Kakegurui and A Toast to Indulgence

kakegurui
Sayo Yamamoto has frequently toyed with typography in her OP/ED work and not just with the type itself, but also how the credits transition in and out. Michiko and Hatchin squashes graffiti-style fonts until they vanish and Arakawa Under the Bridge rushes uniform, round-ended strokes into the frame. While it’s common to see credits fade, there’s a specific manner in which Yuri!!! on Ice’s blurred history comes into focus or Fujiko Mine’s english lettering is etched away. In addition, the latter slides each section of the logo through a revolving door of sorts until wordplay becomes gunplay. Space Dandy maneuvers through characters of the alien alphabet like asteroids. Persona 5’s first and last characters swirl in opposite directions before colliding like lightning to spell out the entire name, only to dismantle itself again into a monochrome ransom note. Rage of Bahamut: Virgin Soul maximizes all this to its logical extreme, where type is blown up to absurd proportions, consuming half the frame, if not more. Her latest effort returns to the simplicity of Rozen Maiden: Traumend’s sparkling transitions and also reminds me of the jittery cast shadows in Psycho Pass. Foregoing unhinged experimentation for refinement, focusing on the indulgence of the characters, rather than the creator.

Kakegurui’s OP begins by elevating a pair of legs into the air, instantly inverting dark stockings into negatives. Prior to this, shoes barely leave the floor, yet delightfully anticipate the reversal about to take place. The kanji for the logo comes crashing down, as if only to disrupt the sensual symmetry with a glass of madness. Literally shaking things up, it doesn’t appear all together, borderline disjointed. Lifting from the manga, the logo is designed to stress every other syllable with increasing size. The anime’s color usage highlights this unevenness at the main strokes of curvature, leading your eye off-center, along with the english Kakegurui on the right. Wearing the school uniform’s red and white, but dressed to kill the academy’s sense of order with their own attire.

Extreme close-ups on the white kanji are suggestive of legs, being brought to their knees with the logo’s continued descent. The next scene moves onto Mary crossing one leg over the other, asserting her dominance on top of Ryota, the human chair. By now, there’s a noticeable zigzag pattern pointing to each end of the food chain and the credits find themselves leaning on the losing side. Haphazardly dropping piece by piece, gathering more excitement than it can handle until everything shatters like glass shards. In a seductive voice, Deal with the Devil rhetorically asks whether its gambling deviants will go to heaven or hell while votive candles are submerged in an aquarium full of forbidden fruit. Swallowed by desire, Yumeko buries her face in her own breasts, but feeding an appetite for self-destruction is not without its perks.

Humiliating as it may be, livestock also have the privilege to challenge the president to an official match. To a lesser extent, Choice Poker grants a similar reversal of power, which allows the weaker hand to win. Or magnified, comparing the moment a life burns out to a supernova’s glow. Such value in loss also takes shape in the background details. Fish move laterally to display a system where no one really moves up or down, only swimming in circles from within. Meanwhile, fruit fall relative to the rate bubbles rise, communicating the chase of risk for rewards. So, you need to fall at least once if you wish to engage in any real, lasting movement here. Itsuki’s mere ambition to work her way to the top earns her temporary fame, but Mary finds a seat at the final table, after previously being served as the main course.

The greatest turnaround is a matter of perspective and various pulls demand you take a step back to examine what you’ve been drinking. Or maybe, you’re the one being drunk and if that sounds confusing, it’s already too late. The background details consistently follow an aforementioned set of rules, with the exception of three scenes, all of which Yumeko is responsible for. When Kirari reaches out to lick a drowning Sayaka’s eyelid, the fruit rise with the bubbles just before a cherry from Yumeko’s glass does the same. Sipping on their declining authority, this marks a turning point from horizontally sliding transitions to vertical wipes and what used to be Kirari’s aquarium is now Yumeko’s giant fruit cocktail. Gone are the front-facing series of perfect arches, replaced by an alternative low angle view of the fish, soon to be thrown off their axis. Yumeko’s spin repositions them to move diagonally, making Kirari feel like no one else can.

By only showing their legs at the end, there’s a pseudo-mystery of who loses in Tarot Cards of Fate. However, at the second to last moment, the cherries rise with the bubbles again. While the last match does end in a draw, Yumeko’s influence is undeniable. Like others before him, Ryota discards a handout of certain victory in exchange for taking the risk necessary to decide his own future. The pursuit of any prize is reduced to old-fashioned white hair, worthless if whatever gained is only in service of someone else’s interests. From human chairs to rolling chairs, I’ll drink to that.

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