Mutually Assured Seduction – ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ Volume 1 Manga Review

Mutually Assured Seduction – A 20 Question Manga Review of ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ Volume 1

What’s the manga? Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War, Volume One.

Okay, and what’s it about? It’s a ~romantic comedy~.

*gasp* but don’t you mildly dislike those? I do. ‘Grats on remembering.

So why are you reading something like that, I thought you only bought manga that fits into your narrow demographic of interests—the unholy triad of cute girls, ecchi and harem? Also true, but there was a lot of talk around this manga, lot of interesting ‘buzz phrases’ like it was the “romantic-comedy version of Death Note”—which is about as weird a phrase as seeing something called the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street version of Sleepless in Seattle’… actually that’s not half a bad idea…

I was too lazy to get images from my physical copy of the manga so enjoy much better quality scans for this review! Also this isn’t the main couple this is just the intro to establish the manga’s concept.

Focus, focus! So surely it’s got to be more than a ‘marketing gimmick’ that got you interested? Eh? The main girl kinda looked a bit emo and I’m still a sucker for that emo aesthetic at heart. Unfortunately that’s more artistic license than anything specifically character derived—other than her being a stuck-up, high maintenance snob like a lot of the emo girls I knew in high-school…

Uh-oh… already falling out of love with this manga, are we? Let’s be real for a second I was never “in-love” with it to begin with, my experience with this manga is a legitimate roller coaster of emotions. First of all, starting off by saying your female protagonist belongs to one of the wealthiest families in Japan is going to endear me to them precisely ~zero~ percent—nobody likes wealthy people.

I’m sure some people like wealthy people…Yeah other wealthy people!

Moving on…And she’s smart to boot! What am I supposed to do with this information? Just sit in awe as she goes about and excels in everything that I ever failed at?

Power couple… or they would be if one bothered to confess to the other!

Okay, okay we get it; she’s out of your league! But what about the male protagonist? Miyuki? Eh, he’s okay I guess…

That’s all you have to say? I mean, I guess so… kudos where kudos is due, he may be boring but at least he’s not a blank slate. I thoroughly enjoyed his near constant neurosis at being outshone by Kaguya.

So I’m still not sure what your opinion on this manga is… seems like it’s pushing all the wrong buttons with you? Yup. And yet… I kinda love this damn thing!

Uh… wow, okay that’s unexpected! You’re telling me! I did say this was a roller coaster of emotions and that wasn’t some facile buzz phrase, all throughout I felt like I was combatting expectations and preconceptions only to pretty much completely and utterly fall in love with Kaguya and Miyuki’s childish courting ritual.

Mind games! Relationship edition!

Even the titular Kaguya? Her breasts aren’t that big.

What… wait, no, ‘titular’ as in she features in the title! I know I was just trying to make a dirty joke at your expense.

Grrr…Yes! Even Kaguya! While she’s got ample forehead real estate to rival the likes of Takagi-san—there’s something adorably endearing about seeing a thoroughly well-put-together otherwise flawlessly meticulous individual succumb to relationship related anxiousness and insecurities and anxieties… she’s all the more human for her inexperience in the ways of the heart, which to me is far more interesting than the intellectual mind games they put each other through. But then again maybe I’m just not smart enough to keep up with their intellectual antics!

So the whole “romantic comedy version of Death Note”-thing is the least of your interests here? Okay, while I see the appeal of that as a concept, it doesn’t make for the most approachable protagonists—ultimately I found myself enthralled by the mistakes more than the masterpiece, if that makes sense.

I loved the way he always imagined her being way more sadistic than she actually is. Expectations versus reality – the manga.

Sounds like you’re just wanting to make a quotable quote…We all want to seem smarter to our peers, don’t we? That’s just the human way of doing things?

Probably… so anything else you want to add before we wrap up this review? This will make an amazing anime…

Uh… okay? What makes you say that? Somany moments in this manga feel like reading a highly detailed storyboard of an anime, it’s quite uncanny! Reading this manga felt like somehow I’d already seen the show—at least in some parts—and that I was reading an adaption rather than the other way round. And as luck would have it an anime adaption was recently announced! So I won’t have to wait long to see this manga come to life!

Sweet moment.

Great, so final score and recommendation for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War Volume 1? I think—regardless of your feelings on romance as a genre—there’s probably something to be enjoyed about this manga, it’s just a solidly produced piece of literature (do we call manga literature?) that sort of both meets, exceeds and defies expectations. It’s not perfect, in fact there were times where I was actively annoyed at the thing, but likewise there were times where I was entranced—dare I say ~falling~ for this combative romance tale. War is hell, and this is one hell of a manga; 87 out of 100.

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