2017’s Kakegurui follows Yumeko Jabami, a gambling addict who ends up at Hyakkaou Private Academy. However, Hyakkaou Private Academy isn’t your typical school. Its hierarchy is decided by your skill at gambling, and its students rank from the world’s most elite families. Many have strange interests and compulsions that fuel their gambling.
This means that everything at the school is resolved via games and bets, from the usual to the strange. And the stakes can be incredibly high. Whether it’s social standing or body parts, students pay dearly for their losses.
Kakegurui is filled with some of the most eccentric characters in an anime and manga series yet, many of which wrestling with enormous demons that drive them into harm’s way. But who are the best characters throughout the franchise? Read on for our top picks.
10. Ryota Suzui
Ryota is one of the main characters in the series and one of the first students to meet Yumeko Jabami. He’s in a lot of debt to Mary after losing a bet, and he encourages Yumeko to avoid gambling. However, after Yumeko pays his debts, Ryota decides to help Yumeko out, and the pair grow closer as the series progresses.
Much more restrained than Yumeko and Mary, Ryota often acts as the voice of reason, trying to keep others from taking massive risks, likely due to his own failed attempts at gambling. His loyalty and dedication to his friends make him really likable, especially when compared with some of his far more irrational peers.
9. Midari Ikishima
The head of the Beautification Committee, Midari is one of the most memorable members of the school council. Addicted to pain and danger, Midari wears an eyepatch to cover the eye she stabbed out to pay off her gambling debt. Her addiction means she often tries to get people to play deadly games with her. Usually, these games involve a modified version of Russian Roulette.
Midari’s masochistic streak makes her both memorable and chilling, as she shows what could happen to any of the characters if they become totally consumed by their gambling addiction. She received her own dedicated spin-off in Kakegurui Midari.
8. Erimi Mushibami
A member of the Momobami Clan, Erimi has a very noticeable design due to her short height, heterochromia, and gothic lolita-inspired outfits. She is also known for carrying a stuffed caterpillar around with her wherever she goes.
Erimi’s cute appearance hides a sadistic side, as she comes from a family of torturers. This is best shown in her signature game, which involves players putting their fingers into a small guillotine, with the losers being the ones who chicken out first. But while she is a sadist, Erimi isn’t a fan of getting hurt herself, often bursting into tears when she is in any danger.
7. Ririka Momobami
One of the most visually striking characters in the first season of Kakegurui, Ririka is seen wearing a mask for most of the season. Ririka is Kirari Momobami’s twin sister, and she appears to be very quiet and stoic, often shadowing her sister during council business. However, when she loses her mask, she is shown to be timid and socially awkward.
As the second season progresses, Ririka grows into her own. She later befriends Mary, who helps her become her own person rather than her sister’s shadow.
Despite her timid nature, Ririka is shown to be a very talented gambler and highly manipulative, able to outclass most of the school’s other gamblers while also seeing through their cheating.
6. Itsuki Sumeragi
One of the earliest gamblers introduced in the series, Itsuki is a fantastic example of how strange and violent things can get at Hyakkaou Private Academy.
Itsuki is the daughter of a popular toy manufacturer and is exceedingly wealthy. She has used this wealth to get everything and anything she could want. However, she is also remarkably manipulative and has an obsession with other people’s nails, having amassed a massive collection of them.
While she takes sadistic glee in ripping out her classmates’ fingernails, Itsuki is actually a coward. When her body or position is put in danger, she totally breaks down, giving her a fascinating dichotomy that only gets more interesting when she starts trying to manipulate people.
5. Sumika Warakubami
At first, Sumika is only seen wearing a cheap mask that, along with her long hair, covers her face and hides her identity. Of course, this means that Sumika is even more noticeable than the other students.
Sumika is a quiet girl who prefers standing in the corner to talking. She is a fantastic reader of people, which plays into her signature poker game, allowing her to effortlessly sniff out bluffs and tells. She rarely works alone and, while the mask is on, she tends to follow the crowd.
Of course, when the disguise inevitably comes off, she reveals that she is much more outgoing than she lets on and often shows hints of kindness, setting her apart from many other students.
4. Runa Yomozuki
Easy to spot due to her short height and orange rabbit Kigurumi, Runa is unusual due to her blasé attitude to school conflicts. She is often seen eating or playing video games while the council debates or argues. She also seems to avoid getting involved in the school council’s interpersonal drama. In most situations, she acts like a referee or administrator, staying neutral and making sure games go as planned. But Runa has her own sadistic streak, mocking others when horror befalls them and seemingly not caring about situations where people risk bodily harm for a game.
In an environment where everyone is constantly severe and constantly cheating, Runa stands out by not caring about anything other than keeping things neutral. And the fact she can keep some of the school’s students under control shows that she is either respected or feared.
Mary is one of Kakegurui’s main characters, and she also gets the most development during the series. When she is introduced, she is a horrible sadist, showing utter cruelty to any pet student she encounters. However, after losing to Yumeko and enduring a tiny bit of the pain she put others through, Mary falls into grief and seemingly grows as a person, coming out the other side as a kinder woman.
However, this doesn’t affect Mary’s gambling ability, as she is shown to be exceptionally cunning and clever—even if she isn’t as ruthless as some of the top-ranked gamblers in the school.
Hyakkaou’s student council president and the main antagonist of the first season, Kirari is a fascinating character with many intriguing traits and quirks. Kirari finds great joy from the suffering of others, and she purposefully introduced the student pet hierarchy system to encourage students to hurt and torture each other. This sadism also extends to physical pain, as seen when she inspires Midari Ikishima’s eye removal.
However, unlike many other characters, Kirari’s love of suffering also extends to her own pain. She is a confident gambler who often takes many risks and doesn’t seem scared at the thought of losing, something that makes her extremely dangerous. The only thing she shows love for is her twin sister, even if these moments are rare.
Kirari is a magnificent character because she feels like an oppressive presence most of the time. Even when she isn’t on screen, the results of her dark influence are on full display.
1. Yumeko Jabami
When Yumeko arrives at Hyakkaou Private Academy, she quickly shows that she isn’t your average transfer student protagonist. Outgoing and friendly, Yumeko quickly makes friends with others due to her kind personality.
However, this changes when any gambling occurs. Yumeko is instantly filled with overwhelming excitement that borders on the fetishistic. In fact, Yumeko is shown to be so addicted to risk that she doesn’t really care about the downsides and will get involved in dangerous bets just for the thrill of it. She seems to understand that this behavior is risky, but she doesn’t want to stop, and she certainly doesn’t feel guilty about ruining peoples’ lives in games—even though she sometimes wishes she could empathize with them.
Yumeko is also very dedicated to her friends, always standing by them and giving second chances to those who have wronged her. Yet she tries to help friends feel the rush she gets from gambling and will often talk them into dangerous bets. Yumeko may be one of the more ethical and compassionate characters in Kakegurui’s main character, but her dark side is just as dangerous as the rest of her classmates, making her a memorable character throughout the whole series.