Thursday, August 12, 2021

Fantasia 2021: Kakegurui (2019)

Movie Name/Year: Fantasia 2021: Kakegurui (2019)
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Length: 119 minutes
Rating: TV-MA
Language: Japanese
Director: Tsutomu Hanabusa
Actors: Minami Hamabe, Mahiro Takasugi, Elaiza Ikeda
Blurb from IMDb: Hyakaou Academy is an institute where the academic ranking is based on the pupils' gambling winnings. Yumeko is new to the academy. Her pretty enchantress looks are only surpassed by her voracious appetite to gamble it all and win it all.

Selina’s Point of View:
The moment I saw Kakegurui (2019) on the Fantasia Festival schedule, I was drawn to it. Something about the movies poster and description spoke to me. I knew it was going to be good.
I can’t honestly say it met expectations, though. I’m not entirely sure why, but I thought it would have a Battle Royale (2000) flair. Instead, it felt more along lines of Video Game High School (2012-2014). The difference between reality and my unwarranted expectations did not hinder the quality of Kakegurui at all.
It was incredible.
Kakegurui takes place in a world where academics and athletic ability are not what make a student. Instead, it’s gambling that sets the hierarchy. That kind of setting can easily become too ridiculous to care about, but that is absolutely not what happened.
It was definitely silly, don’t get me wrong. Most of it had that over-dramatic style that animes have, but it also leaned hard into the darker aspects of the story. I’d say it struck a lovely balance between light-hearted and dark. You’d think the silliness and purposeful over-acting would drown out any other emotion woven throughout. Instead, there’s a real sense of epicness and intensity involved.

That nutty comedy just made the devastating moments more unpredictable.
That’s the best way I can think of to describe Kakegurui: unpredictable. I love when I can say that about a film, because it doesn’t happen often, and I love to be caught completely off guard.
I am aware that this is based on, or adapted from, an anime series of the same name. I need to stress that I can’t speak to how good of an adaptation it is, because I’m unfamiliar with the series. I can only speak from the perspective of seeing the movie as a stand-alone. That said, I’m going to be hunting down the series the moment I finish posting this review.
Kakegurui is not going to be for everyone. I’d say you have to be an anime fan to really appreciate it – despite the fact that it’s live-action. The comedy aspects are very specific to the genre and can seem overbearing to people who tend to avoid Japanese animation.

Trust the Dice: Selina’s Rating5/5
Movie Trailer:

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