The Elusive Puppetmaster of Hyakkaou Academy
- Episodes: 12
- Genre: Game, Mystery, Psychological, Drama, School, Shounen
- Airing Date: July 2017 to September 2017
- Producers: MAPPA
Kakegurui Preview (No Spoilers)
Hyakkaou Academy is a school only for the most fabulously wealthy teens in Japan. But here, only one thing determines your true worth – your skills at gambling. When they’re not in classes, students challenge each other to high stakes games with far more than just cash on the line. If the loser can’t pay up, they’re reduced to a “house pet” and treated like a slave until they can return the staggering amount of money they owe.
Overseeing all of this madness is the Student Council, which is stacked with the best gamblers in the whole school. And at the very top is Kirari Momobari, who leads the council with cold precision. But when new transfer student Yumeko Jabami suddenly starts beating them one by one at their own twisted game, they become determined to cut her down.
Kirari Momobari Bio
Seiyuu name: Miyuki Sawashiro
Kirari Momobari is the president of the Hyakkaou Academy Student Council. Everyone in Kakegurui is morally questionable, but for storytelling purposes, she’s the main villain of this show. And with her quietly smug smile and condescending glare, she fits the role perfectly. Who better to oppose Yumeko, who lives only for the thrill of gambling, than a sober-minded expert whose perfect poise never wavers an inch?
Kirari first appears briefly in episode 3 when Yumeko is on the verge of demolishing one of her underlings, and then gains more prominence starting in episode 6, once Yumeko has become such a threat that she can no longer be ignored. Could this newcomer possibly manage to defeat Kirari, the master manipulator with a poker face of steel?
Kirari Highlights (Spoilers beyond this point)
1. Far more rich and influential than anyone else
Students at Hyakkaou Academy are all children of CEOs, government officials, and other members of upper crust society. They have so much money that it’s easy for them to regularly throw down fat stacks of cash to one-up each other in gambling games. So how does Kirari stand above them? By having sway over nearly every branch of Japanese business and politics.
The full extent of the Momobari clan’s influence is unknown, but their family tree’s many branches are littered with connections to some of the country’s biggest movers and shakers. They can even create entire life plans for “house pet” students – including the student’s marriage partner, how many kids they’ll have, and the specific years for all of these life events – which they’ll force the victims to follow unless the debt is repaid. Meari Saotome, a former gambling queen turned “house pet” by losing to Yumeko, gets assigned to be the trophy wife for a pervert government representative unless she does exactly what Kirari wants.
In short, Kirari can control the destiny of anyone in the school with a few well-placed phone calls. She doesn’t have to risk it all to win; all she has to do is show her opponents that there’s no gambling with a woman who already owned their lives before the game even started.
2. Controls the entire school with unmatched power and cunning
Two years before the events of Kakegurui, Kirari defeated the previous president of the Student Council in a gambling match and wrestled control of the organization as a first year student. She created and instituted the “house pet” system herself, which brought the already present discrimination against losing students to a barbaric new level. Since then, nobody has been able to oust her from the presidential seat.
Her loyal assistant Sayaka starts to worry when Kirari leaves for a business trip about halfway through the series and the other Student Council members begin clamoring for her power. The most ambitious among them is Kaede Manyuda, who winds up in a gamble with Yumeko and tries to manipulate the situation for his own gain. Unfortunately for him, Kirari had actually disguised herself as her masked twin sister Ririka so she could keep an eye on any treachery while her twin took her place on the trip. “Ririka” was also the dealer for Kaede and Yumeko’s game, so the president witnessed every single moment as Kaede dug his own grave.
Kirari knows full well that many of her Student Council members are gunning for her seat, but keeps them in line through intimidation. She’s skilled enough to fool even her own assistant into believing that she’s left her throne unguarded, when in reality she’s been watching the council members more closely than ever.
3. Icy aesthetic matches her conniving personality
Let’s take a gander at Kirari, shall we? She has a unique aesthetic that sets her apart from the many other beautiful women in Kakegurui. In a show without an abundance of crazy hair colors, Kirari’s silver locks visually represent how she’s far above the commoners. She also has it styled in a way that combines traditional Japanese bangs with Nordic-style braids and ribbons, creating a vision of high-class femininity that conceals her pitch-black heart. Her custom double-breasted uniform jacket and frilled sleeves only further accentuate this above-it-all look.
The most striking thing about Kirari’s appearance, though, is her icy blue eyes. In this anime, a character’s eyes glow when their emotions reach a peak. Meari’s eyes are a striking yellow, idol singer Yumemi’s eyes are bright purple, and Yumeko’s eyes glow a blood-tinged red when her passion for gambling overwhelms her. Kirari’s eyes, with matching lipstick and nail polish, offer contrast to Yumeko by being a light blue color. This also reflects her thematic association with aquariums, which surround the student council room and represent her utter domination over the lives of her underlings.
4. Never breaks her calm, collected persona
One of the most iconic visual spectacles in Kakegurui are the faces that characters make when they’re gloating or scared for their lives. The art style shifts to a highly detailed and exaggerated nightmare version of itself to show a character’s eyes bulge out, their lips glisten, and their skin contort into a frightening visage. This is the true nature of the gamblers – not the confident masks they wear normally. Almost every single important character gets this treatment, but Kirari isn’t one of them.
Yumeko’s greatest strength is her ability to outsmart her opponents and make them so flustered that they stop thinking rationally. Once an opponent has revealed their nightmare face, it’s over for them. But even during Yumeko’s fateful match against Kirari in episode 12, the president’s calm demeanor never wavers. They play a game with tarot cards that will determine who will have to leave Hyakkaou Academy for good. The ring of desks surrounds Yumeko on all sides, literally trapping her in a cage for Kirari to observe from the outside.
The president has everything she could possibly want from Yumeko and has the perfect opportunity to gloat, but keeps her ironclad poker face so that Yumeko and her allies aren’t able to get any information from her. This makes for possibly the tensest moment in the anime, since the final card pull has been forced to be completely random. Kirari’s unwavering calm truly makes her the perfect “end boss” for Kakegurui.
5. Views other people as pawns for her amusement
“If I were to gather the lowest of the low [in this aquarium], what do you think would happen? Even among them, a fish of a much lower class will be born. And sometimes, even the weak fish may steal away the stronger one’s prey... Then, what if they were humans? I want to see that. It’s incredibly intriguing to me.”
This is a quote from Kirari’s speech to Meari in episode 6, when she’s explaining why she created the “house pet” system. Her greatest passion in life is experimenting on people to see how far they’ll go to get what they want. She revels in seeing the light leave Kaede’s eyes as he realizes that his life is over, as well as watching fellow council member Midari tear out her own eye to clear a debt. So the purpose of the “house pet” system isn’t to embarrass indebted students – it’s so that Kirari can watch a giant “aquarium” of students claw their way to the top in new and exciting ways.
Kirari doesn’t just view the other students as lower than her – she views them as less than human. And while that wouldn’t be a great trait to have in real life, it tops the list of reasons why she’s a tantalizing villain character in an anime where even the hero is morally gray. The most frightening thing about Kirari’s assurance that she’s far above everyone else... is that she’s right.
No matter how confident someone first appears to be in Kakegurui, they almost always reveal themselves to be a raving lunatic during the most heated moments of a game. But Kirari bucks the trend by keeping calm even when everyone else is reeling. Her poise and overwhelming power over others make her one irresistible monster of a woman.
Let us know your Kakegurui crush in the comments! And be sure to check out our Honey’s Crush Wednesday articles on Yumeko Jabami and Meari Saotome.