Kaguya-sama: Love Is War: Ultra Romantic Review


Kaguya has been a pretty great show through and through for the first 2 seasons but could it deliver in the third? Well fortunately the answer is yes there. Season 3 is another great installment in the series and this continues to be the definitive comedy series out there. It’s got all the fun interactions and character drama that you could ask for with its usual assortment of references to everything. The amount of detail and care that goes into this show is always very impressive.

I’d say the big arc in this season is definitely the festival at the end but of course we have a lot of fun segments throughout the season so I’ll talk about some of those. The season also has its share of serious moments and in a way you could say this ended part 1 of the series depending on how you break it up. Either way it’s fitting for a season 3 to go all out since it ends the trilogy in a way.

The first episode starts off strong with 3 good segments right off the bat. In the first one Ishigami has to find a way to subtly let Ino know that her earphones aren’t plugged in before the others hear. Considering how mean she is to him on the daily, it’s nice that he’s still looking out for her. It’s not an easy mission by any stretch since she’ll probably yell at him no matter what but fortunately he finds a rather unique way to get around this. I thought it was clever at least and as always he was taking the high road there.

Then you have a segment that really feels like the classic season 1 days with Shirogane realizing that Kaguya doesn’t know how Line messaging works and capitalizes on it. It’s probably one of his biggest clear cut wins in the entire series. It wasn’t a tie or one of those debatable moments, he just saw his opportunity and took it. The whole thing was retro in all the best ways. Finally we had a segment for the arm wrestling which had some DBZ action in there. All in all, that’s exactly how you want to do a premiere. All of the segments were a lot of fun.

In episode 2 we get to see the Ai and Shirogane dynamic again as she is sent to a party to watch over him and decides to mess with Kaguya some more. She definitely likes messing with the main heroine but of course Kaguya reacts quite strongly each time so it’s easy to do. There’s also a segment with trying to get Ino and Ishigami to be nicer to each other although that doesn’t go super well. This episode isn’t quite as strong as the first one though since it doesn’t have any segments that knock it out of the park.

Then in episode 3 we finally get Maki to really get a big role. She’s one character who really took a while to get a big role but makes the most of it. I always thought she was a lot of fun and the show nails her character perfectly. She has a tragic lot in life as the guy she liked ended up going out with her best friend instead. That’s a rather bitter pill to swallow but she takes it in stride or at least as well as she can. She gets two segments in a way as another one was because her friend thought that Maki was tempting the guy away.

The third segment here is finally back to a group game which is nice. Everyone gets to use their own strategies here to try and come out on top. I always like the game segments because they’re super entertaining. Seeing everyone try to accomplish their agendas is priceless and it makes the games a lot higher stakes than they would be otherwise.

After that we really begin the Ishigami and Tsubame plot in earnest. He’s finally trying to get courage to ask her out and this leads to another studying session. Whenever Kaguya teaches him it’s always fun because she’s just a really good teacher. He also does want to learn and so it’s a lot healthier than the Chika and Shirogane dynamic. Of course that one’s a lot of fun too but this is more of a proper teacher and student bond. The final segment is more of a sleepover adventure which isn’t nearly as solid.

We get to have some fun rap segments after that. Rap isn’t really my thing as I tend to find it to be one of the weakest music genres but it works well enough here. Shirogane really gets to try and get his message across this way. Then we have another Maki segment as she gets to vent to her friends. It’s nice that Ishigami and Shirogane are always there for her because otherwise she’d have to keep it bottled in which is no fun for anyone.

Another fun segment after that was the student teacher conference as Ai and Shirogane’s parents help Kaguya out since her guardians weren’t around. They did a good job of stepping up in the moment and it made for a very amusing turn of events the whole time. Beyond that we get closer to the festival arc as it starts to really be around the corner. Shirogane steels his resolve to have her confess by that date so the stakes are still rising.

After that the festival really begins in earnest. We get a lot of Kaguya and Shirogane moments, Ishigami trying to get to Tsubame, and more plots. Just about every character is here and that makes sense since no student can afford to miss the big festival right? Anyone who is anyone will have to attend and help make the whole thing a huge success. The festival is rather long but never drags out or gets dull because of how much is going on the whole time. The whole thing is a lot of fun and of course we get to see Shirogane’s big plan. The whole series will never be the same after this.

As you can tell from the episodes, one reason why Kaguya is so good is because the humor is top notch. The characters are all a blast and have great dynamics with each other. The writing is top tier as well and then the show goes the extra mile with the animation and soundtrack. The theme song’s visuals are really catchy and throughout the show it feels high budget. Then you have the soundtrack which is also top tier. This show is treated like a big budget action title in terms of how much effort is put into it and it shows.

The storyline was also building up to this for a long time so the payoff really ended up working. It all builds together to really make this a masterpiece. I really don’t have any negatives to say about this one. If I had to drilldown on something minor, there was a moment or two where the show would pick a random angle that felt like a tiny bit of fanservice but on the whole the show has been quite excellent at avoiding that. It’s all so minor here I wouldn’t consider it to be an issue. Kaguya is really high brow entertainment through and through.

As always Kaguya is a fun main character here. Her strategies are always on point and the back and forth with Shirogane is the meat of the show. This time you could say he actually had the edge for most of the show though because he had his goal to make her confess while she was still used to him trying to dodge her. It’s like he had extra intel you could say so he steeled himself and wouldn’t get flustered the way he usually would. That’s not something she had previously accounted for which is what put her in a tough spot.

As for Shirogane, his plan was really on point. He put a whole lot into this and it paid off quite well. I always like how he’s determined to learn new talents and everything too. I doubt any character works quite as hard as he does. The guy never really gives himself a breather or any kind of break. He just keeps on improving and working to make everyone’s lives better. It’s why he’s so worthy of the title of class president.

Chika’s role isn’t huge here but she’s always around to have fun. Especially when there’s a mystery to be solved or a game to play. While she may have gotten one of the mysteries wrong, I did like her enthusiasm the whole time. She was so happy when she thought that she had cracked the case that I felt bad for her afterwards. Chika definitely nails the comic relief character role down to an art.

Ishigami continues to be a great character here. His character development has been super smooth all the way through. He’s always trying to do the nice thing and he’s slowly bursting out of his shell. He consistently has great character moments in every season and this one’s no exception. While I’m not really rooting for him to get with Tsubame, at least it’s another way to motivate him to study. His days of slacking off are pretty much over at this point.

Then we have Ino who is still fun but always aggressive towards Ishigami. He can’t really do anything without her throwing some shots his way. Ino always seems bitter about the guy which makes for a fun running gag but as a character you can see why he wants to avoid her after a while. While I would put her as the weakest member of the council for now, she is still a fun character and does add to the dynamic. Right now her friend Kobachi doesn’t at all. I can’t say I’m a fan of hers yet.

Ai is a fun character as always though. Her ninja skills are still on point but gradually Kaguya is learning how to fend for herself and not have to rely on Ai all the time. This also gives Ai more freedom to think about what she really wants and this is a plot that should continue on into the future. Then there is Tsubame and she’s a nice enough character. She did her best to break Ishigami out of his shell and should accept some of the credit for doing that. As for how she took the whole confession angle, it was all in the heat of the moment so all things considered she handled it well enough.

Now for me I’m mostly a fan of Kaguya because of the humor and all of the mind games. It’s what really put the series on the map for me as a top tier contender through and through. I’m less big on the romance in general so as the series gets more serious we’ll see how it can keep up. The first two seasons didn’t really deal with romance seriously at all as it was all about the cat and mouse games. Well, now we’re starting to get more into the serious side of it so I think it’ll be hard for the next seasons to beat the original 3. Still, as long as they keep putting this much effort into it, then they should work well enough. Also while I like Ishigami a lot as a character, I do think his romance plot is a lot weaker than Shirogane/Kaguya’s.

At least as far as romances go, Kaguya and Shirogane’s has been done the right away. It’s been built up for several seasons now and part of why the show is so much fun is because they just want to be the one to win the love game by getting the other one to confess first. So it’s a fun dynamic and once the romance gets serious, at least there’s been a lot of build up the whole time. Ishigami’s is much more of a quick romance in comparison and then with Ino you already have the show hinting that it wants to add some more drama into the mix. Right from the jump you could see how this one won’t work as well and it doesn’t work within the show’s tone quite as well either. There are no mind games to be had here (None yet anyway) and it’s all just a bit basic. Keep Ishigami as the fun video game guy and Ino as the stickler for the rules and then you’re all set.

As a side note, I did think it was fun how they switched up the ending animation for one episode where the characters are in some kind of neon lights band. The animation went crazy on that one but it was fun as a little experimental moment. Then you also had Ai’s brief song which felt really high budget and the music for that was cool. So the show isn’t afraid to mix things up every now and again. It’s a difficult show to predict compared to most and I would say that’s a good thing. You always want to stay unpredictable.

One thing we haven’t gotten from the show yet which would be fun would have been a school against school battle. It’s unlikely to ever happen as the manga is nearly over too but with so many strategic juggernauts in one school, imagine the possibilities of putting them up against another group? That would be a blast and we don’t actually get to see the Student Council teaming up a whole lot like that. Maybe do it as a quiz show or some kind of Olympics event where you keep switching activities. I’m sure our team would win but that whole scenario would be a blast.

Overall, Kaguya delivers another excellent season with this installment. It’s absolutely a show that you could recommend to anyone who wants a fun laugh or a good time. The production values are really impressive and the character cast is super dynamic. You could put two of them into any situation and you’ll be able to get a lot of fun jokes out of it. That’s when you know that a series is really on a good track. There are no weak episodes here and the 13 episodes will really be over in a flash. Now with the movie announced, we’ll see how long it takes to do season 4.

Overall 8/10

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