This recap contains spoilers for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War!
This week’s episode follows up on the “Miyuki’s Birthday” plotline from last week’s. We open with Kaguya meeting with Kei (that’s Miyuki’s sister, if you need a refresher), Chika, and Chika’s own sister Moeha to do some idle window shopping. Kaguya, being herself, has an ulterior motive here. She wants to see if she can get Kei to tell her what Miyuki likes so she can buy him a nice birthday present. What actually ends up happening is that she becomes flustered because Kei and Miyuki are so similar. This segment is one of the weaker ones in the original manga. The anime facelift consequently does it some good. My favorite bit is here. Kei lambasting her brothers hygiene is reframed as some kind of judgment from an angry demon.
Let Them Eat Cake
As it tends to be, the real heart of this episode is its second segment. Kaguya, going lovestruck, has one of her family chefs bake an absolutely massive tower cake for Miyuki’s birthday. (It actually rather looks like a wedding cake, something pointed out in the episode.) She ends up bringing this to school only to realize far too late that there’s no way she can give it to Miyuki without it coming across way too strong. Remember, both of our protagonists’ goals is to get the other person to confess. A huge wedding cake, at least in Kaguya’s own mind, might as well be a heart-stamped letter. Consequently; she kinda freaks out. Her emotions perch on her head like a particularly weird shoulder angel and devil.
This isn’t the first time Kaguya’s literally ended up putting herself on trial in her mind, but these scenes are basically always delightful. We have “regular” Kaguya, taking the stand against the cold and calculating “Ice Queen” Kaguya and the lovestruck, sincere-to-a-fault “Dummy” Kaguya. The brilliance of these scenes to me is always that they’re edited in a way that’s evocative of actual court dramas. This is something Kaguya-sama does a lot, using technique to skewer a specific genre to paint a particular picture for a given scene.
The goal of course is always to make you laugh, but we do get some genuinely affecting insight here, too. In the form of Ice Queen Kaguya reminding her other two selves that gunning for Miyuki is going against the will of their father, and is thus dangerous. It’s a lot to fit in to something that only takes up about five minutes of screen time! It’s also great, through and through. We also get a brief cameo from Child Kaguya as the judge, which is just delightful.
What’s Your Fan-tasy?
I want to take a second here to again appreciate the immense skill of voice actress Aoi Koga. Still a relative newcomer to the industry, her voicework as Kaguya has always been fantastic. Here, she demonstrates her range once again by talking to herself in three (and then four!) separate personas each with a different inflection and role in the dialogue. It’s kind of astounding. Kaguya does solve the problem eventually. Her solution is to give Miyuki just a piece of the cake (as well as a wooden hand fan). The remainder of the cake remains locked in the closet of the student council room, with a comical “do not open” seal slapped to the closet door.
The third and final segment of the episode revolves around the fallout of this. I won’t spoil the details, but it’s great seeing Miyuki being so proud of his hand fan.
And the way that Chika ends up throwing a wrench in the schemes that follow.
All in all, Kaguya-sama this week is nearly as good as last week. Which, given that this is basically a filler arc (in as much as comedy manga have those), is a good sign. It remains the best comedy of the season (though not without heavy competition, check out Gal & Dino if you’ve got the time). Until next time, love is war!
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