For this festival, we have the sequel to the live anime adaptation of Kakegurui which screened at Fantasia back in 2020. I must confess I had to watch this in a bit of a rush, with the clock already ticking. I don’t think you have to watch the first offering before this new one, but I suspect that if you haven’t seen the over-the-top performances and the insane odds derived from a gambling premise, the first one might be an easier undertaking. This one will please fans, but it’s definitely amped a lot since then. Let’s see how the cards stack up.

Kakegurui 2: Ultimate Russian Roulette (2021) is directed by Tsutomu Hanabusa who wrote the screenplay with Minato Takano. The original manga is by Homura Kawamoto and Toru Naomura. Hyakkaoh Academy remains a haven for gambling addicts to compete and maintain their academic and social status. The powerful student council led by Kirari Momobami (Elaiza Ikeda) is still reeling from the victory of Yumeko Jabami (Minami Hamabe). Seeking retribution and wanting to punish Yumeko, they have made a deal with the unstable but brilliant Shikigami (Ryusei Fujii) who starts a series of gambling games to get to her. Although the idea of the game is to banish her forever, Shikigami adds his own spin forcing the contest to be life or death.

This new sequel has to escalate the odds from the first one to the point that lives are on the line. The performance of each character is, as expected, over the top. There’s the shy and sensible scaredy cat Suzui (Mahiro Takasugi), Yumeko’s sidekick and comedy relief, who gets pulled into all of her schemes and although a nobody, keeps having to put his life and his mental sanity on the line. Shikigami himself is a maniac madman, laughing and posing while almost having body contortions anytime things go his way or not. All the while Yumeko is mostly stoned faced, regaling us with an evil smile at a key point. And of course there’s the entrances. Every character seems to try to outdo each other in having a dramatic entrance into a room.

Recommended only for the anime & manga fanatics with reservations. As the odds are escalated, so are the performances and the tone is completely over the top. Obviously, life and death don’t really make sense in an academic setting, so for most casual audiences I think this might be too much. For fans of the first film, this will bring lots more crazy antics, posing, entrances and anime-style confrontations. I would say I still prefer the first one which might seem tamer in comparison, but if you’re willing to play there’s room at the table. Your mileage may vary.

That will do for now.