Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler is one of the biggest manga sensations to come out of Japan.
Written by Homura Kawamoto and illustrated by Tōru Nomura, it first hit the shelves back in 2014 when it was serialized in Gangan Joker.
The manga became a huge success across Japan, and it was quickly picked up by Yen Press and translated into English for the Western market.
Since then, Kakegurui has taken the world by storm. Numerous adaptations have appeared, including a hit Netflix anime series that has captivated audiences around the globe.
Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler
In this post, I’ll look at some of Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler’s most fascinating characters.
But first, let’s recap what this manga series is all about.
The story is set at a prestigious school known as Hyakkaou Private Academy. But unlike Japan’s other elite institutions, students don’t need to be a whiz at math or have superior athletic endurance to get ahead; they simply need to be good at gambling.
These are some of the richest kids in Japan, and they wager their parent’s wealth in high-stakes games against each other.
But losers pay the price in both money and dignity, as they’re forced to become ‘pets’ for the winning students.
Each pet is assigned a special collar, just like a dog, and ordered to perform menial tasks for its overlords. This torturous treatment continues until pets can pay off their debts and regain their social standing.
But when new transfer student Yumeko Jabami arrives, she turns the entire system on its head, leaving everyone at Hyakkaou Private Academy bamboozled.
Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler’s Top 5 Most Interesting Characters
1. Yumeko Jabami
Yumeko Jabami is the story’s main protagonist.
When she first arrives at Hyakkaou Private Academy, she seems sweet and innocent. With her angelic face and friendly smile, nobody suspects she’s harboring a darker side. Still, it doesn’t take long before she lets her perfect façade slip.
Underneath it all, Yumeko is a maniacal gambling addict, and the higher the stakes, the better.
As soon as she gets the urge to gamble, her pretty brown eyes begin to glow a deep red color, and her true nature is unleashed.
But unlike the rest of the kids at Hyakkaou Private Academy, Yumeko isn’t bound by the rules of the school. For her, money and status don’t matter; she simply gambles for kicks.
She uses her superior intelligence to manipulate games and get one over on her cheating opponents. Seeing through their deceitful tactics, she outwits them with even more strategic trickery.
But her high-stakes playing style and impeccable winning streak soon catch the attention of the strict student council, who enact a plot to make her a pet.
Yet that doesn’t stop the determined Yumeko. Rather than pay off her debts, she disregards the rules of the school and vows to show the student council who’s boss.
2. Mary Saotome
Just like Yumeko, Mary Saotome is a skilled and passionate gambler who loves to play for high stakes.
At the start of the series, this blonde-haired, yellow-eyed teen is one of Hyakkaou Private Academy’s most elite players, but when she comes head to head with the formidable Yumeko, she doesn’t stand a chance.
Mary is famous for manipulating her fellow players, cheating her way to victory, and treating pets like dirt. And so, when Yumeko gives her a taste of her own cruel medicine, her world comes crashing down around her.
She tries everything to regain her social standing and clawback her once rock-solid reputation, but her pride has been damaged beyond repair, and eventually, she suffers from a mental breakdown.
Yet later in the series, Mary manages to regain her status, and going forward, she’s much kinder and more tolerant to others.
She even becomes close friends and allies with Yumeko when the pair are united by their shared hatred for the student council.
Ultimately, readers learn the real reason behind Mary’s cutthroat gambling obsession and her win-at-all-costs attitude. Unlike the rest of the students at Hyakkaou Private Academy, her family isn’t wealthy.
And so, she knew her only chance of survival in the school’s bizarre system was to crush her opponents any way she could, even if it meant hurting people along the way.
But after turning her life around, Mary uses her impeccable gambling skills and keen intuition to stop her fellow players from cheating and manipulating others, just as she used to do.
3. Ryota Suzuki
Ryota Suzuki is the class president at the start of the series, but unlike Yumeko and Mary, he isn’t a natural gambler. It’s not that he doesn’t have the brains to outwit his opponents; he simply hates taking risks.
But his tentative nature ultimately works against him, and he finds himself in a huge amount of debt. Eventually, after losing in a head-to-head match against Mary, he’s forced to become a pet.
Ryota is shy and lacking in self-confidence, and he may well have remained a pet forever if it wasn’t for Yumeko, who paid off his debts as a gesture of goodwill.
With his social standing restored, he’s eternally grateful, and the pair quickly become close friends.
Ryota is one of the kindest and most forgiving characters in the Kakegurui cast. He cares deeply for his friends and is always willing to help them out when they’re in trouble.
He’s also extremely smart, and he can predict what will happen in any gambling match simply by reading a player’s face. He can spot cheating a mile off, and eventually, as his self-confidence grows, he uses his powers of perception to call out others who aren’t playing by the rules.
4. Itsuki Sumeragi
Itsuki Sumeragi is the daughter of a wealthy business tycoon who built his fortune in the toy industry.
She’s one of Hyakkaou Private Academy’s richest students of all, and she uses her father’s money to buy her way into the school’s most elite rankings.
On the surface, this former student council member can appear sweet, kind, and friendly, but underneath, she has a vicious and manipulative nature.
She gets her kicks from seeing other people suffer, and she’s so sadistic that she even has a personal collection of real human nails, which she brutally rips from the hands of her opponents.
But deep down, the heartless Itsuki is a fragile soul. She uses cruelty to mask her own cowardice and bolster her battered self-esteem. She knows she has nothing without her wealth and social status, and so she’ll do anything to maintain her rank at the school, even if it means inflicting harm on others.
But as the series progresses, Itsuki learns her true value, and her inner confidence grows. She no longer relies on vicious tactics to feel safe and secure, and her personality softens.
Eventually, she even becomes close friends with Yumeko and begins to see the value of helping others.
5. Kirari Momobami
Kirari Momobami is the president of the Hyakkaou Student Council, who fought her way to the top by defeating the last president in a brutal head-to-head gambling match.
Just like Itsuki, she can appear sweet, innocent, and ladylike on the surface, but deep down, she’s cold, manipulative, and even sadistic at times.
It was Kirari who created the policy of forcing indebted students to become pets. Then, she went one step further by encouraging their masters to bully and ridicule them, making their lives as miserable as possible for her own entertainment.
But despite her disdain for her peers, Kirari can’t help but admire Yumeko and her gambling prowess. After all, they have a lot in common; they both get their kicks from the simple thrill of the game rather than the money.
But unfortunately, Kirari prefers to see others suffering rather than succeeding.
There are so many fascinating and complex characters in Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler, but I hope you’ll agree that the five listed above are among the most interesting of them all.
If you’re a manga fan, then we have plenty more suggestions for great new series. Here’s a list of some of the most terrifying horror manga ever created. And if you need a little more inspiration for your TBR list, check out the best sites and apps to discover brand-new, addictive manga that are making waves around the globe.
Have you read Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler? If so, who are your favorite members of the cast? Let me know in the comments below!