First Impressions: Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler (Volumes 1+2)

What happens when you put a bunch of rich kids with too much access to their parents money in a school together? Hyakkaou Private Academy is just that, a school for the rich and elite and it is more of a casino than a school. Instead of regular after school clubs like track and field or gardening club, almost all after school activities that the students take part in here involve gambling. Whether its a classic game like blackjack or poker, or some random made up game, the students and Hyakkaou Private Academy spend their afternoons playing against each other gambling away whatever money they can get from their parents. Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler is a manga that’s all about high stakes gambles, with kids winning it big or going massively in debt by losing it all.

Published By: Yen Press

Story By: Homura Kawamoto

Art By: Tooru Naomura

Take the general concept of Food Wars and mash it with No Game ; No Life and you essentially are left with Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler. The school is set up a lot like that of the Totsuki Culinary Institute from Food Wars, where ones prowess in gambling affects how much respect you get at the school. The student council is made up of the best gamblers in the school, much like the council of ten, and are given similar power over the school and its students. It splits off from Food Wars with how it treats the worst of the students. In Food Wars the students who aren’t up to snuff are expelled, often in large numbers. Since the gambling in Hyakkaou Private Academy is only after school activities, the bottom of the barrel gamblers are free to remain in the school if they like, but they are treated like garbage. They become “human pets” that the other students constantly harass, and they have to do what the other students say or else face the wrath of the student council.

One of our main characters, Ryouta Suzui, finds himself in the bottom ranks of the students and labelled as a human pet. That is until Yumeko Jabami, a new transfer student, is introduced and shakes things up at Hyakkaou Private Academy. Ryouta Suzui isn’t very good at games (which explains why he became a “human pet”) but Yumeko Jabami is on a whole other level. She instantly takes down two highly prestigious students in her first days there, and she aims to take on the student council.

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The real draw of the series so far are the games themselves. Each game is a battle of wits, with characters constantly cheating and bluffing to catch their opponent off guard when they least expect it. Sometimes, its Yumeko’s opponents who are cheating and she has to find out their methods and counter them during the game. Other times, she is the one cheating and needs to fool her opponents into making the wrong moves figure out what their strategy might be. It helps that she has a super human ability to play games, which is where the resemblance to No Game ; No Life comes in. Like Shiro and Sora, Yumeko is nearly unbeatable when it comes to games. She almost always has a trick up her sleeve or is able to figure out her opponents trick during their matches, meaning she can usually find a way to come out on top. Note that I said she is nearly unbeatable though, because she does in fact lose a game at one point. It doesn’t always go quite as she had planned, which keeps things a bit interesting. Knowing that she can be out-maneuvered makes each game afterward more unpredictable and exciting to read.

If you are a fan of manga such as Food Wars or No Game ; No Life (technically a light novel but you get the point), then Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler is sure to be a great read. Its fun and exciting games keep you on the edge of your seat as you watch Yumeko take down each opponent by bluffing and out maneuvering them. The series gets really good when she starts to take on the best of the best in the school, taking on the student council. The stakes start going higher and higher, until they are basically betting their lives. Check out Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler if you get the chance, its an exciting read.

Recommendation: Read It

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