Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 8 of
Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2 ?
While it's great to see Miko become a more active participant in the hijinks, the escalation of Ishigami's rule-breaking makes for some of this segment's biggest laughs. (Eating snacks, playing a game console portable mode, then connecting said console to the TV and getting Miyuki in on the action all put Miko's patience to the ultimate test.) This segment also gives us a fairly good idea of what the Miko/Chika dynamic will look like moving forward. Not only does Miko admire Chika for her musical accomplishments, she's also willing to turn a blind eye to her scheming and seemingly embrace any idea her role model puts forth. Unfortunately, the story becomes bit muddled toward the end, when Kaguya's bungled attempts at looking ugly-cute for the camera become the main focus. In fairness, Kaguya's situation is a vehicle for some great jokes, but the shift in attention makes for a slightly less cohesive story than this series typically tells.
In this week's second segment, Kaguya and Miyuki experience a time-tested rom-com staple: getting locked in a physical education storeroom. Although they pretend to be distraught by their predicament, they're excited by the romantic prospects this situation brings and are convinced that the other party engineered the whole thing (when, in fact, a twig is stuck in the door). However, just as the two are about to share their first kiss, an annoyed Miko enters the scene and catches them in the act. Kaguya, who was becoming increasingly nervous about the whole affair, tearfully runs to embrace her, creating the impression that Miyuki had forced himself on her and prompting the narrator to declare that both main characters lost by a wide margin.
This story makes it even clearer that Kaguya and Miyuki are well aware of each other's feelings—and that rather than aiming to make the other party fall in love, their true goal is getting them to cave and admit their love first. While this sometimes takes some of the playful innocence out of their perpetual battle, the revelation that neither of them is ready for their first kiss makes these evil geniuses naively endearing and suggests that neither party is emotionally prepared to see one of their plans truly succeed. Kaguya and Miyuki being so accustomed to constant scheming that they assume the locked storeroom is the other's handiwork is equal parts funny and depressing. (However, on the plus side, it prevents them from panicking.)
The final segment finds Kaguya being rushed to the hospital and placed under the care of world-renowned cardiologist Shozo Tanuma after experiencing a rapid heartbeat. After receiving Kaguya's rundown of the situation, the doctor posits that she's suffering from lovesickness. (The heart episode occurrs in response to Miyuki removing a strand of lint from her hair.) Unwilling to accept his diagnosis, Kaguya insists that Dr. Tanuma give her a full examination, the results of which reveal that her heart is perfectly healthy. (Since Kaguya has a weak constitution and her mother died of heart disease, a more serious issue was feared to be at play.) In the end, a flustered Kaguya is too proud and embarrassed to tell a concerned Miyuki that he was the cause of the problem.
The manner in which this segment begins suggests that it may be one of the show's more serious offerings, which ultimately makes Dr. Tanuma's diagnosis that much funnier. Though it's strange that Kaguya is only now experiencing physical manifestations of lovesickness, her insistence on second-guessing one of the country's most prominent physicians makes for a consistently amusing story. (Kaguya cutting him off as he begins to share the story of his own first love is a particularly funny moment.) Still, the ever-reliable Hayasaka emerges as the MVP, with her exasperated embarrassment throughout the story making the whole situation more and more squirm-inducing. (Although it is a bit harsh for her to consider Kaguya an embarrassment immediately after the doctor shares his diagnosis, as Kaguya herself initially had no idea what was wrong with her. Better safe than sorry!)
Despite its introductory segment losing focus toward the end, episode 8 is another strong installment in a consistently strong season. In subverting common dramatic tropes—the couple locked in a storeroom together, the gravely ill love interest—this week's second and third segments deliver an abundance of clever, well-timed jokes and put the vulnerabilities of both lead characters on full display.
Amy is an author who has loved anime for over two decades.
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