Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Grad school starts for me in less than a week, so I am in full back-to-school mode. That means that I am stocking up on supplies, loading up on sleep, and doing my best to enjoy my free-time while I have it. It’s part of the reason that I kind of dropped off the face of the earth this past week; I’ve been a bit busy.

But today is Friday, so I want to share something that I truly have enjoyed watching. Recently, my sister and I finished watching the anime Kaguya-sama: Love Is War? and I wanted to share my thoughts. If you’re looking for a new anime to watch and you enjoy a romantic comedy as much as I do, you’re going to want to keep reading.

Plotting the War of Love

The archetype of enemies to lovers is very common when it comes to romantic comedies, but Kaguya-sama takes it to a whole other level. Shinomiya is vice president of the student council at the prestigious academy she attends, and is the smartest girl in her grade. She would be top of her class, if not for the president of the same student council, Shirogane. While these two have been in competition for the top spot, they have fallen in love while working alongside each other within student council.

The tension is where the story starts: these brilliant minds refuse to give into the feelings of their hearts. No one wants to confess their feelings, and instead, both parties want to strategize ways to get the other side to confess. There’s a lot of pride in this battle of wits and emotions, but I think the real winner is the person who gets to see it all play out for the very first time.

I can’t get enough of it, and I’ve already finished the series. While I won’t be able to get the experience of watching it for the first time ever again, I am picking up the manga as reading material now. The first two seasons are on Hulu, with the options of both English dubbed and subbed. You can also find it on Crunchyroll.

My Love Confession

From the first episode, I was hooked. Beyond having such layered characters, having the strategies, tactics, and theories be explained by an omniscient narrator was a very fun element of the show. As manipulative as the characters are, you find yourself falling in love with them, because you see them from the perspective of the characters who love them as well as into their minds. The extremes that the characters are willing to go to in order to protect their pride along with the exaggerated drama of the show is the comedy that makes the show fun to watch. From unique characters to charming humor, it’s everything you want from a cheesey, high school romantic comedy.

The One Lost Battle

Of course, nothing can please everyone, and as much as I loved this show, the one thing that really disappointed me was how season three played out. I don’t know if it was because of a tone shift that they decided to transition between the seasons, or if it was the long pause that was done as a result of COVID effecting everything, but season three is distinctly different from seasons one and two. Like, if each episode is meant to be a slice of life, I would say that season 3 is an entirely different dessert.

Beyond the disconnect, season three felt like a vase had been broken and someone was trying to put the pieces together as best they could. At the end of the day, it doesn’t feel cohesive even just looking at the season alone. It felt rushed, and I just felt unsatisfied watching the ending that we had. Spoiler alert (Maybe? I feel like it shouldn’t be, because it’s standard for the genre.): Of course, it’s great that the two end up together, and I actually like how they were brought together in the second half of the season. The problem I have is that I wish the other characters also had more closure in their stories, and the first half of the season felt kind of aimless. Also, why are we meeting some characters for the first time when we are in the last season?

Maybe that’s intentional. When I did some research, there seemed to be rumors about a spin-off in development. Thinking about it, I don’t know if I would watch it unless they can recapture the same energy they had in seasons one and two. Even as I play the series in the background, I probably would avoid season three.

Have I convinced you that Kaguya-sama: Love is War? is the anime that you should watch next? Do you believe that love is war? What do you recommend that I watch next? I would love to know in the comments below.

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Love Always,

Kristi My