It all started with a simple anime clip for me. I was going through my social media sites and a video popped in my feed. My friend posted a video of a pink-haired anime girl dancing around to some weird, funky tune that, even with the subtitles on, didn’t make a whole lot of sense. However, the dance was incredibly cute and looked really fluid.
After seeing that clip, I had to know more about this anime and this bubbly pink-haired girl. I asked my friend who posted it and she said it was from an anime called Kaguya-Sama: Love is War. This was quite a while ago, but long after I broke up from my love of anime. I was going back to watching some of the newer animes so I gave Kaguya-Sama: Love is War a shot. Now, I just finished Season 2 of of the anime and I’m here to say I’m really glad I gave this one a chance.
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is a unique take on the traditional “will they/won’t they” anime trope. Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane are the vice-president and president of the student council for the prestigious and elite Shuichin Academy. They are considered to be the best students of the school and perfect in every way. Oh, and they both have feelings for each other. However, both Kaguya and Miyuki refuse to confess their mutual attraction for each other as it would mean they would lose the upper hand in the relationship. In their minds, the one who confesses will always be the underling and the other will always be in control of the relationship. Thus, both Kaguya and Shinomiya try different schemes to get the other to confess their feelings to the other.
The central conceit of Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is different from other anime romantic-comedies because the main characters aren’t afraid to reveal their feelings because they fear rejection. Here, they know the other person will reciprocate; they just don’t want to lose. Hence, the clever battle of wits between Kaguya and Shinomiya as they plan and develop complicated plots to get the other to do it first!
The characters are all likable, albeit it did take me some time to warm up to Kaguya. That’s because, during the earlier episodes at least, she comes off as too devious and using her family’s power and influence in order to trick Shinomiya several times. She would do things like subconsciously tricking him into buying a new phone by planting her people around the city and repeating the benefits of a new smartphone. This, in turn, would force him to ask her for her phone number, making it an indirect confession. It is hilarious Kaguya would go to such extreme lengths but it does come off as a little too machiavellian to me. She does become cuter and, as we get to know Kaguya’s upbringing, it’s much easier to understand why she does things this way.
Miyuki Shinomiya is also a fun character, mostly because he takes himself too seriously. As someone who doesn’t come from an elite family but has managed to climb up the social status ladder, he feels he has to keep up appearances. He can’t show weakness as he feels it will diminish his status and, in effect, tear down all the hard work he’s done. Still, his inner voice shows that he’s just a teenager who’s unsure of himself, which is cute. Chika Fujiwara is the pink-haired girl in the dancing video and, well, she’s a blast to watch! She comes off as an airhead but Chika is actually very smart and astute. She’s also deceptively deceitful but only uses it to increase her level of enjoyment of a situation. Chika may come off as oblivious to the feelings Kaguya and Shinomiya have for each other but I wouldn’t be surprised if she knows more than we think.
However, as hilarious and cute Chika is, she isn’t my favorite character in Kaguya-Sama: Love is War. That honor goes to Ai Hayasaka, Kagura’s personal assistant and maid. She’s privy to Kaguya’s thoughts as they grew up together so she knows her more than anyone. She’s more of the “straight man” and the voice of reason. She is very aware of what’s happening and tries to coach Kaguya on what to do and proceed. however, she’s not above making fun of her mistress and pushing her buttons. She does all of this while keeping the straightest of faces. It’s just funny to watch!
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is also very well written and very aware of how dumb the main characters are behaving as they take their “war” super seriously! The internal monologue Kaguya and Shinomiya have when put in the situations where they try to out-think and out-maneuver the other is done in a very serious voice over as they contemplate each right/wrong move they can do. Coupled with a narrator who also takes the proceedings in a humorless and somber manner, this takes these “battles” to ridiculous levels. The level of seriousness is a great parody on how such a trivial manner comes off as a war of attrition when it is totally unnecessary! He even speaks about the “results” of the “battle” the two just had regarding who “wins” or “loses.” This elevates the level of hilarity of the situation to incredibly fun heights.
Elevating all of this is just how everything fits together to make this romantic-comedy one of the best in anime history. The animation is spot on, highlighting the overall silliness of each moment. The voice acting of all the characters, especially how they have to change from serious to lovestruck at a moment’s notice, is just perfect. There are so many times I had to rewind a segment they just showed because I was too busy laughing out loud I couldn’t pay attention to what happened afterwards. That scene when Kagura put cat ears on Shinomiya and she was looking at him with a startled face had me laughing so hard! There was just something about her going to each side as Shinomiya turned his head that just got to me and squealing while the narrator saying that it was a perfect match for Kaguya. I just had to take a moment to collect myself as my stomach started to hurt from laughing for so long!
If there is a downside to the anime, it’s that I’m not too keen on the truly serious parts. There’s something that gets lost when it becomes too sappy. Also, the entire “battle” gimmick is never tackled whenever it does deal with something that’s no laughing matter. I’m still intrigued with them as it lets us dig deeper into the psyche of the characters. However, I just don’t have as good as a time during those moments.
I also have to acknowledge Kaguya-Sama: Love is War isn’t going to appeal to those who like more traditional romantic-comedy animes. It never escalates into full-blown wars but rather internal monologues that the characters have. It how over the top they imagine things in their head and it’s also hilarious how they consider love to be a war between the two of them.
I would still give a high recommendation to Kaguya-Sama: Love is War to anyone who loves a good romantic-comedy anime. It’s one of the best ones I’ve seen and I’d go as far as saying it might actually be the best one ever. A total of 2 seasons are out now so I say go give them a watch.
Have you seen Kaguya-Sama: Love is War? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!