Image source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏‏ on Twitter

To call her a “compulsive gambler” is one massive understatement.

Kakegurui — Compulsive Gambler is set in Hyakkaou Private Academy—a prestigious school full of those likely to be the next generation of Japan’s leaders. Yet, things are far from what they appear on the surface. The entire social structure of the school is centered around gambling. The richest and most powerful gamblers sit on the student council while those in debt are enslaved as pets for the student body to torment as they please.

Image source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏‏ on Twitter

Enter our heroine, Yumeko Jabami. Yumeko is a transfer student. She’s beautiful, kind, and a genius with a near eidetic memory. She is also—as the title of the series suggests—a compulsive gambler. But such a term is an understatement when it comes to the insanity that lies within.

Image source: Netflix Japan‏‏ on Twitter

Yumeko is good at gambling. Damn good. Her intelligence and observational skills make her a powerhouse. In a fair game, she’d be all but unbeatable. Of course, in Kakegurui, the games are never fair.

There is always cheating going on in the games at Hyakkaou Private Academy—be it bystanders in on the con, marked cards, or liberally employed magnets. However, to Yumeko, cheating is simply a part of gambling—a challenge to be overcome and often join in on. In fact, she delights in exploiting others’ cheating, allowing her to raise the stakes to ridiculous levels.

And herein lies the core of her insanity.

Image source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏‏ on Twitter

Yumeko doesn’t get a rush from winning—she actually cares next to nothing about money beyond the fact that it is needed to continue gambling. What she gets off on is that moment when everything is at its tensest—the moment when everything is riding on one single card or dice roll. The higher the stakes—the more devastating the consequences for losing—the more ecstasy she receives in that moment.

Image source: Netflix Japan‏‏ on Twitter

But to get a true high, the moment needs to be shared. Yumeko can’t be the only one to have it all on the line. The stakes have to be equally dangerous to both her and her opponent. It has to be two people giving their all. It her opponent isn’t as invested as Yumeko herself, the whole exercise is pointless.

While her opponents fear the consequences of such a loss—be that a loss of money, a loss of social standing, a loss of freedom—Yumeko revels in them.

Image source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏‏ on Twitter

Tens of thousands of dollars in debt and reduced to a slave, she is eager to get her dehumanizing punishment started. Of course, this puts others off on torturing her. They’ve never before met someone who enjoys the horrible treatment that they give those reduced to “class pets.”

But what’s important to note is that it’s not that Yumeko’s a masochist, getting off on her own pain. She’s simply fully accepting the punishment. If she doesn’t accept the loss and suffer the promised wager, then the game loses its thrill in retrospect. Likewise, any upcoming gambles she makes will likely not have the same thrill if she believes there is no real danger behind the wager.

Image source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏‏ on Twitter

But what makes Yumeko truly terrifying is that she is neither evil nor is she amoral. She doesn’t like to hurt people and responds to kindness in kind. However, her baseline is to assume that everyone is like her and enjoys the high that comes from dancing on the knife’s edge between stunning victory and life-changing defeat—especially the gamblers in the school.

She is genuinely let down when they don’t feel the same as her and can’t understand how they don’t wish to continue on playing with her, raising the stakes to even greater levels of devastation. She’s likewise baffled when those she has defeated show ill will towards her. To her, the ecstasy she receives is worth far more than anything she could potentially lose, so there is no reason to be angry at a loss.

Image source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏‏ on Twitter

Really, what Yumeko is looking for at the school is a soul mate, someone who gambles like she does—someone who would revel in a battle with high stakes, skill meeting skill, and lady luck tipping the balance one way or the other. And she’s perfectly willing to destroy her own life and those she gambles against to find such a person.

Kakegurui — Compulsive Gambler is currently not airing outside of Japan. However, it has been licensed for streaming by Netflix.

Comments (3)
  1. There’s a missing “i” in the title and in some mentions. –> It’s Kakegurui.

    • Thanks for the heads up! It’s been fixed.

  2. […] a piece that illustrates what makes this series so magnetic – that being the lead herself: Yumeko’s Twisted Insanity Makes Kakegurui Both Fascinating and Terrifying Let’s Wrap This Up With A Bit Of Hero Academia We really like straight to the point content here. […]

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