Next stop on the first impressions train is Kakegurui!
This. damn. show.
To say that I’m impressed with this one so far is an understatement. It has a lot going for it and could end up being one of the best shows of the season. Lets jump in and look at the reasons why.
The setting for Kakegurui is Hyakkaou Private Academy. A school for the privileged and extremely wealthy. When you have this much money and influence, who needs a normal curriculum when you can gamble away your riches and live like Kings and Queens! Hyakkaou Academy is an institution where the best gamblers live like royalty and the losers live like household pets existing merely as an object of ridicule.
Studio MAPPA are doing an excellent job of this adaptation. I haven’t read any of the Manga but from what I’ve seen it looks like they are really capturing the uniqueness of the art, and bringing a lot of its quirky characteristics across to the screen. The visuals are extremely nice.
One example is the ludicrous transitions between characters appearing normal, to them displaying grotesque close ups. Its one of the things I love about Kakegurui and the way it tries to visually describe how, although things in this school can appear normal, everyone for the most part, is insane!
Whilst we’re talking about design quality, another aspect the shows seems to nail is the musical score. The sound is incredible. I’m not totally familiar with the type of music but it has a jazzy feel to it and it fits the tone of the show very well, adding suspense and tension to all the necessary scenes.
The opening is very unique and combines some lovely animation with the same musical influence as above.
Kakegurui starts off with a game of poker between male protagonist Suzui Ryouta and who I assume will become an integral character to the show, Mary Saotome. Mary destroys him and this is how we discover the hierarchy of students within the school, with Suzui becoming a dog or “fido” after his defeat.
At this point we already have an idea that Mary is a real bitch, but when Yumeko enters the fray, she doesnt hesitate to show her true colours and challenges her Yumeko to a gamble.
Its not long before we realise that Yumeko is extremely passionate about gambling, and the higher the stakes, the better. So much so that she is often visibly turned on by the ludicrous odds and interesting game types. By the end of episode 2 we know that Yumeko has a knack for catching cheaters and discovering how they work, completely using this against her opponents to win.
We also have the student council, who appear to be a band of nut jobs who excel at gambling and have worked their way to the top of the food chain, for want of a better description. What I really love about this though is their very interesting character designs. We have a strange loli in a onesie who likes lolipops, a girl with an eye patch who seems to have a particularly crazy streak, a very reserved looking gentleman, and a bunch of other characters with some interesting design choices. I am very excited to see how these characters behave and perform in their respective gambles, especially the student council president, who seems to have some kind of vendetta against Yumeko.
It was episode 3 that really sold me on Kakegurui. Going off the first 2 episodes it was natural for me to feel like Yumeko was invincible. She came in and crushed her opponents without so much as breaking a sweat, always against the odds. Both episodes follow the exact same pattern of Yumeko gambling against a cheater with high stakes, only to triumph exceptionally.
Episode 3 begins with this same pattern, which at first was a worry for me. I didn’t like the idea of watching a show that followed this exactly for a whole season. Luckily, it deviates enough from this and adds a whole layer of depth to Yumekos character which made me think that this has the potential to be anime of the season for me.
The one thing I love the most about Yumeko is how her own insanity brings her opponents to the brink of despair. She is so enthralled in her love for gambling and she knows just how to get under peoples skin and use that to her advantage. She is absolutely off her rocker and I think I love her.
Kakegurui is promising to be a roller coaster ride of suspense with a big drop of madness. The vibrant visuals, interesting OST and intriguing plot developments have definitely got me hooked and I highly recommend this to anyone looking for their summer anime fix.
[ VERDICT: CONTINUING! ]