairy Tail and Attack on Titan, one show which seems to be quietly growing in popularity is Kakegurui. After it was recently renewed for a second season, we thought we’d give you a heads up so you can get caught up and ready for its release, which is expected be sometime around fall later this year.
The Plot (Spoiler Free)
The original Manga was first serialized in Gangan Joker and has steadily grown in popularity and is now available to purchase on Amazon, with approximately 3.7 million copies printed since its inception in 2014. The show takes places in Hykkaou Private Academy – a private institution for the incredibly rich and wealthy. Now, we’re well aware that this avenue and setting has been explored numerous times, especially within the anime landscape but fortunately, this is no ordinary school and more importantly, no ordinary curriculum for the students. Hykkaou Private Academy more concerned with how well students can gamble and analyze probabilities and maths.
Kakegurui’s main protagonist Jabami Yumeko is a student at the academy and enjoys a fondness for gambling and raising the stakes, even when the odds don’t quite appear to be in her favor. Yumeko’s talents for everything gambling related ultimately disrupt the student hierarchy and as a result, the student body council devise a number of schemes in order to stop her in tracks. The show follows Yumeko and other characters throughout the school year, documenting the ups and downs related to playing such high stakes games and could easily be described as part psychological thriller/part shonen anime.
Why Should You Watch It?
For those who enjoy any sort of anime with a crazy plot (let’s face it, that describes a good number of modern animes) and even crazier characters, Kakegurui is the show for you. The show takes the concept of gambling and essentially allows it to descend into madness, culminating in a survival of the fittest/battle royale type deal while simultaneously drawing you in with the complex nature of the games the students are partaking in.
From the high octane card game version of rock-paper-scissors played between Yumeko and Meari in the former’s first gamble at the academy, to the highly exhilarating game of Russian roulette played by Midari and Jun in episode 4, many of the characters occasionally throw caution to the wind and employ “the chaos” betting strategy. As explained in a guide by Betway Casino, “the chaos” betting strategy involves throwing bets all over the layout and effectively fighting fire with fire – Jabami Yumeko could even be considered the physical embodiment of the chaos strategy due to her devil may care attitude.
In recent years, Netflix has convinced many fleeting fans to click on anime artwork on their homepage, only to be taken down an animated rabbit hole and emerge as fully fledged otakus. With a stunning selection of anime already firmly entrenched in its back catalogue such as Sword Art Online and Death Note, Netflix certainly knows what it’s doing with regards to anime and Kakegurui is certainly no different, boasting stunning aesthetics and animation sharp enough to split a hair.
Shonen series have often been known for the portrayal of strong female characters. However, it’s often been the case that these women have been the love interests of the male lead character. Yumeko Jabami displays a number of stereotypical male traits while staying true to some of the more feminine aspects of her character. While this helps promote gender equality, it also keeps anime on good footing in a world where female lead characters are rightly becoming more commonplace.
There’s Never Been a Better Time To Follow Jabami
With around three or four months until the second season is released through Netflix, you’re in perfect time to watch Kakegurui from front to back in order to understand all the plot subtleties and character nuances. What’s more, Kakegurui is only the start – with the spin-off Manga Kakegurui Twin released back in 2015, there looks to be potential for that to be turned into an animated series at some point too (if this is indeed the case, we can only hope it’ll be more Better Call Saul than Joey).
The much talked about “game” genre of anime has proved to be widely popular but Kakegurui takes that one step further, expanding on the psychological aspect of gambling and the complexity surrounding the various strategies and mechanisms involved. We therefore suggest that you grab the biggest pillow you can find before settling down watch the first season, as you may well find yourself wanting something to hide behind and occasionally peek over when the action really gets underway.