Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler (2017)
Signed up the 22/05/2017Anime has a strange knack for making literally anything exciting. This is why titles like Kakegurui, while seemingly dealing with content that isn't quite regular for anime, are not doing anything new fundamentally - they're just anime showing off how versatile the medium actually is. But enough about what this show does and more about what it is.
Kakegurui follows the entrance of the mysterious Jabami Yumeko into the prestigious Hyakkaou Private Academy, a school where one's very identity as a human being only comes after their skill when it comes to one thing: gambling. A school filled with the children of society's most elite, students go head-to-head in the most high-stakes games, wagers and gambles - the one with the most money are the ones with the most power, while those who are in debt lose their sovereignty and become house pets for other students. When Jabami arrives, she is immediately taken aback by the new environment. Licking her lips at the opportunity to experience the intense thrill of gambling, it seems like Jabami Yumeko isn't quite like the other students...
Kakegurui's formula is simple: take gambling and make it infinitely more dramatic than it already is. Kakegurui's use of its brilliant art (which I will mention in detail later), voice acting and the way it develops characters in a way that leaves very few characters the same as when they were introduced. The anime is one in a long line of anime which are centred on concepts which are seemingly incongruous to the type of story that is most commonly associated with anime. Speaking from where the series ends, it is evident that there could be more to Kakegurui than we know at this point in time, but that is of course, pure speculation based on the series' ending.
By far the anime's best feature, Kakegurui is a visually striking piece of work that is capable of holding your attention for minutes at a time using just the art alone. It is polished and sharp, the characters each with their own vibrant repertoire of facial expressions, the transition between each being as smooth as a hot knife moving through butter. As weird and wild as the facial expressions tend to get in this anime, there simply is no reason to fault any of the animation in this title.
While the characters were developed somewhat throughout the series, one must also realise two things: firstly, Kakegurui is an anime of about thirteen episodes. Such a short time on air means that there must be an aspect of the story that is sacrificed, or even diluted and in this case, it seems to have been the characters. Not to say they weren't at all interesting, the best of the cast was of course, Jabami Yumeko, who always managed to tickle my discomfort in all the right places with her obsession with gambling in and of itself. Characters were rarely who they were at face value, and that made for a more interesting personal experience with each character, despite how brief these expositions were.
Kakegurui had a soundtrack which really carried the overall gambling theme and casino aesthetic of most scenarios within the show. Overall, the soundtrack was highly enjoyable, starting with the show's opening theme, "Deal With the Devil", which was a treat to watch as it was a chance for the animators to truly strut their stuff and show the artistic value of a show like this one. Most tracks conveyed the adrenalin rush that Jabami experienced with every gamble, making it a beautiful visual and sonic experience.
Overall, Kakegurui is an anime I'd recommend to anyone trying to experience something new, something short and beautiful, something that doesn't quite fit into their common anime habits. It is an engaging watch, one which leaves quite the impression despite its length; however, to people who aren't quite used to the dramatic perspective anime gives most common activities, it could be seen as just a little weird. Trust me; however, weird is good. Weird is great.
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