The Cambridge Geek

Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War

I must say, it does feel like my current favourite anime genre is "crap at romance". We had Tsuredure Children for children, Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku and Recovery of an MMO Junkie for adult nerds, and finally Happy Sugar Life...for psychopaths?

But I've enjoyed all of them, which set me up in perfect stead for this one, which follows the romantic entanglements of Kaguya and Miyuki.

They're the star pupils of their school, with Miyuki as the president, a boy utterly focused on his academic career, and Kaguya as the deputy, being generally excellent at more or less everything (sports, music etc). And they fancy the pants off each other.

Unfortunately, they've got an adversarial view of romance, with the idea that whoever expresses interest first, or happens to be more in love than the other will "lose". To win at the war of love, you must always be the one who is desired and chased, and so they spend their time trying to create scenarios that will result in the other one asking them out.

Cat ears. Work on everyone.

Of course, since both of them are geniuses, this tends to get tangled quickly. There are strategies and counter-strategies, which run to a level of complexity that would have Machiavelli shouting "my god, just bang!"

Examples include carefully arranging competitions to ensure they win tickets to romantic dates, sneakily hiding umbrellas to let them do the umbrella sharing trope, and working out how to get each other's phone number.

This is all narrated by a delightfully dry chap, who offers an opinion on who is currently winning, and fills in little background details that inform the battles. They tend to run relatively short, with three vignettes per episode, so it's always running along at a fair clip. That's aided by the side cuts the show frequently has into their imaginations or anxieties, which have some impressively styled animation changes.

The stylistic changes are pretty damn neat.

While the major conflict is hung around the battles of the main pair, it's got a fun set of minor characters. Chika Fujiwara is the other major member of the council, a self-styled "love detective", who is possibly the idiot savant of romance. She tends to look befuddled and confused by the arguments, but defuses difficult situations suspiciously often with just the right words. She's also hilarious.

She knows exactly what she's doing.

So is Kaguya's maid/bodyguard/life coach(?) who tends to egg her on, while possibly enjoying the disasters more than she should. I'm hoping for a bit more of her later in the series.

If you don't want him...

It is very funny indeed. The romantic warfare and psychological strategising contrast wonderfully with their general uselessness about actually feeling emotions. They both spend their time manipulating the other into something drastic like hand holding (oh my!) and then have no idea what they need to do with it when they get there. This also leads to amusing moments where people sit screaming into pillows about their own idiocy, or crying because Kaguya has used her super powerful "smug" face on them.

(The childishness comes through in other ways, such as finding the word "wiener" so funny they can't stop laughing. Neither could I.)

It also has the catchiest opening I've heard all season, eg:

Been singing this for weeks.

Absolutely go and watch it.

Score 4

Tagged: Anime Comedy Schooldays Family/Relationships Romance Crunchyroll Subbed