This Week in Anime
Love is a Garbage Fire in Kaguya-sama

by Nicholas Dupree & Michelle Liu,

Kaguya-sama: Love is War takes a blowtorch to the bittersweetness of adolescent romance, with two paramours who're determined to defeat the objects of their affection in a battle of banter. This week, Nick and Micchy engage in their own war of words about the highs and lows of this quirky comedy.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead. Not Safe For Work warning for language.

@Lossthief @Liuwdere @A_Tasty_Sub @vestenet


You can read our weekly coverage of Kaguya-sama: Love is War here!

Nick
Micchy, it's officially Valentines day! It's the loveliest holiday of the year, and you know what that means. It's time to sit inside alone, and live vicariously through the romances of anime characters.
Micchy
Or to watch human disasters fuck up the very basics of romance, because you can't stand happy couples.
Though if you ask me, the winner here is the one getting his face stomped into the dirt, that's the good shit.
Listen, despite the efforts of you and Steve, TWIA isn't the place to discuss your kinks. But we can finally talk about these two walking tire fires who took Pat Benatar's advice way too literally.
Ah yes, Kaguya-sama: Just Fuck Already
These two have no business fucking. But they should definitely smooch already.
Hey, it's not like Kaguya knows the difference.
That's what you get when you let DARLING in the FRANXX teach your children Sex Ed.
But seriously, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I hope this series can stretch out the will-they-won't-they as long as possible. Because it is god damn hilarious.
Kaguya-sama takes the often-irritating anime romcom shenanigans to the extreme, playing off the awkwardness as the main event rather than an obstacle to an eventual hookup. The result is a hilarious trainwreck of a romance that not only doles out great absurd humor, but manages to stay refreshingly realistic when it comes to the characters' feelings. Every bit of awkwardness in this show feels accurate to the psychology of dumbass kids, and it's just the best.
Well, I did plenty of stupid shit in the name of a crush in high school, but nothing quite like these guys.
The whole premise of this show is that neither Kaguya nor Miyuki can deal with the idea of being rejected, so they go to ridiculous lengths to get the other person to make the first move. Their methods are out-there, but the emotions are pretty relatable.
Yeah, a lot of what makes Kaguya-sama work is that its absurdity is grounded in realistic emotions. While Kaguya and Miyuki abstract their feelings as trying to win a power struggle, the actual conflict is that neither of them can work up the courage to put themselves out there.
Making yourself vulnerable, especially as a teenager, can be a terrifying prospect. So even if I never concocted Machiavellian schemes to trick my crush into asking me out, I do get where these two dumbass geniuses are coming from.
They're so bad at being honest with themselves.

It's amazing because they do occasionally tiptoe up to an epiphany.

They're both so obviously into each other, but every time they come close to admitting it, they immediately retreat into fifty layers of irony. They're both so close to figuring it out, and literally everyone around them can see right through their "haha who has time for dating, not me, what are you talking about" facades.
Well, almost everyone. Ironically, the person closest to them is also the least observant, bless her heart.
Chika is a goddamn miracle.
She's delightful, and she's also a necessary element to keep Kaguya and Miyuki from eating their own brains every episode. I really love how she's the perfect amount of oblivious to always throw their plans into chaos and inadvertently force them to own up to their own BS.
She truly is the embodiment of chaos itself, like that time she deliberately changed up her speech just to win a game of taboo. (And then she started beatboxing, because why the hell not.)
This girl's got the music in her and nothing's gonna keep it contained.
With the nice choreo and great rotoscoping, you have a recipe for a viral hit, so it's no surprise this took off as a meme on its own.
That brings up the show's overall fantastic direction. Like, in lesser hands this show would not be as engaging or funny. This anime adaptation really brings sharp editing and visual inventiveness to the table.

I'd expect nothing less from Mamoru Hatakeyama, the director of the underappreciated modern classic, Sankarea: Undying Love. Oh, and some show about Rakugo that I guess some people liked.
I can't believe you.
For real though, the show looks good, and its Face Game is off the charts.
No kidding! I fuckin' live for Miyuki's endless pants-shitting faces.
To be fair, I'd make that face too if I randomly got to talk to Sally Amaki.
Especially if Sally Amaki suddenly started insulting me in French.
As somebody who got straight B's through high school French, I feel qualified to say that Twitter's favorite foul-mouthed multilingual idol did a fantastic job cussing our boy out.
You'd hardly know she's a total newbie to voice acting, because she sounds so comfortable in the role. Though it makes me sad that Betsy's such a minor character. I want more of her razor-sharp wit, dammit.
She's part of what makes that skit my favorite of the show so far, because it's also the first time the show hammers home the core of Kaguya and Miyuki's relationship. Kaguya steps in to defend her man, in the process revealing an absolutely filthy vocabulary that sends her into a shame spiral.
To help her out of it, Miyuki admits he was cluelessly bluffing his way through French the whole time. And for the first time, one of their "battles" ends in a mutual victory. It's sweet to see a romcom where the message is to be honest about your faults and trust your crush to not judge you for it.
Yup! For all their puffed-up egos, deep down they like each other better when they're not pretending to be bigger than they are. By now, Miyuki's used to Kaguya's temper and intimidation; on the other hand, Kaguya knows that despite his reputation, Miyuki's actually a huge dope. They're good together, but not for the reasons their peers think. It's not because they're both model students, but because they know each other beyond the personas they project.
Find somebody who appreciates your constantly tired/angry face.
The sweetness between the two is what keeps me coming back, and I'm hoping that at some point they'll get over themselves and learn to be happy together. But in the meantime I'll keep laughing at them tripping over their own feet.

One of these days they'll stop trying to replicate shoujo manga tropes. One of these days.
Love is hard, growing up is hard, and handling both is a fucking nightmare. But I believe these two will figure it out some day. They just need to remember that they'll always have one thing in common.

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