「人間になった女」 (Ningen ni Natta Onna)
“The Woman Who Became Human”
I swear sometimes Kakegurui is meant to screw with you. It’s sick and twisted, revelling in the worst aspects of sadistic selfishness, yet outright encourages you get in the act and cheer as the strong willed and eager become thoroughly broken over the wheel of luck and chance. It’s a good example of excessiveness done right, and if this week was any indication, we haven’t begun to even plumb its true depths just yet.
Case in point this time was the cheating. I think it’s a given now every game in Kakegurui will feature rule breaking in some form, but this episode showed how ingenious it can be. Touchy feely information sharing? That’s child’s play, how about rigging the match before it even starts? It attests to the thought going into the mechanics of these games that we don’t even consider these possibilities. The cornucopia of rape faces might be what initially draws us in, but it is the show’s inner complexity which compels us to keep on watching. We know there’s a shocking twist coming, we know it will be a sight to behold, but goddamn if we can quickly identify it ahead of time. It’s perfect popcorn entertainment, with the only thing really limiting Kakegurui’s shock and awe being its imagination. So long as the show can keep throwing unique and increasingly insane games at us, I cannot see it losing steam anytime soon.
The other driving force behind Kakegurui is its psychology, and by hell did we get that this week too. Besides the student council realization of Yumeko’s clinical insanity—I thought it obvious before—the standout for me was the gradual collapse of our wannabe slaver Jun. His graceless take down was a textbook example of “having one’s number”, or in more modern parlance, playing on tilt. As soon as Jun let Yumeko and Mary get into his head with his initial round loss, he lost the game. You can see this unfold over time as Jun’s anger and frustration start leading to predictable actions and sloppy mistakes. He fails to think, rashly forces Nanami to act, and never considers any alternative options. No surprise then when the debt cover up is revealed the poor guy loses his mind. Well, a taser may have helped with that too. At least the show is willing to show some good at times too by having the cutie pie Nanami rediscover her humanity. For all the glorified suffering Kakegurui revels in, it’s quite nice knowing a hint of compassion remains just under the surface.
When we return to Kakegurui in three weeks though (sad panda face), we are almost assuredly back to the torture as the student council struggle against Yumeko continues anew. New life plans, one confirmed crazy, and what looks to be Kakegurui’s own version of Jigsaw. Oh yes, I think I do want to
play watch a game.