Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Episode 3

by Amy McNulty,

How would you rate episode 3 of
Kaguya-sama: Love is War ?

Kaguya-sama: Love is War delivers another reliably hilarious installment this week, while also finding room for a little bit of heart. While episode 3's first two segments are very in much in keeping with the formula established in the previous two outings, its third story marks a notable departure from the usual mind-game-laden shenangians—and the episode is ultimately stronger for it. Even with all the comedy gold that can be mined from Kaguya-sama's core premise, this show isn't afraid to shake things up and give us something different on occasion.

This week's first segment finds the student council trio discussing sex, and the results are every bit as funny as you might think. Kaguya, whose sexual education ended at kissing, believes that one's “first time” refers to their first kiss, and claims to have done it many times—most notably with her own family members. This leads a thoroughly shocked Miyuki and Chika to believe that their friend is a sexual deviant with an insatiable incest kink. This segment contains some of the funniest moments the show has given us thus far. The comic timing is pitch-perfect, and the misunderstandings reach such a level of absurdity that it becomes hard not to laugh out loud at them. It's also quite telling that despite her fascination with romance, the heavily-sheltered Kaguya is completely ignorant concerning physical intercourse. Although the jokes venture into squicky territory, Kaguya's naiveté sets the stage for some fantastic comedy. While she hasn't always come out on top, this marks one of the few times Kaguya is utterly destroyed in her efforts to bait Miyuki—though she won't admit her mistake in the end.

In the second segment, Kaguya and Miyuki play a game of 10 Questions (i.e. 20 Questions cut in half) after the latter claims to possess a solid understanding of the vice-president's personality. However, Kaguya attempts to use this game as a way to force a roundabout love confession out of Miyuki. Although her plan almost succeeds, Miyuki realizes what she's up to right before submitting his final answer. While not the most ingenious mind game the two have engaged in, it's definitely one of the easiest to follow, which makes Miyuki nearly falling for Kaguya's ruse all the funnier. Viewers should also have fun playing along with the characters and amending their guesses as Kaguya provides more answers. The conclusion is somewhat predictable if you, like Miyuki, have come to guess that Kaguya is always one step ahead of the most obvious answer, but it's a commendable effort on her part nonetheless and offers Miyuki a chance to show off his cunning, too.

The third and final segment finds Kaguya walking to school after a cat lodges itself under the hood of her chauffeur's vehicle. Although she intends to arrange a “chance encounter” with Miyuki along the way, she ultimately abandons this plan to escort a visibly upset child to school. Throughout the segment, we're given glimpses of how Kaguya's privileged upbringing has isolated her from her peers, which helps make her more empathetic than usual. After seeing the child off and resigning herself to being late, she unexpectedly encounters Miyuki, running late himself and furiously pedaling his bicycle. Insisting that student council members should set a good example, Miyuki allows Kaguya to ride on the back of his bike, reasoning that school rules take priority over traffic laws.

This segment is noteworthy for several reasons. For starters, it's the first time an entire story has been set outside the confines of the student council room. Secondly, it doesn't revolve around one of Kaguya and Miyuki's trademark mind games. Despite romance being one of the central themes, this show thrives on mean-spirited humor and beaten-down characters—which makes this segment that much more of a departure. Both Kaguya and Miyuki come across as genuinely nice in this story, and in letting their respective guards down, they both experience a minor victory in the end. Like Gintama and Mr. Osomatsu before it, Kaguya-sama realizes that an occasional dose of heart makes a good palate cleanser after a heaping helping of meanness.

Rating: A-

Kaguya-sama: Love is War is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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

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