I don’t feel like I’ve slept in weeks. I’m finally done with work till New Year now and can catch up on all the things that have been falling to the wayside these past 8 days. Although, try as I might, sleep is the one thing I can’t seem to keep pace with. Oh well, let’s post this entry for today and then drink myself into a coma that ensures I’ll be sleeping through the night.
#4: Kaguya-Sama: Love is War (Season 2)
Originally aired 11th April to 27th June | 12 Episodes | Based on the manga by Aka Akasaka | Romantic Comedy
Kaguya-Sama: Love is War continues to be one of my favourite anime (and manga) being released right now. It was the series that really got me reading manga and one of the biggest footholds in my climb to talking about as much anime on my blog as I am right now.
Back when the second season ended in the summer, I wrote a piece about how the direction of the show shifted. How it’s moved away from the original premise that made the first season such a highly entertaining and engaging experience for me: someone just finding their way into watching anime outside of the obvious Shonen classics.
The second season of the anime transitioned away from that and more into the style of storytelling the manga would settle on for its duration. Rather than focus solely on Shinomiya and Shirogane and their antagonistic romance, the show expanded out to focus more on its supporting characters.
Which I don’t have a problem with, I’ve come to love Ino, Ishigami and Hayasaka. But it’s a less pure, distilled experience when compared to the first season. To just drop the pretence and turn this into a drug metaphor; nothing ever hits you as hard as your first go. After that, it’s diminishing returns. Which makes it seem like I’m bashing the second season of this anime, when I’m really not. I’m just giving you that delicious context.
I recently wrote a piece on here about my complaints with all of the interchangeable elements of Harem Romance manga. One issue of which being that a lot of the time, it feels like the story is taking place in some little bubble, where nobody exists outside of the main character and his potential future girlfriends. Kaguya-Sama is the opposite of that, the supporting cast is large, and filled with characters who all have at least some level of depth and character to them.
While our main student council are no doubt our most developed characters, the story has no qualms about taking the time to move about the school and focus on completely different characters for a period without getting cold feet that our main heroes aren’t on the page for a few chapters. It’s the little touches that make the world seem so much more realised, as strange of a world as it is.
As the series has grown, it’s moved away from being a purely farcical battle of confessions between Shinomiya and Shirogane and become a more, all-encompassing story about how relationships in general are a battlefield, something to be fought for, worked at and won. Or sometimes lost.
Which is why I enjoyed this second series, which mostly focused on the newly introduced character of Miko Ino and the returning gloom captain Ishigami. Telling their personal stories and hurdles they need to overcome to build their friendships and relationships with their peers. There still were some moments of the two main dopes trying to get one another to confess, but at this point, they really both know how the other feels and are more so struggling with their own insecurities than anything else. The doomed schemes are a comedic background element rather than the main focus now.
The series has a strong core of well developed characters and knows with a self assuredness where it wants to go, which I appreciate a whole bunch. So many romance series seem to meander and just stretch stories out beyond their natural progression, but almost everything here feels necessary. And when it doesn’t; it’s in favour of some great comedic beats. At he end of the day, while all of these kids attend a prestigious school, and are most likely the future leaders of the country, they’re still just doofy teenagers with the same relatable insecurities we all had.
Like all of my favourite comedies, Kaguya-Sama mixes the absurd with the heartfelt, taking a great emotional peak and then just letting it sit there before breaking the mood with a joke. Something that can infuriate me in other stories, but always works perfectly here. Plus, it’s freaking adorable. I genuinely love this series and its characters, and I can’t wait to see wait to see what happens in the next series… Although I already know, because I’ve become “that guy” whose already read the manga.