Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
You can almost feel the thrill of the game in Kakegurui crawling up your skin. In the halls of Hyakkaou Academy, weakness is unacceptable. Power and money is all that matters and the evil student council is there to enforce the rules, even if that means being a little rough on the edges when it comes to transparency.
Japanese Title: つまんない女
If we had any doubts of what will happen in the rest of the season, this episode made sure to put them all to rest. Jabami is going to face one evil student council member in each episode (or a lackey of the student council) and climb her way to the top. Not that our psychopathic girl cares much about power and money. She is in for the thrill and what’s more exciting than winning all these damn bitches (and one boy if the megane-kuso was the only one in the council) in their own game? Just picture that ending sequence again. Yumeko-crazy-chan doesn’t care about anything. She walks carelessly as she throws her hands in the air and her breasts greet us graciously. She is free. She cares about nothing but getting that sweet orgasm-like tinkling she gets from just the promise of another challenge. Like Suzui says, that girl feels no fear.
Now that we know the formula, the little details that paint the greater picture make more sense. The hierarchy and the tax system are there to provide order in a senseless system. Since the academy prepares the future leaders in politics and business, it values more the skills that will make them better in what they are destined to do. ‘In the future, what someone who uses others needs the most is an aptitude in bargaining and reading others,’ says Suzui to Jabami, ‘and the strength to deal with others during a crisis.’ What a fracked-up school. Whether it was just a promising setting for the manga artists, Kawamoto Homura and Naomura Tooru, or a way to criticize a society that places more value on these skills instead than on empathy and kindness, I am not sure. But since it can be read as a critique, it doesn’t really matter what the artist wanted to say.
X Woman: After the first episode, I knew that the series was going for a pattern. One girl a week and the title will refer to that girl. This week was the boring rich girl who used her position to gain an unfair advantage (not that there is anything fair in the way they gamble in that school). Next time is the Slit-eyed girl, the second of the Student Council wackos Jabami is going to face. She looks a bit menacing, with her calm face and all, but the game she will bring to the table seems interesting. Especially after we saw Saotome losing another 20 million or something to it.
Saotome: I feel sad for the girl. She may have tried to rig the game in the last episode but no one deserves to be treated like that and to be bullied to that extent. Justice is blind and does not trade a nail for a nail. Since she is one of the main protagonists (if you are in doubt always check the OP and ED sequences) there must be a turning point in which she will probably join our duo of winner psychopath and good guy in the wrong school.
Teachers: This is not the first anime to put the teachers out of the equation, and to be honest, they are not really needed in Kakegurui. The premise is simple and the only way I could justify a teacher being thrown in the mix is if he is one that not only endorses the system but actively tries to support it from the shadows. I’m sure that this whole thing is illegal. Unless outside the school gates there is a dystopia we don’t know about.
Concentration: This is the most common name for this episode’s card game. I knew it as Memory when I was child. In Britain they call it Pelmanism after Christopher Louis Pelman. In Japan it is called Shinkei-suijaku, which weirdly enough is the word for ‘nervous breakdown.’ It is usually played with one deck of standard cards, so the variation here uses two decks and the pairs need to match both number and symbol. I was really sad watching this game because my memory sucks.
Memory: Do you think Jabami’s memory skills are superhuman? You haven’t met my friend Jack who is a professional chess player. When we were young and foolish, we sometimes took breaks from our regural D&D seasons to play some chess. Chess is a wonderful game but very difficult when you find yourself against someone who really knows his stuff. Jack wasn’t a pro back then (we were 15 years old) but he was going up the ranks. I’m telling this story because after each game of chess, Jack could recall every single move played. EVERY. SINGLE. MOVE. He could go back and forth and play scenarios of how the game could have gone if I made that move and then he made that other move and so on and so forth. It was extraordinary. So yes, there are people with such a good memory they could put an elephant to shame.
The anime has an easy pattern and I knew exactly when the crooked face close-ups were going to appear. Yet, Jabami’s monologue and full frontal attack to Kirari-I-rig-games-chan was scary to say the least. There is something both frightening and weirdly interesting in the way a human bursts out in times of great emotional output. I have seen people passionate and angry and desperate, and I must say that I truly feat what a person is capable to do when he is driven by his emotions. We like to think that we live in a civilized society, but our civilization is mainly a smoke screen for everything that is wrong with this world. Yet, we prefer to disregard anything we watch or read in fiction when it comes to human behavior as unreal. But when it comes down to what we do and feel and think, there is nothing truer than what you see and read in fiction.
I love Jabami. Not in the romantic sense. Psychopaths are not the best partners. Believe me, I know. Yet, she is more of a junky that she is without emotions, and that is evident from the way she treats Suzui and even Saotome. Whether she has a secret sense of justice remains to be seen but for now she hunts in student council grounds.
Did you like Episode 2 of Kakegurui? Let us know in the comments below by using either the forum or the Facebook tab! Join us in our new forum and let’s talk about our favorite series! Don’t forget to check the rest of our Summer 2017 reviews!
NEXT TIME: Slit-Eyed Woman (糸目の女)
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