A direct sequel to season one, Kakegurui×× should surprise absolutely no viewer with what it delivers: absolute trash from the first few seconds right through until the end of the credits. I use the term with some affection – while I would have plenty of issues in calling Kakegurui ‘good’, I don’t mind in the least describing it as highly entertaining precisely because of that very trait. Eventually my patience would probably wear thin, but taken in small doses (i.e. once a week is more than enough for me), it’s a show that works precisely because it openly acknowledges its trashiness and embraces it at a level of approximately 1000%.
In other words, be prepared for more incredibly outlandish games that barely qualify as gambling, exceedingly unsubtle fanservice that either borders on the obscene or crosses that line completely, depending on your point of view, and all the FACES you could possibly ask for. Add to this something like 10 new characters, all no doubt set on power plays and/or trolling everyone just for the hell of it, and I’d say Kakegurui×× won’t see any major problems in keeping fans engaged. My only real complaint at this stage is that the OP just isn’t anywhere near as good as in the first season, either musically or visually. I’d hazard a guess that Yamamoto Sayo didn’t do the storyboarding this time; nobody pulls off an OP quite like she does.
I expect this title to fly largely under the radar this season – in part because shorts just don’t tend to have the same kind of following as full-length episodes do, and in part because of the distinctively unconventional art style – but I do actually think it’s worth a look. Based on the premise and the manga’s target demographic, it would be quite easy to dismiss Ekoda-chan out of hand as a very generic, fanservice-laden series with little interest in telling a ‘real’ story. However, I was surprised at how down-to-earth and, well, ‘real’ the first episode did indeed feel, especially given the rather quirky and abstract visuals. I’m not saying Ekoda-chan herself is a woman everyone will be able to relate to, but there’s something surprisingly honest about how she’s portrayed. In fact, provided mostly with just an inner dialogue of what she thinks and feels about her job, her general environment, and the people around her, it’s more like seeing random snippets of a personal diary playing out on screen than anything else.
I honestly could still have used a longer episode, maybe 10 minutes instead of only 4, and this probably could have been achieved using exactly the same material and simply stretching it out a little more. Ekoda-chan explains herself/events at a very rapid and even frenetic pace, and at times it’s difficult to keep up as she leaps from topic to topic, all of which are seemingly unrelated to one another. Even so, it’s refreshing to see some of these dealt with in such an objectively frank manner, and Ekoda-chan certainly doesn’t hold herself back because, well, she’s essentially just talking to herself, so why would she? As such, much of the content is explicit yet not particularly suggestive; meanwhile, the artwork is just too conceptual to qualify (to me at least) as graphic or objectifying, even as Ekoda-chan spends much of the episode prancing around buck naked.
At the very least, Ekoda-chan is an interesting little show, and there’s the added bonus of being able to watch live-action interviews featuring each episode director and VA at the end of every episode. I doubt it’ll be many people’s cup of tea, but I genuinely think it deserves a chance.