If you’re looking for an electric rom-com that’s both romantic and comedic, and too shares some roots from classical literature to the 10 things i hate about you Where She is the man, Kaguya-sama: Love is war is the perfect show.
Love is War is basically about two tsunderes with big crushes on each other having battles of the mind. But if you are not an anime fan and the word tsundere puzzles you — don’t worry. It’s still a fantastic show and one of the best rom-coms around. Kaguya-sama captures the best of the genre, with its stellar balance of humor and heart and its full, captivating cast. You don’t have to be into anime to enjoy a great romantic comedy.
After learning that everyone on campus thinks they would make a cute couple, class president Miyuki Shirogane and vice president Kaguya Shinomiya independently decide to get the other confess their love. Each of them thinks they or they certainly won’t fall in love with each other – and it ends up backfiring in spectacular fashion, as they both end up with massive crushes on each other. But of course they can’t lose their self-imposed game, so it turns into a kind of battle where every win is also a bit of a loss.
All of this is further accentuated by the unnamed narrator, who keeps track of who “wins” or “loses” a certain interaction. The narrator comments on the character’s inner thoughts, much like a sports announcer keeping tabs on who comes out on top in a game. The storytelling itself is often very serious, and when juxtaposed with silly shenanigans or more mundane conversations happening on screen – like trying on cat ears or discussing possible group vacations – it turns into something absolutely hysterical.
Shirogane and Shinomiya are compelling characters who seem similar on the surface. Both are incredibly prideful, calculating and intelligent – and rarely show their true feelings. In reality, they’re quite different, and as the show unfolds, more of their unique personalities are revealed. It’s compelling enough to find out more about them, but the supporting cast is just as spectacularly dynamic.
Class secretary Chika Fujiwara is a bit of a dork, except she’s an amazing piano player, enthusiastic board game club member, and ramen connoisseur. She also has more social awareness than the entire student council put together, so she is able to push them and get them all out. Meanwhile, Treasurer Yu Ishigami is the kind of guy who’d rather play video games than study, and he’s so pathetic that Shinomiya can’t help but feel a little bad for him. It’s just the other members of the student council – there’s also Shirogane’s annoyed little sister, Shinomiya’s dutiful servant, and Shirogane’s eventual political rival, Miko Iino, a freshman with very strong ideas. on justice. They all bounce off each other superbly, and what could be basic situations, like studying for final exams or going shopping, turn into the most comedic progression of events possible.
The eclectic characters are all very different, but the reason the series works so well is what they have in common. At the end of the day, each of them is an overemotional, hormonal high schooler — and the show leaves them to be downright grumpy and over the top. They do stupid things to get their crushes to notice. They overanalyze every social interaction. They insist on reading receipts. They rap (badly). It’s all painfully embarrassing, in the best possible way.
… but also deeply vulnerable
Because each moment is heightened, things like a simple flick of the sleeve or a trip to see a fireworks display with friends become more intense. And in the context of the show, it’s easy to get carried away by that same great emotion. Yes, opening your crush’s text messages and staring at them longingly is just as important as it sounds. Yes, narrowly missing your crush as he leaves school for the day, despite your best efforts to try to arrange a walk home, is excruciating. These moments are treated as funny, but also as serious as the characters feel them.
All the characters deeply ruminate on their own interpersonal relationships – romantic and platonic – and their self-perceived character flaws. The relationships they end up building help bring out the best parts of each other. It’s fun to watch their hijinks, but it’s equally rewarding to watch their relationships blossom. Of course, since this is a rom-com, it comes down to the main couple – and they have the most touching arc of them all.
The best part about the love story is that beneath their confident exteriors, Shirogane and Shinomiya struggle with different insecurities, which turn into anxieties about what a potential relationship between them might look like. Although they both attend the same fancy private school, Shirogane and Shinomiya come from totally different backgrounds. Shinomiya comes from an incredibly wealthy family, with both very distant and very overprotective parents. She has been protected and alone all her life and has trouble identifying with her peers. Shirogane, meanwhile, is the only son of an unemployed single father and worked his ass off to get a good scholarship and now juggles his responsibilities as student president, school and a part-time job. He feels incredibly out of place among Shuchiin Academy’s elite students – and especially with Shinomiya.
And so their relationship between rivals and lovers has more nuances and depth. They could be trapped in sitcom purgatory, with hilarious miscommunication after hilarious miscommunication causing them to land in the same place as before, with the viewer not really caring about progress because the antics themselves are so delicious (like how Tom will never catch Jerry and how the Trix is always just out of the Rabbit’s reach). The track “getting the other person to confess their love” is fun, but by the end of the first season, their feelings are so tangible, their impact on each other so palpable, that you could scream JUST KISS DEJA on the TV screen. It’s not that simple, but it’s a beautifully crafted buildup, with just enough tug to keep you invested and the perfect mix of humor and heart. Kaguya-sama: Love is war is everything a romantic comedy should aspire to be.
Kaguya-sama: Love is war is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.