「零の女」 (Rei no Onna)
“The Null Woman”
Well no real surprises for Kakegurui in its final week. The gamble that’s not technically a gamble (but is anyways) ended as you could expect, we got a little more backstory to complement Yumeko’s already threadbare history, and the swath of usual teasers for a sequel guaranteed will arrive once the manga has enough new material to adapt. Of course there’s the matter with Rei and that wickedly awesome reveal of her own past, but really, having it all come down to a coin toss—and one where both still wind up the victor? The mists of season one’s finale lay thick indeed. I suppose I cannot complain too much however; a second season of Kakegurui might never have happened to begin with, and oh boy did we get some fantastic gambles to slobber over this time. Plus one tomboy came out looking quite pretty from where she started. For a bit of competitive madness I dare say it wasn’t all that bad in the end.
As with the first season Kakegurui’s second round will inevitably be a love or hate thing. This series makes no qualms about playing to the craziest and most obscene archetypes available in anime (and writing) land, seeing just how far it can take the visual and psychological depravity while keeping the plot consistent and entertaining. Does it always work? Hell no, but when it does it’s a sight to behold.
Arguably the main the strength of Kakegurui this season of course lay in its characters, particularly the student council members and the new Momobami antagonists. Mixing the likes of Yumeko and friends with former adversaries and facing them off against some new faces (and new archetypes) was more than enough to keep things interesting in a (more or less) structurally monotonous series. Some of the gambles after all may have been similar to previous ones (particularly in terms of items bet), but the interactions lacing their screen time? Oh yeah we went places. Midari and Yumeko for example featured some of the best crazy face/banter combos this side of new and improved Suzui, while the likes of Yuriko and Kaede found some redemption and cute moments after the chaos of the last round of gambling madness. Hell we even had time to flesh out Yumemi’s struggles and show Kakegurui isn’t always about the act of gambling. Once you get past the main cast and start traversing the secondary fields, you’ll find there’s plenty more to this show than initially meets the eye.
Where Kakegurui falters however is in terms of plot (heh) and story. Anyone hoping for a proper plotline after the first season’s ambiguous teasing and twists and turns will wind up disappointed here, because while some answers were forthcoming in this season’s final moments, there’s still plenty of smoke and mirrors masking a good deal of information. Why is Yumeko so enamoured of gambling, what is her and her family’s specific relationship with the Momobamis—how is poor Suzui still breathing and functionally sane after all this time? These questions and more continue remaining elusive. To be fair of course we did get plenty of fleshing out for Kakegurui’s minor cast (notably Sayaka in the condensed Tower arc), but eventually Kakegurui will run out of shock and awe to help keep things fresh, and when it does it will need a story with legs (and all the fixings that go with it) to give purpose to the insanity. Considering how open the show left itself for a third season and the good chance of seeing a sequel in the next few years (because Netflix money) this concern is only going to become more prominent as time goes by.
In the end though, future worries or not, I can confidently say my second time blogging Kakegurui was definitely worth it. The show may have proved annoying in terms of release schedule (thanks for that also Netflix) and ended with as many questions as answers, but as a bit of weekday fun and thriller relaxation it’s hard finding a more satisfying series. Kakegurui may not be to everyone’s tastes or even the best representation of gambling in anime (that’s what Kaiji is for), but if you liked what the first season had to offer give the sequel a try. I guarantee you won’t leave disappointed.