Posted by SuperWooper on 20 January 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Romance, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

WARNING: This review of Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai has been authored by a non-manga reader. His ignorance of future characters and plot points may limit his perspective on the series as it unfolds. Proceed with caution!

Boy, is this show a treat. I know we’re only two weeks into the winter season, but Kaguya-sama is my favorite new anime so far by a landslide. Even this episode’s repetition of last week’s establishing narration (before and after the OP) didn’t bring me down. The show leans into its “Geniuses’ War of Love and Brains” premise so heavily, after all, that reminders of their financial and academic superiority only heighten the comedy of their social ineptitude. Despite using bits of recycled animation during these introductions, this episode did move the opening venue from one of Shuchiin Academy’s many hallways to its auditorium, so I hope these changes in setting continue from week to week. It might be nice to omit these scenes altogether once we have a better sense of the characters and setting, but right now they’re important for establishing just how revered (and how gossiped about) Kaguya and Shirogane are by the student body they govern.

Speaking of the student body, this episode introduced several of its less glamorous members, marking a departure from the premiere’s tight focus on its three main characters. The third and final segment of this episode brings a nameless advice-seeker into the council room in search of romantic wisdom from the class president. The only problem? Shirogane is hardly the Casanova everyone envisions him to be, never having been on a date in his life. This chapter is great for a bunch of reasons, chief among them being Aoi Koga’s performance as an eavesdropping Kaguya. Her exasperated and disbelieving reactions to both boys’ stupidity are so good that I’m sure even the staunchest manga purists were pleased. What interested me even more than this segment’s technical merits, though, was the potential it created for the series to further populate its cast of characters. Thanks to our nameless inquirer, we now know that his crush is a girl named Kashiwagi, that they’ve begun dating (despite Shirogane’s spectacularly bad advice), and that her three friends are likely to recur. One of them is singled out in a pre-ED card as “the next person seeking advice,” and given her distraught expression, it’s likely that she had a thing for her friend’s new man. If I had to guess, she’ll probably ask Kaguya for help in next week’s episode, where her romantic ignorance will be measured against the president’s.

This kind of situational repetition is working in Kaguya-sama’s favor so far (the show, not the character), creating a pattern that’s fun to confirm, rather than tiresome to watch. Take this episode’s first chapter, for example, where Shirogane purchases a new smartphone in the hopes that Kaguya will ask for his contact info. He’s quite self-satisfied with his decision, but a flashback reveals that Kaguya had planted a number of her family’s employees on the street to subconsciously entice him to upgrade his phone. This echoes her manipulations from last week, where she secretly delivered movie tickets to Fujiwara as a prize in a fake contest, all in the hopes that she’d give them to Shirogane so he could ask her out. Seeing it confirmed once again that Kaguya’s approach to love involves espionage and deceit charms me to no end, but the president’s tactic of gaining her interest with a profile photo of himself as a child is just as brilliant. These two are a perfect match for one another, given their shared pride and intelligence, which makes it fun to watch them butt heads, even while a part of you is pulling for them to be together. I’m still in the earliest stage of my Kaguya-sama fandom, but whatever route the series ultimately takes, I can’t imagine being unhappy with the outcome.

6 Responses

  1. Avatar Mentar says:

    If you like it now, it’s safe to predict that you’ll love it when the weaker earlier chapters are worked through and the meat of the story starts. Should happen around ep 5-6.

    • Avatar SuperWooper says:

      It makes me a bit nervous to learn that there’s a part of the story that could be considered “meat,” as its simple format is one of the most attractive things about the show. If there’s better stuff to come, though, I’ll happily watch on.

  2. Avatar Animosh says:

    I read that the reason why the introduction was repeated is that this episode adapted a chapter that restarted the manga in another magazine, and therefore had to reintroduce the characters. In principle they could have just left that part of the chapter out, of course, but the relevant chapter was shorter than usual because of the reintroduction, so if they had left it out they possibly wouldn’t have had enough material to cover. Long story short: the lengthy introduction was probably needed just for this episode, so it probably won’t be included anymore in future episodes.

    By the way, someone on reddit linked to the manga’s website, which offers a list of skipped chapters you can read without being spoiled. Here it is: https://tonarinoyj.jp/episode/10834108156641776122. I read through them myself, and for skipped chapters they’re pretty fun. They also include some nice background info about the characters and their personalities.

    • Avatar SuperWooper says:

      This is a great post, but I think I’m going to stay anime-only until the series is finished. I’ll be less qualified to judge it as an adaptation, but more level in judging it as a piece of art.

      Hopefully that didn’t sound too pretentious.

      • Avatar Animosh says:

        No, I get it. Even they’re just skipped chapters, they might still put ideas in your head of what the characters should be like etc. On the other hand, if you just stick to the anime, you’ll be able to judge it on its own merits, without any preconceived notions about what the series should be like.

        I think reading them can increase your enjoyment too, by increasing your understanding of the characters and making you warm up to them more by spending more time with them in their everyday life. But I agree there are downsides too, so sticking to the anime is a perfectly valid choice.

  3. Avatar anu says:

    nice review, judging by the ending song, i guess there is not only comedy but will be the sad drama that can make me cry

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