You only get one shot.  If the first episode of an anime doesn’t impress me –  it’s getting dropped.

Did Kakegurui’s first episode impressed me, or did I have to drop it?   Let’s find out!
Summary

In Hyakkau Private Academy, status is everything. Gambling is law.  Money rules all.

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‘Cash rules everything around me.
C.R.E.A.M. get the money
Dollar dollar bill ya’ll’

-Wu Tang Clan

Students with high status are royally treated and rewarded. The low aren’t considered human – treated as pets and furniture. To obtain the high status, you must gamble.  Money.  Power.  Respect.  Anything and everything you want in Hyakkau can be obtained – but only if you gamble.

We’re presented with the risk/reward premises of Kakegurui  early on through an intense game of Poker between two students: the sadistic gambling queen Mary Saotome, and the lowly Ryota Suzui.   The two are to their last cards, breathing heavily, and sweating hard, fatigued from the game.  Ryota reveals his hand in confidence: full house.  Upon seeing his hand, Mary starts giggling, her face inhumanly twisted.

She reveals her winning hand – Royal Straight Flush.

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“Too bad!”  she shouts in victory.

Coldly, Mary encourages Ryota to keep his spirit up, despite the hardships he has been through the day.  Then, she calls him “Pochi” – his new name. Ryota is no longer human.  He is a “dog”.  A house pet.  His hope, faith, and humanity: gone.  Retaining it all is a fool’s game.

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Or so did he believe, until a girl named Yumeko Jabami arrived.

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Yumeko Jabami: a seemingly sweet and modest girl.

 

The scene transition to Yumeko introducing  herself to her new classmates, wishing to befriend them all. Immediately, she becomes popular. Her male peers are captivated by her cuteness and friendliness. Even Ryota himself is charmed by her sweet  presence and beautiful appearance.  As a new student,  Yumeko needs somebody to show her around.  Ryota, due to his class rep status, is selected by his teacher to help her around.  He happily accepts his new duty.  Yumeko tells him that it’s nice to meet him, with him agreeing likewise.  Despite his new status as Mary’s house pet, Ryota’s luck is starting to change.

Speaking of Mary, she  jealous of Yumeko’s instant popularity.  She doesn’t like the new transfer student.  She stares her with disdain.

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So far, three characters have been introduced and established.  Ryota, the main male character and house pet of the callous supporting character, Mary, and finally, the new student and main female character, Yumeko, who has her first hater in the form of Mary.  It’s fairly obvious that Ryota and Yumeko will have the most interactions and their relationship will evolve into friendly terms. We can assume through Mary’s anger towards Yumeko that they’ll have a rivalry.  First episode in and we’re already got some good bits served to us and even a possible hook for us to go past the fist episode rather than dropping it.

Let’s move forward.

After class, Ryota gives Yumeko a tour of the school.  She’s at awe at its beauty, expressing her happiness of her  transfer to him. Next,  she notices Ryota’s dog tag around his neck –  the name “Pochi” engraved on it. She questions him why he’s wearing it, to which he doesn’t respond, turning his back towards her out of embarrassment.  He doesn’t want to let her know about his status as a pet.  After a few seconds of silence, he asks Yumeko if she ever gambled before.  Yumeko replies innocently, telling him she knows the rules of gambling through Poker and Mahjong.

Ryota replies to her answer. He starts breaking down how gambling is not just the school’s tradition, but it’s the backbone of it. After school, the rich kids turn the school into a massive gambling hall.  He tries to warn her that the rich kids will try to invite her to gamble, but is suddenly stopped by her.  She finds  the idea of gambling in school fun and starts to  giggle madly.  Ryota looks at her with shock.

There seems to be more about Yumeko than what she lets on.

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Later, while socializing with her new peers, Yumeko is challenged by Mary  to a gambling match: a game of rock-paper-scissors in card game form.   Mary seeks to humiliate Yumeko for stealing her spotlight, and sets her up as her latest sucker.  Yumeko, unaware of Mary’s plan, accepts her challenge.  Everyone is at  abuzz  about the challenge,  and prep the classroom, transforming it into a gambling den.  After the room is set up, Mary explains the rules of voting-rock-paper-scissors to Yumeko.

 

Both girls play their first  card.  Mary draws scissors and Yumeko  draws rock, winning the first round.   Mary congrats Yumeko on her first win and allows her to place the next bet. Yumeko boldly bets 50 chips (valued at 50,000 yen); a move that surprises and socks everyone.  Yumeko is chill about her bold move, thinking nothing of it.  Both girls draw rock from their hands, resulting in a tie. They continue, Mary playing rock once more and Yumeko with scissors.  Obviously, Mary wins. Following that, Yumeko wins the next round, betting 50 chips once again.  After that,  Yumeko starts to lose each hand, losing all her chips in the process, but again,  she’s still in her calm and chill state.

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Mary starts celebrating her apparent victory, She asks Yumeko if she want to continue her losing streak.  Yumeko doesn’t reply, which prompts Mary to start laughing at and taunting her opponent,  asking her if  she has cold feet. Mary’s an incredibly arrogant and prideful player. She enjoys taunting her opponent and thinks herself as a paragon of superiority.

I like that. Mary, you’re the second best girl so far.

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Yumeko, still stoic and calm, informs Mary that the game has just truly started. She requests one final match, which Mary (cockily) agrees to.  Mary believes she’s can force her into an unpayable debt, thus forcing Yumeko to become her new pet.  Mary starts praising herself and  calls Yumeko foolish. She can’t believe Yumeko  wants to play against her once more. She then questions the “foolish” Yumeko how could she possibly continue the game if she doesn’t have any chips left.

Yumeko may not have any chips left, but she has something much more exciting to offer – money.

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Yumeko bets real cash – 10,000,000 yen (USD $88,760 as of July 20th 2017) in stacks to be exact. Mary is shocked – offended even.  She starts to lose her mind, demanding Yumeko to explain why she carries so much cash on her.  She assumes that Yumeko can’t afford to gamble such an outlandish amount of money away on a simple game.  She didn’t expect her seemingly naïve and innocent opponent to take the game to a serious route.

She calls Yumeko crazy, but the girl doesn’t seem to be mind being called crazy.  In fact, she loves it. She becomes enthusiastic about the new risks.  Her eyes start to glow red, demonic like even.  She explains how the lifeblood of money rules the world.  She gets excited explaining to Mary how the risk and craziness of gambling makes the game even more fun.   Yumeko loves money.  Yumeko loves high risks.  Yumeko loves insanity.

Yumeko loves gambling.

‘Maddness is the essence of gambling, isn’t it?’

-Yumeko Jabemi

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(Alright.  So Yumeko’s true personality [or at least parts of it] is revealed.  She ins’t this modest and humble girl that she originally lead everyone to believe (althrough the OP animation foreshadow that, but whatever).  Like a seasoned gambler, she conceals her hard earned knowledge of the game.  Yumeko (obviously) is a different person when she takes a game seriously, taking a simple friendly game to high risk and rewards levels – because she loves it.

I’m hooked. No need to drop this anime on episode 1.)

Mary is enraged. She believes Yumeko is mocking her with her reckless behavior, and refuses her offer. Unemotionally, Yumeko taunts her – asking Mary if she has cold as she did her.  Pissed, Mary accepts and regains her confidence.  She believes that she can still win; entrusting her victory in the fact her classmate are voting in her favor (of course, Mary does have them in her pockets, taking advantage of their needs and wants).

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However, Yumeko is hip to Mary plans and exposes her.

Yumeko  figures that Mary has about 10-20 people voting in her favor – a fact she hid poorly.  Yumeko  notices that Mary  was playing the same cards twice, mixed her cards while she wasn’t betting,  and their peers’ reacting to their plays, sending each other signals to inform Mary on which card to play.  She finishes with telling her that she can’t fool anyone if she isn’t prepared to lose money.  Mary becomes enraged once more. Her plans broken down and revealed! But, she believes that Yumeko is merely bluffing!  She couldn’t be that clever!  She has no proof that Mary’s trying to play the system!  With her egotistical mindset, Mary believes she can still win. She plays her final card: Paper.   She slams her card down with the highest of confidence – but it’s all for naught.

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Yumeko, with her sweet and friendly smile, reveals her winning card: Scissors.

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Everyone starts to freak out in shock.  Mary, the gambling queen of Hyakkau , has been dethroned. She starts to blank out, withdrawn in her thoughts.  She just lost 10,000,000 yen – which she lacks.  Yumeko demands that she pay up ASAP  In shame, Mary bows her head, grits her teeth, and confesses to the victor that she lacks  the money.  Yumeko (back to her normal innocent nature), tells Mary that the joy of the game and it stakes was payment enough. She cheerfully leaves the room, expressing her hopes that her new classmates will treat her as an equal.

IMPRESSIONS

For a first episode, Kakegurui is excellent, and right on the jump! I like how we’re treated to the premise right away: gambling is law and status. An example of the risk and reward of obtaining victory or losing are presented – with Suzui becoming a pet to Mary, and Mary owing debt to Yumeko after losing to her.  Like gambling itself, matches are exciting and the excitement factor is  increased when the stakes are higher, as we see with Yumeko betting cash rather than simple plastic chips.

One thing that I’ve noticed that makes me enjoy the anime is the facial expressions of each characters and how it’s link to their reaction.  Yumeko with her eyes widing, twisted smile, and facial blushing as she explains how much gambling gives her pleasure, or with Mary’s anger towards defeat expressed through her gritting her teeth, body trembling, lips quivering, and eye twitching.

I am looking forward to how this anime will playout throughout the summer season as it looks promising and refreshing (by my taste).  Once completed, I’ll give the series an in-depth review and possible analysis in the future!

So, to answer my question:  Did Kakeugurui impressed me?
Yes!  Yes it did!

If you have any anime I should watch this season, please let me know in the comment section below!    I need to build up my anime game this year!

 

 

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