First Look: Kakegurui

Manga Adaptation by MAPPA
Licensed by Netflix, release date pending

Premise

​Hyakkaou Academy is a private school for the ultra rich with a big secret: after school hours the student body fights for social supremacy through high stakes games of chance. A new transfer student, obsessed with the thrill of gambling, arrives to shake things up.

Jel’s verdict: Take the Chance

​It would be easy to think that we here at the Glorio blog are opposed to sexy anime but that’s not necessarily the case. We just think that if you’re going to make trash you should make Quality Trash™, and that just doesn’t happen 99% of the time. Fortunately, Kakegurui may be in that 1%. The main difference is probably best summed up in the bouncy ending song in which our female lead confidently diva struts through the rain completely unashamed, eventually throwing off her blazer as if to say “bring it on!” to the camera. Same goes for the stunning opening (MAPPA is wise to get Saya Yamamto to storyboard their OPs), the main point being the ladies of Kakegurui are not here to feed anime nerds’ purity fetish. They are totally the ones in charge.

​While the episode’s stylish sex appeal definitely grabs your attention, the big question is if there is anything else going on that makes the show worth watching. For now, I’m inclined to say yes. I could see Yumeko developing into a very entertaining anti-hero, the kind that is actually an unabashed terrible person fighting opponents that just happen to be worse. I’ll take that over a boring male audience proxy any day. As for the gambling itself, that might have been the weakest part of the episode as they spent quite a bit of time explaining the details of it. Still, it’s an easy way to set up some high stakes drama, so I think it can work.

Iro’s verdict: Flushed Skin

This sure was some quality garbage. I tend to be opposed to shows about thinly veiled sexual fantasies, and Kakegurui seems like it’s all about improbably shapely high school girls gambling while treating the main guy like dirt. And – let’s be real – the gambling premise and general vibe is screaming that strip poker will show up at some point; bleh. That said, MAPPA and the GARO crew Yuichiro Hayashi / Yasuko Kobayashi bring enough panache and crazy reaction faces to the party that it manages to be entertaining. And I guess at least it manages to mostly be blatantly suggestive as opposed to blatantly explicit? With the slim pickings this season, you could do worse.

Zigg’s verdict: Queen of Hearts

I absolutely adore the hyper-OTT presentation of this, recalling as it does gambling classics like Kaiji or even the more ridiculous moments of Yu-Gi-Oh! The bombastic style of this thing is really all it has going for it, since the plot is threadbare to say the least, but that style is so overwhelming that it pretty much carries the production on its back. Even the omnipresent leering fanservice somehow manages to enhance the air of high-quality garbage the show nails to a tee, and MAPPA’s work on insanely trollish faces is the best we’ve seen since the high points of Osomatsu. If they can keep upping the ante and pulling ridiculously improbable stakes out of nowhere this could well be the show of the season, if not it might just be plain rubbish. I’m excited to find out.

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