When The Head Fights The Heart – ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 1 Review

When The Head Fights The Heart – An Anime QandA Review for ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 1


What’s the show? Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Episode 1.

So how’s this episode? Why does it seem like this season all the really popular shows I’m having trouble connecting with or finding lots of faults with? Like ‘Rising of the Shield Hero’, ‘The Promised Neverland’, ‘Domestic Girlfriend’ and now ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ all these super popular shows and I’m just left picking at faults.

Maybe you’re an anime hipster and are just picking on what’s popular? I knew you were going to say that, but no. I think it’s more the louder I hear resounding praise for something en-masse, the more I’m likely to think critically about the faults I find in something. Whereas something that’s being ignored or overlooked or derided I tend to sell the positives more (assuming it’s a show that has positives of course).

The horror!

Right, and so I take it by that little introduction of yours that you had issues with this show? Kind of, and it’s going to be one of those annoying posts where I can’t help but refer to the manga, because I actually read–and reviewed–the manga source material (well 3 volumes so far) and it’s left me with an issue that I simply can’t overlook.

Care to elaborate on what it’s about first? Oh right, sure. So it’s about Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane, high school vice president and president respectively. They are both extremely intelligent, strong-willed and determined individuals. Who also happen to be secretly crushing on one another. What’s more they’re both under the delusion that admitting one’s feelings first or “confessing” is a sign of weakness that’s completely unacceptable and so neither wants to be the first to confess. What this means is that they’re constantly playing mind games with each other in an attempt to get the other person to trip up and admit their feelings first.

That’s the show.

Well that sounds like it could be a lot of fun. And it is! Except the narrator in this show… I found him really overbearing to the point that I felt like some of the charm of the exchanges between the two leads was lost. Maybe it was because as a reader I tend to put less emphasis on narration and more on dialogue as I’m reading manga in my head. So the fact this anime had such a commanding and attention grabbing voice do the narration kind of felt like I was watching something drastically different to what I was had heard in my head.

Such a good looking show though!

Maybe this is exactly how the author intended it to be read? Maybe. Probably, even. I’m sure the mangaka told them exactly how it was supposed to be. And I respect that, I also respect the notion that a manga and anime can be different and exist together after all sometimes the adaptive process makes things more interesting or allows for a different spin on the original story. But not only do I think the narration is overbearing and a little obnoxious, but I think it dumbs down what is an otherwise smartly written series. And I don’t know, maybe this is ~exactly~ how it was in the manga, I have a terrible memory and can’t be bothered walking to the other room to do a side-by-side comparison of the two but it almost felt like the narrator was over-explaining things that were abundantly obvious in the scene.


So it sounds like that’s a pretty big hurdle for you to clear. What does this mean for you going forward and watching the show? It hasn’t ~ruined~ the show by any means, it’s just… an adjustment. Had I not read the manga I dare say I would have enjoyed this style of narration as it’s very Japanese and reminded me of some programs I’d watch on TV while on holidays in Japan. And unless it dials it back in future episodes I might simply have to force myself to separate the manga version and the anime version so I can enjoy myself without making this blog into a weekly bitch-fest.

The old VHS aesthetic is pretty freakin’ nice though. 

Right so other than the narrator you enjoyed yourself? Yep! It’s a good-looking show that aesthetically evokes the look I was hoping it would. Kaguya is the adorable Wednesday Addams type of girl I always crushed on as a teenager and I want to marry her and the show is funny and smart and entertaining! My complaints shouldn’t really factor into an overall recommendation of this first episode and if you aren’t already watching it, you probably should because you’ll likely enjoy the experience!

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Author: Cactus Matt

I love anime and more recently manga too. What else do I need to write here?

12 thoughts on “When The Head Fights The Heart – ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 1 Review”

  1. Lucky the narrator didn’t bother me that much, but maybe it would if I’m to binge-watch this. It did remind me of Hunter x Hunter’s chimera arc, about the time of the climax of the battle, though. That one frustrated me with all the narration.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It only bothered me compared to what I was expecting, I’ll just have to adjust me expectations going forward. But yeah some shows need to learn to keep narration to a minimum and let the show speak for itself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Do you think the quality of the voice has something to do with it? Do you think you’d still be bothered had the narrator be more on the high-pitched side? Just curious haha

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Then again, Kaguya is one of those manga that really took advantage of the fact that it’s a manga, so there might be a lot of manga things that don’t work as well in animeland

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I too found the narrator to significantly damage my enjoyment of the show. As Lumi comments, maybe it’s necessary in the manga to try to convey more of the feeling and explanation of what’s going on, but I found it to be a weak device compared to actually *showing* the things that he was saying. And with it all in that strident and overbearing voice, it was really fatiguing. It was almost like I wanted to ask “Are you a character in this show? If not, then let the characters be the show.”

    Other people said how funny they found this show, and I really just didn’t think any of the funny situations landed, because there was always the narrator getting in the way.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oof, hit send too soon by mistake. What I was trying to say was the show seems like it was afraid people wouldn’t get the “joke” of the show and double-downed on the narrator gimmick just to be sure.


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