Kakeguri Twin is a psychological school-life drama anime from MAPPA. Before Yumiko Jabami arrived to turn the prestigious Hyakkaou Private School on its head, Mary Saotomi was the new girl challenging all the rules. But can she beat the powerful students arrayed against her in the school’s trademark gambling games in Kakeguri Twin Season 1?
As someone who found the original series blend of bizarre gambling challenges and moderately sociopathic cast an unexpected treat to watch, I had some big worries as I approached this prequel series. Could the show deliver an intriguing narrative despite the future already being known? And could it bring more of its unique games of skill and chance that would bring what the original series’ games brought, while still feeling appropriately scaled for its place in the franchise’s timeline? The answer to most of these questions is a resounding yes.
Kakeguri Twin Season 1’s greatest success is how it allows Mary’s goal to follow the same path as Yumiko’s, while making it desidedly different in approach. Rather than simply seeking to challenge anyone and everyone to the craziest games they can think of, Mary sets out to work her way into the system that is set up within the school to gain the wealth and prestige she seeks.
The change in tactics benefits the series for two reasons. The obvious one is that it allows this prequel to feel like more than a simple retread of show previous series. The other is that it builds out the inner workings of the school and its gambling-fueled economy in a way that is never shown in the original. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty that doesn’t make sense about the private school, but the added details put a little more meat on the setting’s bones.
The show’s other biggest strength is how it utilizes the preexisting characters from the original series here. While the viewer gets to bump into numerous familiar personalities throughout Kakeguri Twin Season 1’s six episodes, with the exception of Mary herself, most of the biggest faces from the original are kept to cameo status. This is yet another way that this season avoids feeling too much like its predecessor.
My only major complaint with Kakeguri Twin Season 1’s story is in the games it chooses for the characters to play. While there is always a measure of chance involved in any gambling game, too many of the games that are played here are far too dependent on chance. This telegraphs the fact that many of these games are rigged in one way or another. While cheating wasn’t unheard of before in Kakeguri, the show at least presented scenarios where it wasn’t a given that something had to be up. Otherwise, why would someone choose such a game to bet on?
The visual presentation in this series brings all the intense emotions and sadistic, twisted facial expressions from its forerunner and delivers them just as well. How MAPPA leans into the series’ overpowering emotional energy is both wonderful and terrifying.
When all is said and done, Kakeguri Twin Season 1 makes good on delivering more of what the original excelled at. If you found yourself getting lost in the crazy games of high-stakes gambling before, you should have little to complain about here.
Kakeguri Twin Season 1 is streaming now on Netflix.
Kakeguri Twin Season 1
Kakeguri Twin Season 1 makes good on delivering more of what the original excelled at. If you found yourself getting lost in the crazy games of high-stakes gambling before, you should have little to complain about here.