Posted by SuperWooper on 25 March 2019 with categories: Finished Series: Romance, Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai

Can somebody explain why, in an episode where Kaguya’s loveless upbringing is shown to have profoundly damaged her, 14 minutes were dedicated to stories about eating ramen and not understanding Twitter? With only two slots left in your single cour run, these had to be among the most skippable chapters in the manga (assuming they’re not original material), yet they consumed the bulk of this episode. Was the goal just to pass time so the summer festival could double as the series’ conclusion? It feels like every time we get an episode that reaches the standards the beginning of the show set for itself, the next one has to take three steps back. I’m sure many of you are tired of reading these sentiments, but I’m just as tired of the weird missteps the anime is making. Taken as a whole, this batch of chapters wasn’t even bad, just the sort of unfocused grab bag the show ought to have ironed out of its repertoire by now.

The first of our stories this week was more about Hayasaka’s occupational weariness than Kaguya’s lack of technological prowess. We’ve seen that Kaguya’s valet does a great impression of a normal high school girl, which helps her blend in at Shuchiin Academy while looking after her charge. What’s clearer than ever after this week, though, is that she has a real desire for normalcy, and perhaps even an awkward first romance of her own. She plays it off as a bit of bathtime musing, but it’s clearly real, which is what makes Hayasaka such a good fit as Kaguya’s friend – they both want freedom from their household’s oppressive atmosphere. If we’re being honest about the broader appeal of this episode, though, Kaguya’s search for “Twitter” in the dictionary will probably make a bigger impact than anything about the girls’ relationship. Her struggle to replicate a captcha phrase was the kind of “so relatable” moment that barely outranks reference humor in terms of comedic effort. And just imagine all the 13 year old guts her confusion about protected accounts must have busted. Is my general disdain for social media coming through right now, guys?

Only slightly better was the ramen chapter, which handled narrator duties over to a brand new middle-aged salaryman character who will probably never be seen again. He creepily observes every step of Fujiwara’s ordering and eating processes, and judges her to be a worthier ramen connoisseur than himself after she buys a fantastic dish and devours it with childish abandon. Was this segment funny? I’d say so, yeah. Some of the dramatic shading on the narrator’s face and his overreactions were worth a chuckle or two. But it didn’t teach me anything new about the characters I like. Even Fujiwara was short-changed by this chapter, and she was the only council member to appear on screen. A far better version of the same story might have cut out the middle-aged man and included both of Chika’s sisters in the restaurant with her. Then we could have learned about two new characters, while getting a different perspective on a familiar one by contrasting her with her family. Perhaps the temporary narrator was meant to parody a Japanese pop cultural figure? If not, this chapter feels like a missed opportunity, as the show is quickly coming to a close, and every minute counts.

The bit with Shirogane and Kaguya visiting the student council room and missing each other by mere moments felt abrupt, probably to make room for the post-credits scene. Those few minutes were certainly the most intriguing part of the episode. At first I thought Kaguya had been summoned to their family’s Kyoto home for a marriage interview, given the table where she was sitting, but apparently all she was called to do was greet her father for two seconds as he walked brusquely past. Perhaps she was called out just to interrupt the shopping plans she made in a previous episode, which would make her father a meddler on top of being an “asshole” (Hayasaka’s words). This is the third episode in a row where Kaguya’s love for fireworks has appeared, and here it carries the most emotional heft of the three. Fireworks are loud, bright, and colorful – all things Kaguya was never allowed to be as a child. Shirogane had better get his shit together and properly invite her to the summer festival. If her pained vocal delivery is anything to go by, she needs to reclaim her lost youth now more than ever.

6 Responses

  1. AidanAK47 AidanAK47 says:

    Well the twitter thing I believe was more for the Hayasaki fanservice and showing the distance that has grown between Kaguya and Shirogane. Which is pretty important.

    As for the ramen part, well it’s the authors favorite chapter. Think he was pretty adamant on it getting in. Pity it left out the final joke though of Isegami giving her breath mints cause her breath stank from the garlic.

    • Avatar SuperWooper says:

      The ramen chapter is the author’s favorite? Now I’m convinced that the middle manager has some special significance, despite his ordinary design and occupation. His name is Saburo Odajima, but googling it just yields Kaguya wiki pages. Maybe the concept of the Four Ramen Kings is supposed to be a shoutout to the author’s favorite cooking or shounen manga? Or perhaps each of the four student council members has an associated Ramen King who shares their personality traits? What’s the deeper meaning?!?

      • Avatar rrw says:

        In manga, We will see him again later along with other ramen kings. Not much to say about him since he is just side-character.

        The ramen chapter is just there to say fuji is back form her summer holiday

  2. Avatar Mentar says:

    The truth is in the eyes of the beholder, but I still fail to see what these supposed “missteps” are? It’s fine with me if you dislike them, but I doubt that you have real reason to objectively label them as such.

    The bath/twitter chapter establishes Hayasaka as quasi-mother figure and critical support for Kaguya (especiall in conjunction with the past-credits segment). It was doubly important because in earlier episodes _the_ major introductory chapter for Hayasaka was omitted. And just for the record, you’re the first one I’ve heard complain about it – in my opinion, it was cute, funny _and_ relevant in character development.

    The ramen chapter is – like the others already mentioned – a personal favorite of the author. I understand how this can be hit-or-miss for people (I’m on the “like it” side). What you don’t seem to see is that there is no “hurry up, anime episodes are running out” pressure. These manga chapters were written without any anime in mind. And don’t worry, you will get a proper ending. Just relax and take it easy.

    Of course the third segment didn’t end “abruptly” to “make room for the post-credit scene”. Again, these are _manga_ chapters, and they don’t care about anime episodes one bit. There were three points to this story:

    1) They wanted to see each other dearly, but their pride prevented them from achieving more
    2) They missed each other due to bad luck (this will become relevant in ep12)
    3) The manga set a decidedly more somber and sad tone, for the upcoming arc. It was the first serious-sad chapter in the entire story.

    In order not to spoil, I will only mention that the post credits segment was the first half of the manga chapter “I can’t hear the fireworks, part 1”. The second half and the subsequent second part will follow in ep12.

    So, to wrap it up, please keep in mind that this is a _conversion_ of a weekly manga series, not an anime in its own pace. You’ll still get a proper ending run, do not worry.

    • Avatar SuperWooper says:

      I haven’t objectively labeled anything. This post is a distillation of one man’s thoughts after watching an episode of anime – and it is an anime, not simply a moving manga. Just because it’s adapting another work doesn’t mean it can’t be judged on its own terms. There’s only one episode left, and as somebody who probably won’t move onto the manga after the show finishes airing, I’d like it to conclude on a strong note. Perhaps it will, and perhaps it won’t – either way, I’m going to post my subjective opinions about it on the internet next week.

  3. Avatar Kiryuu-sensei says:

    Aside from the factors mentioned previously, there are two other reasons why the Twitter and ramen chapters were included. These reasons are spoilers for the 12th episode, so stop reading here if you don’t want a hint of what will happen.

    .

    .

    .

    .

    .

    Kaguya leaves a message on her Twitter account that spurs Miyuki into “saving the girl”, so to speak. And one of the Ramen Kings is the taxi driver who goes the extra mile to ensure Kaguya’s fireworks wish is granted.

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