Hyakkaou Private Academy is a special institution with a rather odd curriculum. Its students are the children of the richest and most powerful people in the world, and their success is not determined by their brains nor their brawn, but their ability to read and outwit others in games of chance. Gambling is the focus of this academy and those who win live a life of luxury, towering above the losers who suffer at the bottom. However, when newcomer Yumeko Jabami enrolls at the academy, its students are about to find out what it means to be a true risk taker.
I love mind games. There’s just something about psychological warfare that appeals to me. I enjoy watching characters face against one another in a battle of wits and seeing them push one another closer to the edge that is their breaking point. The constant state of tension and the immense satisfaction in seeing one side of the conflict overcome the other through sheer wit and mental fortitude is an experience that only shows of this kind can deliver, and it’s one that I always find myself easily enjoying.
And Kakegurui is a show that embodies that on the edge of your seat experience in every single way imaginable.
Mere minutes into the episode and the focus is directed straight towards a mental battle of rock, paper, scissors and from there it’s immediately clear that this is going to be a fun ride filled to the brim with tense, psychological battles and interesting game set ups, not unlike that of Kaiji or Akagi.
I’m a humongous fan of the original Manga for this series, so I know exactly what’s coming and what to expect from this adaptation further down the line, and I’m extremely excited to see the later gambling competitions and events animated.
Narratively, this premiere just hit everything perfectly. From presenting the setting, to providing the audience with an idea as to what’s in store down the line, all the way to establishing the main characters personality, it was as perfect and introduction anyone could hope for from a first episode.
While we’re on that subject, the protagonist, Jabami, is a great character. She’s has a strong love for taking risks and as a result puts everything on the line, but she’s also incredibly sadistic and possibly even psychotic and it’s great. She enjoys breaking her opponents and loves the thrill of the game. So far, there’s not an awful lot her character besides her sadism, but she’s damn entertaining to watch and a nice change from the nicey nicey protagonists we tend to get from Anime. And as a reader of the Manga, I can assure that there’s more to her character down the line than what we’ve currently been shown.
However, as a Manga reader, I do have my concerns as well. While this first episode delivered in just about every way I could have hoped for, the series is only going to be 12 episodes long, which has me anxious about how far this adaptation is going to get in the source material. It’s likely going to stop in the middle of nowhere, or take the route of an original ending. I ain’t particularly excited for either of those outcomes, and pray things wrap up at a suitable stopping point with a promise of a second season.
But aside from that concern, there’s very little for me to complain about. If the story follows the Manga well enough, we’re going to be treated to some excellent mind games and plenty of Jabami’s sadistic and lewd expressions.
And that’s another thing, the aesthetic of this show is just fantastic. I’ve seen some people express concern over the shows presentation and animation style, but I honestly have no idea why, because I think it looks fantastic.
The art style is both unique and beautiful, with a lovely use of colour that brings everything to life. The character designs are excellent, with every character looking vastly different from one another, particularly Jabami who has, what I can safely say is, one of my favourite character designs of all time. Damn, that character design is just… Great.
The animation isn’t perfect, but it’s good, and for the kind of show Kakegurui is, that’s all I expect. This isn’t My Hero Academia and a game of rock, paper, scissors is hardly Midoriya vs. Todoroki. It’s great for the kind of show this is, and I’m completely satisfied with it.
And how could I not mention those incredibly exaggerated facial expressions. Sometimes they’re freaky. Sometimes they’re wacky. Sometimes they’re even kind of… Attractive…? I love them.
And of course the soundtrack is great too. There’s some great stuff in here so far and the Opening theme does an excellent job of capturing the general feel and tone that the series is striving to create. The Ending theme is also pretty good, although not as memorable for me personally.
As someone who really enjoys psychological, mind game series, and as a fan of the source material, this Anime adaptation of Kakegurui is right up my alley. It’s off to a fantastic start, and although I have some concerns in the form of its scheduled length, I honestly have very little to complain about at this point in time. This has the potential to be one of the best shows of the season, and if it continues at this rate, it most certainly will be.
The show is licensed by Netflix, so unfortunately it’s not currently available for legal streaming. However, I strongly urge you to give into the temptation of piracy just this once and this first episode a shot. It’s worth it. Trust me.
What are your First Impressions for Kakegurui?