「つまんない女」 (Tsumannai Onna)
I’m not going to lie — if you have or know someone who has an actual gambling addiction, don’t be like Yumeko. All jokes aside, it’s a little chilling just how much this show triggers my gambling addiction sense with the way it perfectly personifies what the word “gambling addiction” means.
The Meaning of Addiction
I’m not qualified to really speak about this, but I can give the perspective of someone who’s witnessed firsthand just how terrible a gambling addiction can be. Starting with some groundwork, I never realized that a majority of the world goes through their everyday life without even considering the thought of heading to the casino, bar, or even gas station and throwing down some money on video poker. Growing up in the city of sin, it’s still a little surprising to see that outside of Las Vegas is a distinct lack of gambling and gambling machines. Sure there may be some reservations that have something that “resembles” a casino, but they’re nothing in comparison to the lights and sounds of a bona fide casino that’s designed to make you spend money while subconsciously coercing you to keep spending more and more. The stories I could tell of watching someone spiral into debt while gambling all too often start with the innocent premise of the thrill of winning only to quickly turn into a sea of depression and self destruction as someone tries to chase that ever fleeting high. I use those two examples specifically because it’s a vicious cycle where one can feel terrible about themselves for losing money only to then do just about anything to get more money to once again gamble it in hopes of winning it all back. Except this is a game that’s designed to make you lose and not only will this person feel even worse about losing more money, but now they have to deal with the fact that they did whatever they could to get that money. And the worst part about it all? They’ll keep on doing it until either their body gives up or they’re able to find some real help.
What it Means
Now, you might be wondering why I brought all this up for a show like Kakegurui — it’s a terrifyingly accurate description of the hidden dangers of gambling that I’m surprised I didn’t catch during the first episode. Looking at Saotome and what she ended up doing by the end of this week’s episode, it’s all too clear that she’s fallen into a pit that only gets deeper and deeper the more she struggles to attain what she once had. The “dog” system that the school employs is a wonderful example of what happens to people who end up in debt because of gambling — they are viewed like scum by the people who “could” help them and are forced to wallow in their despair as they try to figure out how to escape it all. And don’t even get me started on the whole aspect of the student council being the terrible people at the top of it all who understand how to pray on these types of people and have made an incredibly lucrative industry doing so.
The show doesn’t only cover the bad though — Suzui is, I think, a great example of the ray of light that anyone in this situation can find. Someone who’s experienced what it’s like to drink from the holy grail of gambling, fall to its influences, and then get lucky enough to get pulled out from it all. As the male “lead” who gets dragged along to all of Yumeko’s outings, I’m expecting to him to be the stone we need to keep us near reality as we see things get crazier as the stakes rise even higher.
Finally, this was all in preparation to talk a little about Yumeko, the pure representation of what it feels like to be on the winning side of gambling. The literal “deal with the devil”, watching her reminded me of how it felt to be sitting at a poker machine and somehow managing to hit 4 aces while playing 3 simultaneous hands. Sure, she may be overcoming adversity by seeing through whatever trick the other party is trying to play on her, but if you really think about it those tricks are exactly what casinos try to employ — pushing the odds as far away from the player as possible. Luckily, it’s clear that Yumeko is simply a gambling monster that gets so excited about the notion of making a wager that she’ll literally scream out in ecstasy should the opportunity appear. A fact that not only allows us to view her as someone who’s been designed to take on the obstacles this show has made for our viewing pleasure, but truly helps us normalize what’s going on. If I were to make a guess, I’d say that the contrast between her and Suzui in conjunction to everything else that’s going on is really what makes this show entertaining.
Anyways, sorry if things got a little serious here. The show managed to remind me about some of the darker things I’ve seen and if anything I wish I could praise it even more for doing such a great job at doing it. On a quick random side note, it’s actually rather amazing when I think about those hyper realistic faces as a representation of our inner selves when we’re in “winner takes all” mentality (which is what every gambling situation thus far has been). In any case, I’ll probably catch you guys next week. See you later!
P.S. No I don’t have a gambling problem. I’m lucky to have seen some of the terrible consequences of that life and have a good enough grasp on my own addictive behavior to just stand up and leave when I’ve gone through whatever amount I’ve brought to have fun. 🙂