Kakegurui is a popular gambling anime/manga series set in the private Hyakkou high school, where the sons and daughters of society's elite are taught how to gamble it all in high-stakes games of chance. This school has a tight hierarchy and time-honoured customs, but the new girl, Jabami Yumeko, intends to overturn all of that.
Yumeko is a wild hedonist, and she's like a bull in a china shop in Hyakkou, much to the chagrin of the student council. Yumeko gambles not for money or prestige, but for the borderline sensual pleasure of it, and gambling is something she enjoys on a primitive and basic level. Kakegurui exemplifies this with its well-executed fan service, which helps it stand out from other gaming anime series.
Gambling's Primal Ecstasy in Kakegurui
In amazing ways, the story of Kakegrui simultaneously affirms and subverts its original shonen population. Yumeko and Mary have a passionate shonen-style rivalry, and the protagonist takes on one adversary after another, but this is no ordinary shonen title, especially in terms of fan service.
In titles like Fairy Tail and Sword Art Online, fan service is simply a technique to attract more viewers and give them what they want, while Kakegurui gives its fan service far more significance. In reality, the series' deepest sentiments would lose their sting if there was no fan service centered on Yumeko.
Yumeko is established in Kakegurui as a hedonistic, impulsive, and emotionally connected heroine who gambles for the thrill of it rather than for wealth or status, subverting the image of a gambler protagonist. Many gambler heroes are in debt or need money for a project, and gambling is a means to an end for them.
Yumeko's ultimate goal is gambling, and it's all for the sheer joy of putting her money at risk in games of chance. Yumeko is chasing a high, and it feels like a drug or even erotic to her. Kakegurui plays with the R-rating by depicting gaming as something akin to sexual pleasure, even orgasmic to Yumeko, which is unusual in gambling novels.
In Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji, the male protagonist gambles just to avoid debt. It's a stressful business of numbers and dangers for him, and it's not fun, but it's a necessary evil. Yumeko believes otherwise, as evidenced by the fan service. Kakegurui's fan service can serve its traditional purpose, but it also graphically demonstrates how enjoyable, even orgasmic, gambling is to her.
After all, Kakekgurui is known for its strong drama and excessive facial expressions, which is quite different from a dry game of poker in which everyone maintains their poker faces while counting cards. For students like Yumeko, gambling is a sensual pleasure, and only through fan service can Kakegurui really emphasize this point.
How Kakegurui's Fan Service Is Reflected in Food Wars!
Most anime series exploit fan service for frivolous pleasure, but a few titles, including Kakegurui, use it in a more meaningful way, and Food Wars! is one of them. The series' flashy fan service may confuse or even turn off first-time viewers, but Food Wars!, like Kakegurui, is smart about it.
The traditional shonen lesson in Food Wars! is that cooking is more important when the chef cooks for the enjoyment of those they care about rather than for status or to show off. Soma heard this from his parents, and Erina learned it later when she tried to impress her mother at the BLUE competition. When a meal is fully complete, it will gratify the diner on the deepest and most intimate level, resulting in gratuitous but meaningful fan service – for both male and female characters.
This series, like Kakegurui and Food Wars!, does more than just undress its female characters to appeal to shonen lovers. recognizes that a job well done should communicate to someone on a deep, basic, and wordless level – one best conveyed by sexual pleasure, however crass. It's not the most innocent premise, but it's one that any anime fan can grasp.
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