A Comedy About A Broken Philosophy on Love and Romance

Kaguya Sama: Love is War Post Title

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.

Kaguya-Sama Love Is War Episode 1 - Shirogane

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.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 1 Shinomiya

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.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 1

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.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 1

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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7 thoughts on “A Comedy About A Broken Philosophy on Love and Romance

  1. I watched this and thought it was brilliant! My only concern is how long this premise and material will be able to seem fresh and entertaining. . .I probably would have chosen to make a movie rather than a series, just from fear of the material wearing thin. . .

    1. That’s a danger with any comedy set up and given I usually tire of most set ups by mid-season I just kind of expect that to happen here.

  2. I enjoyed this. Personally, it seemed clear to me that the series knows perfectly well how stupid their “philosophy” is, otherwise it wouldn’t have set that up as the crux of the joke. As it is, we watch them cling to this silly belief at all costs, repeatedly shooting themselves in the foot because of their pride and stubbornness, and the audience laughs because we see exactly how foolish they are. Like Gamers (another coemdy I really enjoyed), it’s humor built on a string of half-baked assumptions, poor communication (deliberately invoked in this case because both of them currently care more about winning their game than about being honest with each other), and (as one ANN reviewer described it) smart people using their intelligence for an idiotic purpose. I’ve seen some manga readers refer to it as “The Death Note of Romance,” with all of the mind games and attempted trickery going back-and-forth between the two characters.

    1. The mind games and back and forth between the two characters worked and seeing them as being full of pride and silly, works quite well, which is why I enjoyed the rest of the episode. However, the narration was not about the two characters but spoke about relationships in broad and generalised terms, and that’s where it lost me. If the entire narration had focused only on this one case then I would still have thought it a stupid idea but wouldn’t have cared because it is clearly one situation being used for comedic effect. It was the generalisation that bothered me.

      1. Gotcha. Well I didn’t read anything into it besides setting the stage for the hijinks, or even give it a second thought beyond that. And I certainly didn’t interpret it as endorsing or agreeing with that point of view.

  3. Maybe you’re being sarcastic too, but the opening narration was very clearly mocking the idea that “love is war,” because that’s the philosophy of the two dopey protagonists. This is a comedy – a pretty funny one so far, in my opinion – and the ultra-serious tone at the start is very much meant to rib the two idiots at the center of the story.

    1. See, I didn’t really get a mocking tone from it particularly with the overt statements about there always being a dominant and submissive position in a relationship. Then again, I’m not really much for comedy. I just found that opening narration quite disturbing.

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