Spring 2020 has been a roller-coaster ride for the anime community. With the coronavirus pandemic forcing the entire industry to rethink their plans, a lot of the anticipated titles have been moved off either later this year or the next. This made the list of shows for Spring smaller and I am so glad that they didn’t shelf a show like Kaguya-sama: Love Is War.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is romantic comedy anime series that aired in 2019 and 2020. Its first season was broadcasted between January to March 2019 while the second season went out from April to June 2020. The show was produced by A-1 Pictures, a Japanese animation studio known for titles like Sword Art Online, Wotakoi: Love Is Hard For Otaku, and Blend S.
The story revolves around student council president, Miyuki Shirogane, and his vice-president, Kaguya Shinomiya. The president is a top, high-ranking student while the vice-president is the beloved daughter of a wealthy family owning a top-tier business. While the two seem to be the perfect couple and have feelings for each other, they have way too much pride to confess since they think that doing so would make them “lose”.
Every episode is a new opportunity for one of them to think up of crazy, over-the-top schemes to make the other confess their feelings. From complicating simple things like asking the other to accompany them towards the most crazy things like having the other eat their cooking without asking them in a very obvious manner. Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is a comedic trip every episode as we get to see new antics to how each side will take to get that coveted confession from the other.
Perfecting the episodic formula
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War compiles a bunch of events that carry this element of continuation to them. It reminds me so much of the formula used in shows like Daily Lives of High School Boys and Hyouka where the characters are thrust into unique situations that can serve as standalone episodes. In Kaguya-sama, you can watch each episode on its own but the entertainment value will remain the same.
I believe the show does well in taking what is already proven to be good in this episodic plot formula and improving on its mistakes. We have seen a lot of anime like Hyouka where each episode is entertaining on its own but doesn’t really contribute to the overarching plot line. Most stories suffer so much in not being able to strike a balance between creating better stories in individual episodes and sticking to the main theme of the series.
Legend of Korra suffers from this issue as well. In that series, the writing suffers from not being able to capitalize on the episodic format and leaves audiences in confusion once it packs up a season for a conclusion. I think a clear example would be the whole show’s conclusion on the “Korrasami” ship being canon – but that deserves a separate article sometime in the future.
I think Kaguya-sama, in a writing perspective, takes these issues and improves it by creating a “marriage” between the overarching romance plot going on with the two main characters while also making sure that each episode is entertaining on its own. Like legit, you could watch a Kaguya-sama episode as a standalone and you’d still be getting a kick from it – laughs and all.
When I finished watching this show, I was amazed at how it neatly provides the comedy while also touching important elements of the story like character development. It’s almost inevitable to have subplots when writing in an episodic format but Kaguya-sama does it in such a satisfying way. I think the best example of how the show does it is the execution of Ishigami’s character development.
Subtly inserting character development
The way that this show structures its episodes allows for writing character development in such a way that it is natural for the audience. Unlike most shows, Kaguya-sama doesn’t really go out of the way and dedicate the entirety of an episode for just one guy only. Rather, through a mix of entertaining comedy skits and how these characters interact, you can see a gradual development of characters in small palatable chunks.
One episode you’re laughing at how a certain character is so inherently bad at one thing. A few episodes after that this premise repeats but ends up being executed in a different way than the last time. All the while, the story presents to you that this guy is an inherently unskilled character but expands on his reputability as being a hardworker who had to fight tooth and nail to get where he is now.
Its stuff like this that makes characters more relatable while keeping the entertainment value from comedy skits intact. Honestly, now that I write about this, the character roles within the show are basically building on the cliche line-up of what we see in comedy skits over the years. You got people who are incredibly absurd and unhinged while the normal characters try to respond to these outrageous situations. And the roles continually interchange through the course of the show.
I mean, what more can I say about these characters? They’re absolutely quirky, lovable, and relatable to watch!
Outrageous animation taken up a notch
Kaguya-sama reminds me way too much of Kyoto Animation’s Nichijou anime series. They use the same technique of taking exaggerated situations into higher levels with their style of animation. You can just play out a compilation of funny moments from the show and it will instantly set you laughing for a long while.
I’ll just let these compilations speak for themselves.
With such a fluid structure of story and endearing characters, Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is something you should be watching if you’re feeling up a little bit of romantic-comedy to your long quarantine binge watching list. Also, Kaguya is best girl.
Got any recommendations similar to Kaguya-sama: Love Is War? Leave all your thoughts on the comments down below!
Thanks for reading!