「傍の女」 (Hata no Onna)
“The Woman by Her Side”
Well I’ll be damned, guess Kakegurui wasn’t playing that fast and loose with its source material after all. After all those initial indications of this season skipping over the Tower arc, here we are smack dab in the middle of the Election arc with the—you guessed it—Tower arc. Strange place to be inserting previous material honestly (mixing and matching story arcs isn’t a good idea at the best of times), but it’s a choice not all too wrong for Kakegurui. In the race to get to the showdown of ultimate gambling destiny you got to remove the competition, and there’s no better girl to start with than Sayaka.
As Kakegurui never fails to show time and time again, the core struggle in it is between rationality and insanity. While true all the characters here are crazy to some degree, most are also definable in either of these mental categories: either they strive for some form of tangible goal through their gambling (see Kaede or Yumemi), or just want to watch the world burn (*looks at Yumeko*). Sayaka of course falls in the former category, she’s all about assisting Kirari in any way necessary and doing whatever it takes to keep her position as loyal guard dog. Personally I think it strange to only strive for supplication, but hey, cannot fault an honest goal. We’ll learn more about Sayaka’s circumstances and her singular desire next week, but the important thing to note right now is that Sayaka’s pursuance of this objective runs completely counter to what Kirari is after. Sayaka, in her desire to be useful, fails to understand that Kirari isn’t looking for power or control—she’s looking for entertainment. Like Yumeko, Kirari gambles for the thrill and excitement, the overwhelming stimulation coming from placing everything on the line. Having Yumeko threaten Kirari’s position and power is the point of keeping Yumeko around, because Kirari enjoys and wants to retain the thrill of an outcome completely up in the air. There’s plenty of fun yet to be wrung from our little gambler’s neck, and Kirari won’t let the opportunity to go waste.
Ensuring things don’t go to waste naturally leads us to Kirari’s gambling tower and one heck of a representation of everything discussed above. The tower’s setup, contrary to Sayaka’s initial thoughts, isn’t something designed to just logically work your way through—it’s meant as a high risk, high reward gamble. Outside doors have no access to the lower floors (barring that five storey drop)? Maybe not, but maybe they do; you won’t know unless you pull the trigger. It is this mindset, a willingness to truly bet everything on an unknown outcome, which the Tower is testing, and it’s something Sayaka will have to learn quickly because as Kirari knows she hasn’t taken the concept to heart. To actually sway the president she loves so much, Sayaka will have to do like Yumeko and learn to love the act of gambling, because it is only there where she’ll find Kirari’s heart and understand what actually makes Kirari tick. It may be a given Yumeko will walk out this battle a winner (still have the Election arc to wrap up remember), but don’t bet Sayaka losing here just yet either. Plenty of gambles in Kakegurui have ended on ambiguous, multi-winner terms already; one more certainly wouldn’t be out of place.
After all if anyone is going to be jumping off the fifth floor and dying first, it’s going to be Midari.