Kakegurui has become an anime phenomenon since its release in 2017. While the manga was first published in 2014, it was a sleeper hit with it not getting much attention outside of Japan. However, when the anime hit Netflix in America, many people unfamiliar with the source material got to see it. Thanks to word of mouth, it became one of the most talked-about series in recent memory.
The series is set at the Hyakkaou Private Academy, a school for the elite where the hierarchy is decided by how good you are at gambling. However, when Yumeko Jabami, a highly talented gambling addict, joins the school, things quickly get messy.
The series has many great episodes, but which episodes should you bet on if you want the best time? Here are the ten best episodes of Kakegurui and its second series Kakegurui ××.
10. Season 1 Episode 5: The Woman Who Became Human
Concluding the game found in the previous episode, “The Woman Who Became Livestock,” this episode sees Yumeko and Mary playing in a unique poker tournament that will let them pay off their debts. Their main competitor is Jun, a man who entered the game in the hope of winning a load of extra money.
This leads to an excellent series of bluffs as Yumeko and Mary work together to undermine Jun and clear their debts. This episode features lots of fantastic drama and a few really clever twists as Yumeko slowly reveals her plan. In fact, this episode really helps you appreciate how intimidating Yumeko is and shows that, while she might act in an over-the-top way, she is dangerously intelligent and an expert double-crosser.
9. Season 2 Episode 10: The Logical Woman
While a lot of the content coming out of the fandom focuses on the more extreme elements of the series, Kakegurui isn’t a show that avoids touching on more traditional emotional beats. One of the best examples of this is “The Logical Woman,” where Sayaka makes the ultimate bet. She will end her relationship with Kirari if she loses, but Yumeko will stop gambling if Kirari wins.
This episode is full of emotional tension and the ending, while unexpected, shows just how fascinating and layered Kakegurui’s characters are. In fact, its depiction of the messy nature of love is surprisingly grounded, despite being wrapped up in the exaggerated gambling plotline.
8. Season 1 Episode 11: The Woman Who Bets Her Life
The final three episodes of the first season are a rollercoaster of drama and show just how brilliantly written Kakegurui is. Episode 11, “The Woman Who Bets Her Life,” is fascinating because it shows how all of the characters are trapped and influenced by their love of something.
Yumeko and Kaede are playing a high-stakes game of poker for massive sums of money. At first, it seems that Kaede has the advantage. However, with financial help from Itsuki, Yumeko stays in the match. But when Yumeko runs out of money a second time, Yumeko floats the ultimate bet, Itsuki’s future. What follows is some of the tensest and most gripping drama in the entire franchise.
7. Season 1 Episode 3: Slit-Eyed Woman
After the first two episodes showed off Yumeko’s skills at gambling and her love of risk, the third episode, “Slit-Eyed Woman,” turned the tables on the audience. Yumeko ends up facing off against the head of the culture club, Yuriko Nishinotōin, in a traditional gambling game called Life or Death.
While we once again see Yumeko’s talents, this is the first time we see her addiction to gambling get her in trouble, and the first time we see a few hints of weakness. Something that turns Yumeko’s character from interesting to utterly fascinating. In fact, this is the episode that shows off the element that makes the entire series work, proving that Yumeko isn’t a traditional anime protagonist who will always overcome the odds and win, making every future game tenser.
6. Season 2 Episode 2: The Women of Momobami Clan
The second episode of season two shows how good Kakegurui is at world-building. This episode introduces the election plot that acts as the main thread of the second season while also introducing the new members of the Momobami Clan, a series of new antagonists.
As this episode plays out, you can’t help but become interested in these characters, and the election is beautifully set up, having clear rules with plenty of space for creative twists and turns. It really is the perfect way to pull you into this world and the delights that are to come.
5. Season 2 Episode 8: The Winning Woman
One thing that keeps Kakegurui fresh is the ever-changing games the characters find themselves playing. These games cover everything from traditional games of chance to common poker variants and odd games with bizarre rules. The Greater Good Game found in episodes 7 and 8 of the second season is an example of a game that falls into the latter category. But it leads to an utterly gripping episode.
The game is all about coin placement and working out who the traitors are within the group. Because of this, accusations start to fly and double-crosses come thick and fast as Yumeko employs all of her skills to work out who the liar is. This leads to a gripping episode that will keep you on the edge of your seat throughout.
4. Season 1 Episode 12: Gambling Woman
The season one finale is as epic as you would expect, seeing Yumeko face off against her ultimate foe in the chance-heavy Tarot Cards of Fate game. Building on everything that came before it, the episode is dramatic, tense, and unexpected.
The dialogue and character exploration in this episode are also fantastic, giving us a deeper look at the characters and their ways of thinking. It also shows how the events of the series have affected them and their relationships. “Gambling Woman” really is the perfect capstone to Kakegurui’s first season.
3. Season 1 Episode 1: A Woman Named Yumeko Jabami
Kakegurui’s excellent world-building is on full display in the first episode of the series. It quickly introduces the world of Hyakkaou Private Academy in a way that helps explain the concept while also dropping several tantalizing plot hooks to keep you watching.
Yumeko’s first gambling match against Mary perfectly displays her character and the nature of life in the academy, giving hints of what is to come in later matchups. It could easily be argued that “A Woman Named Yumeko Jabami” is the textbook example of starting an anime series in a gripping but efficient way.
2. Season 2 Episode 4: Communicating Women
A high drama episode that puts Mary in the spotlight as a game of Nym Type Zero takes a twist for the worst as poison is introduced to the game. This episode features one of the best twists of the franchise, which is sure to delight fans of card games and card tricks. There is also a lot of focus on Miri Yobami and Miyo Inbami, who share a fascinating backstory that is a joy to watch.
Mary’s development in this episode also sets up a lot of stuff for a future episode. And it really shows the audience that she is a force to be reckoned with in the school, and while she lacks Yumeko’s flamboyant nature, she is just as talented when it comes to gambling.
1. Season 1 Episode 7: Refusing Women
There are many strange games in Kakegurui, but one of the weirdest and most brutal is the Russian-roulette-styled guessing game in episodes 6 and 7 of season 1. Whenever someone wins a round, they get to fire one of two revolvers at the opponent, not knowing which of the chambers holds a bullet.
This game is dramatically tense and features some excellent psychological tricks by Yumeko as she tries to find a way to win. But the most memorable part of this episode is Midari, Yumeko’s opponent. She acts as a dark mirror to Yumeko, a hint of what could happen if Yumeko gets totally consumed by her lust for gambling, and her game shows that under the glamor and wealth of the school lies a rotten core.