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

In Kakegurui, high school Hyakkaou Private Academy is a place where a person’s worth is literally determined by gambling. Gambling didn’t use to be everything at the school, but it was always present. The purpose behind the gambling originally is as yet unknown, but under a new student council administration, it takes on a much broader purpose: social engineering.

Being on the student council is determined by one’s ability to gamble, as are everyone’s rankings in the school. As such, council positions can themselves be won or lost and leadership is determined by the most successful at gambling. The newest student council president, Momobami Kirari, wins her position, of course, through gambling. However, her goal is more far reaching than previous presidents. Instead, a school with a gambling addiction is just the first part of an increasingly complex social engineering experiment.

Kirari seems to clearly exhibit a profound attachment to social Darwinism. In her conversations with indebted student Saotome Mary, she describes in detail her creation and enforcement of the “house pet” system. This system is a major escalation to the already ridiculous gambling extremes to be found at the school. The “house pet” system makes losing students into “dogs” and “cats” for use as menial labor, and as targets of extreme bullying. As Kirari reveals, her purpose is the intentional creation of a repressed lower class.

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

The president isn’t some kind of dictator, though. Her purpose seems more sociopathic than power hungry. Kirari points out that in nature, even physically weaker animals can be faster or smarter. The appearance of weakness, she seems to articulate, is a source of strength itself. It causes “superior” specimens to ignore the “weaker” animal. Specifically, she gives the example of a small, quick fish that manages to survive by stealthily stealing food from bigger fish.

I say sociopathic because she views her classmates as “things” to be studied. One of the fundamental traits of sociopaths is that they are unable to feel any kind of empathy. Humans are notoriously bad about assigning motivations. We often consider accidents to be malevolent and often ignore malevolence and write it off as misunderstandings. But at least we try to assign motivations. At least we try to look at issues from other points of view.

A sociopath is largely incapable of doing this. Humans are just another animal, or even a machine, to be studied and potentially even taken apart. Many sociopaths only succeed in appearing neuro-typical because of their exacting ability to mimic. They are the perfect actors. This is why you often hear from neighbors of serial killers, “He seemed like such a nice boy.” (It’s also essentially the entire plot of Dexter.)

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

Like the small fish in her example, Kirari seems to know there are always exceptions. These exceptions are not neat and tidy. Nature is messy, but it also abhors a vacuum. Given enough time, if there is a way for evolution to exploit an area of weakness, it will, even if that weakness does not at first appear to exist. The president is placing artificial “evolutionary” pressures on her classmates by making the class differences between the winners and losers so acute. And also like nature, she intentionally creates exceptions, allows cheating, and otherwise makes the system ripe to be exploited.

What is her goal? She essentially tells us, by telling Mary. Her goal is to see if she can create “social evolution.” Ironically, she does clearly believe in the resiliency of humans as a species, just not as individuals. She’s clearly contemptuous of individual humans, especially when they don’t appear to be successfully adapting to her artificial social pressures. And she also clearly lacks any real affection for those who seem to succeed. Offering Mary a seat on the student council isn’t a reward for Mary’s success in “evolving” out of debt. Instead, it is clearly to move her closer to the president for further study.

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

There are is also the addition of the “life plans” for the house pets. At first glance, this would make sense just from a power hungry, corrupt standpoint. However, considering the president’s goals at the school, I will posit a further purpose: It’s one thing to face immediate pressures of bullying and debt, but it is quite another to face the possibility of losing one’s entire choice in life.

That is quite the pressure indeed, and one that constantly assures that the striving to succeed and pay back the debt will not diminish. Further, for those that are too “weak” to escape the life plans, they literally create a new generation to be manipulated who go far beyond the one school. This allows Kirari, in her last year of high school, to keep the experiment running after she has left the student council and assures many years of its continuance.

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

Honestly, nearly everyone at the school, at least that we have so far seen in detail, obviously has serious issues. In addition to addiction to gambling and power, there are a host of other issues. Even the female lead, Yumeko, is clearly a compulsive gambler. Only Suzui, the male lead, seems to be without mental dysfunction. Of course, the question is, why is he even at this crazy school with the potential to ruin his entire life? Probably because he serves as the audience avatar, to be set as a baseline of what we consider normal functional behavior. It remains to be seen if he will turn out to have some “social evolutionary” tricks up his own sleeve.

Yumeko’s Twisted Insanity Makes Kakegurui Both Fascinating and Terrifying

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

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