I am going to get a lot of shit for this, but I really enjoyed the fuck out of Kakegurui (aka Compulsive Gambler). Yes, the premise is kind of retarded, and I know, that the logic behind a lot of the games that were played in this series were absolutely ludicrous, but it's just super fun to watch.
Oh, so it's okay to watch a stupid show like THIS, as long as it's fun, but if one is a grown man and watches My Little Pony "because it's fun" (and not because one has a fetish for barn animals) he's a freak? I see.
Yes. That's... That's exactly right.
Anyway, Kakegurui is a strange show in that it definitely falls into the "fighting anime" genre, but instead of weekly battles that feature characters with extendable arms, or the ability to throw punches that can level mountains, or the power to do ninja moves that allow them to multiply to attack a foe en masse, this series has characters who have "super gambling skills."
That sounds silly. Does this show take place in a casino or something?
No! That's one of the great (insane) parts of Kakegurui! It takes place in a school! It's a "high school gambling fighting show!"
Of COURSE it takes place in a high school...
Are you really shocked at all? For reals? 90% of the shit out there either takes place in a high school, or at the very least features high school-aged kids. But whatever. Here's what Kakegurui is about:
So there's this private high school in Japan where all of the children of the super rich and powerful leaders of the country go to called Hyakkaou Private Academy. These kids are ultra-privileged, and use their parents' clout to try and become the rulers of this school, and therefore the future rulers of the country. Yet this institution is not run by threats or money per se, but instead by gambling.
The student council commands the place with an iron fist, and the leaders of the student council are all decided by their ability to gamble. There are tons of rules set up concerning gambling and one-on-one matches that no one is allowed to break, not even the president of the council or her lieutenants.
Okay, that's great. It's a high school show with a gambling problem, we get it.
No, actually, it's a gambling show with a high school problem. This show, despite being set in a high school, has nothing really at all to do with being in high school. There's no drama about grades, there's no talk about stupid, meaningless, adolescent relationships... It's just a show about gambling that features teenagers. I found it quite refreshing, actually.
That's great. It sounds stupid though.
Oh, it is ridiculously stupid and silly, but it doesn't take itself seriously at all. It's "over-the-top" insane, but it's also a helluva ride as you go.
Anyway, Kakegurui is basically about gorgeous high schooler Yumeko arriving at this academy, and causing a stir in the social pecking order (of gambling) right from the start. Yumeko makes friends with a boy in need (the class rep, Ryouta), and rescues him from his high school slavery by playing a modified version of the game Jankenpon with the guy's tormentor (a hot blonde with anger issues named Mary).
And I'm not kidding with that "high school slavery" comment. This school's student council absolutely rules these kids' lives. If someone sucks at life and gambling, and falls into massive debt, the school will buy them out under the condition that they OWN them in the future. The student council will dictate whom the slaves can marry, what careers they can take, and even how many children they are to pop out, all to keep the country running smoothly, and therefore trickle down to the school and keep it prosperous.
As I said, Compulsive Gambler is RIDICULOUS, but it's really fun, especially if you enjoy super-high-stakes drama, and consequences for failed games that could really destroy a teenager's life. But I digress.
So Yumeko starts shit with the student council almost immediately. She has the uncanny ability to fully grasp and understand any game (made up or legit card game) after playing it once, which includes seeing through any and all tricks that people use in order to cheat their way to a victory.
Unlike everyone else in the entire academy though, Yumeko isn't in these games in order to rise to the top and be the biggest fox in the hen house. Instead, she just loves to gamble. Orgasmically so. This drives everyone else crazy. Especially because after she wins big, she celebrates by basically drowning everyone around her in a flood of her womanly juices while she moans in euphoria. Well, I'm only partly making that up. I mean, I'm pretty sure that's what the animators were hinting was happening (Yumeko busting the proverbial nut), with her eyes falling out of focus, her rubbing her legs together in glee whilst biting her thumbnail, and howling in mad ecstasy whenever she obliterates an opponent's bank account.
Anyway, Yumeko makes some unlikely allies, and starts taking down the naughty student council members one-by-one, as she sets her unflinching sites on the student council president. Each member of the student council though has a special power/gambling ability. I was serious when I said that this was a fighting anime with a Las Vegas high school being the arena.
What kinds of games do these kids play? Poker? Roshambo? Old Maid?
One of the student council members likes to defeat her enemies and collect their fingernails. Her game of choice is Concentration (memorizing and matching flipped cards, using two decks of cards manufactured by her father's company). Another plays for attempts to shoot the opponent by trying to match cards that a third party will set out. And then there's the group game of two-card Indian Poker that the student council sets up for people to try and get back into the black when they've fucked up gambling too much. The stakes for the group-match Indian Poker game are that people can trade their debt with those with lesser deficits if they win.
Once more, this show is INSANELY ridiculous, but it's so much more fun than just watching two people trading punches or "powering up to level 9,000" in yet another generic fist-fighting show, or a ninja-powered show. "Gambling Fighting" is a lot more tense and interesting.
Still sounds weird... So, is there anything else you want to share with us about this thing?
Yes. I LOVE the character designs in Kakegurui. The women are all drawn super sexily most of the time, and whenever they turn angry, crazy, or hyper-passionate, they look almost like a different person. Normally, I detest it whenever the animators draw a character who is supposed to be cray-cray, and all they do is make the smile WAY too wide, and the irises of the eyes pin-point tiny. To me that's usually a cop-out used instead of trying to draw a nuanced performance on a character's face indicating personal conflict, or a breakdown of their sanity. But here, in Compulsive Gambler, the swift change from gorgeous female face to insane terror, or total loss of mental stability is very entertaining. Kakegurui isn't trying to be high art, nor is it trying to show us subtle emotional drama, it's an over-the-top fighting anime with moments of pure hysteria. And I love it for it.
I also really like how fast paced this thing is. It's also not your typical fighting anime in the fact that its storytelling (and I use that term loosely) momentum rarely slows down. The majority of the battles take place in less than 22 minutes. It's "Whamma, bamma, lamma, thank you, Ma'amma!" quick. Yes, it's short on characterization, but for a 12 episode series focusing on glamour and spectacle, I wasn't missing well-crafted character development all that much.
I like to gamble. Will this make me relapse?
Yes. If you watch this series you will more than likely end up running around the Luxor half naked throwing playing cards around like Gambit while screaming "I want to have Yumeko's baby!" before the cops tackle you and throw you in the funny farm. Seriously, it's quite the rush!
Yay! Gambling problems are hilarious!
But whatever. You should watch this show. It's stupid, silly, fun.
I just feel that I have to take a few minutes here to talk about the OTHER popular anime series about gambling: Kaiji.
Oh, I know that there are people out there who claim that Kaiji is one of the greatest shows ever made, as well as the best of the best of all gambling shows. To you guys and gals, I can only say "you are sooooooo wrong."
Kaiji — beyond being repulsively ugly to even look at, and overly melodramatic to the point of hilariousness — is most importantly BORING AS HELL. I've seen six episodes of it, and that did not even finish the very first gambling event, a single game of "Card-based Rock-Paper-Scissors." I'm dead fucking serious. There are OVER six episodes of the main ugly fucker playing Rock-Paper-Scissors. That is even more tedious than Goku powering up while trash talking Frieza for like three to four episodes. Kaiji is soul-suckingly painful to watch.
I was originally never even planning to talk about Kaiji. I just assumed that everybody in this world was sane and realized how unsightly and trite it was. Therefore I thought that it was not even worth me wasting anymore time (or even any thought) on it, since everyone with a brain was in agreement with me about its quality... But then, after watching the incredibly stimulating and thrilling Kakegurui, I did a search for "best gambling anime series," since I was in the mood for more of the same kind of fun I just finished. Almost every forum post and online list featured Kaiji as the "number 1, super best gambling show!"
What the fuck?
Guys, it starts off with more than six episodes of the main character playing a horrendously dull game of Rock-Paper-Scissors. You people disappoint me so.
Gambling problems are no joke, man. I knew this guy in college, and he was normal in pretty much every aspect, except, well, he masturbated a bit too frequently. But other than that, he was normal... Except for his gambling issues.
We got a sense that he had some problems controlling his urges to bet on things... ANYthing. He'd see two dogs fighting over a toy, or two people obviously walking to the same building, and he'd have to bet on which one would win or get to their destination first. Then we started having poker nights.
It was during our weekly card games that this poor schmuck would show his true face. He was absolutely addicted to gambling in any form, but when it came to cards (and it didn't matter what we played really: poker blackjack, "Momma Shot Her Load" [that's a real game... Look it up!]), he was in it till he was broke.
Yeah, even on the very rare occasion that he would win almost everything at the table, this retard would keep going until he blew everything.
He was ALWAYS broke, and always a crybaby about it. It was just sad. Nobody liked being around him after a while, 'cause all he would do is talk about how he lost all his money, or try to bet on if that raccoon over there was going to pick up the apple core or the half-eaten chicken strip next to the trashcan.
[NOTES FROM THE ROSSMAN: Hah-ha! Chi-Chi's just pissed because HE was that "poor schmuck" and "retard" in this story. The only crime that I remember about his shitty gambling problem in school was that he SUCKED at gambling. He always chose the wrong dog to win, or the wrong person to reach the door first, and he was especially and epically poor at playing any sort of card game. I've seen him ask for a hit when he had 20 in Blackjack, as well as fold when he had 4 of a kind in Poker.
Oh well. His shitty gambling abilities kept me well boozed and fed in college. You see, whenever I was running out of beer money, or didn't have enough cash for a pizza, I'd invite him over and have a "friendly game of Old Maid." I'd then have a pizza and six-pack completely paid for in like 30 minutes, then I'd kick him out so that he wouldn't mooch any of my hard-won prizes. Good times.]