My journey through this series has been an interesting one. At one point close to dropping it, then completely turning around and calling it not only my anime of 2019, but one of the best anime I’ve watched period. With the news that we would be getting a second season, I was both excited and nervous. Excited because the story would be continuing, and nervous in that I hoped that the first season wasn’t a complete fluke. As the one heavy-hitter that survived to actually air in the season it was suppose to, how did it end up? Well, join me after the cut as I dive into the second season of Kaguya-Sama: Love is War.
Kaguya-Sama might very well have the most consistent second season of all time.
All anime, no matter their qualities have their moments of high and lows, peaks and valleys. Shows that I adore such as High School DxD can often have episodes that don’t really do much to the story. Sure they might be fun, funny, or action-packed, but they can also be clunkers and don’t really register on the radar. This is one reason why I’ve always refrained from doing episode by episode reviews. Sometimes there is just not enough to talk about in a single episode. Furthermore, I don’t believe that one bad or good episode should define an anime. Every series needs that down time, the breather in between moments. That’s how stories are told. In my entire time as anime fan, only Beyblade and Darling in the Franxx have had a single episode completely redefine my opinion of the series.
Kaguya-Sama however doesn’t do that, and has been anime that hasn’t just surpassed my expectations in it’s second season, it grabbed them by both hands, strapped them to a rocket and blasted it off into the atmosphere. Each episode, spanning over 12 weeks has always, ALWAYS been superb, laugh out loud hilarious, surprisingly heartwarming at times, and made with so much effort that it simply breathtaking. I’ve talked about anime bringing their ‘a-game’ before with certain series, but Kaguya-Sama brings it’s SS-game. Everything inch, every millimetre, every single part of this show is crafted with the hands of a perfectionist. Whether it is the absolutely killer opening theme, the insane over-the-top narration, the great character reactions and chemistry, or the show’s ability to get serious in a pinch. Where so many other anime tend to phone it in with a second season, content that the fans will carry the load. Kaguya-Sama instead turns in on itself and says: We can be even better.
The story of course hasn’t changed from the first season. We follow Miyuki Shirogane and Kaguya Shinomiya as they continue their insane ego vs ego war to get the other to give just an inch in their obvious affection for each other. However I was surprised in two ways to see how the second season handles this. While the central conflict is still key to the story, there are times when it takes a backseat and instead Kaguya-Sama’s second season takes sometime to let the characters breathe, and just be themselves. Furthermore the fact that it works, that the show doesn’t need to depend on its crazy antics 100% of the time shows the enduring heart the cast has made. You just love watching these characters interact with each other, going through their lives and seeing them being friends. While Kaguya and Shirogane are both devoted to their mind games, they are also at this point a bit more comfortable with each other, and being around the other cast members. It’s a slow step forward, but fans of the manga will know that Kaguya-Sama is a series that doesn’t sit on a status-quo for too long.
The big surprise of the season though, coming near the end, is the time the story takes to expand the character of Ishigami. Previously the shut-in NEET loser of the story, Kaguya-Sama’s emotional climax of the season devotes itself to explaining just how Ishigami earned his reputation, and remains a heart-wrenching tale of heroism and self sacrifice. It’s made even more so by Shirogane’s supporting hand, which again proves that Kaguya-Sama two leads are defined only by their romance. The emotional peak near the end of the 11th episode, where Ishigami takes those crucial steps forward is a damn great moment, and I think strikes a cord with people by showing that even though sometimes doing the right thing means hurting yourself. You shouldn’t let that hurt consume your life, and that if people can’t understand what you do, then ‘shut-up, dumb ass.”
I was prepared going into the second season of Kaguya-Sama: Love is War expecting the first outing to be a fluke, that while earning it’s accolades wholly, it probably wouldn’t do it again. Not only have I been proven wrong, and Kaguya-Sama is THE anime to beat for the top spot of 2020. It is also fast becoming one of the best anime I’ve seen, period. While Domestic Girlfriend has shown me how a romance anime can shit the bed, the love and effort put in by this anime is truly something else. There is just something working here, with the story, the animators, the voice actors, that is becoming increasingly rare. A perfect storm of chemistry and collaboration that hits all the right buttons and strikes the right notes. Yes, this anime might not be for everyone, and like all good shows, it’s praises might be sung a little too loudly. But take it from someone who doesn’t do hype. The second season Kaguya-Sama: Love is War is an absolute bonafide home-run hit that actually scores the perfect game. If you haven’t watched this series yet, I implore you to give it a shot.