Our look at the series Kakegurui would not be complete if we didn’t discuss the main character. One who makes the shows what it is, and provides a refreshing take on something well worn within the anime world. This is something that I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while now, and I’m looking forward to share my thoughts. After the cut, let’s take a look at the main heroine of Kakegurui: Yumeko Jabami.
On paper, Yumeko is no different from several other sport anime leads that have come before. She plays the game, or gamble in this case, not for any personal gain, or to be the best, or to win back some lost honor, or settle an old grudge. No, she just plays because she wants to. It’s for the love of the sport, the love of the thrill. Many other sport anime, or even battle shonen have followed this concept. You see it with Dragon Ball’s Goku, and Food Wars’s Souma. Yumeko herself doesn’t really change anything up, but it is world around her that make her stand out.
The world of Kakegurui is one of high stakes risks. If you win, you earn power, prestige and wealth. If you lose, you become nothing more than a slave. People will have their lives destroyed, and become nothing more than pets. Some of the episodes even go further, with the loss of limbs, or even lives in the case of Midari. It is not a happy world, and everyone will betray anyone to try and get ahead. However when Yumeko steps in, she provides a startling contrast to that environment.
Yumeko at her core, is incredibly, almost unnaturally pure. Yes, she is an absolute freak when the chips are down. She loves gambling more than anything else, and the thrill of putting her world on the line probably gets her off more than anything ever will. But she is also a good natured person everywhere else. She would never steal, never cheat, never lie. She would never intentionally ruin someone’s life beyond the card table. She wouldn’t spread rumors, or seek revenge, or attempt to bribe, plead or beg. She values her friends, wants to spend time with everyone, and mostly, Yumeko just wants to have fun. In the moments we see her away from the gambling, she is a young woman who seems to be completely at peace with who she is. Lovable, goofy, eager to spend time with friends, and always up for a game. She is a completely different person away from the cards, then she is with them.
Now is true, that Yumeko feels guilt over feeling no guilt about how much she wins. How her victories can end up destroying the lives of those she faces. Yet that is only ever when she is in a gamble, and never crosses over into the rest of her life. To Yumeko, what happens at the table stays at the table, and win or lose, she carries no grudges or eagerness to get revenge, or get even. She may be ruthless, but her ruthlessness is controlled, and never done with premeditation or cruel intent. The only time Yumeko ever seems to show real anger, is when someone ruins her gamble, or she is playing a game where things are pre-determined. She wants things to be fair to everyone, even if it costs her wealth or even her life. This attitude is so opposite compared to everyone else in the series, that it ends up slowly changing some of the other characters, whether it is teaching Mary AND Kaede humility, showing Yumemi the joys of what she has, or letting Itsuki learn the value of a risk.
Kakegurui’s Yumeko Jabami is someone I’d would probably never want to sit down and gamble with. She’s too intense, too ruthless, and honestly too intimating. But away from the table, she is pure and simple as fresh snow. A woman who would never do a bad thing, or be cruel or seek revenge against other people. Gentle as a bird, and kind to a fault. Her character, along with the sexuality that drips from every pore of her design is what make Kakegurui work, and she is a fascinating addition to the roster of sport anime leads. In a way, I deeply admire her character, and perhaps you may as well.