This recap contains spoilers for Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4

Episode 4 starts with an argument. Hayasaka, Kaguya’s maid, once again frustrated at her master’s lack of progress in pursuing Miyuki. Kaguya counters that Hayasaka wouldn’t be able to sway Miyuki either. This somehow gets construed as not being able to sway him in one day. Cue the first segment’s premise, at Kaguya’s insistence. Hayasaka is challenged to get the president to fall for her in a single afternoon. She doesn’t succeed, but along the way we get another excellent segment from one of the season’s most visually inventive mainstream hits. 

To “seduce” Miyuki, she once again adopts her Haysaaca Smithee persona. We were introduced to “Smithee” last season, as Hayasaka’s alias for when she needs to interact with Miyuki. Here, she re-styles her hair and chats him up in line at a bookstore. Hayasaka being as forward as she is to try to win him over would actually be kind of uncomfortable in other contexts. Here though the main focus is as much on Kaguya’s reactions to all of this as it is Hayasaka herself.

Hayasaka and Miyuki (from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4)

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Hayasaka actually gets genuinely frustrated with Kaguya when this all doesn’t work out. Protesting that she never actually said she could win him over in only a day and reminding us that despite everything else that Kaguya and Hayasaka have a sort of sisterly relationship. Fights and all included, unfortunately.

Still, while this is a solid first segment it’s overshadowed by the episode’s middle third.

Breaking News

Indeed, this segment might be among the best the show has ever put out. It’s classic Love Is War! A simple misunderstanding spirals into total chaos beyond the control of any one party. It begins so simply. Miyuki–still running for reelection mind–is concerned about being able to get the votes of students who’ve been at Shuchin Academy since they were in elementary school. He consequently ruminates on who might be a good assistant in speechwriting. Chika offers her own help first, but Miyuki decides (to Chika’s dejection) that it has to be Kaguya.

He goes to recruit her and gets hung up on the awkwardness of entering someone else’s classroom. Enter Hayasaka. Still burned from the events of the first segment, she “helps” Miyuki by loudly, dramatically announcing that he wants to talk to Kaguya about “something important”. Deliberately giving everyone the exact wrong idea.

Kaguya and Miyuki agree to meet in the school courtyard, and chaos breaks loose. Suddenly, the school’s LINE chatrooms, text message circles, and its underground broadcast news network (a gag original to the anime!) light up about the impending confession that will unite the school’s two most prestigious students in romance.

the underground news club (from Kaguya-sama, Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4)

Seriously, an underground news network. I’m almost mad they didn’t spend more than a few seconds on this gag. It’s incredible.

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Confessional Under Fire

A confession, mind you, that Miyuki has no plans of making. Even Kaguya gets convinced that the game is over and Miyuki is taking the direct approach. The boy’s anxiety, consequently, is off the charts. And because this is Love Is War!, the result is cut like some sort of psychological thriller or horror film. One of the show’s best recurring bits making a welcome return.

the school courtyard with a red filter to make it look spooky (from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4)

a vortex of staring eyes (from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4)

I didn’t watch pet. when it aired earlier this year, but I imagine it was something like this.

Things fizzle out of course, Miyuki, though he does contemplate it, can’t actually work up the nerve to confess. (Honestly, we’d be out of a show if he did, so maybe that’s fine.) That said, the real power play here goes to Kaguya herself. Who reassures Miyuki that she’ll say “yes” not just to his request, but to “anything else”. It’s always a little surreal to see our protagonists doing anything that could be described as “smooth”, but Kaguya makes up for her “loss” at the end of the last episode here. Of further visual note here is the slightly more “grounded”, shadow-less art style present here. It’s something the show tends to turn to when it needs to be serious for a moment, and it works wonders for the pseudo-confession scene.

Kaguya's chin, drawn in the "kagenashi" or "shadowless" style. From Kaguya-sama, Love Is War! season 2, episode 4

Kaguya’s chin, drawn in the “kagenashi” (“shadowless”) style.

Diplomacy

The episode’s third and final segment is the one that actually kicks off the “School Election Arc” alluded to last time. Though if it’s anything like the manga it won’t last particularly long. Introduced to us here is Miko Iino (that’s Eeh-noh). She’s a short-statured first year who is providing Miyuki his only real challenge in the pre-election popularity polls. This is the first time we’ve seen her on screen for more than a few seconds and the gag used to set her up is quite simple. Miko seeks to improve and embody the spirit of Shuchin Academy itself. As such, in their first interaction here, Miko is framed like a shonen heroine. Miyuki and Ishigami, of course, are her villains.

Miko Iino from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4)

Miyuki and Ishigami (from Kaguya-sama: Love Is War! Season 2, Episode 4)

We’ll learn more about Miko in the coming weeks. For now, her role as a foil to Miyuki’s reelection campaign is funny enough. Ishigami points out toward the end of the segment that Miko is kind of a huge stick in the mud, and handing out flyers about how she plans to tighten up the dress code and such isn’t going to endear her to people the way she seems to think it will. This is a rather short segment, so beyond the hero/villain dynamic jokes and a bit where Miko tries to coerce Chika over to her side by praising her, there’s not much else here. That’s fine, though, this is an episode carried much more by its solid opener and absolutely riotous middle third.

Until next time, Kaguya fans!

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Jane Y. Auman
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