Yumeko From Kakegurui Shows That Likeable Protagonists Don't Have To Be Sympathetic
Kakegurui's heroine Yumeko Jabami is great fun to watch, even if the viewer can't identify with her at all.
Kakegurui gives the anime definition of "elite high school" a new twist. That is, a spin on the roulette wheel. The elite Hyakkaou Academy teaches the sons and daughters of the world's business tycoons how to gamble, assess the odds, and strike when the chance for fabulous riches presents itself in this series..The school is turned upside down, however, when the new girl, Yumeko Jabami, arrives. She's here to make waves.
Yumeko is a respectful, helpful, and enthusiastic student who easily makes friends and gets along with others in everyday life. She does, however, have a monstrous hand. Yumeko is addicted to the frightening thrill of gambling, and she doesn't feel alive unless she's risking anything.She is not sympathetic this way, but she is absolutely captivating, and that is just what Kakegurui, and perhaps more series like it, needs.
The Spectacle Of Yumeko Jabami
Many traditional shonen protagonist tropes, such as the strength of friendship, training montages, and a tragic backstory, are scorned by Yumeko Jabami. Instead, her roots are irrelevant, because her backstory is mostly unknown. What matters is what Yumeko can do right now, and she does seem to live in the moment. She doesn't ruminate about the past or fantasize about the future. Yumeko, on the other hand, is hungry for the next gambling thrill and will take on any obstacle with the highest stakes. She demands intense competition because it's the only moment she feels genuinely alive.
She resembles a wandering antihero or villain in some respects, someone looking for a worthy adventure rather than a chance to save the world. After all, Kakegurui students are more concerned with protecting their wallets and reputations than with the fate of mankind.
Yumeko is simply meant to be a spectacle, similar to a circus performer, rather than a heroic figure. Yumeko is just what the mind-bending, cruel world of Hyakkaou Academy needs. She is solely motivated by her carnal urges, and she has no clear end goal in mind.
Yumeko also steals every scene with her flamboyant (and almost grotesque) poses, bloodthirsty gambling schemes, and taunting, giving each scene added flare and raising the stakes.
Yumeko performs not to communicate with the crowd, but to provide them with a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Yumeko's actions, words, and desires aren't supposed to be compassionate, but that's on purpose. Even so, Yumeko, the antihero, has some redeeming qualities that are essential to maintain the narrative's balance. She's not a monster, but she's a firecracker.
Yumeko's Noble Side In A Sea Of Gambling Sharks
Yumeko, despite all, has a soft side that she isn't afraid to share. Yumeko's good sense of sportsmanship is one of her most prominent characteristics, as she views gambling as a way for two parties to give it their all and equally decide who is bigger, smarter, and bolder. Yumeko despises rigged or one-sided games, and she despises bullies in general. Yumeko would not gamble if the enemy has no chance against her, because crushing an inferior serves only to give cheap pleasure to the bully, which is not what Yumeko desires.
Yumeko, on the other hand, would not bother to play an unwinnable game because there is no tension about whether or not she can win. A game of chance should, in theory, have long odds and few, but realistic paths to victory. Yumeko's gambling urges are satiated only when she pursues the winding but alluring path to victory. It's up to chance if she can pull it off. She does her utmost and then leaves the rest to the odds.
Yumeko has also shown compassion on many occasions, especially when it comes to Hyakkou's "housepet" system. In this academy, indebted students are treated as if they were cats or dogs, and they are humiliated on a daily basis. Yumeko finds this repulsive, so she subverts the scheme by motivating her housepet mates and inspiring them to confront their tormentors.When Yumeko herself was (briefly) a housepet, she tried to lean into it and soon gambled her way out of debt.
Yumeko is also swift to respect and befriend the school's most capable and noble-hearted students, such as the prideful and determined Mary Saotome, who Yumeko extends a hand of friendship to. At first, Mary thought this was strange, but she eventually came to see Yumeko as a valuable ally. Yumeko also has a soft spot for her friend Ryota Suzui. She gave these friends, from Suzui to Mary and Itsuki Sumeragi, a lot of influence. Yumeko's sense of sportsmanship, coupled with this, helps to balance her as a heroine and compensates for her wild side.
Though she's not entirely relatable, anyone can understand Yumeko's discretionary kindness and sense of fairness, even if they've never visited a blackjack table before.