Outside of Japan, you can only find Kakegurui on Netflix. That’s the bad news. The good news is—you have a choice: do you want anime or live-action? Internal monologue or fourth wall breaks? A girl risking her life in a gamble by ripping off all of her fingernails, or just two?
Naturally, when your family is wealthier than 99% of your country, the only real education you need is in negotiation, tactics, and an ability to hold on to your money. Therefore, the only obvious answer is to gamble your family’s fortune against other rich kids…
If you lose and can’t pay your debts, you become indebted to the student council, who has organized this insane caste system. If you never pay your debts, your future is forfeit to their command.
So what makes this anime intriguing? Why am I sitting here, telling you to watch Kakegurui?
“Kakegurui” means “compulsive gambler,” and that’s exactly what Yumeko Jabami is. She will risk everything, and I do mean everything, for the gamble, even if she’s disgusted by the terms, as long as it’s a fair game. In her quest to gamble with the greatest Hyakkaou has to offer, she willingly keeps herself as a pet, taunted and abused by her fellow classmates, simply so that the council can’t refuse her challenge.
The one thing Yumeko can’t stand is a dirty cheat. Fortunately, she’s so addicted to gambling and tactics that she can call them out and beat them at their own game. Hell, half of the people she’s beaten probably would have done better against her if they didn’t try to stack the deck.
Kakegurui Facial Expressions
Some of the facial expressions in Kakegurui keep me up at night, I swear. One minute, you’re watching a pretty standard anime. The next:
They’re perfectly placed for maximum impact. Where other shows will chibi-shrink the crest-fallen character or use a fire silhouette to portray intensity, this anime shows you the ugly side of people.
It’s much harder to show that odd intensity in a live action show, so they chose a different… er… method to emphasize scenes.
Kakegurui: The Gambles
This isn’t a one-off gambling school where everyone loves blackjack. There are gambles that you’ve probably never seen before, including one that’s become my favorite – the Greater Good game.
If card games are your thing, you’ll definitely find some good games here. But if they aren’t, the twists in these games will definitely entice you. Even if you don’t have a single gambling bone in your body, you’ll find a game here that you’ll want to try with your friends.
Maybe in a future seasons, who knows. There’s been a couple of close calls so far, and there’s definitely been bloodshed. My least favorite character has to be Midari, exclusively for her…um, let’s call it intensity. But her game comes with the highest stakes, even if she is a dirty cheat.
She’s got a story surrounding that eye patch, and you’ll have to get that story straight from the horses mouth (from her…)
When it comes to pain tolerance and acceptance, there’s always that one character who wants to act like it’s NBD until the reality sets in. And then:
Should You Watch Both Versions of Kakegurui?
Yeah, yeah, I know the rule – live-action is almost never as good as the anime. Hear me out.
As I said before, the intense facial expressions are different in the live-action version of Kakegurui—definitely making it more comical, and I believe that has everything to do with the fourth-wall breaking that happen in place of the internal monologue.
If you like your shows a little more drawn out, the live-action version of Kakegurui is definitely the way to go—it takes nearly two seasons to recreate the first.
There’s one major change in the live-action and I need answers.
Who. The fuck. Are these people!?
Seriously, they’re nowhere in the anime and it’s driving me nuts.
The live-action stops at season two and promises a movie to wrap up the rest, so there’s obviously going to be further changes going forward, but damn, if their recreation wasn’t enjoyable to watch.
How do I watch Kakegurui?
If you’re outside of Japan, your only choice is Netflix, and both versions are available. But the movie might be coming later in 2021, once the sequel releases in Japan.
Kakegurui has a little bit for everyone, and I highly recommend it to all anime fans. My only regret (and greatest joy) is that neither version’s story is complete, so we’ll have to find out together what happens in season three/film one.