Kakegurui Meta: Ancient Chinese Spoilers.
Well, this is awkward.
I should probably start by saying that the whole of ep 9 was very meta. Yumemi seems to be a deconstruction of idol culture in character form. From her losing the singing contest, to her (awesome) fans, and her not really wanting to be an idol forever, there’s a lot we could unpack with Yumemi as a character without ever touching my Chinese element chart.
That said, I don’t feel like I could do that topic justice. Idols are one part of Japanese culture that I’m not overly into. In fact, I’m going to look up an idol video right now…
Four minutes later.
…aaand now my ears are bleeding. Thanks, @laughing-egg. Thanks a bunch. Yeah, I’m…not doing idol stuff.
Rather than focusing on one character or element this time, maybe it’s about time we started looking at the bigger picture. I’ve talked a lot about these 5 element types, but have barely touched how they interact with one another. Just like in Pokémon, these types have a system of checks and balances.
Luckily, that’s not nearly as complicated or nonsensical as some of the stuff in Pokémon. A lot of it is common sense. Water controls Fire - no shit. Water feeds plants - again, never would’ve guessed! The elemental chart is broken down into “controlling/destruction” and “generating/creation” cycles, most of which make sense.
Here’s a quick rundown of both of these cycles:
Earth controls Water (as in a dam)
Water controls Fire
Fire controls Metal
Metal controls Wood
Wood controls Earth
…and the Generation Cycle:
Fire creates Earth (ash)
Earth creates Metal
Metal creates Water (e.g. metal melting)
Water creates Wood
Wood creates Fire
And these two cycles are your spoiler chart for almost every relationship in Kakegurui.
What? Think I’m crazy? Here, let’s look at a few.
The first relationship we see in the entire series is Mary and Suzui. There are some linguistic hints and a few other suggestions that Suzui is really a Water, and Mary is our go-to for yellow/Earth. Their relationship is definitely controlling, with Mary firmly on top. Earth controlling Water? Sure looks that way to me.
Mary doesn’t get her comeuppance directly from Yumeko, but from her peers. The harshest comes from Itsuki Sumeragi, who places something akin to a voodoo doll on Mary’s desk after she becomes a pet. This is not only Wood controlling Earth (which we see again with Nishinotouin, possibly), but since Sumeragi eventually becomes Yumeko’s ally, this is also the start of Wood generating Fire.
If we go off of the previous entry, a lot of the Student Council is Wood. This explains why most of them fall like dominoes to Yumeko (they’re kindling) and why they obey the only confirmed Metal-Type (Kirari) in a controlling relationship. That said, Midari and Kaede are both Earth or Earth-hybrids; not only do they support Kirari in some way, but we get to see “Earth controls Water” again:
The only time so far that we’ve seen Kirari being controlled is when Midari takes out her own eye. In this one scene, Midari not only gushes blood (Fire), but goes so far as to tell Kirari how to feel. Kirari is just barely keeping control of Midari, a Fire/Earth hybrid. How she does it is a little bit off the chart, but it’s a short-term fix and she cannot keep it up. (I should also stress that this is the most responsible decision she could make. Midari is a danger to herself and other students, so she’s worth keeping watch over, and if a promise of murder keeps her under some sort of control, so be it.)
That said, the relationship between Yumeko and Mary is different from the controlling relationships Mary is used to. At first, it seems disciplinary, but look harder, keep watching, and you see that Mary grows as a person when paired with Yumeko. This is Fire yielding Earth, and hooboy does Mary rise from those ashes!
The Kirari-Mary relationship might or might not be one of control. I’m still six of one on if Kirari’s a Metal/Wood or just Metal, but there’s ample evidence for her being a hybrid. Her “in your face” interaction with Mary is both controlling and asking for more positive support. This relationship comes up again…but spoilers.
That said, the chart I posted has even more spoilers! I’m going to leave this long and overdue post and allow both manga readers and anime only people to extrapolate relationships based on ancient Chinese geomancy. Have fun!
(Now, to be fair, this chart is only anywhere from 70-90% accurate. There is also at least one character who is literally off the chart! Along with another bonus that’s been bouncing around in my head for a while, I may do that entry to make up for how damn late this one was. )