The Tower, the Snake and Modernism
Mary is the Asuka (the tsundere, in Neon Genesis Evangelion), the hothead, but the beauty of the Meariri ship is the push and pull of dominance, between them. Like sometimes Mary is leading, but I also like when the supposed shyer one, Ririka, is more dominant and Mary gets to show her soft side (not often seen). Mary did not like Kirari because Kirari insulted her pride. Yumeko does not do that.
Ririka has confidence issues. She only feels confident behind her mask. It’s only after meeting Mary, does Ririka start to become more confident and awesome, as herself, without the mask. With Mary, Yumeko and Ririka can both be themselves. That’s why they both like her. Yumeko cares so much about what Mary says and thinks; she loves her. If Mary can get someone as powerful as Yumeko to love her so much, there must be something about Mary: a genuine emotional connection.
My personal headcanon is thus: first it is Mary and Yumeko dating, but by the time of the student council election, Mary begins to get lured away by caring for Ririka. They end up together. However, Yumeko and Mary are endgame, and by the end of the manga series, Mary finally comes back to Yumeko and they are girlfriends again and get married later on.
Ririka isn’t that shy. That’s not the impression I get. With Mary with her, she only gains more maturity and confidence. Plus, maybe she was just initially shy with Mary because she liked her, and Mary brought her out of her shell. Not to con Mary or anything – Ririka was probably just experiencing emotions she had never felt before. It is an opportunity see character growth and development. If you experience emotions you have never felt before, naturally you develop into a different person. This type of arc is similar to the arc of Kirari and Sayaka.
What I like about Kakegurui, is that most anime (and stories) usually are either full of epic people or are more realistic and are full of “normal” people. Kakegurui manages to bridge this, with epic people, like Yumeko, Midari, Kirari, etc. and the normies, like Sayaka, the manager, etc. Mary would be like half and half.
I am glad Kirari and Sayaka are together. That softens her up. Their relationship taps into her more humane side. Kirari becomes more sympathetic and relatable. Seeing Kirari catch Sayaka, in the air was cute. They’re good together. Seeing Sayaka spaz over Yumeko flirting with Kirari was funny.
You went from the Tax Game, which was an unfair game, by design, to the Tower, which is an inherently impossible game – logically, that is. That’s because the answer is an emotional one – whether Sayaka really loved Kirari or just liked being closest to someone who was #1. And of course, emotions are not always rational.
Once Yumeko looked at the tower with a macro view, the tower and its secret became supremely logical. A tower within the other – an external tower, that spins around a central one – is like a cryptographic container, a cipher cylinder, and many temples in the Legend of Zelda franchise.
In Legend of Zelda, a brick wall is rarely just a brick wall – and even if it isn’t seen through by the Lens of Truth, walls and other barriers can be rotated out of the way by solving other puzzles. One should always look for clues. Yumeko took a gamble, because she wanted to understand the tower as a whole – something you should always do with Legend of Zelda Temples – and solved the puzzle of why she could no longer see the full moon.
The Water Temple, in Twilight Princess, and the Buddhist-themed water and shadow temple, in Skyward Sword, immediately come to mind. They share a similar spinning outer tower and central column tower mechanism, to Kirari’s tower. More importantly, the tower is a metaphor for the macro cipher, that is Kirari’s heart – both the heights and the depths.
The Tower represents Kirari’s psyche: impregnable and cerebral. A tower is also an obvious phallic symbol – hence also representing Kirari’s sexuality, but that makes sense, since she is Sayaka’s sempai and a top. They jump off the tower together and it is an obvious ‘coming together’ – and more romantically, Kirari is finally able to express that she loves Sayaka. Kirari and Sayaka are officially together now! Kirari said Sayaka was the first person to “jump from her tower” – i.e. the first person to genuinely love her. It was really romantic to finally see it, in animated form.
Obviously, they don’t die when they jump off the tower, but Sayaka didn’t know that. Sayaka could have easily said ‘no way’ and Kirari would then know that Sayaka didn’t love her. However, Sayaka still jumps, into an unknown future and toward – at the time – a possible certain death, thus proving her love for Kirari.
Even after Sayaka lost, and was facing the possibility of losing Kirari forever, she still had the subconscious instinct to somehow know to choose the door marked with five, in Braille – the only door with a cushion under it. Kirari and Sayaka are opposites, but that means they will never cease to intrigue and amaze the other. Half of love is remaining interested over an extended period of time – mystique, mystery, and spicing things up. They won’t have that problem.
The Tower is also a Tarot card. Lightning striking the Tower implies major change is coming. Kirari and Sayaka jump off the tower. Kirari is probably going to end up leaving the gambling school – but Kirari and Sayaka still have a new future together. Regeneration – like the snake shedding its skin.
In Season 2’s James Bond-style ending theme, a snake skeleton appears prominently, a couple times. In one of the Metal Gear Solid James Bond-style theme songs, a recurring motif is snake skeletons. The protagonist’s call name is also Snake. The Metal Gear theme song is Snake Eater. It’s super ’70s style James Bond, with a peak Cold War intelligence and black ops feel.
Whether in the East or the West, the Snake represents pure Nature or chaos, depending on your view: extremely powerful but also extremely dangerous. In their own ways, Yumeko and Kirari are trying to embrace or even tame chaos and seeming randomness. This is the essence of living in a quantum world – and the essence of quickly and decisively understanding the probabilities inherent to gambling.
Kirari’s painting of Eve and the snake is by William Blake. The overall art theme of Kakegurui is Modernist. That strange but interesting era of time fits the feel of Kakegurui and its gambling sensibility very well.
During that time period, Einstein discovered relativity, Pluto was discovered, electrons and the subatomic world were uncovered, and humanity learned how to split the atom: anni mirabiles. Although strange to most people, I like Kirari’s asides on supernovae and the far side of the moon. They are so Kirari. She is an intellectual; Kirari represents the Modernist age.
I used to have a Tarot deck and it plays a big part in the novel Gravity’s Rainbow, so I was familiar with the final game. Past, Future, Present. Upright, reversed. What’s funny is that Tarot only has mystical properties in the English-speaking world; in Continental Europe, a game like Tarot is just like poker, or another card game.
If there is no guarantee that something can’t happen, it can happen. Why do people gamble? Because they simultaneously believe everything can change, in a moment – while also hoping everything will stay the same. In lighter fare, Yumeko at her full power is awesome. She is the god of gambling! They need to put out a Season 3.