Articles, Blog

Manga: 賭ケグルイ [Kakegurui Compulsive Gambler]


Before I start, I should warn you that I’ll
be spoiling some parts of Kakegurui, so if you’re still reading the Manga or just started
watching the Anime, you might want leave now. Now that you’ve been warned, let’s get
on with it! Gambling has always been a very interesting
subject for me and one of my favourite Manga is Kaiji. As the first episode of Kakegurui aired I’ve
quickly sought out the Manga and binge read it for as far as I could. I’ve since read through all of the currently
available seven volumes in pretty much one go. I got hooked immediately. Even though Kaiji and Kakegurui have gambling
as their subject matter, they tackle it in very different manners, yet there’s one
thing they do have in common, it’s never really… gambling. The majority of games being played are rigged
in one way or another. What differentiates the two properties from
one another is the perspective that is presented to the viewer. In the case of Kaiji, the games being played
tend to be on a much more grounded scale, with realistic rulesets that give the impression
that the games are fair, even though they’re really not. You’re granted a lot of insight into Kaiji’s
head, working his way through the cheats, trying to take advantage of them, or even
employing counter cheats. Kaiji focuses very much on the depravity of
gambling, the losses, the crushing debts and, quite literally, being forced to go underground. It’s very much rooted in the real world
and even though some of the games are very far out there, if not outright ridiculous,
the ways it gets to those points at least don’t make it seem as far fetched. Kakegurui on the other hand glorifies the
act of gambling and focuses much more on the insanity of it, Yumeko even draws attention
to that herself, in the very first chapter no less. There’s nothing wrong with that and neither
is the fact that the games played in Kakegurui are a lot less reasonable. Kakegurui takes place in a High School, where
your grades don’t matter and all that’s necessary is to be good at gambling. As Japan’s leaders are being nurtured here,
the idea is to bring these people up with enough people skills to always be in charge
and to be able to take control. The first game being played in Kakegurui is
a modified version of Rock Paper Scissors and the modification kind of makes sense when
you think about it. Betting on Rock Paper Scissors isn’t the
smartest idea, given how susceptible the game is to delayed reveals. So to make it a game of chance, votes are
cast by the crowd watching the game. This first game is pretty tame and only serves
the purpose of establishing the two main character’s personalities. Yumeko, a highly perceptive and compulsive
gambler and Suzui a timid and pretty much useless sidekick. While there’s no denying that Kaiji has
a gambling problem, he is mostly forced into gambling and needs to find a way to get himself
out of whatever situation he’s in. Yumeko on the other hand seeks the thrill
of a high stakes gamble and unfortunately that’s one of the bigger problems in how
Kakegurui is set up. Yumeko is presented as someone special, with
a subject of gambling at its core, someone special shouldn’t feel like they’re superhuman. Let’s take the second game for example,
which is an extreme version of memory, concentration, match match, whatever it’s called in your
country. You take a deck of cards, throw em face down
on the table and try to find matches. Usually this would be done with face values. The game being played here, is once again
a variation and not a very interesting one. Instead of one deck, two decks are being used
and instead of just the face values having to match, the suit needs to match as well. Now you could go through a lot of math here,
to identify the weirdness of this choice, the problem actually comes from the cheat
being employed here. Itsuki uses markings on the deck, that are
only visible when exposed to heat and she has a heating element in her backpack… whatever. These markings only stay visible for 2 to
3 minutes after moving them away from heat. With these markings Itsuki knows where each
card is. While that is a bit far fetched, this is a
Manga after all, so suspension of disbelief is always required. When it comes down to it, having a good memory,
is pretty much a part of the game, so the idea behind the cheat works in tandem with
the game being played. Yumeko loses the first round and begs for
another, to make back the 20 million yen she just lost and didn’t have to begin with. So Itsuki suggests that Yumeko bets her fingernails
for 20 million yen, Yumeko of course agrees to that. After the second game starts, she reveals
that she’s already seen through the trick and proceeds to now sweep the entire table
in a single turn. This is only the second game being played
and where in the RPS game of the first chapter, the reasoning behind how Yumeko managed to
pull through was still somewhat sound, now we’re being told that Yumeko is basically
a God at her craft. Not all games pan out like this as Yumeko
actually loses to Yuriko in the next game and ends up with a debt of over over 300 million
yen. Most gambles have numbers floating in the
millions, even going as far as creating debts in the hundreds of millions. The series quickly reaches a point where the
amount of debt doesn’t seem to matter anymore, there are far beyond comprehension, so it’s
just a number getting bigger… to the average person a debt of 10 million yen or 100 million
yen doesn’t really make much of a difference, it’s most like either way a figure that
would bankrupt you. This is quickly remedied with more life threatening
bets to make up for this, which becomes the focus in the underground gamble between Yumeko
and Midari. If you take the nonsensical amounts that are
stake, combined with the fact that most games are extremely abstract variations of
themselves, going through a few games in Kaiji once more after I had finished reading the
available chapters for Kakegurui, I came to the conclusion that they’re really not comparable. Kaiji is all about the games, how they’re
set up, how they’re being approached, the thought process within the game, the initial
loss, the desperation that follows and the planning to go back to make that eventual
comeback. The games in Kakegurui don’t really stand
out that much and are really just a means to an end to portray the character trait of
Yumeko’s opponent. To create an interesting story out of gambling
is… hard. Hence why hardly any entertainment media that
has gambling as its subject, usually goes with just the gamble. It’s always about the exploits, which of
course are the most interesting aspects for non-gambling people. But, even with all that criticism I just threw
at Kakegurui, I am still itching to read the next chapter and I am completely in love with
world that is presented. Let me know in the comments what your take
on gambling is and if you have read or watched any of the media associated with either Kaji
or Kakegurui. Please make sure to hit either the Like or
Dislike button, which one of the two you hit is somewhat irrelevant, so don’t feel forced
to hit the Like one, if you didn’t enjoy this video, by all means hit the dislike button. Just hammer one of the two down, they both
help out a great deal! If you want to stay up to date with my content,
you should absolutely make sure to hit that subscribe button, if you haven’t done so
already and you might then also turn on notifications. Most importantly though, once again, a huge
thank you to the few of you that actually watched this video all the way to the end! My name’s Sasa and I’ll see you next time!

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