Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 ?
This week's first story finds Kaguya attempting to ascertain Miyuki's preferred underwear. After Ishigami declares that all men who wear boxer briefs are man whores, Kaguya begins to worry that Miyuki may fall into that category. However, her line of questioning confuses Miyuki, leading him to believe that she's asking him about what type of underwear he'd prefer her to wear. Miyuki's answers to these queries are equally confusing, leading Kaguya to believe that he does indeed wear boxer briefs and causing her to flee the student council room in tears. Miko, who arrives just in time to catch the tail end of this exchange, sees this as evidence that her initial assessment of Miyuki was correct.
In addition to being extremely funny, this story subverts a number of expectations, with men's underwear serving as the focal point for a change. (Chika walking in on Ishigami changing instead of vice versa is both a great gag and effective subversion.) As is often the case for this series, the crux of the humor revolves around misunderstandings, particularly Kaguya's endearing naiveté and Miyuki trying to outfox Kaguya, only to fall flat on his face. Furthermore, every member of the main cast is given a chance to shine, with Ishigami espousing the benefits of briefs, Chika teasing him for his choice of underwear, and Miko being horrified by the chaos she's made herself a part of.
Hoping to make amends for the underwear fiasco, Kaguya decides to give Miyuki a massage in this week's second segment. However, her intentions aren't entirely pure. Not only does she want to square things with Miyuki, she's also hoping her massage will release love-inducing hormones and command his loyalty. Even though Miyuki is cautiously receptive to this idea, there's one big hitch in Kaguya's plan: her massage really hurts. Realizing that Kaguya's lack of finesse is the result of inexperience, Miyuki toughs it out, but when Kaguya wishes to extend the massage to his back, he makes a panicked effort to extricate himself from the situation. Once again, Miko arrives on the scene just in time to catch the main duo in a compromising position, and the confusing language they use only serves to reinforce her belief that they're degenerates.
Another fast-paced, humor-rich story, the consistent juxtaposition between the main characters' respective views of the massage makes for plenty of prime joke opportunities. Although Kaguya believes she's knocking it out of the park and locking down Miyuki's affection, her beloved is experiencing unbelievable physical agony. (Miyuki's willingness to power through the massage is another testament to his kindness.) The misunderstanding this segment closes out on is even funnier than the first story's conclusion. Not only does Miko believe Kaguya and Miyuki are engaged in intercourse, Kaguya's invitation to “join them” suggests an even worse degree of deviancy than Miko originally associated with the duo.
In episode 7's third story, Miyuki finds himself moved to tears by a shojo manga recommended to him by Kei. Since the manga's conclusion made him want to fall in love, he decides to bring the entire series to school and get it in the hands of Kaguya, on whom he hopes it will have the same effect. However, despite high recommendations from both Chika and manga aficionado Ishigami, Kaguya reacts with disinterest. Things get even more off the rails when the gang's attempts at turning her on to the story result in the sharing of spoilers, giving way to yet another misunderstanding with Miko—this one involving duct tape. In the end, unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Kaguya and Hayasaka both read the series and are moved to tears.
Romantic schemes set in place by Miyuki have been relatively sparse this season, and it's fun to see him spearhead the manipulation effort du jour. His plan to have Ishigami be the one to recommend the series to Kaguya shows a degree of caution that's both thoroughly unnecessary and perfectly suited to his penchant for thinking several moves ahead. Since Ishigami has thus far been the only character to show an interest in otaku-ish pursuits, seeing Miyuki and Chika gush over a manga makes for an interesting change of pace. This segment also marks the conclusion of a mini-arc that unfolds throughout the episode: the escalation of Miko's reactions to the unsettling behavior she continually witnesses. Although she flees in terror the first two times, she arms herself with a weapon and throws herself back into the fray when she believes Chika's safety is at risk.
In this week's final segment, the gang (with the exception of Chika, whose interests have moved on to sumo wrestling) has shojo manga on the brain, causing the show's aesthetics to shift to a distinctly shojo style. Believing herself to be the heroine of a shojo manga, Kaguya is now operating under the mindset that both male members of the student council are competing for her affection. This belief is seemingly confirmed when Miyuki and Ishigami begin to argue over how to use two aquarium tickets that Kaguya covertly slipped into a gift from the principal. When Kaguya turns down Miyuki's invitation—because she's already satisfied with seeing him on a daily basis—he's understandably crushed, but in the end, he and Ishigami have a surprisingly fun time going to the aquarium together.
From the flowery aesthetics to the dialogue to the central conflict, this segment is a pitch-perfect send-up of stereotypical shojo manga. Kaguya acting as the naïve, bubbly heroine and the boys filling the brooding suitor roles makes for an effective parody, but the true payoff comes when Chika's abrupt entrance brings things back to reality and facilitates the return of the usual character designs and art style. Ishigami being presented as a viable candidate for Kaguya's affections is another fun highlight, since neither party would realistically embrace this pairing.
With the student council back in business, the gang makes an effortless return to their regular routine—albeit with a new witness to all the chaos. The comedy is as on-point as ever, pushing boundaries and creating deliciously awkward situations throughout the proceedings. Hopefully, though, Miko will soon begin to play a more active role in the coming weeks, as the horrified onlooker schtick is liable to get old if utilized too often.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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