The Snake and the Butterfly
Yumeko’s backstory is sad, but the writers couldn’t really get into her story without understanding a story that is even more tragic: Rei Batsubami’s story. The butterflies from the ending theme are related to what seems to be the Jabami family’s own personal symbol. Yumeko’s mother is represented by a red butterfly and her red kimono had butterflies on it. In Paprika, a Satoshi Kon work, Paprika is sometimes seen as a butterfly and butterflies figure in as a huge motif, in that movie. Butterflies are also a good symbol of hope.
Yumeko’s mother was one of the few people to give hope to the young Batsubami, whose family had been reduced to livestock. The young Batsubami was there when Yumeko’s mother lost at Cho Han and was killed. That’s when Batsubami cut her hair in despair, but also as a resolution to seek vengeance. The xx in Kakegurui Season 2’s name are from the Xs that the Batsubami hand tattoos make out. She is the woman who bears the X – and symbolically Batsubami is the X factor, the Wild Card, the Joker.
Batsubami’s parents must have died or have been killed also. Thus, Yumeko’s mother is Batsubami’s mother figure also. Yumeko’s mother had red eyes and a thumb ring, just like Yumeko. Thus, Batsubami and Yumeko are similar but not the same. They have both suffered because of the Monobamis’ rapacious nature – which inspired the high school’s gambling livestock system. However whereas Batsubami aims to destroy the Monobamis, Yumeko doesn’t want to destroy anyone, only to use the gambling abilities, that are the basis for the Monobami clan’s power, for good, to free people and to release their true nature.
Batsubami had only ever known existing for revenge or acting on someone else’s orders. She saw Yumeko’s mother die and she saw the young Yumeko, with her older sister, in the hospital. However, even though Yumeko is strong, it can’t have been easy for her to lose her mother. In spite of the pain, Yumeko fights with all she has, for her own sake.
Batsubami provides the contrast to focus the light on Yumeko’s true nature. Thus, not only was Batsubami revealed; the audience thus understands why Yumeko still gambles, as well – in spite of her family’s tragedy. Thus, we get to the bottom of Yumeko and Batsubami’s real purpose, in life. On a lighter note, the gloves came off – quite literally, in Batsubami’s case.
Yumeko still gambles for the reason she said, before Batsubami showed her cards – it’s only when something someone wants is at risk or is at stake, do people show their true colors or reveal their true face. This is the only way people come to understand their true selves or their true meaning and purpose in life, what they genuinely want and who they truly are. Indeed, this kind of monetary activity generates an unequal system, fraught with potential tragedy, but no such meaning can be found in a totally equal world, with no risk.
As noted earlier, a world where all probabilities are either 0% or 100% is a dead world, where nothing can change and where no true meaning or purpose can be derived. Nothing can be really risked because nothing can be really desired or gained. This is why Yumeko still gambles, even though she too has suffered, and could also easily stake a claim of revenge against the Monobami family.
Batsubami provided the foil to show Yumeko’s struggle, without Yumeko having to relate her own story. Batsubami lost her mother figure – Yumeko’s mother – but found catharsis and re-found meaning in her life, through Yumeko herself, the only Jabami descendant, who can still gamble. Yumeko empowered Batsubami, by letting Batsubami know that neither Yumeko, nor Yumeko’s mother, nor Yumeko’s older sister, nor Batsubami herself, are victims, but active agents, in their own future.
Following in the butterfly imagery, butterflies also symbolize change, given the caterpillar’s dramatic transformation, via metamorphosis. Yumeko is fighting for a world with risk, that still has the capability to change. On Beethoven’s tomb there is an Ouroboros – a snake eating its tail – another ancient symbol of transformation, and a butterfly.
The Ouroboros is a giant snake, that bites its own tail and has been an alchemic, esoteric and magickal symbol, since the times of ancient Egypt, almost 4000 years ago. As in the Blake painting Kirari displayed, in Season 1, the Snake entered the Garden of Eden, a perfect, but frozen world. Like the butterfly, the snake was a symbol for change.
What humanity needs isn’t a return to the cocoon or security blanket of innocence, but to understand truly its condition and the meaning of its existence. The coin, at the end of the auction, had snakes on one side. As noted, the red butterfly is the spirit of Yumeko’s mother, who died. In the ending theme song, when Yumeko symbolically becomes her true self, a forest spirit, in another frozen Eden, the transformation mirrors a butterfly breaking out of its cocoon.
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