「この女触れるべからず」 (Kono onna fureru bekarazu)
“Do Not Touch This Woman”
While Netflix subbing shenanigans may be making this season more annoying than it should be (that day delay hurts my coverage choices let’s just say), Kakegurui isn’t about to let it impact its own fun and games if this week was any indication. With base premise and character introductions out of the way (mostly), it’s time to get down to brass tacks we’re all here for. Sit down and buckle up friends—it’s gambling time.
As is the case with series relying on psychological suspense for their entertainment, one of Kakegurui’s biggest difficulties is upping the ante with each new gamble. What do you do after threatening to chop off fingers? Well a little poison couldn’t go wrong. While Kakegurui has stumbled with this issue before in its previous season, the results so far are handling things nicely, especially considering the characters involved. It’s not often we see poor innocent Suzui involved in the game after all, and one with Yumeko mortally sidelined from the joys and pleasure of gambling at that. And top it off with Kirari’s timid twin sister and Meari (Pancakes spelling best spelling) joining at the last minute? Oh darling, we have a party on our hands. As Midari last week and now Runa here show the mixing of both main cast and student council members ensures plenty of room for some seriously entertaining stuff, particularly with the Momobami proclivity towards specific areas of interest helping set up the games. It may only be early days, but if the trappings of future Momobami gambles are as unique as the last two, we’re in for some fun gambling in the near future.
Of course what ensures things stay fun are the gambles themselves and in this regard Kakegurui is also running full speed. As the first season showed well the challenge of these games is not so much winning as encouraging your opponents to throw in the towel. It’s all pure mind games and mental calculations which makes even the most simple and fair competition into some seriously overbearing struggles. Suzui for example personifies the difficulty: do you play defensively in an effort to keep yourself safe, or aggressively to knock your enemies out? Each strategy has its merits and faults (hard to be defensive here without zeroes for example), and both depend heavily on what your opponents also intend to do. Reason wrong or misread/underestimate your opponent and a foolproof strategy could quickly turn into flaming defeat. It’s what our wannabe Lucrezia Miyo is probably going to learn the hard way about Meari. You think little miss blondie is really going to sacrifice Suzui (and by extension Yumeko) after everything they’ve experienced before, just to win a match she originally never had an interest in? Yeah, didn’t think so.
The Momobami clan may have skill and multiple areas of expertise, but when it comes to gambling they’re minnows in a pond full of sharks—and the first drop of blood has just hit the water.