Heartfelt Moment Undermined By ‘Humorous’ Conclusion

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Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 12 Review

For the first half of this episode I thought this was an absolutely brilliant way for this series to go out. Really was loving it. And then… well, then we got to the second part. See the whole way through this series I’ve really loved the moments where the characters have been allowed to just be characters and interact rather than the contrived matches between the main pair, so seeing Shinomiya genuinely upset by not being allowed to go to the fireworks and Shirogane and the others rallying to help her was really a great emotional moment with a lot of pay-off.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya crying

This was each of the characters at their best. No forced humour or awkwardly intrusive narration. Just a girl upset and the overly dramatic solution with her escaping her house and then her frantic rush to reach the wharf in time, only for it to end in failure. That was so incredibly sad and they held that moment just long enough before Shirogane turned up and delivered such an incredibly overblown line and yet it was utterly perfect for the moment.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya and Shirogane running

Watching them run together, meeting up with Fujiwara and Ishigami and getting in the taxi. Even the taxi driver going all out and probably breaking multiple road rules in order to get them to their destination in time all just worked. It was a well paced, well executed, fun and emotional climax to a series that I’ve found very hit or miss.

And I haven’t even talked about how on point the music was during this episode or how beautiful the fireworks were.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Fireworks

And then…

Well then we go back to school.

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The president is freaking out because he thinks that he acted foolishly in the moment. Shinomiya is all nervous because she wants to say thank you. The narration is back. The forced conflict is back. Its all just awkward and painful to watch and really about as far from amusing as you can get without actually just sitting in a room full of socially awkward people avoiding eye-contact for ten minutes.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 12 - Shinomiya and Shirogane crossing paths

For a brief span I thought episode 12 was actually going to be the episode that made me think overall I liked the series more than I didn’t. But that second half reminded me of everything I find irritating about the entire set up and mostly while there are some great moment overall I’ve mostly found this one misses the mark for me. I’ll be going back through my episode notes and thinking about my final review of this series a lot, but the bottom line is going to end up being that this just isn’t my kind of show.

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Karandi James

No Love, No War, No Real Interest

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Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 11 Review

What is worse than two supposedly smart characters facing off on childish mind-games that seldom amount to anything?

Apparently episode 11 where the two don’t meet and we get a skit of Shinomiya moping about the house and learning to use Twitter, another one of those random stories where someone turns ramen eating into some kind of high art form which just goes on far too long, and then another story where both Shirogane and Shinomiya are moping and end up at the school but not at the same time.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War


If it wasn’t for the post credit sequence where Shinomiya was summoned by her father and clearly they are setting something up there I’d say this was an entirely skippable episode. Unless of course you really have some desire to watch Fujiwara eat ramen while some random side character narrates the ‘correct’ way to do so. Is it just me or are there too many of these ramen perfectionists scattered throughout anime? And do such people really exist that they feel there’s only one correct way to enjoy a bowl of soup and noodles?

Fujiwara Kaguya Sama Love is War

Ramen philosophy aside, there’s little entertainment in watching Shinomiya mope and her attempts at using twitter are just this side of pathetic. I honestly wanted Hayasaka to just put her earphones in and enjoy her bath because watching a character sleep in the bathtub was honestly more entertaining (words I never thought I would type).

Kaguya-Sama Love is War - Shinomiya is banned from Twitter

Summer holiday sequences are a staple of high school based anime, and while many fall back on the standard tropes of bikini clad girls playing beach volleyball before splitting a watermelon, at least there’s a little amusement to be found in that. I’m just not sure what, if anything, we were supposed to get out of this mope fest other than annoyed at both the main characters for continuing to be idiotically stubborn.

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Though, at least visually it didn’t drop the ball toward the end of the season as a lot of other anime have. The visuals and animation (what little animation there was), were as on point as always.

Shirogane - Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 11

Anyway, one episode of this to go.

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Karandi James

Passing The Olive Branch

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Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 10 Review

Back to the three story format this week however the first two skits in episode 10 of Kaguya-Sama Love is War deal with the fallout from Shinomiya’s cold last week. Realistically though, I’m going to end up with Ishigami on this one. In the second story, Ishigami was forced to listen to Shirogane as he meandered his way through the story about the girl a friend of his had apparently offended. Ishigami just summed up the whole situation perfectly when he said it ‘pisses’ him off.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 10 Ishigami

Realistically, we once again have two socially inept characters who after a minor misunderstanding spend one third of the episode squabbling over who will eat a piece of cake and then find someone who will listen to them whine about how misunderstood they feel. I’m certain the comedy is meant to be in how exaggerated and overblown it all is, but mostly I just wanted to push the cake into their faces in story one and in story two I really wished Ishigami had spoken up sooner.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 10

Then we slide into story three where Summer vacation is coming up again. I almost groaned aloud thinking we were going to have to endure a rehash of a previous fight, but mercifully the story went in a different direction. For the first time Fujiwara ended up on the losing side and once again we have Ishigami to thank for actually sounding like a human and pointing out that it wasn’t fair for her to go off travelling but to expect that they wouldn’t go to a festival just because she was away.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 10 Kaguya

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Needless to say, if I took on the role of the narrator for a moment, I’m awarding Ishigami as the episodes MVP and literally just want all the other characters to disappear or grow up at this point.

Now, so that it doesn’t sound like I’m just throwing rocks at it for the fun of it and ignoring all the good in this series, the visuals this week were up to their usual standard. Story one used colour particularly well to show the duelling personalities and story two kept cutting between Shinomiya and Shirogane as each one was telling their story and it was actually really nicely put together even if the subject matter was frustrating.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 10 blue vs red

So once again, this is a beautifully produced anime that is utterly missing the mark for me because I’m just not finding it particularly amusing. However, with two episodes to go I’m sticking through to the end of the season and hopefully next week I’ll find something to smile at.

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Karandi James

Is It Terrible If I Call This Episode ‘The Cold War’?

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Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 9 Review

Well, turns out Shinomiya is just another anime girl. I guess we kind of knew that already, but Kaguya-Sama Love is War have really worked at making her slightly different from our standard romantic heroine. But, here we go. She gets a little wet in the rain (okay, she got drenched) and suddenly she catches the most horrid of anime woes, a cold.

I will never fully understand the over-reaction anime characters seem to have to colds and fevers, nor the ridiculously fast turn around recovery. From death’s door to physically booting someone out of the room in about two seconds. That said, such is the plot of many an anime episode and it is almost as much a staple as the ‘beach’ episode or random fireworks moment.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 9

So the question really becomes whether or not Kaguya-Sama manages to portray a fairly overdone plot in an interesting manner?

For the most part I’d have to say yes.

While the initial set-up with Shinomiya refusing to actually just ask Shirogane to get a lift with her was pretty much same-old-eye-roll-worthy antics, after Shinomiya gets soaked the plot decides to stick with this set up for a bit.

Jumping to the following day, Fujiwara is excited about visiting Shinomiya at home because apparently when she’s sick she gets super cute. For some reason that turns into a game of concentration to see which student council member will visit her and after Fujiwara is caught cheating once, and then outsmarted by her own trick, Shirogane wins the ‘privilege’ of visiting a sick Shinomiya.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 9

Sick Shinomiya is kind of exaggerated to the point of insanity but it does lead to a couple of cute and almost honest moments before the episode draws to an end, she wakes from her fevered state and throws the President out.

Still, favourite moment of the episode comes early on when she describes Fujiwara as an ‘element of chaos’. That line actually did make me laugh because it is such a beautifully accurate description of the role Fujiwara has played so far in this story.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 9

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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1

The Love War Flat-Lined

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Kaguya-Sama Love Is War Episode 7 Review

This might be a terminal case for this anime as Kaguya-Sama Love is War pushes another three skits our way and for once not one of them really stuck with me. While I’m not the biggest comedy fan and the premise of this one didn’t do much for me, each episode has given me something to enjoy, some exchange of dialogue or character moment that has hit its mark sufficiently to leave me with an overall pleasant feeling at the end of the episode.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 7

That is until we get to episode 7. I’m teetering very close to deciding to simply drop Kaguya-Sama however there’s already another episode out so I’ll watch that before making a final decision. The main point being that 8 episodes in I’m unlikely to drop it regardless of what it does though this one is fast becoming the show I’m only really watching just to finish it.

What was wrong with episode 7? Nothing really. Visually it is every bit as impressive as every other episode. I still have no complaints at all about the presentation of this anime, or the sound for that matter. These are some real production positives.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 7 Shinomiya

Yet as I watch Shirogane given advice about hand-holding, hear an argument about club funding followed by a joke about a guy being overheard commenting on girls’ breast sizes followed by one of the girls smacking him around the head repeatedly with a fan that she took the time to fold, and it all gets capped with a run-on weiner joke that just gets run straight into the ground, I found almost zero reasons to laugh or even smile at this episode.

The Fujiwara moment with the fan could have been amusing. I was kind of reminded of Kaname in Full Metal Panic and her often repeated joke of slapping Sousuke with a fan at school when he did something really out there. But in those cases it was generally a well timed single smack and then the story progressed and moved on. Fujiwara’s careful folding and taping of the paper was a nice touch to the joke, showing her commitment to really landing one on the guy, but then the repeated swattings just proved that repetition does not always make a joke work better. It all just dragged it out, robbing the moment of comedic timing through a general lack of restraint.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 7 Ishigami

As for the rest, it just isn’t the kind of thing I find overly amusing so mostly I just kind of watched and waited for the next skit hoping it would improve and then each skit seemed to get more worn than the last. I get some people are really enjoying this, and as I said, from a production point of view there’s almost no faulting it, but for me it just isn’t working and episode 7 more or less highlighted everything I dislike about the show.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 8 Review

Right, so episode 8 of Kaguya-Sama Love is War kind of picks things up a little bit from episode 7. While the first story of Shirogane’s sister showing up is kind of average, though she is pretty cute, the following stories of Shinomiya and Shirogane competing at the exams and then Shinomiya helping Ishigami passing his exams are both reasonably entertaining with some fairly good character moments scatted throughout.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 8

That said, for once it felt like the build up was neglected. As Shinomiya and Shirogane both pretend not to be concerned with studying last minute for exams and play down how hard they are working, it kind of felt like this could have gone further as the two both secretly prepared for battle. The end result is amusing enough, with a nice exchange between the characters, but lacks any real bite.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 8 Shirogane

The stand out story belongs to Ishigami as Shinomiya ‘helps’ him prepare for exams. Again, Shinomiya gets her best character moments when Shirogane is entirely absent and it was nice seeing her in this more natural role rather than in the usual antagonistic one. If we had more moments like this one and the one where she helped the girl walk to school, I’d probably enjoy her character a great deal more.

So yes, episode 8 has saved this from hitting my dropped list but realistically I’m still very much finding it pretty hit and miss in terms of a viewing experience.

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It Isn’t Paranoia When She’s Really Threatening To Kill You

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Kaguya-Sama: Love Is War Episode 6 Review

Much like another anime title this season, Kaguya-Sama Love is War opted to use episode 6 to drop another character into the mix. While Ishigami has so far been relatively entertaining, the dropping him into the story and then treating him like he’d always been there was just a bit off and felt like the author was kind of desperate to expand on the basic concept. I wouldn’t have minded a new member of the council recruited, but after introducing Ishigami he’s just literally always in the student council room even though for five episodes he’s been nowhere to be seen.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 6 Ishigami

That’s ultimately a minor problem, but it is a little jarring as they just try and play it like ‘of course he’s always been here’ and you are left wondering just how much he’s overheard if he actually just sits under the desk all the time (which in itself is a weird thing to wonder, and why was he under the desk).

Kaguya Sama Episode 6 Ishigami talks to Shirogane

Whichever way, Ishigami adds a new element into the anime which so far has been Shinomiya vs Shirogane with Fujiwara essentially disrupting their battles either through design or happenstance. More importantly, Ishigami has seen Shinomiya without the smiling and perfect mask, which makes you wonder why? Given how often Fujiwara has earned Shinomiya’s ire, why did she only drop her guard with Ishigami and clearly threaten him? It seems like a foolish move considering Ishigami does tell Shirogane, even if he does dismiss it. That potentially could have been game over for Shinomiya right then and there.

Kaguya-Sama Episode 6 Shinomiya

I guess I should probably look at the events this episode at some point. They sit in the council room and talk. Bad visual pun. Some fairly solid colour imagery. Terrible personality tests. And then painted nails. Yeah, I think that covers it.

Kaguya Sama Episode 6 Fujiwara

Needless to say, this one still isn’t dazzling me, but unlike the other anime that dumped new characters on us in the mid-season, Ishigami actually does add a lot to the mix of personalities here and the double impact of Ishigami and Fujiwara basically diluting Shinomiya and Shirogane is actually making this much easier watching. I’m not sure that I’m really giving this one much praise in saying that, but despite the plot being pretty shrug worthy I actually did find myself enjoying parts of this episode and the whole thing just kind of flowed along.

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The Battleground of Love Advice, Volleyball and Umbrellas

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Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 5 Review

This episode of Kaguya-Sama Love is War was definitely being dominated by a certain Fujiwara. While the first segment focused initially on Shinomiya giving love advice, Fujiwara swiftly stole the show right out from under her. The same thing happened in segment two with Shirogane and the third segment was lame to begin with so I was kind of happy when Fujiwara put a premature ending to the foolishness.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 5 Fujiwara Best Girl
Definitely best girl.

It is odd for a support character to be so much more interesting and charismatic but thinking back Fujiwara has been the saving grace of many a plot in this anime so far and so episode 5 seemed to put all her charm on full display. She’s so energetic and charming. She also seems incredibly air-headed but pulls out some amazing insight and sometimes it is hard to know if she is stumbling over Shinomiya’s and Shirogane’s plots by accident or if she’s actually just messing with them.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 5 Shinomiya

I did actually like the first two segments. The absence of direct head-to-head between Shinomiya and Shirogane did both their characters some good. Shinomiya out of her depth and trying to give love advice, to the partner of the guy Shirogane gave advice to, was a nice bit of closure on that storyline to know that the two did end up dating but it wasn’t smooth sailing. Plus this one earned a genuine laugh when Fujiwara admitted she was out of breath because she’d overheard the start of the conversation and gone running to the drama room for a costume.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 5 Shirogane

The second story actually did Shirogane some favours by having him having to learn a physical skill and having Fujiwara teaching him. The over-exaggeration of just how bad he was, hitting himself in the head while trying to serve a volleyball, was kind of fun and seeing him actually improve was lovely (though I think they pushed that a little far given his domination by the time he had to play in class).

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 5 Fujiwara

So a fairly pleasant first couple of stories. The final story however did pit Shinomiya and Shirogane head-to-head again over who would admit they had an umbrella and invite the other to share it on the walk home. It was incredibly contrived and pretty bland and as I said in the beginning, Fujiwara handing them an umbrella and ending the drama was probable the best thing that could have happened as an outcome.

This anime is still incredibly hit and miss for me, but there are moments that are genuinely enjoyable and I am really coming to appreciate Fujiwara at least, so hopefully this will continue to have more pleasant than unpleasant moments at least.

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All’s Fair In Love, War, And Welcoming Parties

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Kaguya-Sama Love Is War Episode 4 Review

The French are coming, or at least French students, for reasons unexplained and unimportant given this is literally just the most recent backdrop for the antics of the student council in Kaguya-Sama Love is War. I actually kind of liked that all of the skits kind of connected this week in this overall story even if we were still decidedly in the set-up and deliver punch-line kind of format we’ve come to expect from this anime.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 4 Shinomiya

The first skit was cute. Not actually funny, but it had both Shinomiya and Shirogane in cat ears at one point and both desperately trying not to admit that the other was cute and to be honest it was adorable to watch. Ultimately completely pointless given the conclusion of this is that no one in the student council is allowed to wear cat ears anymore but there are worse things than seeing anime characters in cat ears for a few minutes.

Kaguya Sama Love Is War Episode 4 Fujiwara

We then move on to a game to decide who will go shopping for the gifts for the students at the party. Shirogane determines to lose to Fujiwara but beat Shinomiya so that he and Shinomiya will go shopping but he won’t lose to her. It works out that way but more because Fujiwara actually outwits the both of them. Again, I didn’t find this section particularly amusing, but I definitely appreciated Fujiwara’s character more after it.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 4 Shinomiya and Shirogane

What follows is Shinomiya wanting to message the President but getting all worked up about the first person to text. This section kind of annoyed me. It is like watching someone play the ‘You hang up first’ game where the only solution is to walk over and snatch the phone out of their hand and hang up – or flee the country, whichever seems less problematic at the time. Though, the punchline here isn’t exactly expected so I kind of had to give it points for that.

Kaguya Sama Love is War Episode 4 Shirogane and Betsy

The highlight of the episode though is the party itself where clearly the guy pulling the Student Council strings is playing his own games and sics the French vice-president on Shirogane. He, however, doesn’t understand French so her insults more or less roll over him like water off a duck’s back. They don’t however pass Shinomiya without raising her ire and seeing her genuinely defending Shirogane may be the best moment she’s had yet in this series.

I will say this is my favourite episode so far. No annoying narration at the beginning setting my teeth on edge with its warped philosophy on love. Limited narration during the skits. An overarching plot loosely tying the segments together. Then Shinomiya actually acting on emotion rather than calculated planning. So yeah, best episode yet. Still not a huge fan but if it continued on like this I’ll probably end up low-key enjoying this series each week.

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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 2
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 2

Solid Visuals, Great Music, Average Most Everything Else

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Kaguya-Sama: Love is War Episode 3 Review

There is no denying that Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is a very slick production. Visually it is really fun to look at with strong colour choices, great character designs, and some really interesting visualisations during the conflicts. The sound is equally well done, though I have to wonder what was with this week’s ED as that was just kind of odd.

The problem is once again a case of fans of the source over-selling everything else when this adaption started. With regular comparisons to the mind games of Death Note and the endless amount of praise for these characters and the writing in general, even with a sensible amount of lowering the expectation, they’d really talked it up.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shirogane

But… here we have Shinomiya acting all proud and haughty having had her first time when it was obvious the punch line was going to be that she misunderstood the concept. The fact that it took Shirogane and Fujiwara so long to figure it out was just painful and to be honest I’ve never really found jokes made at the expense of a lack of sex education particularly hilarious. So there weren’t really any clever mind games going on, the dialogue was all pretty ordinary, and the punch-line telegraphed from the start with no actual twist to spice it up. All and all, the first skit here falls pretty flat.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Fujiwara

Then we move into a game of twenty questions. This one actually did have some psychological drama going on and yet still the punch line was obvious. They made an unmissable reference to the dog at the start of the skit, and anyone who has been watching knows Shinomiya’s personality at this point in time. Again, Shirogane taking so long to click and allowing himself to think otherwise just undermines how clever he’s supposed to be.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shinomiya

Finally, the last of the segments, and this one I liked, but that’s because it wasn’t an attempted mind game falling flat or even a battle. Instead we just got to see Shinomiya walking to school for the first time and after helping a younger student she runs into Shirogane who is also running late and ends up getting her to ride on the back of his bike. It’s just a daily bit of life but both characters felt far more genuine and without the forced and strained dialogue when the anime is trying to be clever, they were both a lot more likeable.

Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 3 Shirogane

This is by no means a bad anime, and from a production point of view it is pretty great. However, the hype around episode one and the expectations before it started didn’t do it any favours. The ‘war’ between the protagonists is fairly juvenile and most of the schemes are either transparent or ridiculous. Personally, I’d prefer just to see more of these two characters in genuine day to day situations rather than the contrived and forced ‘battles’ they set up in the student council room. Though clearly, that would be an entirely different show.

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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1

The Tools Of War: Phones, Vacations and Love Advice

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Kaguya-Sama Love is War Episode 2 Review

Well, seems the annoying narration at the start is there to stay but I kind of raised my issues with that last week so moving on. We also have the character introductions again and I realised just how much this series was leaning of Kaguya’s social status for a lot of the jokes and set-ups, but again its a comedy so we’ll just move on. Still, between opening narration, OP and character introductions that’s a chunk of episode time eaten before the first of the three segments even starts so I’m just wondering how sustainable this story is given even with that it felt like the second skit dragged a little.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shirogane

Focusing on the three sections of episode though the first one was the best of the three. Featuring the President getting a phone and then trading Line addresses with Yuu was actually a pretty good set up. Admittedly, some people may find the punch line hilarious but mostly I just found the conclusion a little eye-roll worthy because it just felt like there was no way Shinomiya would have missed that point. Still, visually, this first skit was the most interesting and the characters were at their sharpest and best.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Shinomiya

The following two sections both had good moments. The argument about whether to go to the mountains or the beach for summer vacation seems fairly innocuous and turning it into a high stakes battle actually worked very well in terms of humour. While the proceeding argument ended up taking too long and felt like the punch line was deliberately held off just too far for me to stay full invested, it was still reasonable. However, the visuals here lent more toward girls in swim suits and wasn’t as creative or interesting as the previous section which meant the argument unfolding had to hold the section.

Kaguya Sama Episode 2 Beach scene

Finally, the President was approached for love advice and this was the section I found the weakest and ultimately I didn’t find much about it funny or entertaining. Though I’ll admit watching Shinomiya blush after Shirogane wall slammed the door she was standing behind was pretty cute.

This show remains a real mixed bag for me. There’s some impressive visuals and direction at times and some of the exchanges are very clever and amusing. However, there’s also a lot that really falls flat for me and this episode toward the end really felt like it was dragging. I’m also really concerned about the ability of this anime to keep this concept fresh at three scenarios an episode for a whole season. I guess we’ll see how it goes.

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Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, Vol. 1