Through the use of a discreet mouthpiece called an SCM, anybody can turn a person into their slave through defeating them in a game. The only way for the slave to be freed is for their master to release them. Eia, a young woman described as cold and distant by her peers, first meets Yuuga Ohta when he breaks up with her best friend. The two instantly form a connection, and Yuuga, who wishes to participate in high stakes battles with other SCM users, confides in Eia, asking her to be his partner and to promise to defeat his captor if he is ever enslaved while participating in these dangerous games. Although Yuuga could see a part of Eia that nobody else could, she would soon come to regret meeting him with all of her heart.
I really didn’t think we would get another anime so similar to Kakegurui within a year of it first coming out. Who would have thought that exploring BDSM through high-stakes gambling would become an actual genre? Unfortunately for Doreiku The Animation, the comparison only serves to highlight how much better Kakegurui is in basically every conceivable way.
There are two simultaneous stories going on in the first episode of Doreiku The Animation. The first is focused on Eia, who gets pulled into the world of SCM gambling through a chance encounter with her friend’s ex boyfriend, who broke up with said friend by showing up at her house pretending to be gay, bringing along a fake lover. He claimed to do this to give her a funny break up story for the future. So right away, they do a great job of establishing Ohta as an asshole and throwing in some tired and mean-spirited “haha, isn’t it laughable that some people are gay?” joke which had my eyes rolling out of my head.
The second plotline is focused on a rape survivor named Lucie, who hit it off with a guy online but when they met he wasn’t the person she’d thought he’d be. The two had an awkward date (which Eia and Ohta happened to witness) and later on he drove her to a secluded place and raped her. She gets her revenge through the use of an SCM, where she tricks him into wearing it and then beats him at a pachinko game, enslaving him.
None of these characters are all that likeable, although the most sympathetic character is Lucie. Unfortunately she is quickly villainised for taking too much pleasure in dominating him and I reckon that one of the main characters will end up having to take her down later on. Eia is also tolerable, although this is mainly because she doesn’t seem to give a fuck about anything. I do appreciate how she called Ohta out for not committing to his half-hearted fake relationship though, kissing her best friend in public and daring him to do the same. I swooned.
At its core, Doreiku The Animation is cynical and mean-spirited. The first episode alone features two sexual assaults, one implied and the other explicitly shown, and it seems to revel in the non-consensual use of the SCM as a tool for revenge. It appears to be trying to show BDSM in an edgy, negative light so that it can show you as much of its misery porn as possible. Comparatively, Kakegurui was a more positive look at consensual BDSM – all parties knew what they were getting into and everybody involved seemed to be having the time of their lives. It also showed how taking power could help set others free and make them stronger, better. I don’t doubt that later in the series all parties will be consenting to the potential submission, but the first episode alone doesn’t extend that same courtesy.
Although it looks better than some of this season’s openers, Doreiku seems to be a middling production with average animation and character designs which are just fine and occasionally go off model even in the premiere. I don’t want to keep harping on about Kakegurui too much, but it’s hard not to when Doreiku seems to be trying to ape it so severely. There are several points in the episode where dramatic close-ups of the characters’ faces are shown, usually during gambling matches, where they are drawn in an overly expressive, “ugly” manner. This was one of Kakegurui‘s staples, but here they don’t embrace the grotesquerie of the caricatures enough and it just comes off as self conscious, a pale imitation, and anybody who has even a passing knowledge of Kakegurui will know exactly what they’re trying to do.
Although the first episode gives us a few glimpses at potentially interesting ideas, it is let down by an obsession with cruelty and sexual assault. When there are better shows both about survival games and about gambling, there is little reason for Doreiku The Animation to be your first choice. If you enjoy the basic premise of this show and haven’t checked out Kakegurui, you would be better served trying out that series if you want a fun anime about BDSM gambling. It is a show that is kinder to women, better animated and more of a good time than Doreiku has turned out to be.
- I really appreciate Eia, she is chill, doesn’t care about anything, and will kiss a girl for at least ten seconds to prove a point
- They first implied the rape, but then decided that wasn’t enough and we needed to actually see it. Completely unnecessary.
- The first time we see the SCM used it’s literally a guy using it to force a woman to have sex with him. Lazy writing, gross concept.
- Hurr hurr gay jokes in 2018