Stream or skip? +2023

kakeguru is one of the most stylish and compelling anime series Netflix has ever lived up to its name. It takes place at Hyakkaou Private Academy, a school where gambling is everything. Students live and die by their gambling skills and advance in life based on how much they win at the games they play or how much they owe. You end up losing a game with high enough stakes and you gamble your whole life and become a “pet” no better than an animal. There are currently two seasons of the main story, with Kakegurui Twin expanding the narrative in meaningful ways. And with a lot of style and panache.

opening shot: We see exterior and interior shots of Hyakkao Private Academy as heroine Tsuzura Hanatemari guides us through the rules of how to make it at this school where gambling is the only way to make something of yourself. Her narrative is interspersed with a cartoon version of herself as she explains the “housepet” system to those who are losing money and in debt to the academy.

The essentials: The first two seasons of kakeguru on Netflix are a wild, amazing ride. Kakegurui twin is more of the same, and that’s great news. It’s a prequel to those two series, introducing regular and protagonist Mary Saotome (Kira Buckland) and how she found her way into the academy in the first place. We also meet a new character, Tsuzura Hanatemari (Natalie Rose), who sees Saotome as something of a “prince.”

New to the academy, Saotome doesn’t know her way around, nor does she understand why she’s not making friends despite her beauty, kindness, and how well she’s handled her gambling challenges. Hanatemari is infatuated with her and lends Saotome money to take on any newcomers to the gambling world. She comes from a wealthy family, but despite her extra cash, she maintains “pet” status.

The two are outsiders in Hyakkaou, and Saotome wants to take over more than anything else to gain power at this bizarre school. Together, Saotome and Hanatemari will work to earn respect from others, no matter what the cost. And Hanatemari hopes for a romantic relationship between the two – making Saotome the girl she’s been looking for all along. Of course, none of this will be easy. Not when everyone is cheating and taking care of themselves. It’s going to be a long road.

What shows will it remind you of? Since Kakegurui twin is a prequel series too kakeguru, you should watch the main series next, especially if you haven’t seen it yet. Otherwise you might feel reminded of series death parade or Future Diaryboth series that require significant bets and lots of planning, as well as those that cheat to progress.

Our opinion: Kakegurui twin includes everything we love about the mainline seasons. While it changes perspective on deuteragonist Mary Saotome, it brings to light the dark humor, disturbing gambling obligations, and constraints that everyone at Hyakkaou Academy has, and does so with excellent animation and voice acting.

Trying to play straight and tight at this school is impossible. All are gangs, all cheat, and the games played are borderline nonsensical at times. But there are always explanations, and even the fancy ones make sense when you sit down and think about it.

The creepy, spooky facial expressions that appear on students’ faces when they are worried, angry, or cheating are second to none and a reason to watch them Kakegurui twin. Otherwise, it’s a complete journey packed with romance, drama, mystery, and slice-of-life elements. And if you like poker, dice games, card games or high-stakes betting, you will feel at home here.

gender and skin: There’s no skin in the first episode, but there are strong sexual undertones when it comes to Juraku’s pet Mikura Sado (Suzie Yeung). It’s clear the two are involved in a sadomasochistic relationship, even beyond what’s happening at Hyakkaou Private Academy. For example, there are short scenes in which Mikura squirms with lust and fantasizes about kissing and/or licking Juraku’s stockinged feet.

farewell shot: When Hanatemari takes Saotome’s hand and holds her close. They lock eyes as Hanatemari reflects on how lucky she is: she’s found her “prince,” she thinks, and it’s clear her future is bright. The couple will bond and make something of themselves at the academy and maybe even fall in love.

sleeping star: Amber Lee Connors is chilling at times as the sadistic Sachiko Juraku. She’s sweet as honey when she wants to be, with a dramatically sexy touch to her voice, but completely heartless the next moment. She gives Juraku a compelling personality that’s absolutely perfect for the character. Because of this, I fell in love with Juraku instantly, even though she can be terribly cruel to those she chooses to control.

Most pilot line: “She is my dream woman! I don’t know where she came from, but I do know that she rode here on a white horse to offer me her knightly hand! I think I’ve found my prince!” Tsuzura Hanatemari has fallen deeply in love with Mary Saotome before the episode even ends. We don’t really see Hanatemari in any of the seasons of Kakegurui, so set the stage: what happens to her during Kakegurui Twin?

Our appeal: Stream it. Kakegurui twin is a beautifully animated, immersive addition to the main kakeguru Series that will color fans who watched the first two seasons in some much-needed context. Among them may not be series favorite Yumeko Jabami, the veritable gambling demon, but Kakegurui twin is an adrenaline rush of its own that should hopefully wash over us by the start of a new season. MAPPA’s animation remains visually arresting, the English voice cast is near perfection, and there’s more drama here than in the LBC. Don’t waste your time elsewhere. Must see Kakegurui twin.

Brittany Vincent has been reporting on video games and tech for publications such as G4, Popular Science, Playboy, Variety, IGN, GamesRadar, Polygon, Kotaku, Maxim, GameSpot and more for over a decade. When she’s not writing or gaming, she’s collecting retro consoles and tech. Follow her on Twitter: @MolotovCupcake.

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