Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2
Episode 4

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 4 of
Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 ?

Breaking away from the previous installment's somber mood, this week's Kaguya-sama: Love is War ups the wackiness and delivers three energetic, joke-laden tales. Episode 4's first story finds Kaguya on edge as a result of Miyuki withdrawal. Depressed and highly irritable, Kaguya gets into an argument with Hayasaka and posits that her loyal servant wouldn't be able to woo Miyuki—a challenge that Hayasaka readily accepts. After approaching Miyuki at a bookstore, Hayasaka, in her “Smithee Hayasaca” foreigner disguise, adopts a more agreeable persona and embellishes her backstory in the hope of winning over her target, who's completely unaware that he's being played. However, when she goes in for the kill and asks him out, Miyuki promptly turns her down, stating that he already has someone he likes. Despite being the most emotionally-collected member of the cast, Hayasaka is actively distraught by this rejection.

A situation in which the perpetually stoic Hayasaka isn't in complete control of her emotions makes for a fun change of pace. As evidenced by her actions this week, even the Shinomiya family's robotic servant has her limits—and while Hayasaka is usually able to temper her pride, Kaguya is more than capable of pushing her buttons. In fact, Hayasaka is pushed so far this week that she's driven to seduce someone for whom she has no feelings in an effort to prove a point and prop up her ego. At the same time, Kaguya's insistence on dragging out a battle to win a heart that's clearly already hers makes Hayasaka's initial frustration with the situation all the more understandable. In the end, she puts in an admirably devious effort, but Miyuki's devotion to Kaguya is difficult to overcome, and as Hayasaka claims (perhaps in an attempt to nurse her damaged ego), she never really thought she could seal the deal in a single day. A visibly upset Hayasaka being comforted by a flustered Kaguya is an excellent role reversal for the two.

In this week's second story, election season is underway, and Miyuki's campaign needs the assistance of a Shuchiin lifer. However, when trying to recruit Kaguya, he makes some word choices that are open to interpretation and inadvertently sets the school's rumor mill abuzz. By the time Miyuki meets with Kaguya to formally make his request, they have the entire student body as an audience. Although Kaguya is disappointed to discover that this isn't the love confession she expected, the colorful body language she employs while answering in the affirmative further piques the student body's interest, prompting the duo to flee as their classmates doggedly pursue them. (Chika's obliviousness to the situation and constant spurring-on of Miyuki is a highlight here.)

Both Kaguya and Miyuki often capitulate to pressure, so the entire student body serving as an audience to their afterschool meetup really ratchets up the stakes. Since the duo's mental jousts are usually contained to the student council room, with Chika and Ishigami serving as the only onlookers, they've never encountered peer pressure of this magnitude. Being intelligent, Miyuki realizes he can no longer simply ask Kaguya to help with his reelection, but true to character, he won't allow himself to issue a confession, either, and in the end, they both manage to come out on top. Interestingly, even though both parties have attempted to weaponize peer pressure in the past, Kaguya opts not to take advantage of Miyuki's plight and instead delicately extricates him from the situation. This segment is also notable for shedding some additional light on Miyuki's reasons for wanting Kaguya to confess first—given the stark differences between their respective backgrounds, he believes that Kaguya being the party to relent is the only way the two could enter into a relationship on equal footing.

The third and final segment marks the introduction of Miko Iino, a Shuchiin freshman and Miyuki's chief rival in the polls. A member of the school's Public Morals Committee and an overachiever to the core, Miko is able to rattle the cages of both Miyuki and Ishigami. Whereas Miyuki is hoping to coast by on name recognition, Miko is taking measures to expose the student body to her intricate political platform. (She's even able to woo Chika away from the home team through authentic flattery.) Although Miyuki is noticeably shaken after his initial encounter with Miko, he soon realizes that Ishigami's repeated insistence that she's nothing to worry about may actually ring true. One look at her stringently upright platform alleviates Miyuki's worries and prompts Chika to defect from her campaign.

Miko is a potentially interesting addition to the main cast, though how much of a regular she'll become remains to be seen. Her strict, no-nonsense approach to student life could make for an entertaining juxtaposition to Kaguya and Miyuki, who project perfection but harbor their fair share of depravity. Hardnosed Morals Committee members are a dime a dozen in high school comedies, but if Kaguya-sama's track record is any indication, the series will hopefully find ways to make this character archetype feel fresh. Intellect-wise, she appears to be more than a match for the main duo, and it's fun to see Miyuki become agitated by someone other than Kaguya for a change. Additionally, her admiration of Chika not only makes for some hilarious Fujiwara moments, it also provides a good counterbalance to Kaguya and Miyuki's habit of giving her the short shrift.

This week's Kaguya-sama: Love Is War powers through three equally engaging stories, with the final segment giving us a brand new character. Though relatively short, Miko's first outing serves as a perfect encapsulation of her character, right down to the rivalry she apparently sparks in both Miyuki and Ishigami. All that's left to see is how Kaguya herself will get along with the unshakable newcomer.

Rating:

Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 is currently streaming on Funimation.

Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.


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