Kaguya-sama: Love Is War

Alt title: Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai: Tensai-tachi no Renai Zunousen

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sweetdesu's avatar
Feb 17, 2019

Seeing as the series is only halfway through, this review could be premature. However, I've thoroughly enjoyed the six episodes of this series. The characters aren't stiff or cliche. They're dynamic, interesting, and hilarious. The comedy lands every time and, even when it's not trying to be funny, it can still produce a little laughter, always for the right reasons. The narration attributes to the story in a way that isn't monotonous, unnecessary, or irritating. This anime is so brilliantly written in the aspect of its comedic timing, development of characters and relationships, and the entertaining mind games played between Shinomiya and Shirogane. Chika could be construed as the token "stupid, big-boobed extra," but she's only one of those things. She may not have the high intelligence that Shinomiya and Shirogane possess, but she's definitely not a dope. She was able to emotionally manipulate Shinomiya during the word game in order to win. She adds to the story in a positive and entertaining way instead of the usual annoying side character that adds no true value to the story or main characters and is purely to fill the obligatory "best friend" role.

Overall, this anime is incredibly entertaining with golden comedy, well-developed and interesting characters, and a story that leaves you wishing the episodes were longer than thirty minutes. This is truly the most refreshing romance anime I've seen in a while. 

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
CodeBlazeFate's avatar
Mar 30, 2019

“See, this show's what having a good director can do for your fuckin' show. You can make A-1 Pictures look like a competent studio. That's fucked up!” -DEEsidia from REVEL HOUSE, 2019 

Pride is cruel and ignorance is bliss, and when love is war, feelings are the casualties. Kaguya-sama is this concept taken to a hilarious extreme, with two teenage egotists trying to manipulate each other into confessing their feelings as every idea they ever had gets trampled on. This show thrives off its comedic timing, with tons of audiovisual flair, character chemistry, and wild ideas for our main leads to plan around and exploit. With A-1 being listed as the studio behind this, I’m sure some alarms were triggered, but thanks to Rakugo director Shinichi Omata, everything listed prior is utilized spectacularly.

Shinichi Omata brings a ton of life to this anime with his stylistic flourishes. A lot of the time, backgrounds and camera movements are incredibly stylized, adding to scenes of characters overthinking things. Whenever a character starts freaking out or shouting in an over the top fashion, several grainy motion lines consume either the characters or the backgrounds. The ED themes have some creative visuals as well. These and more all add so much character to the visuals, which is a blessing since despite the fun character designs and facial expressions, the artwork dips a surprising amount early on, and the sparse CGI models can be pretty terrible. Thankfully, the visual inconsistencies and blemishes are so infrequent that the expressive visual flourishes and amazing shots more than make up for them.

On top of the great visual comedy is the actual character comedy, relying on bombastic personalities and their chemistry with one another, including the narrator of the show, who provides a healthy dose of both on his own whilst poking fun of our main leads. Shirogane’s an over-the-top serious character, constantly shouting despite always maintaining a sense of authority, combining the general style of Gendo Ikari from Eva with the ridiculously dorky yet serious nature of someone like Yamamoto from Tylor or Sora from NGNL. It makes things all the funnier when he’s undermined by love interest Kaguya Shinomiya, who constantly wants to retain her air of refinement and superiority despite being a sheltered, jealous dork who gets flustered at the drop of a hat. However, the character that steals the show for me is Chika Fujiwara, the busty wildcard cloudcuckoolander --think Mayuri from Steins;Gate but probably evil-- who’s constantly making Kaguya jealous and single-handedly dismantling everyone around her and whatever they try to do. This doesn’t include the times when Chika has to teach Shirogane how to do things, which brings her immense pain. A close contender for best character is Ishigami, who appears halfway into the show, and is as paranoid and ridiculous as he is sensitive and adorable. It takes half the show to introduce him, but some of the show’s most gut-busting moments come from him, especially when he reaches critical sass levels. Lastly, there’s our helpful deadpan character in Kaguya’s maid, Ai Hayasaka, who has particularly great chemistry with Kaguya as she attempts to help her earn Shirogane’s heart. Somehow, she has the most surprises up her sleeves. The random tertiary characters are all entertaining as well, thanks to the comedic and sometimes emotionally resonant writing of a well-balanced and vibrant main and supporting cast. Each skit tells us something new about these characters. Combine that with their chemistry and the sheer number of skits, it leaves these characters feeling incredibly rich, on top of being varied and colorful. You can honestly make a case for any of the 5 major characters being the best, which is a great sign.

Kei Haneoka’s music does a good job complimenting the show’s calculated absurdity. The OST often cycles between being as bombastic as the scenarios they support and being whimsical, meme tracks that play over sequences such as a comedic explanation of the game 20 Questions. The OP "Love Dramatic feat. Rikka Ihara" by Masayuki Suzuki is one of the standouts of the season, boasting a jazzy, almost James Bond-like feel with the sneaky and sometimes psychedelic visuals to match once the song reaches its chorus. It matches the personalities of the main duo quite well and how they treat these scenarios like mind games. Sadly, the EDs don’t live up outside of the visuals and the meme factor of Chika’s ED. That, however, is a small loss.

Kaguya-sama is one of the funniest and most well-directed shows I have seen in a long time. This outrageous premise certainly won’t appeal to everyone, especially to those who hate the concept of two main characters pussyfooting around confessing to each other. However, the wonderful cast, humor, and visual direction more than make up for any possible annoyance that otherwise may have caused me. Nearly every skit and episode build upon the last. If you want your fix of romcoms or shows starring manipulative egotists, this is almost certainly the anime for you. It’ll probably stay in my holy trinity of comedy anime for quite some time.

Written and Edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine

8.8/10 story
7.8/10 animation
7.7/10 sound
8.8/10 characters
8.5/10 overall
Epitaph71's avatar
Mar 31, 2019

Certainly one of the best romantic comedy!

This series was just pure perfection .From  animations to storytelling along with  the overall interesting characters this show was like a fresh breath of air among all trash animes.Also each episode seemed to be more and more interesting than the previous one which is rare now a days.

Overall 10/10    

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
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ChrisGP's avatar
Apr 1, 2019

This is a fun watch but as expected they aren't dating even by the final episode.  The last episode is the most romantic one and about as satisfying as it can get without a confession.

7/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
8/10 overall
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Gozza's avatar
Mar 11, 2019

The show has some well developed and bright characters who also share some great chemistry but I do feel the skits are a bit of a hit and miss however. Some skits will be excellent and memorable but there are also plenty of skits that are forgettable or will leave you scratching your head.

But let’s be real, you only watch this show for the characters and the characters are all in contention for best character of the season. 

I personally appreciate the animations a lot, a show that has mastered the horror/thriller elements in comedic situations.

6/10 story
8/10 animation
6/10 sound
9/10 characters
7/10 overall
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