Kaguya-Sama: Love is War Episode 1 Review
Warning: Minor rant in-coming. You can skip to the review in the third paragraph if you don’t want to deal with my personal hang-ups.
I watched the opening narration of this anime and was left feeling kind of annoyed. The narrator spouting that tired garbage about love being a competition and that someone will be dominant in a relationship and the other submissive. Utter and complete dribble spouted without context over still and panning shots of high school students as though this idea applies to everyone and all relationships. And that was really the part that made it as annoying as it was. They were generalising their statements to encompass all relationships.
Clearly though, I watched the whole episode or I wouldn’t be reviewing it. I firmly believe you could take the scissors to the entire opening narration without actually harming the anime in any meaningful way and we can get rid of that completely ridiculous (at best – potentially harmful more likely) generalisation. However when we actually get on with the specific case this anime is looking at, with two of the single most petty characters in all existence who kind of like each other (or maybe like the idea of the other) but won’t confess because whoever confesses first will lose, the end result isn’t that bad.
Because clearly ending up in an actual relationship rather than a stand-off should be considered a loss. Okay, I’m not going to try to work my way through the mine-field of horrible ideas about romance this anime has in it. I’m actually just going to go with the obvious, this is a work of fiction and these are characters. So the only question left would be, is it entertaining?
To which the answer would be: surprisingly, yes. Very. For a comedy based around an idea I find fairly repulsive that got off on the wrong foot before it even started around characters I find to be really unpleasant human beings, I actually really had fun by the time this ended.
The episode presents three scenarios where the two leads essentially try to manoeuvre the other into confessing their love and the set ups and the way the situations play out are quite innovative and interesting. The exaggeration of the character reactions as they feel they are losing the upper hand works well, as do their smug expressions when they think they are going to win. While the narrator remains an intrusive presence at times, at others they provide fairly needed insight, and the inner monologues of the characters thinking through their actions are amusing.
It works. I just don’t know that I’d be describing this as a romance of any description (even a comedic one) given even if these two end up together I’m not going to find that overly romantic. Probably more tragic that these two manipulators would then be trapped by their own pride in a self-destructive relationship.
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HIMOUTO! UMARU-CHAN THE THING WHICH UMARU WEARS AT HOME
- Episode 1: A Comedy About A Broken Philosophy on Love and Romance
- Episode 2: The Tools of War – Phones, Vacations and Love Advice
- Episode 3: Solid Visuals, Great Music, Average Most Everything Else
- Episode 4: All’s Fair In Love, War, And Welcoming Parties
- Episode 5: The Battleground of Love Advice, Volleyball and Umbrellas
- Episode 6: It Isn’t Paranoia When She’s Really Threatening To Kill You
- Episode 7 and 8: The Love War Flat-Lined
- Episode 9: Is It Terrible If I Call This Episode ‘The Cold War’?
- Episode 10: Passing the Olive Branch
- Episode 11: No Love, No War, No Real Interest
- Episode 12: Heartfelt Moment Undermined by ‘Humorous’ Conclusion
- Images from: Kaguya Sama: Love Is War. Dir. S Omata. A-1 Pictures. 2019.