Kaguya-sama: Love is War
by Amy McNulty,
How would you rate episode 7 of
Kaguya-sama: Love is War ?
With Shuchiin Academy's student council now fully assembled, Kaguya-sama: Love is War takes a break from the usual mind games between its two leads to showcase three stories in which all four principal characters play off one another's eccentricities. Within the span of a single episode, we learn that Ishigami is more lecherous than initially hinted, Chika is capable of genuine anger, and Kaguya was thoroughly unapproachable prior to her time in the student council. Whereas Kaguya and Shirogane have largely dominated most of the previous installments, episode 7 feels like more of an ensemble comedy than an intricate battle of wits between two gifted individuals.
This week's first segment sees the re-emergence of the young man Shirogane provided romantic assistance to in episodes 2 and 5. Now that he and his girlfriend have been dating for a month, the boy seeks Miyuki's help in taking things to the next level—hand holding. According to Miyuki, creating the ideal conditions for this will require his protégé to earn money with a part-time job. Renting a boat, obtaining a license to operate one, and receiving surgery for his hyperhidrosis will cost the young man roughly 200,000 yen, but before he's able to commit to getting a job, Kaguya and Chika swoop in to undo Shirogane's damage.
Although Miyuki's romantic advice is as misguided as ever, the pointers he drops this week are a lot more practical than his tips from episode 2. They also provide some insight into the way he views romantic engagements in general. As evidenced by his frequent battles with Kaguya, Shirogane believes matters of the heart require meticulous planning—and people who approach relationships without sufficient research will emerge as losers. (Even though much of this rings true for Kaguya, she still possesses enough common sense to realize how bad his advice is.) In the end, ditching careful planning in favor of spontaneity gives the young man the desired result, and it's no coincidence that both Kaguya and Miyuki's biggest victories occur when they drop their guards in a similar fashion.
The second segment finds Shirogane and Ishigami deciding how best to allocate funding for the school's various clubs. It doesn't take long for Ishigami to launch into a bitter tirade about his disdain for the boys who join sports clubs and the lack of attention they pay to the girlfriends they're able to attract through being part of said clubs. He also offers his thoughts on Kaguya and Fujiwara's club activities (Kaguya's in the archery club, and Chika's in the board games club) and proceeds to crudely objectify them, completely unaware that both girls are standing directly behind him. After scaring Ishigami off, Kaguya and Chika try to lure Miyuki to their respective clubs. Due to his part-time job, he doesn't have time to join a club, but since he enjoys being fought over, he decides to wait a bit before telling them.
In addition to providing a number of solid laughs, this segment is notable for showing off a new side of Ishigami. Although the previous installment made it clear that the boy is neurotic and anxiety-prone, he never really gave off the impression of being outright hateful or perverse. (In hindsight, his comment about Chika's new conditioner may have served as a clue.) Instead of opining that archery is the perfect hobby for a budding assassin, he opts to comment on Kaguya's physical attributes, which seems slightly inconsistent with his attitude towards her in other stories. If anything, objectifying her would provide her with more of a reason to want to kill him. True, he didn't realize she was in the room when he made the comments, but if he's truly as terrified of her as he claims to be, it's hard to believe he'd take that chance. While Ishigami's newly-revealed bitterness and mild perversion make him slightly less sympathetic, they do set the stage for some funny moments and help prevent him from feeling like a one-note character.
This week's final segment begins with Kaguya reflecting on her pre-student council days. Despite being unapproachable and disdainful of her peers, she always had a loyal friend in Fujiwara—whom she resolves to start treating better. However, no sooner does Kaguya come to this realization than Chika discovers her friend's weakness for the word “wiener.” Since the heavily-sheltered Kaguya's sense of humor is still relatively undeveloped, she's currently at a stage where sophomoric turns of phrase send her into hysterics. In the interest of amusing herself, Chika ignores Kaguya's pleas for mercy and says “wiener” at every available opportunity—and tries to trick Shirogane into doing the same. This ultimately scares Miyuki off and causes the eavesdropping Ishigami to vastly misinterpret the situation.
Juxtaposing the younger Kaguya shown at the beginning of the segment with the Kaguya who practically laughs herself to death at the mere utterance of “wiener” helps illustrate what a layered character she truly is. Despite being a relentless overachiever who looks down on her peers and always thinks seven steps ahead, her various quirks and foibles help bring her down to everyone else's level and make her more three-dimensional. Although Chika often comes off as an unwitting agent of chaos, she makes it perfectly clear that her mischief is 100% intentional this time around. She may be Kaguya's dearest friend, but she's not above having fun at her expense. The raunchy wordplay that horrifies Shirogane and arouses Ishigami is a fantastic comedic payoff and a great way to end the show's most simplistic segment to date.
While not quite as sharp as the series' best episodes, Kaguya's latest outing is reliably funny and delivers three distinctly different stories. Each segment allows the audience to see at least one character in a new light and delivers a handful of big laughs. Although Kaguya and Miyuki don't psychologically wear each other down this week, the ensemble stories are entertaining enough to warrant taking a break from business as usual.
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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