Kakegurui Vol 1 Review
Kakegurui…ah, where to start? Okay, I’m not gonna lie, I got this manga because I'd heard a lot about the anime adaptation and wanted to see what it was about. Well, that’s not entirely true, I was bombarded with crazy memes from the anime and that piqued my interest, but after reading the first volume, I can't wait to read the rest.
Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler
First things first, Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler is a manga that takes place at Hyakkaou Private Academy, a school that is packed to the brim with the kids of wealthy parents and rather than academic prowess or athletic skill determining the pecking order, this school’s hierarchy is determined by one of the most unexpected things you could think of. Gambling. No, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. This school revolves around gambling. Your social status, reputation and the opportunities afforded to you are all determined by your skill and gambling.
Enter Yumeko Jabami, a young woman who has a penchant for getting highly excited (borderline aroused) about gambling due to the risk involved. The higher the stakes, and the uncertainty of her emerging victorious is what makes gambling exciting for her, and that’s what she’s all about: the thrill. She wants to have fun, and when the odds are stacked against her, she shines.
We see her through the eyes of a young man she helps pay off his debt. He teaches her about the way the school works, who’s who and the various games they play. I’ll admit that I’d lose every game at this school, but Yumeko’s intelligence allows her to see through all of the conniving and cheating ways her classmates and peers utilize to win. The more I read, thee more I saw her as an antihero, taking down the cheaters at her school while not actually looking to do so. She’s just looking for entertainment, and if she manages to pull the rug out from under cheaters in the process…
It’s not often you come across a character who’s equally captivating and unsettling, but that is Yumeko. There’s just something about her that you can’t help but not want to look away from, all the while having her actions get a rise out of you. Kakegurui doesn’t shy away from the corrupted minds that these cheaters (and even Yumeko) have; those at the top of the totem pole treat those at the bottom like they’re nothing more than lapdogs and footstools (literally, in some cases). I mean, there are some seriously twisted kids at this school. Still, there’s something about seeing the perverse things one would think, say or do when they have the world, copious amounts of money, at their fingertips. You get the sense that the psychological ramifications of growing up in an environment such as Hyakkaou Private Academy are severe indeed, and it allows a deeper look in the spiraling psyche of kids who attend the school, whether they’re winning or losing.
Homura Kawamoto’s story coupled with Toru Naomura’s art gives us meme-worthy faces, an intelligent, risk-loving and possibly psychotic mc, and high stake games that seem to climb higher still. Ah, what more could you ask for? Seriously though, these faces: