You’re seriously crazy dude! But y’know... At least, I wasn’t boring right?”
– Kaito Momota, Kokichi Oma
A question that has haunted me ever since I was born is - What would happen if two tsunderes fell in love each other? Before watching Kaguya-Sama, I thought that the concept was very interesting, and it was pretty much the driving factor that made me watch it, but I was also sure that this “Love is war” idea would become boring, dull and repetitive after a few episodes. Fortunately, I have been proven wrong; not only have I been proven wrong, I have been completely blown away! This Anime executes the concept almost perfectly. It masters the art of blending comedy and mind games perfectly. One second, you could be on the edge of your seat, and the next you can be laughing your eyes out. It's fast pace and episodic nature have only added to this excitement and have helped prevent it from feeling banal.
A war wouldn’t be possible without two sides now, would it? That’s where the 2 leads come in. You’ve got your genius high school guy – Shirogane Miyuki – and an equally competent girl – Shinomiya Kaguya – vying to get the other to confess their love to them as their pride won’t allow them to do the same. Thus, they do what any normal person would do when they want to confess to their crush; they start fabricating incredibly extra, but at the same time kind of believable, scenarios in order to be confessed to. You know, your typical high school antics. And thus, the scheme to psychologically manipulate the other to confess their love is initiated by both sides, which, inevitably paves the path for some engrossing mind battles between the teens masquerading as being far more intelligent than they actually are. In the introductory episodes, Shirogane and Kaguya are somehow utterly oblivious about the infatuation that each has for the other, and that’s the crux of the show. Every episode is divided into three separate segments, each placing the characters in an unpleasantly awkward situation, with the characters using their wits to parade around the problem at hand, which gives rise to some tense as well as some hilarious moments.
Kaguya is the Vice President of the student council and she has it all. She’s intelligent, attractive and is from a pretty distinguished and wealthy family. She’s your typical high-school tsundere, or at least that’s what I thought in the beginning. She has the trademarks of a quintessential tsundere, but she actually is not peevish and doesn’t go around killing the main character. She also has her cute side that she shows every once in a while, and trust me, it’s cute. On the other hand, Shirogane is a transfer student from somewhere unknown and is also the student council president. He’s intelligent, but unlike Kaguya, he’s not from a posh background. These 2 characters wouldn’t be as special as they currently are if one of them wasn’t there. The chemistry between them is simply extraordinary. The two of them complement each other and play off of each other magnificently.
Obviously, the show doesn’t consist of just Kaguya and Shirogane. We also have the incredibly quirky side characters. Starting with Chika, who’s an adorable member of the student council. She adds a dumb, but rather interesting take on things, and has had her fair share of hilarious and adorable moments. She massively helps with the process of keeping things fresh, cute and cuddly. I would’ve been fully content with the dynamic of Kaguya vs Shirogane with Chika interfering, but they felt the need of adding one more student council member, and what a decision that turned out to be. It might’ve taken him a while to make his first appearance, but the true star of the show is Ishigami, the student council’s “Treasurer”. He adds quite a unique perspective to the show. His acerbic and brutally honest nature helps make his interactions with all of the characters funny and entertaining (Especially with Kaguya). I honestly wouldn’t mind if they made a spin-off of Kaguya-Sama showcasing his day to day life, that honestly would be better than a lot of the stuff that comes out every season. He’s arguably Kaguya-Sama’s best character, and that’s massive statement considering the great characters this show already possesses. We also have other side characters such as Kaguya’s maid and Shirogane’s sister, who I could care less about right now, but they’ll hopefully grow on me with time and more focus put on them (In the next season).
We have the Narrator of the show. This show contains inner monologues, a lot of them, but instead of the show adding even MORE inner monologues (which aren’t bad per say, but they’re better when they’re not overdone) they’ve decided to go with the narrator route. The narrator in Kaguya-sama really reminds me of the one from Kaiji. He’s loud, explains important parts of the show (sometimes over-explains which may be a hit or miss for some, but it definitely was a hit for me), and like the narrator from Kaiji, he has also faced a large amount of hate, with people calling him annoying, unfunny, disruptive and more. I do agree, he did feel a bit disruptive in the beginning, but ever since episode 2, I felt that the studio had really found the right amount of when to add him and when not to add him, which has prevented him from being annoying and more of the opposite. This addition is a massive plus for the show, because I think that the narrator has a valuable insight on what the characters are thinking, while providing pretty enjoyable and funny commentary that has enhanced most of the scenes that he’s been a part of.
I was a bit scared, when I heard A1 pictures were going to adapt this show, but I’m genuinely impressed now that I have watched it. The visuals might seem a bit boring and mundane looking at first, but once the comedic scenes hit, that’s when Kaguya-Sama’s visuals truly shine. The large amount of detail on some of the pieces of imagery you’ll see alongside the fantastic dialogue and masterclass directing, will make you crack up. Seriously, this is easily one of best visually directed shows I’ve seen this season. I love the way it shifts around in so many styles, you feel that the studio are having a blast making this. Considering A1 pictures were the ones making this, I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved the character designs. Each character is easily distinguishable and looks visually appealing. I also couldn’t help myself from fawning over the amount of adorable expressions Kaguya and Chika made! Sometimes I find myself just pausing the episode and just admiring them (It does sound kind of creepy, but you really will understand what I mean once you watch the show lol).
The voice actors really do their job fantastically, and are one of the main reasons why I’ve opted to keep watching the anime instead of switching to the manga. It doesn’t feel like they’re reading off of a script. Be it the Kaguya’s banter with Shirogane, Chika being adorable or the portrayal of Ishigami’s depressed nihilism, the voices feel natural. I also love the jazzy vibe the opening gives off and it’s a must watch every episode. Even though I love all of these things, the true star here is the ending, it’s so adorable and mesmerizing, to the point where you really feel the passion and the effort that A1 have put into this project. If that ending isn’t enough to convince you to watch the show, then I don’t know what will! Also, I have to give a special mention to that fantastic Chika Ed. That ending song was amazing! It had dazzling, and almost hypnotic animation, and an equally captivating and adorable song. Seriously, it’s arguably better than the other Ed, and why it hasn’t made another appearance in the show is one of life’s biggest mysteries. It’s a clear reminder of how if a studio doesn’t half ass everything and actually try their best at making something, they can create something truly special. If you haven’t watched it yet, then I implore you to get off of MAL and watch it for God’s sake.
Overall, Kaguya-Sama has been a major success and has been praised by fans and critics alike, and for once, I honestly think it deserves every single praise it gets. It was a refreshing take on the oversaturated rom-com setting and was able to overcome some of the inveterate traits found in other anime in the genre. Don’t take the score I have given this review so lightly; I don’t give 9’s too often.