I finally have a day off work, and I spend most of it in bed with a chest cold. Although I’m shocked I haven’t come down with something sooner considering how little rest I’ve had this month. I’ve forced myself up so I can post this though, because I’m not going to let a little cold allow to me to miss this 20 post long run.
Click here to read my top ten anime and video games of the year.
#2: Kaguya-Sama: Love is War
Originally Aired: 12th January to 30th March | 12 Episodes | Based on the Manga written by Aka Akasaka | Comedy, School Romance, Psychological
Kaguya-Sama ended up being a pretty important show for me this year, for a number reasons. Firstly, it was the series that fully bucked me out of my comfort zone that Hinamatsuri had really loosened me up from in 2018, not only making me watch a romantic comedy anime, but actually really enjoy them too. Secondly, and maybe more significantly, it was the show series responsible for sending me down a deep, dark rabbit hole I have yet to find my way out of: Reading Manga.
After the first series ended on a somewhat frustrating note, seeming to reset the status quo of the series, I simply had to know how the story would progress from there, and ended up searching out the Manga itself and bingeing it right up to the most recent volume. Inevitably, dangerously, that wasn’t enough for me and I ended up branching off and reading dozens upon dozens of other manga from there.
To the point that I’ve actually spend more time reading manga than I have watching anime this year. By a significant amount, I actually lost a month of my life to it before I caught up on all the good, current series being put out right now. And it was all thanks to this brilliant, hilarious, adorable and utterly stupid 12 episodes of anime.
I am much more aware of the tropes and conventions of the genre now than I was upon finishing this series for the first time. But even upon revisiting this series, I still find it unique in its approach to both its character development and its comedy, which approaches self parody at times.
Like most high school romances, it begins with a high concept pitch. In the case of Kaguya-Sama, we have Shinomiya and Shirogane, two brilliant students, both at the very top of one of the most prestigious schools in Japan. Both are full of pride and arrogance at the positions they’ve attained through either innate talent or hard work. Thus they start off the story determined to make the other fall in love and confess to them through a series of mind games and social booby traps.
It’s ridiculous, and ends up backfiring on them at almost every turn thanks to the pink haired agent of chaos that is Chika.
While the series could just take that pitch and run with it, Kaguya-Sama does something more with it and gives its characters some depth and development that actually makes the whole “Love is War” title take on an entirely different context. Because behind all of their bluster and posturing, the pair are actually genuinely kind people, forced to put up fronts due to their circumstances. And almost right away they recognise that in one another and genuinely fall for one another.
The problem is, their stubborn pride stops them from ever making any real progress. Thus the episodes are broken up into mini stories which either end in hilarity or utter adorableness. As the series goes on, it becomes more of a school comedy and not just about the roam tic misadventures of the pair. There’s something very earnest about these characters and their daily struggles outside of them simply trying to trip on another up. And weirdly relatable too considering how outlandish it all is.
It ends up being a much more human story than you’d expect considering how larger than life most of the cast actually are. As smart as they both are, they’re also complete and utter dopes. We get an entire chapter of the manga later on based on “read receipts” on instant messaging services, and it’s as hilarious as it is adorable.
The show really touched me on multiple occasions. And I felt the dramatic finale of the fireworks display was so well executed that it was all I could think about for weeks afterwards. Even if they did buy it back with a weak ass return to status quo right afterwards.
Even had this show not been the gateway into a world of manga I am still concerned that I’m spending as much time in as I am, I fell in love with this dumb ass kids enough that this most likely would have found its way pretty high on my list either way. I know this show didn’t have as much impact on people who are more ingrained in the medium than I was when I first watched this one, but it hit me at the perfect time to become something of a gateway series for me.
And I’m very happy to learn it’s getting a second series next spring.