I’m honestly amazed I even made it more than halfway through this show. There will be spoilers through episode 7 or so, you’ve been warned.
Kakegurui might have lured me, and most people, in with it’s cool OP, hot main girl and interesting visual effects which spiced up the gambling but that just isn’t enough to distract me from all the other bullshit going on in this show. For starters why does this show even bother having Suzui in it? He can’t gamble for shit, which is ostensibly what this show is all about, he has no interesting personality traits or skills which make him important in any way and he basically plays the role of shocked spectator and generic nice guy. Which is to say he doesn’t at all fit this show which is full of bizarre, broken and edgy characters, and I think it’s safe to assume that his role is mainly to serve as an audience stand-in who Umeko can explain the various cheating tactics and counter strategies used by her and other players – not that they actually need a stand-in for that since Umeko confronts people about how they are cheating all the time and sometimes the cheater explains their strategy via soliloquy.
The gambling itself is also boring as shit. None of the games being played are especially interesting so to me it would make more sense to just play normal games which the audience is more likely to understand and keep up with because less would be hidden. Every game used in Kakegurui is more or less set up for the express purpose of cheating and sometimes manipulating the flow of money gained and lost outside of what is actually being bet. The Life or Death sword game is a good example, the Life and Death rule only exists so that players can gain and lose more cash than they are actually betting and this game only works out in the dealer’s favor because the dealers have magnetic piercings to manipulate the placement of the swords. I find this approach extremely counter-productive because it means we, the audience, have to be kept in the dark until the cheat is revealed. To me it makes more sense for these characters to play normal games where more information is readily available and which players could actually win via careful strategy and good decision-making instead of just cheating and counter-cheating. Also by not screwing with the amount of money being gained and lost characters would end up in their positions because of their own decisions and I think would ultimately make the characters more interesting.
Speaking of the characters, that’s where the show well and truly dies. Umeko is captivating enough because of how hot she is and how crazy she is but she’s the only one who was ever even mildly interesting. Everyone else, besides boring-as-fuck Suzui and the Student Council President – who is just this calm, cold maniac – is edgy as hell. The whole house pet system is a giant fucking blight on the characters because it encourages everyone to be an edgy piece of shit who abuses anyone they have leave to abuse. And the Student Council is a collection of nutjobs like a little girl who tells the blonde girl who was an enemy at first and the sort of becomes friends with Umeko that she better get good at pleasing older men or the straw which broke the camel’s back for me – the Russian roulette girl. Jesus fucking Christ, I hated that character. Her gambling episode with Umeko was awful and her screaming dialogue and leaking fluids everywhere drove me up the fucking wall.
And that dear readers is where Kakegurui ended for me. After 7 episodes of bullshit games, run by bullshit characters, Umeko and the special effects were no longer enough to keep me interested. The only game I even remotely like was the debt-swapping Indian Poker because not only was the opponent a total piece of shit but it also had the only character story I liked, the one where the girl is abused into a borderline comatose state of mind finally breaks out and tries to take one of her abusers down when she has the chance to do so.
Honestly I’m having trouble understanding why Kakegurui is so popular. Is it the gambling? I hope not the gambling wasn’t even good. Is it the cheating? I guess that could be interesting but for me personally I actually like it when cheating is juxtaposed with people who play by the rules and are just better at the game, rather than having every match be about how someone is cheating and how the main character overcomes the cheat. To get an idea of what I mean you can check out this post where I compare No Game No Life and Mondaiji, because one of my biggest complaints with No Game No Life is that cheating was so integral to every match that it was never the twist it supposed to be – because it happened every fucking time. But seriously where is the appeal of Kakegurui? Is it just Umeko and maybe the Student Council President being hot? Because it sure as hell isn’t the characters those were the worst part of the show. Anyway that’s about all I have to say about Kakegurui. There just isn’t a whole lot there and what is there is not very interesting. Umeko and special effects look good enough to hook people in at first but they aren’t good enough to carry the whole show – which at this point, given the overall crap construction of this show, is almost what it seems like that’s what they were intended to do.