Kakegurui Twin is ridiculous, over-the-top and downright creepy – it’s also one of the best original anime that Netflix has released in 2022.
Kakegurui is an iconic anime series, spawning sequels, spin-off’s and live-action adaptations – all of which have experienced their own level of success.
This week, we are transported back to the brutal Hyakkaou Private Academy for another round of high-stakes betting but this time with Mary Saotome, a transfer student who is about to become embroiled in the school’s infamous gambling mania.
Whether you are a long-time fan of the Kakegurui series, or if Twin is your first time at the poker table, this is an anime that is sure to come out on top.
Kakegurui Twin review – An addiction that only lasts 3-hours
Verdict: Kakegurui Twin is an excellent prequel to the main Kakegurui anime; however, the spin-off certainly stands on its own as an ONA series – something that is both commendable and refreshing considering the 2022 Summer slate is arguably falling flat after two fantastic back-to-back seasons.
With fun characters, over-the-top facial expressions and a Sherlock Holmes-style breakdown of even the simplest of gambling games, the series is a very enjoyable way to bet three hours of your life away.
The only disappointment is the six-episode broadcast and if you are an avid fan of the 12-episode main series, Kakegurui Twin can feel like only a snapshot of the anime that the community expected.
Investing heavily in the characters from the start
How many anime series have you watched in their entirety vs how many anime series have you dropped after just the first episode?
Well, Kakegurui Twin does the incredible job of hooking viewers in within minutes of “A Girl Named Mary Saotome” and pardon the pun, you are invested in the story to the tune of 200,000 Yen straight away.
Following on, the series builds and builds each episode as not only do the stakes get higher, but the potential losses too if things don’t work out. Character development is one thing, but the possibility of Mary becoming a “House Pet” becomes an ever more dangerous pitfall with each interaction she has with her classmates.
What is certain is that Mary can hold her own in comparison to Yumeko Jabami from the main series. The manner in which she approaches games and subsequently ‘plays’ her opponents somehow has you on the edge of your seat throughout the entire series, never knowing when the penny (or poker chip) will drop.
Granted, there are a few one-dimensional characters that only serve to either forward the game in question or to supply Mary with the setup needed for a wicked reveal. However, if you have watched the original Kakegurui series, this will feel like familiar territory.
Perhaps if we had 12 episodes rather than six, some of the characters could have been fleshed out more as right now, there are moments when these one-dimensional characters make Kakegurui Twin feel like Komi Can’t Communicate; making various school trope friends, albeit gambling with significantly more emotional trauma.
MAPPA’s visuals and poker faces win big
MAPPA is widely considered to be one of the best animation studios working within the anime industry today and Kakegurui Twin is absolutely gorgeous.
From the subtle changes in the colour palette from red to green to the cinematography, Kakegurui Twin is arguably one of the best-looking series from the 2022 Summer slate.
One part of the visuals that particularly stood out was the way in which both close-up pans and wide-screen facial expressions were utilised.
Here, the feeling of holding ‘your cards close to your chest’ is shown through the way directors Kaori Makita and Yuichiro Hayashi manipulate the focus of a scene, going from group shots to slightly off-centre facial shots in an instant – you never see the full hand, only what they want you to.
Whilst there are no big action sequences where MAPPA typically flex their animation muscles, these over-the-top moments drag you further down the rabbit hole that is Hyakkaou Private Academy.
Light vs dark, good vs evil, heroines vs villainesses, friendship vs manipulation; Kakegurui Twin feels like that they have none of these, but at the same time, all of them.
Kakegurui Twin is a must-watch anime for anyone who wants a show that offers a unique school storyline and excellent protagonists. Between the visuals, gambling games, characters and stakes, this is one anime that you certainly won’t be bored watching.
Kakegurui Twin is available to stream right now on Netflix.
By Tom Llewellyn – [email protected]
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