Final Impressions: Kaguya-sama – Love is War

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Season aired: Winter 2019

Number of episodes: 12

Genres: Romance and Comedy

Thoughts: You know you’re in for a fun ride when the opening song hits, and you fall in love with the entire sequence. As many fans of Kaguya: Love is War have commented, the opening immediately reminds them of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, a popular Hollywood film, only taking place in a school setting instead. I personally think that observation is absolutely brilliant and is honestly the best way to describe this anime: more lighthearted, silly, but just as romantic Mr. and Mrs. Smith.

I really don’t have too much to complain about this anime. From start to finish, I enjoyed every episode and laughed at every ridiculous scene and situation. I found all the characters to be incredibly endearing and though the writing bites hard into stereotypes, it is done so in such a lovable way that I personally didn’t mind any of the clichéd moments at all.

The chemistry between all the characters is genuine, especially between Shirogane, the confident student council president, and Kaguya, the cool-headed vice president. But beneath their veneers are just bumbling teenagers attempting to sort out their pride and feelings for each other without ever having to lose their reputation in the process. However, what really makes their interactions work is that despite all the fun manipulations and games, it’s absolutely undeniable that the two care, respect, and love each other. They are true friends who value each other’s opinions and feelings, and the lengths that each would go when a conflict becomes more emotional than comedic represents some of the realest romance I’ve ever seen in an anime.

The supporting characters add flavor into this otherwise fun story. Chika Fujiwara won many fans over with her famous dance sequence at the end of the third episode, but this pink-haired airhead is a lot smarter than she looks. With the cherry on top, even if she often exacerbates certain situations, she literally fights tooth and nail for the sake of her friends. I have no doubt that if the comedy suddenly disappears, and the world is threatened, she would be on the frontlines with a weapon ready to defend her family and friends.

Yuu Ishigami is the second big support who actually enters the anime at a much later stage than other characters. Yet he quickly makes his mark amongst the audience as he is the person we secretly all are on the inside – cynical, constantly embarrassed, and extremely blunt with our personal opinions and ideas.

Beyond just the characters themselves, the actual writing of scenarios is honestly hilarious. Even if a ridiculous and overdone conflict pops up, the author is capable of cleverly twisting it between the two extremely intelligent and gifted protagonists. They’re able to turn something eye-rolling into something unique and unseen.

Since this is a romantic comedy, the art and animation aren’t things that are so blatantly obvious to notice compared to something like Mob Psycho 100 II from the Winter 2019 season. However, the production value never seems to waver. The expressions of the characters are on point 100% of the time. The music complements every scene to perfection, and the cinematography is done well with the angles of the panels, similar to how a “camera” would pan across a scene.

So dedicated was the team that I could tell that the entire seiyuu cast was absolutely sold with the project. But special recognition specifically goes to Aoi Koga who voices Kaguya. Despite her relatively short resume with her anime roles, Aoi Koga completely embodies Kaguya with her voice. From the confident and calm remarks to her flustered and pure emotional moments, her voice brought in the depth that was hidden behind Kaguya’s character more so than ever. It was pitch-perfect casting.

I can ramble on about how much I enjoyed the anime, but I also understand that it’s not a good fit for everyone. The episodes are largely episodic, so for those who enjoy continuous and linear storylines, they won’t find such aspects in Kaguya: Love is War. The romance, as much as I enjoyed its development, never truly goes anywhere or else the funny interactions between Kaguya and Shirogane would simply end. That, I’m sure, is not what a lot of viewers are hoping for when watching a romance anime. However, without a doubt, Kaguya: Love is War is a unique twist on the romantic comedy genre, and I say you should at least try one episode to see if it matches your tastes before giving up on it because of the hype.

Rating

I am planning to rate all my anime based on the anime rating system that Japanese anime critics use. I will have 5 categories, each with the top score of 10, and then a final multiplier of 2.

Plot: 8

Characters: 8

Voice acting: 8.5

Art/Animation: 8.5

Soundtrack: 7.5

Total: 40.5

Multiplier: 2

FINAL SCORE: 81

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