A Girl Named Mary Saotome
A Targeted Girl
A Traitorous Girl
An Honest Girl
A Resisting Girl -| Review Score – 3/5
If you enjoyed Kakegurui, chances are you’re going to enjoy this prequel spin-off. If you didn’t enjoy the anime or manga, you’re unlikely to find much to grab onto here. In its simplest form, Kakegurui is a brief 6 episode series that follows the character of Mary Saotome. We’re a year before Yumeko’s arrival at Hyakkou and Mary has just enrolled at the gambling-addicted school herself. She’s immediately enamored by the surroundings and decides to jump head-first into this world, complete with numerous matches against different students.
If the story sounds familiar to Kakegurui then you’d be right. This is essentially a retelling of the same plot again, but this time dropping Mary into the newbie shoes. In doing so, Mary’s character is vastly different to that depicted in the original, which is going to irk some people. While you could argue that it allows time for character growth, I’m guessing there’s a pretty big shift that happens off-screen for that because what we get here is almost a completely different character.
The 6 episodes have a pretty simple archetype and present a “rags to riches” story for Mary as she gambles her way through different competitors to get to the top. There’s a different game each episode, eventually culminating in a final showdown with Full Bloom (more on that in a second) member Sakura. While the ending does include the usual “gotcha!” twists along the way, there’s a constant feeling of deja vu while watching this.
This is something the original series had issues shaking too to be fair, with the structure of each chapter relying on manipulations, cheating and last-minute fake-outs to surprise audiences. While that’s good when used sparingly, Kakegurui has always gone a bit overboard with the way it uses these.
The mystery around Full Bloom is the real meat of the story and unfortunately these 6 episodes don’t quite do enough to bite into the tasty potential inside. With more episodes exploring this group, there may have been a much more intriguing move away from the original series, fleshing out parts of this world that have been left underdeveloped. A good example of this is the character of Mibuomi Aoi. He shows up in episode 2 and remains an integral part of the story, establishing himself as the antagonist but never quite showing his hand to see what he’s planning.
Visually, the show looks great and the main theme of the series fits the tone beautifully. It’s not quite the banger used for Kakegurui, but it’s a decent instrumental all the same. Tying that into the unpredictability of jazz music is a nice touch.
The hand-drawn animation is largely on the money too, with the lighting and general aesthetic really reveling in the myriad of colours this show bursts out in every chapter.
Ultimately, Kakegurui Twin is a rather average prequel series to an anime and manga that’s garnered a pretty healthy cult following over the years. With a lot of repetition and some questionable character changes for Mary, Kakegurui Twin retreads familiar ground – for better or worse. It’s hard to shake off the feeling of Deja vu while watching, but if you’re looking for more of the same, diehard fans should find enough to enjoy here. Everyone else will likely come away feeling a bit indifferent to this one.
Verdict - 5/10