Kakegurui ××

Yumeko is a Satanic figure.

She’s the creation of the system in place in Kakegurui’s world. We find out in season two that her mother had a similar predisposition for gambling, and was wholly crushed by the ruling parties in the Momobami clan– the overarching group to which Yumeko, student council president Kirari, and several new character belong, which looks to have an Illuminati-like hold on Japanese society. Yumeko was present for the desecration of her mother, and its easy to infer that this, and some ethereal, inherent family “thing” for gambling, led to Yumeko becoming the person she is in this series.

She’s the natural conclusion to a system built upon this sort of exploitation. A world where gambling rules favors two types of people– those with enough resources to bully their way into forcing other to concede, and those bold, and possibly insane, enough to push past such bullying and risk everything. But in order for such a system to perpetuate itself, those who benefit from it can’t run the house out of business, so to speak. You can win, but you can’t win. You can only do enough to maintain the cycle, ensure that your place in the hierarchy isn’t disturbed too much, and make sure that few, if any, “outsiders” rise in the ranks. The winners keep winning, the losers keep losing, and the losers keep thinking they can become winners because one or two occasionally rise, likely with the permission of said winners.

That’s pretty much all systems that which to be self-sustaining. The status quo is God, and all will bow down to it in their required fashion.

But such systems always create destroyers. As methods are refined, details are exploited, and loopholes are created, individuals rise to the surface who are so perfectly adapted to how things work that they can’t help but ruin everything in their path. In capitalism, it’s like the private equity funds that reap profits from loading up companies with debt and running them into the ground. In politics, it’s the “tells it like it is” maverick candidate who disregards all existing rules, holds contempt for existing systems while proclaiming love for them in the same breath, and still wins despite doing everything “wrong.” Systems create players who play the game in such a degenerate way that the only way to defeat them is to either change the rules in such a way as to change the fundamentals of the system, or destroy said degenerate before they can cause too much damage.

That’s Yumeko. She has “evolved” in such a way as to thrive in an unnatural way in a world where gambling is the end-all, be-all manner by which one finds social and economic success. She has the money. She has the daring personality. She also has a complete disregard for everything that’s come before. She fully admits to lacking remorse for ruining other people’s lives, as she admits to Manyuda after devastating him in season one’s finale. This is her world for the taking– she should rule it– but she doesn’t want that. She doesn’t care. She exists solely to pleasure herself in the way she knows, and that way will destroy everything those who uphold Kakegurui’s system care about.

She is the great destroyer, and those who benefit from this world have no one to blame but themselves for creating her.

The kicker to all of this is that the one person who would most benefit from crushing Yumeko actively encourages her actions. Kirari, the head of the student council, fully admits to wanting Yumeko to disrupt her “aquarium.” Why she wants this is unclear– is it to strengthen the system by eliminating weaknesses or is it because she intends to destroy it unlike Yumeko’s casual attitude towards it all– but regardless of her motivations, she allows Yumeko to be.

It all strikes me as a more benevolent and lovable take on world politics at the moment. Many leaders, be it Trump, Duterte in the Philippines, or what have you, have come to power out of a sense of disrupting the status quo. The catch is that in many of these cases, the establishments they seek to destroy are often benevolent institutions. When Trump speaks of “draining the swamp,” he’s talking about neutering organizations like the EPA and cutting taxes for the rich, rather than curtailing corporate lobbying and aiding the disenfranchised against the establishment. This sort of thing is hardly new– where there’s a push for dismantling what came before due to dissatisfaction with how things are– and that plight is often co-opted by those who already benefited from the old ways and are looking to shore up things in their favor while deceiving the public into thinking otherwise.

Yumeko is the idea Anti-Christ in that regard. She is a true creature of revolt. Her apathy towards consequence may hurt those in her path, but she isn’t looking to ascend in the wake of her destruction. She’s simply does what comes natural, and it’s up to everyone else to do the right thing with the path she’s cleared.

If we have to have disruptors, it’s a shame they can’t be on Yumeko’s level. Instead, we get false gods using change as a smoke screen for their own ends.

That’s true evil.

That said, it’s also pretty cool that the second season introduced a similar figure with Rei Batsubami. Her quest for revenge is just and relatable, but she makes the mistake of being the very sort of person Yumeko is not. Even a just rise to power is still self-serving in all the wrong ways, as you’re looking to remold things in your image.

Also, the way Sayaka’s game with Yumeko resolves? Dang.

Yeah, the second season pushes this thing up even further in my mind. It’ll be entering my top 50 list whenever I get around to editing it.

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