Casualties Of Love – ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Full Season Review

Casualties Of Love – A Full Season Review for ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’


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

And what’s it about? At an elite high school two geniuses are engaged in a daily struggle for supremacy. Kaguya Shinomiya–a sophisticated girl from one of Japan’s wealthiest families and Miyuki Shirogane–a hard working boy whose also the student council president. Their battleground is Shujiin Academy and their fight is for each other’s hearts. They both have crushes on one-another but refuse to confess their feelings first because (in their eyes) to be doing so first would be to become the loser in their unspoken ‘war’. This over-the-top romantic comedy follows their exploits at school as they play mind games in order to get the other person to confess first.

Everything is a battle for supremacy for these two!

So it’s kind of like…? I’ve seen the comparison (even before the series aired–in reference to the manga) as a sort of ‘Death Note’ style “battle of the brains” except it’s a romantic comedy. And while it’s an apt comparison for both the narrative arc (so far) and the visual style (kinda emo) it fails to reflect one massive factor that ‘Kaguya-sama’ has over ‘Death Note’.

Oh and what’s that? This show has a heart–a massive, angsty, childish, beating heart that’s not so evident at the start but as the series continues and layers a stripped from the surface the raw emotion of the series begins to show–and it’s all the more beautiful for it.

Can’t get enough of that Kaguya blush.

Right, but we’re not going to spend all review comparing it to ‘Death Note’ are we? Of course not, this series deserves to be judged on its own merits and it’s merits are strong. Personally, I think the first two episodes are the weakest and work against the show’s overall intent but once that hurdle is cleared it’s smooth sailing from there on out.

When you’re right, you’re right!

And the characters? They’ve all got their good points and bad points, the strengths and weaknesses–and that’s what makes them so interesting. Sure there’s a level of cliche built into their archetypes but they’re also presented as uniquely human characters with original thoughts and unexpected reactions to events brought before them. If we’re to talk about the four main characters, Yu Ishigami–the introverted, “gamer” who ends up with his proverbial foot in his own mouth is about the closest thing to an audience analogue–he’s also something of a whipping boy and that speaks volumes of what the author thinks of its audience–but that’s a subject for another day. Then… then there’s Chika… *contented sighs*

Hello? You still there? Oh sorry, caught me daydreaming of Chika again! I do that from time to time.

Chika dances in my dreams.

Uh-huh, and what’s so interesting about Chika? Chika is the quintessential “manic pixie dream girl” trope, she’s high energy, high comedy and high cuteness. If Chika were an element in the atmosphere she’d be oxygen because I can’t live without her. Simply put, Chika is the best thing to happen to anime in all of 2018 and we should all be thankful to have lived at the same time as her…

So, she’s best girl then, yeah? Yeah. Pretty much…

This is fun!

And what about the actual two main characters, you know the romantic couple this show is actually about? They’re great. In fact anything less than a committed performance from either of these voice actors could have sunk this show but they deliver their all throughout and it is remarkable to behold. Shirogane–while usually deadpan on the surface moans and wails and even shrieks as we’re privy to his inner-monologue and it’s comedy gold every time as well as being relatable. Truthfully though it’s the titular Kaguya who steals the show. Sure, Chika is a blessed goldmine of waifu material but Kaguya is a layered and multi-faceted character played to perfection by her VA Aoi Koga–a relative newcomer to the industry but one worthy of all the awards. Plus her dark ‘Wednesday Addams’-esque aesthetic reminds me of my various crushes (both real and fictional) from being a teenager and there’s something pleasantly nostalgic about that.

If looks could kill…

And anything you didn’t like about the show? Well as I briefly touched upon earlier (and made more of a mention of in my episode 1 review) initially the narrator is overbearing to the point of killing any kind of connection to the characters. He over-explains things as if people won’t understand what’s going on and interrupts the flow of almost every scene. Thankfully by the third episode entire scenes go by without his presence, his ‘enthusiasm’ is lessened and he’s used only when necessary. Suffice to say that had the narrator stayed the same as he was in the first two episodes this show would have been almost unwatchable. So if you’re on the fence about the show after a couple of episodes give it a couple more to see what the show actually ends up feeling like.

Some of the best scenes in the show were between Kaguya and her maid, Ai.

So final recommendation and score for ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’? As far as a romantic-comedy with this kind of ‘gimmick’ goes it commits to it wholeheartedly and sells it too–while some people might find it silly I think it’s painfully endearing to the point where I can’t imagine the show without it. If you’re in the mood for a romantic comedy with “brains” (but not necessarily “smarts”) this is a fantastic and surprisingly heartwarming show. Love is all you need: 90 out of 100.

Let’s hope they live happily ever after, some day…

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Settling Down – ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 3 Review

Settling Down – An Anime QandA Review for ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 3


What’s the show? Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Episode 3.

So how’s this episode? Seemingly minor but nonetheless noticeable improvements each week adding up to an overall more cohesive, satisfying and enjoyable anime experience!

Okay, so what’s changed that’s made the show better? The narrator is becoming less prevalent content to longer lead scenes but rather occasionally comment where necessary. In fact the third segment of the episode (and the best so far of the series) was almost entirely devoid of his overbearing presence and it absolutely shined as a result. Although that probably has something to do with the fact that it had the most heart and character development of any of the segments so far too.

Relatable/10. Jk.

Skipping to the end as usual I see… No if I was skipping to the end I’d be talking about the new ED sequence which after being alerted to a 10 hour version of I literally watched for about an hour before going to bed. It’s just that good!

Okay, calm down. Let’s go back to the start of the episode and work our way from there? First segment? So turns out Kaguya’s led and ~exceptionally~ sheltered life. To The point where she thought “doing it” meant kissing. And the series of misunderstandings as Kaguya lists all the people she’s “done it with” (her parents, a baby, a dog) while Miyuki and Chika watch on in confusion/terror was wonderful. And it’s got some of the best visual cues of the show so far, almost working like a little short-film.


And the second segment? The second segment, while cute, was a little bit on the middling side, with a game of 20 questions played in order to embarrass Miyuki and with a punch line I guessed from the start.

Is it filled with particle effects in here or is it just me?

Right and the much lauded third segment? Simply put Kaguya takes an opportunity to walk to school–something she’s always dreamed of doing, but her affluent standing never meant it possible. On the way she helps a crying school girl cross the street and then walks with her the rest of the way which ends up with her late for school. By some coincidence Miyuki rushes past on his bike, only to be stopped at the traffic lights where he notices Kaguya. Frantic about the two of them both being late (and setting a bad example) they forgo the pretense and ride together on his bike–Kaguya treasuring every moment of this rare event. It might seem simple on paper but everything about this segment is expertly executed, it’s sweet and reflective and casts Kaguya in a different light than we’ve previously seen. This isn’t about her trying to outwit her love-interest, this is just a girl enjoying a youthful moment which she’s bound to relive happily for years to come. Quite frankly, it was beautiful.

Simply wonderful.

Well, certainly seems like you’ve turned a page on this anime, I’d qualify this as an almost “glowing” review. Well to quote the irlwaifu after watching this episode “where was that show hiding?!” And while I personally don’t think the previous two episodes were as bad as she thought I do admit the improvement felt palpable. If the show can retain this level and seek to improve throughout, then the show will indeed live up to the hype that many of the manga readers foist upon it.


Oh, we almost forgot to talk about the ED. Do you want to do that before we finish? There’s nothing to say other than it’s one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. Chika has achieved god-tier waifu status from just this 1:30 of video alone. But why settle for 90 seconds of it when you can have 10 hours!

Previous ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ Reviews:

When The Head Fights The Heart – Episode 1 Review
Battle Of Attrition – Episode 2 Review

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Battle Of Attrition – ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 2 Review

Battle Of Attrition – An Anime QandA Review for ‘Kaguya-sama: Love Is War’ Episode 2


What’s the show? Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Episode 2.

How’s this episode? I worry about this series.

Why’s that? While I feel like this is a technically impressive adaptation of a manga and visually is very eye-catching and appealing I don’t think the jump to anime has done the story and pacing of this comedy in favours. And that’s not a slight on the voice actors–who are all very good–especially Kaguya who is ticking all my best girl boxes (well most of them). I just can’t help but feel there’s one thing holding it ba–IT’S THE NARRATOR, I HATE THE NARRATOR IT’S RUINING THE SHOW.

*lightning sound effects intensify*

Whoa. Calm down there buddy, no need to break out the caps lock. I’m sorry, it’s just that I feel like the narrator is such a detracting force here that it undercuts a lot of the jokes, it spoils any sense of intimacy and it breaks the immersion of the show entirely. I know the manga had a narrator too, but I didn’t read the narration parts in a booming voice in my head. And what’s more, when making an adaptation of a manga you don’t literally have to put ~everything~ from the manga on screen, a good director would have known to keep the narration out of the actual ‘skits’ and have the dialogue (or internal monologues) speak for themselves.

Still a visually brilliant.

Yes, you complained about it ~at length~ last week. Well sorry if I’m sounding like a broken record it’s just an absolute hindrance to my enjoyment at this stage and I have to articulate it as my duty as a reviewer.

Okay. So other than that, is the show otherwise fine. Ehhh~.

I mean when you’re on the receiving ends of such looks a man is bound to worry.

What now? You know I’m a slut for anime comedies, I’ll take any and all and with a smile on my face the whole time but I feel like that even I may got bored of this kind of humour. While it is occasionally smart and quippy and biting, it’s also a game of constantly outdoing the other and while I’m sure it will retain its current level of quality it also doesn’t really allow for a lot of character growth. Individual character development for sure, there’s plenty of that even in this episode–but the two of them growing together as a couple? That seems unlikely without breaking the ‘Love Is War’ conceit of the series.

I didn’t make this but god she’s so flawless.

Right, and which was your favourite segment of the episode? The beach vs mountains part had its charms (mostly Chika in her bikini, ahem…) but my favourite was Miyuki attempting to give “love” advice to a fellow student wanting to confess to another student. Kaguya’s reactions to overhearing what Miyuki was saying were ~classic~ but most of all, there was hardly any narration at all! And it was so much better for it, I’m crossing my fingers that the narrator continues to take a backseat in future episodes! So all in all it was a flawed but still enjoyable experience, the characters will keep me coming back even in spite of all the other issues the show has.

Bringing out the big guns.

Previous ‘Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War’ Reviews:

When The Head Fights The Heart – Episode 1 Review

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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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