First Look: Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Alternative title(s):  Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai – Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunōsen
Manga Adaptation by A-1 Pictures
Streaming on Crunchyroll

Premise

Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane like each other, but their personalities have caused them to be trapped by their collective embarrassment and egos into an incredibly ludicrous game of romantic brinkmanship. It’s pretty darn cute.

Marlin’s verdict: Love Can Bloom on the Battlefield

The moment I saw this show’s description on Anilist, I knew it was the one unknown quantity I had to see coming into this new season. As I’ve noted elsewhere, this seems perfectly crafted to be the next Jel and Marlin show that we love to death, and it didn’t betray my expectations. It’s not always the most funny thing I’ve ever seen in my life, but it keeps a consistent bombastic presentation that really sells you on the concept. Even in this one episode they go way closer to having the two of them almost spill the beans than I thought, so it seems like each episodes will be more about the ridiculous mental games compared to how adorable they look when played out in reality.

The only question now is whether or not they’ll be able to keep up this gambit for a full 12 episodes. I could certainly see it going like a two-way Takagi-san, with enough good material to keep it going until the end point. Considering this manga is only three years old, I doubt we’ll see any kind of real end-point. The only fear would be if they can’t keep up the energy. There’s a lot going for the style and presentation so long as the accompanying scenes are just as ridiculous. I would love if they even start doing couples activities and just continue to deny that either of them had actually started a relationship with the other. We’ll also have to see what the other supporting characters bring to the mix. For now we just have the airhead Chika, and compared to the overpowering nature of our leads, she hasn’t even asserted her presence yet. It’s nice to see that another show I was getting my hopes up for managed to be worth it, and there’s a lot more to look forward to.

THIS FLIRTING HAS BEEN PASSED DOWN THE SHINOMIYA LINE FOR GENERATIONS!!!

Jel’s verdict: Ready to Enlist

The best romances are the ones that happen naturally. I tend to hate the “opposites attract” angle in RomComs, or any other adversarial relationships that magically gets flipped into love. It’s a Hollywood myth that I’d be happy to see go away.​

It’s with that context that I found myself cautiously approaching this show. I mean, “Love is War” is literally in the title. Thankfully, Kaguya-sama manages to avoid the pitfalls I was worried about. There’s no question our main couple like each other, it’s just the mix of their unusual circumstances and personalities that lead to their romantic stalemate. This is executed in a fun and stylish way by people who understand comedy. Describing that aspect in words doesn’t really do it justice, just watch and you’ll understand.​

Remember kids, don’t date drugs… wait that’s not right.

As for the characters themselves, they manage to be just cold and calculating enough to make the premise work without being insufferable jerks. I don’t know if they’re “likable” per se, but you do want them to hook up and be happy. I also like the choice of adding an oblivious air head in the student council as a third wheel. She makes a good buffer for the main couple to play off and sets up some of the episode’s best jokes.​

As Marlin noted, the only concern here is whether or not Kaguya-sama can keep up this level of quality over the course of an entire season. I suspect they’ll do their take on the usual anime RomCom episodes like going to the beach or the school festival, and that’s fine. But I do hope they also hit us with a few surprises. Either way, I’m looking forward to watching.​

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