Kaguya-sama: Love is War? Review

It’s time to take a look at season 2! I like what they did with the title. It’s a small thing but a season 2 should always have some way to easily differentiate itself from the first and a question mark even works on a story level since the competition is starting to get trickier for the two leads. It’s definitely a great follow up to the first season. I would still give season 1 the edge as it had more standout segments for me, but it is nice to see Ishigami and Ino getting more of a role here. They do help to make the student council feel more complete.

The general plot here is that Shirogane and Kaguya are still trying to get the other person to confess their love first. Love is War after all and the first person to concede is the one to lose here. That’s the general set-up but more specifically it’s time for the election arc. The first year is over after all and that means the Student Council will be temporarily disbanded as the elections go on to elect a new student council president. Shirogane ultimately ends up running for the position again but this time he will be up against Ino. Ino is a first year student with big dreams and she wants to change the school. Thing is, if she wins then Kaguya and Shirogane might not see each other as often anymore so even if they can’t admit this, it adds extra fuel to their determination to win this.

The season is 12 episodes and a lot of those are stand alones so I won’t say the election arc lasts for very long but I would still consider it one of the major story beats here. Then we have the aftermath and the other big story event is that we finally see Ishigami’s full backstory of what happened to make everyone in the school dislike him. It’s certainly one of the more emotional parts of the story and while you may have expected that to be the season finale, there is one episode after that so that things can end on a lighter note. I still say Ishigami’s episode would have been perfect to end the whole thing on though.

So lets dive in and first off I’ll get the technicals out of the way since not much has changed since season 1. As was the case last time, the soundtrack is dynamite here. I don’t think it can be stated enough how important a soundtrack is for a comedy/slice of life kind of show. You need it to really inject a lot of energy into each scene. While strong writing would be enough to keep the show interesting without it, why turn down an advantage right? Kaguya is leaps and bounds above all other shows in these genres with the soundtrack. There are a lot of fun themes and then you even get the occasional homage like a Mission Impossible/James Bond kind of track.

Also the theme song’s pretty catchy. It even remembered that Kaguya was in the archery club and incorporated that into the song which was a nice detail. Then you have the animation which is still really good. It may be slightly calmer than season 1 so the original may have the slight edge there but it’s extremely close. Either way the animation is still very smooth and works well with the scenes. It never feels low budget and it’s a show that remembers to give everyone eyes that stand out. One of the big benefits of anime is how crazy they can make the hair and eyes so whenever a show remembers this it’s a good thing. In fact there’s a whole segment about Shirogane’s eyes and how they change when he has gotten some sleep. This would not have been as effective if they hadn’t given it as much detail earlier.

One of the reasons the franchise made it so big in the first place is how clever the writing is and this season doesn’t stop with that. One of the most effective gags in the whole series comes in the final episode as the gang play a fun Mario Party type game where you have to pump up a balloon. If it pops during your turn then you’ll lose and may also get a bit traumatized with how big the explosion will be. Each character has emotional flashbacks and inspirational montages where you’d expect them to surpass their limits and they don’t. It’s definitely a great scene and that was one of the better segments so it was a good way to end off the season.

The show is always funny without being silly. It’s got a great balance here. Another really solid part is when Kaguya has a trial against her other selves in her mind. The way each personality is represented while also being recognizable from her previous moments is solid. It’s a comedy scene for sure but at the same time you can tell that it’s not coming out of nowhere and can even be a bit of foreshadowing for her future moments. The show has quite a lot of depth which puts it apart from the average comedy.

I’ve read the manga and in a lot of ways that’s why these early adventures were my favorite part. I like the fun shenanigans before things get too serious. Serious moments are all well and good too of course but the banter between the characters and the fun games are when the show is at its peak. We definitely get a lot of moments here for that throughout the show as well so it never loses its momentum. Now lets dive into the characters although the cast is still a little on the small side.

Kaguya is still a great lead and certainly gets her share of wins here. From the main two I still think she tends to plan out her attacks a lot more thoroughly and is also willing to cross the line a bit more to get what she wants. Whenever we see how she knocks candidates out of the running through poison tea (Probably just sleepy tea or something very mild) or blackmail, it shows that she is really someone who has Shirogane’s back at all times. She can still be a bit quick to betray Chika all the time though so their friendship certainly isn’t the best but I’m sure she’ll get better at that eventually.

Kaguya’s plan of using citrus to burst the balloon at the end was also inspired. In general she definitely has quite a few good showings here and part of why the dynamic works is because she and Shirogane both get their clear cut wins from time to time. So instead of constant cop outs you have times where each one can feel proud of their complete accomplishment. She’s also very supportive of Ishigami even if he doesn’t always realize this.

As for Shirogane, it’s also a great season for him. While he may not be as thorough as Kaguya, his reaction times are always impressive as he’ll be able to think of some kind of excuse to save his bacon all the time. His most impressive win here had to be tricking Kaguya into being the one to beg him to stay on the council. His plan here was solid in a few different ways because if she hadn’t done that then he probably wouldn’t have re-submitted the application so it was a win-win. He created a scenario where he couldn’t lose.

Shirogane is also able to take the high road many times. He helped Ino when he saw she was in a jam and he’s the kind of guy who will accept a personal loss if it means helping someone out. I’d say that’s his humble beginnings showing here as he had to work his way to the top and knows what it’s like to lose. He’s just a very nice guy and probably one of the nicest characters in the series. You can always count on him in the end.

Ishigami has a lot of character development here and getting his own arc was impressive. He definitely had a rough string of luck. I would say he didn’t handle some parts amazingly like trying to convince the girl of why he was beating up the cheater but in the spur of the moment it’s not always easy to make the right call. I’m glad he didn’t end up writing the apology because that would have definitely been unfortunate. In the end he did not have to compromise on his ideals and now he can finally move on from the past.

He may not have gotten the perfect ending to his arc that he would have wanted but ultimately he’s still in a much better place than he was. You can see how he’s gotten more confidence over time as well. He’s not always perfect and can speak his mind a bit too much but at least now he has a positive relationship with just about everyone. Ino is really the only exception with how she’s constantly attacking the guy for no real reason. At least right now she always appears to be the instigator.

Then we have Chika who is still the fun comic relief character here. She does well in that role and is always ready to brighten up everyone’s spirits. She enjoys her role as the love detective as well and is always ready with some good advice. Chika also still has the sub plot where she will occasionally train Shirogane on a task that he’s really bad at. That continues here as well and you have to applaud her dedication of not giving up. She even ends up having a bit of a rivalry with Kaguya this time around while poor Shirogane is stuck in the middle.

Chika’s role may not feel as big as the others in a sense since the serious story parts never involve her but she is always around. You don’t feel like her role is small while watching the episodes since she is constantly around. Next up is Ino who has now joined the ranks as a main character. She makes for a solid antagonist in the election arc. Ultimately her points and ideas may not have been particularly valid in a lot of ways which explains why she would have a tough time getting votes but she tries hard.

I like her enthusiasm and confidence but do think she could work to be a bit nicer. It does appear to be true that she doesn’t really incorporate feedback most of the time or she could have done better and of course her baseless attacks on Ishigami don’t help her case. Ino’s timing can also be rather rough most of the time so she ends up not getting a very good opinion of the whole student council for a while there.

Hayasaka is more of a supporting character but one who’s always a lot of fun to have around. She plays a lot of roles here like being a student and Kaguya’s maid. She is expected to help out on the field and subtlety find out intel for Kaguya as well. There is no break for her and there’s a whole segment about Kaguya bugging her constantly when she is just trying to relax. It’s quite the thankless job for her but ultimately Hayasaka always pulls the mission off without a hitch. It’s why she is the ultimate bodyguard.

Finally there’s also Kei, while she did appear a little in season 1, her role has gotten a bit bigger here. As Shirogane’s sister you would expect her to have a role since it’s a common practice to win over someone’s family members so you can get closer to your actual target. This doesn’t tend to work out very well for Kaguya in this season though. Kei’s a fun enough character even if she always seems a bit rude to Shirogane when he’s just trying to help. Imagine getting mad at him for trying to get you a present for your birthday right? The show did good in also giving her eyes a distinct design too. No detail was left out for this anime that’s for sure.

Now with the amount of segments that the show has (2-3 per episode) you’re not likely going to find all of them top tier. The reason why the show still manage to be great though is because the vast majority of the segments are really excellent. The weaker segments for example can be when the two randoms are always asking for love advice from the main characters when they’re just trying to flex. I’d like to see the council call them out on it although still being more low key than Ishigami’s reaction. It’s always tough when your rep is on the line though.

Still, the show avoids the easy pitfalls of romance/slice of life titles like fanservice. The show has been very good about staying sophisticated so this doesn’t become an issue. There can be some small moments here and there but never any scene that stays into focus for very long or an extended situation that would make this an issue. The romance still plays a backseat to the comedy as well so things don’t get too dramatic. It’s a little more serious than in season 1 as you can tell the characters are weakening but it’s still not quite there yet. The two characters are best as rivals so it’ll be sad to see the dynamic go away once that changes.

The pacing is also really fast with how many segments are in every episode so things are always happening. You’ll never be bored in any episode that’s for sure. Whether the characters are playing a game or going for one of their many schemes, it’s always moving quickly. You’ll laugh at the funny scenes and get emotional during the triumphant ones. We even got a whole tragic plot with Kaguya’s phone getting damaged. I know it can definitely be rough losing out on all of your data like that. It’s why my important photos are backed up through social media or this site so if my phone were to ever be destroyed I’d still be okay. It’s still a hard loss though so you can feel the sadness of the scenes before the heroes are able to help her out. The show really knows how to handle every genre and we even get a lyrical song to close out the final episode as it transitions well into the opening. We’ll see if season 3 can keep up this momentum but I have no doubt that it can even if passing season 2 can be another story.

Overall, Season 2 is a solid follow up here. If you liked season 1 then you will certainly like this one because it really keeps the same energy and focus that the first season had. It’s really just as strong in most ways. I still give season 1 the edge because I felt like the climax was more emotional and the segments would beat out the season 2 counterparts on average but it’s a very close battle to be sure as I still gave them the same score. If you’re in the market for a fun rom-com then this is definitely the title to check out. With season 3 having started recently you also know right off the bat that there are a lot of episodes to check out so it makes jumping into the franchise that much more appealing.

Overall 8/10

Isshiki Ōtsutsuki vs Kaguya

Suggested by Anonymous Isshiki Ōtsutsuki is a powerful fighter who even gave Naruto and Sasuke a run for their money. Kaguya did the same thing so this comes down to quite a few factors such as if young Naruto and Sasuke are stronger than the adult forms and if Isshiki is just stronger than Kaguya. Those are all debates in themselves but the reason I would put Isshiki above Kaguya is his mobility. He can move much quicker than she can and has displayed enough abilities needed to get past her defenses. He should win this fight. Isshiki Ōtsutsuki wins.

Kaguya vs Thanos

Suggested by Random Kaguya is a powerful Naruto villain and some may even say that she was the strongest of them all. Her sheer amount of chakra is unheard of and most abilities do not even affect her. Thanos has a lot of good attack options with the gems, but he will find it difficult trying to land a hit on Kaguya while she is dimension hopping. His durability also won’t be enough to endure her invincible spike attacks. This is one match that the Titan cannot win. Kaguya wins.

Sakura Hime The Legend of Princess Sakura Review

Sakura Hime is a Shojo story that you may not have heard of. It’s not a completely obscure title, but it’s still not very well known. It tries to delve into the action genre while also keeping the romance in, which makes for a tricky balance. It’s definitely no Shonen Jump title, but I suppose that it is certainly better than most of the other Shojo series. I can’t give it a passing grade, but the fight scenes were pretty cool.

This story takes place in a land filled with monsters and kings. The setting is a fantasy land that seems pretty primitive by today’s standards. There are certainly no electronics to speak of. A young girl by the name of Sakura is found out to be a Yokai. She is one of the legendary monsters that hails from the moon and she is able to wield the legendary Chizakura blade. Prince Oura is sent to destroy her, but he decides not too since he naturally falls in love with her at first sight. The government still doesn’t trust her so Prince Oura is in a tricky spot.

Not wasting any time, the denizens of the moon decide to attack in full force. Their leader is immensely powerful and he seems to have some history with Sakura. The plot developments and twists will give Sakura some doubts as to what side she should choose. Both of them have shady pasts and many people will feel the effects of her decisions. Luckily, she is Princess Sakura (Did the title just spoil the series?) so she is always ready for action!

Sakura is the main character so it was interesting to see how cool she would be compared to Cardcaptor Sakura and Sakura Haruno. It’s safe to say that she comes in third place from this trio. (At least manga wise) She isn’t a bad character though and she certainly has her moments, but she has a tough time going all out. She always feels bad for the villains and she refuses to fight more than once. She is easily one of the stronger characters in the series since her blade can destroy any yokai with a single hit. This just means that there will be many excuses for her to miss the enemy. Her romance with Prince Oura is definitely one of the low points for her, but another one is that she lets so many guys hit on her without putting up enough resistance. She should just tell them to go away and slice them down with her sword if they do not. She has to put up with a lot of negativity from the villagers. (At least she gets to use intro lines that would even make Sailor Moon proud when she does get to fight)

Another problem is that she’s a little too gullible. She lets the government capture her with ease, which was pretty awful. It’s really a good thing that Enchu was there that time since her mind would have quickly broken under the government’s trap. That situation should have definitely been avoided and she should have known that something was up. It’s just sad to see someone as powerful as her be defeated by the government so easily. In the end, she may not be a bad main character and she beats some of her Shojo counterparts, but she definitely isn’t one of the better ones out there.

Prince Oura is the main guy in this series and he’s definitely an unlikable character. He was terrible when he first appeared, but he definitely got better as the series went on. That being said, he went from terrible to just unlikable as he never became a good character for me. He always seems ungrateful and he decides to keep secrets from Sakura right up til the very end. He certainly doesn’t make things easy for her. He’s a part of the government so he should be trying to make things better, but he usually just goes along with what the higher ups want. When it comes to matters involving Sakura, he quickly stops them, but he doesn’t do much more than that. He just seems like a pawn of the government when he could be an instrumental figure in changing them. Maybe someday…maybe. Either way, he lost his chance at being a likable character a long time ago.

Asagiri is a little snow fairy who helps Sakura out during the series. Things definitely get dicey for her in the climax since she is captured and the heroes are too slow to really do anything about it. By the time they get to her, it’s almost too late. “Almost” being the key word of course and we have Sakura to thank for her rescue. She is definitely a good character and I’d say that she is one of Sakura’s best allies. As with another one of Sakura’s allies, Asagiri has a super form at her disposal.

Byakuya protects Sakura and acts as her mentor. She used to wield the sacred sword and she’s pretty powerful when she fights in her true form. Typically, she fights under the guise of an old woman, but this is just an act to make the opponent lower their guard. She’s pretty good and she has a twist at the very end of the series that is pretty intriguing. It’s definitely impressive for her, but it also does undermine the final villain to an extent. She doesn’t live up to the Byakuya name that we know from Bleach, but she is a talented fighter and a loyal companion.
Kohaku is a ninja who works for Sakura and she places the Princess’ safety before her obligations to the main house. That is a good thing since it means that Sakura can actually trust her. Unfortunately, she starts to develop feelings for two other ninja, which creates another subplot that we didn’t really need. It doesn’t help that both of them are constantly running away and making themselves scarce. Kohaku doesn’t get a whole lot of closure as the series ends, but she does get her own fight during arc 1. That was pretty good, but it was the only action that she really got in the series. She’s a good ninja though and certainly better than her partner.

Hayate is a very confused man who doesn’t really know what he wants. He thinks that he likes Kohaku, but then he starts to like Rurijo before trying to get back together with Kohaku in the final chapters. I definitely wouldn’t accept him if I was her since Hayate can’t make up his mind. Hayate was cursed to be a frog for a very long time so he misses out on most of the series. He can turn into a human when the full moon is out so he does try to get some fight scenes in, but mostly he is just a bystander. I’m glad that he didn’t rat out Rurijo to the corrupt government and the heroes, but he certainly didn’t do it for the right reasons. This is definitely one shinobi that I didn’t like.

Rurijo was made out of tree branches as a clone of Sakura. This way her very existence can remind Enju of the princess and how he needs to save her from the pesky government and Prince Oura. As such, she gets a pretty sad character arc since Enju only sees her as a substitute. She must constantly go to water to replenish her strength and everyone always seems to get upset at her when she tries to destroy Sakura. By the second half of the series, she is still learning to cope with this, but it’s slow goings. Things temporarily grow brighter for her when she gets a new master only for everything to go sour once again. This is one character who never really got to be happy. She can definitely be likable and she was a fun villain during the first half. Alas, she always longs to be with Enju, which hurts her character. She’s oblivious to Hayate, so I’ll give her some credit for that, but she should have stuck to being a great warrior who mows down the heroes.

Enju is the big villain and he lasts for the whole series. He has a pretty traumatic past, which led him to betray the government and become the big villain. Deep down he mainly wants to help Sakura, but he loses sight of this goal from time to time. He’s definitely a villain no matter how sympathetic the series tries to make him. That being said, you could call him a villain of circumstance as the government turned him into what he is today. It’s all pretty tragic for him although his last minute change of heart was more than a little hard to swallow. His personality just did a 180 in the span of 2 chapters. The series was ending so I’m guessing that the author just wanted to wrap that part up. I appreciate his loyalty, but he’s still not really my kind of villain. I do like the fact that he is a great fighter though and he works pretty well as a serious villain.

Shuri is a ninja who really tries to play all of the sides. On the surface he appears to be working for Enju, but this is actually a mission that the government gave to him. He also helps Prince Oura and the others when it is convenient for him so he really can’t be trusted. You could say that he’ll help Kohaku over his obligations to the other places, but I’m not really sure about that. This is one guy that I definitely would not trust. His ending is definitely emotional, but I didn’t care for his character from the start so it definitely wasn’t a big loss for me.

Maimai’s role felt much smaller than most of the other villains. He cares a lot about looks and exteriors, but he’s actually a “tough” villain when things get serious. I really couldn’t take him seriously and Maimai just isn’t a great villain. Maimai doesn’t really have any grand ambition or good reasons to help Enchu. As a result, he comes across as having no real character so he never stood a chance of being a cool villain.

Kaguya is the ultimate villain and the final one to take the stage. It comes as no great shock that she is pretty powerful. She doesn’t have much in the way of character since her screen time is so brief, but she still manages to be a pretty cool antagonist. She’s someone that you can certainly root for and she’s probably the best villain in the series. She also gives us our first fight where Sakura gets a speed feat. It’s not an incredible one, but it’s a speed feat nonetheless. It’s too bad that Kaguya couldn’t last a little longer, but she served her purpose of being a good villain.

The series definitely has quite a few flaws that keep it from being a real contender in the manga ranks. Naturally, the biggest obstacle is the fanservice. Seeing as how this is a Shojo title, it’s surprising that it is so prevalent in this series. Particularly with Rurijo since she is constantly at the hot springs. The plot reason for this is that she has to constantly go somewhere where she can be in the water because she is made of tree branches. Nevertheless, that plot could have been changed so that this wouldn’t be necessary.

Another factor is the romance. For the record, I haven’t actually bashed the romance angle in many of my recent reviews, but this one definitely deserves the harsh treatment. For one, Prince Oura is a really cheap guy, although you already know that from my earlier writings of him. I disapprove of Sakura going to him, especially after his threats and decision to destroy her in the beginning if not for her quick thinking. It goes a little far and this naturally lasts until the very end of the series so it continues to appear no matter how much you want it to go away.

Again, I do have to give the series props for the fight scenes though. For the first half of the series, we get to a point where 3-4 volumes in a row are composed of action scenes. We get to take a break from the typical slice of life moments to actually get a Shonen feel. Everyone splits up and chooses an enemy to face. It’s pretty fun and if the whole series was like that, I think it may have had a chance to creep all the way up to a 6. The characters on both sides were pretty well developed so the throwaway fights felt like real ones as well. The enemies were probably a little too strong compared to the heroes, but such is the fate of the humans in their war against demons.

One thing that’s pretty sad is that the government is pretty awful. They’re totally corrupt and they get away with just about everything. They naturally dislike the Yokai and they force the main villain into a water tank, which repeatedly destroys him until his mind breaks. They are the reason why he is evil and they nearly do the same to Sakura before that same villain arrives to save her. After that, you really don’t want the heroes to help the government, but they do and the higher ups never really get what’s coming to them. Enju takes out quite a few of them, but there are always more. One of the side characters is going to become the next leader of the place so maybe he can help right? The problem is that he’s also pretty corrupt so he won’t be much of an improvement.

With traitors like that as allies, there really aren’t many characters to root for. You can’t root for the villains either since they want destruction as well. It just makes everything hazy and while you can sympathize with Sakura’s desire to help everyone, she tends to make problems even bigger at times with her inability to really make a decision. Imprisoning the government officials and taking the Yokai down seems to be the best bet, but with a prince as one of the main characters…that will be difficult.

The art is definitely pretty good for the series. I won’t call it downright amazing, but it’s certainly better than I had expected it to be. It’s very clear and the fight scenes occur pretty smoothly. It definitely made everything a little more enjoyable than it could have been and I think the author must have read a lot of Shonen manga since the action scenes have the epic zoom ins and classic dialogue that we’ve come to expect. The art perfectly captures these moments and I definitely give the series a big thumbs up there.
Overall, Sakura Hime is a series that is plagued by the fanservice and romantic plots that tend to overwhelm it at times. If the series had stopped after arc 1, it definitely had a decent shot at landing a solid 6. As it is, I think that the second arc basically cut this series in half. You can blame at least 90% of that on Oura, but I suppose that we have to blame the Emperor and some of the other characters as well. How the government is allowed to continue their rule is certainly beyond me. Just about all of the higher ups are fairly corrupt so you really can’t trust anyone on either the human or the yokai side. If you want a romance series with some action, this is definitely the right series for you. As it stands, I can’t really recommend this title and would turn you to another Shojo like Kitchen Princess or Sailor Moon for a better experience.

Overall 3/10

Sage of Six Paths vs Kaguya

The Sage of Six Paths is a formidable opponent, but he definitely won’t be able to stop Kaguya. Kaguya can use her dimensional abilities to cause the Sage of Six Paths to fall into a vat of lava. There really isn’t all that much he can do to stop her since Kaguya is also faster and stronger than him. The Sage will have to take the loss. Kaguya wins.

Kaguya vs Madara

Kaguya is back and she’s up against one of the strongest Naruto villains in existence. Controversially, I would say that Madara is the strongest villain in the series. Now, some may debate this, but I would just point to all of Madara’s feats. Speed, Endurance, Power…Madara has it all. Kaguya is impressive as well, but I just don’t see her holding her own in a fight against him in the end. It would be a solid fight, but Madara would emerge victorious from it. Madara wins.

Kaguya vs Sakura

Sakura has developed into a very powerful shinobi, but she won’t be able to defeat Kaguya. Kaguya makes her debut onto the blog at last and her abilities are not to be underestimated. Debatably, her physical abilities are on par with Sakura’s and her array of attacks is much larger. She should be able to evade Sakura’s blows while dealing out her own. A few minutes of such an onslaught should suffice. Kaguya wins.