Warning: Mild Spoilers Alert!!!
Picture this: the esteemed and privileged gather outside of their busy lives to gamble. The high stakes games leave many in debt, and those unfortunate souls have to do the bidding of the winner until the debt is repaid.
The esteemed and privileged mentioned are students at Hyakkaou Private Academy. Outside of class, students engross themselves in the life of gambling as each comes from the wealthiest families in Japan. Each student bets their fortunes against one another. A tyrannical Student Council controls all aspects of student life.
One day, a transfer student named Yumeko enters the gambling’s intense halls, and it becomes quickly evident that her beauty and charm isn’t what it seems. For instead of just an interest in money and forcing others into servitude, Yumeko is the one outlier that enjoys gambling for the thrill. She’s the compulsive gambler.
First of all, the intro song is fire. It’s so fun and upbeat I listened to it each episode.
As a twelve-episode anime, it does a good job in displaying the personalities of each character. Every person Yumeko gambles against has their own personality, gambling style, and backstory. In doing so, we get to see the different game Yumeko plays with her opponent and the intensity of stakes raised. Yumeko herself is a fun character with her initial charm and calm demeanor that turns manipulative and deranged when gambling. The thrill she feels when she doesn’t know how the game will go is nearly parallel to Light Yagami writing down his list of names in Death Note (red eyes and all).
Each time Yumeko enters a gamble with her opponent of the episode, you wonder whether she’ll win or lose. It’s evident she doesn’t care either way, but watching it unfold is still stress inducing. Ryota, the first person she befriends, almost acts as the panicked viewer for us as he constantly worries about Yumeko’s choices.
The show has quite a few absurdities. A person’s life is on the line as the consequence of a bet. Student Council carefully makes life plans to enforce control. No student has a choice of their future if they’re in serious debt. Considering this is a high school, it seems like a bit too much. When a student loses they’re marked as someone’s “slave,” but how much can one do for a high school student? Not one character forces someone to do homework (not that any learning occurs in this show at all). One character takes gambling so serious she gouges her own eye out to prove a point. She even spends the rest of the show playing Russian Roulette with every decision she makes.
Additionally, there are moments where certain characters erotically charged by the thought of gambling outcomes, especially Yumeko herself. It can feel ridiculous with the amount of erotic moments added at unnecessary points. More focus on character development would’ve been more fruitful, but it can be difficult with short anime.
In the end this concept is refreshing and enjoyable. The greatest past is not knowing what will happen in each episode. There could be room for a second season, but there’s satisfaction in how the series plays out.