Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2
Episode 5

by Amy McNulty,

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Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 ?

With election season in full swing, Kaguya-sama: Love is War turns in another top-form installment. This week's first two segments revolve around a notable change in Miyuki's appearance—his eyes. No longer bound by student council work, he now has three extra hours to himself every evening, enabling him to get a good night's rest and ridding him of his intensely sleep-deprived eyes. Although the rest of the student body now finds him more approachable, Kaguya, having preferred Miyuki's usual eyes, is less than thrilled about this change. Fearing that finding him less physically attractive means her love for Miyuki isn't true, Kaguya receives advice on the matter from Kashiwagi, Chika, and Ishigami. In the end, it's Ishigami's advice—no one can truly love another person without a little bit of self-interest—that replenishes Kaguya's faith in her feelings for Miyuki. Even more fortuitous is the fact that Miyuki's tireless work on his reelection campaign has made him sleepier than ever, thereby making him more attractive than ever according to Kaguya's tastes.

Kaguya's disdain for Miyuki's fresh-faced look nicely illustrates how bizarre (and hilarious) their relationship is. At the same time, her reaction to Miyuki's altered appearance and subsequent fear of what it says about her feelings for him should be relatable to virtually anyone who's been in a relationship or had a long-term crush. While it's clear that Kaguya and Miyuki's feelings for one another run deeper than physical attraction, a sudden dramatic change in a potential partner's appearance is bound to have some effect on the dynamic. (Chika, as usual, unknowingly drives the knife in deeper by calling relationships based purely on physical attraction fake.) Kaguya going weak at the knees upon seeing Miyuki as a lumbering zombie as Kashiwagi watches in horror is one of the episode's biggest laughs and serves as a great example of the series' ability to split the difference between comedic payoffs and emotional payoffs.

This week's third segment finds musical prodigy Chika giving music lessons to the painfully tone-deaf Miyuki after discovering that he's been mouthing the lyrics to Shuchiin's anthem at the school's weekly assemblies. Even though she vowed to never again tutor Miyuki after last season's volleyball fiasco, Chika is ultimately moved by her student's genuine desire to sing with his classmates and helps him overcome the tone-deafness that's embarrassed him for years. Her maternal instinct kicked into high gear, Chika can't help but break down in tears upon seeing Miyuki comfortably belt out the school's anthem at the next assembly. It's a surprisingly heavy emotional moment that's broken up by some well-timed super-deformity.

Since Chika so often serves as the show's wild card and agent of chaos, it's easy to forget that she's among Shuchiin's most gifted students and extremely capable in her own right. Unlike Kaguya and Miyuki, her actions generally aren't governed by blatant self-interest or ulterior motives, and even though she often appears flighty and oblivious to certain situations, she's always willing to throw down for a friend—even one as trying as Miyuki. While teaching Miyuki how to sing doesn't put her through the wringer quite as badly as giving him volleyball lessons, her exasperated reactions to his epic tone-deafness are consistently amusing, especially when juxtaposed to her usual cheery demeanor. In the end, the narrator hands both her and her student one of the show's most well-earned victories.

In this week's final segment, Kaguya meets with Miko one-on-one and attempts to win over her formidable new adversary. Having done ample research on Miko's background (or having Hayasaka do it, anyway), Kaguya offers to back her bid for student council president, provided she sit out this election and run again next year. Unamenable to this proposal, Miko proclaims that Kaguya is just as bad as Miyuki, and that the two of them are made for each other—an insult that has the complete opposite of the intended effect on its target. She also vows to make Kaguya and Miyuki part of her new student council in the hope of teaching them proper morals—a prospect Kaguya is happy to get behind. However, when Miko reveals that romance would be banned in her administration and that Chika is her V.P. pick, Kaguya's joy turns to pure terror.

The confrontation between Kaguya and Miko proves hilarious, with Kaguya taking most of Miko's insults as compliments and most of her threats as something to look forward to because of the unintentional implications of romance between her and Miyuki. Despite only appearing in one story this week, Miko more than makes the most of her limited screen time. She still embodies a character archetype that's appeared in countless high school comedies, but fortunately, this particular archetype works well when paired with strong personalities like Kaguya and Miyuki. Her unflappable pureness and commitment to her principles make her a worthy opponent for someone as ruthless and conniving as Kaguya, who has no qualms about bending the rules to get what she wants. She's also one of the few characters who's able to instill fear in Kaguya, who's usually on the supply side of terror.

With the student council election on tap for next week, we're likely in for an eventful installment. Although Miko has yet to be fully woven into the Kaguya-sama dynamic to which we've grown accustomed, the results of the election will hopefully provide her with a clearly defined role in the gang's adventures moving forward.

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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