This recap contains spoilers for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 6
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! returns this week with a slightly tweaked structure, placing two shorter bits into its first segment and squeezing in its third after the end credits. Of these segments, the middle one (“Miyuki Shirogane Wants To Make Her Read”) as is often the case, is the winner, but all of them are solid. Let’s dive in, shall we?
The opening bit this week is among the manga’s weaker material. This is kind of out of the show’s hands–an anime is generally expected to adapt things in order. Thus, we get the dodgily titled “Kaguya Wants To Undress Him.” However, “weak” for Kaguya is still miles ahead of what most rom-com anime are doing. Thus, even when we get old hat material like the ancient (and extremely Dude Talk-y) debate of boxers vs. briefs, we have the show’s trademark visual surreality to spice it up.
The follow-up, which is about hand massages and features the return of the series’ occasional interjections of goofy pseudoscience, is a bit better conceptually. Kaguya isn’t great at this particular thing, as it turns out. There’s a marked difference between how Kaguya feels giving the massage…
…and how Miyuki feels receiving it.
This all also serves to herd Miko into the central cast. Here her role is largely to misinterpret situations as overtly dirty and run away in embarrassment. It is certainly not the strongest archetype at play here, but hey.
Our middle segment this week is “Miyuki Shirogane Wants To Make Her Read.” This is a less visually out-there, but arguably stronger overall, bit than the pair that make up the start of the episode. “Wants To Make Her Read” starts with Miyuki’s sister introducing him to a tear-jerking shoujo manga. (“Shoujo” manga, if you’re not familiar, are manga primarily targeted at young girls. Stereotypically, they feature themes of romance and drama and have light, sketchy art styles). Our boy ends up so moved by the manga that it inspires in him a desire to fall in love. (Let us ignore for the moment that he has been since the first episode of last season.)
He then, as he often does, thinks of a way to spin this into making Kaguya confess. Our leads, let it be said, have a truly one-track mind. He imagines it like so.
“Wants To Make Her Read,” then, is the story of how this goes horribly wrong. There’s one chief culprit here, and it’s exactly who you may expect. Chika, as she often does, tosses a monkey wrench into the whole thing. Her technique of unintentional chaos is a classic one. Before Kaguya can be properly convinced to read the manga, Chika blurts out a spoiler for its final chapter. This so enrages Miyuki (and Ishigami, a quick convert to the series), that the two actually duct tape her mouth shut. Which would be going a little far for this show… if she didn’t get them back almost immediately, mere moments later.
Thus, “Wants To Make Her Read” ends. Is it new ground for the show? Not really, but after the emotional tightrope-walk of last episode, that’s fine.
An Aquarium In Your Mind
The episode’s final segment, “Kaguya <3 Aquarium,” is brief enough that it picks up directly from “Wants To Make Her Read” after the end credits, sees everyone suddenly fall ill with “shoujo brain.” Love Is War! rapidly shifts gears into being a sappy love triangle anime, complete with a full-on style shift, gratuitous bloom, sparkle and CGI roses. The works. It’s a lot to cram into the rear five minutes of the episode, but it’s a riot.
There’s a plot here about aquarium tickets, but it’s mostly a vehicle to further poke fun at shoujo tropes. It speaks to the show’s quality that despite the recent minor renaissance classic shoujo is experiencing, thanks in part to the popularity of the Fruits Basket reboot, none of this feels mean spirited. It’s all in good fun.
And that’s this week’s Love Is War! in a nutshell. Of the three segments, “Wants To Make Her Read” is the strongest, but all around, it’s solid fun. In the grand scheme of the series this episode rests somewhere near the middle of the pile in terms of quality, but when the series is Kaguya-sama, that pile is full of gems top to bottom.
Until next time, Love Is War! fans!