Kaguya-sama: Love is War – 08 – Study Long, Study Wrong

Three stories this week! Story the First: Kaguya encounters a cute visitor who she remembers is really Miyuki’s little sister Kei, StuCo treasurer of the middle school division. Kaguya gets it into her head (deep, deep into her head) that if she suceeds in nurturing a close friendship with Kei, she’ll look at her as a sister, giving her the familial love she craves and bringing her closer to Miyuki.

Heartbreak strikes when it turns out Chika (whose imouto is in Kei’s class) is a shitload closer to Kei than Kaguya could ever imagine. But the true twist is that the end, when we learn Kei is actually infatuated with Kaguya, and laments to her oblivious bro that she wasn’t able to close the distance between them. Thus Kei loses.

Story the Second:  With final exams approaching, both Miyuki and Kaguya engage in elaborate games of lies and deception, both of them absolutely determined to claim the top student ranking with their grades. They manage to convince Chika that she doesn’t need to study to do well, but neither of them particularly care one way or another about Chika’s fate, only their own.

When the scores and rankings are posted, Miyuki has prevailed once again, with Kaguya finishing a close second. Internally, Kaguya wants to roll around in the pool of blood that threatens to shoot out of her eyes, but she keeps her composure and congratulates the President, noting that he must be pleased.

At the same time, Miyuki claims that he can’t feel any joy over such a close and hard-fought victory, only relief…but when he retires to the men’s room it’s a different story, as he’s so overjoyed he starts shadowboxing for no reason…as one does. Winner: Miyuki.

Story the Third takes place a week before the finals. Kaguya is aware that the next exam Yuu fails will force him to repeat the grade, a black mark against the honor of the StuCo she as its veep cannot allow. To that end, she grabs his hand and spirits him away to a dark supply closet where she commits to making sure he studies enough not to fail, on her honor as a Shinomiya.

Yuu is initially as terrified of Kaguya as usual—she makes him do the two things he fears most, after all: studying, and eating tiny dried sardines—but when two classmates spot the two in the library and look primed to spread weird rumors, Kaguya stands up for Yuu, telling them she doesn’t judge people by what others say, only by her personal experiences with those people.

Yuu ends up passing, and rising a number of spots in the rankings (up from second to last), but Kaguya is still furious that he only barely passed after all the hard work she put in. Miyuki drops his guard in assuring Yuu that while Kaguya may seem cold-hearted, she is someone who can always be relied upon to follow through. For his unsolicited flattery of his opponent in the War of Love, Miyuki loses the round.

Author: sesameacrylic

Zane Kalish is a staff writer for RABUJOI.

3 thoughts on “Kaguya-sama: Love is War – 08 – Study Long, Study Wrong”

  1. It’s interesting. You’ve been dropping this episode to 8 (still good, but below your usual 9), and I can see that this episode has been rated this same way in many other sites. For me, this is the best episode in the anime so far, because it helps developing the characters so much, investing in the show’s longevity. This episode didn’t have as many laugh-out-loud moments (think Chika fan-slapping Yuu or wiener jokes), but without episodes/chapters like this, that formula would turn stale very quickly.

    I’m very curious how people will react when the show presents episodes which are actually harsh drama instead of jokes.

    1. As you say, 8 is still good, but a 9 has to stand out in some way, and while the episode provides some development, I’d argue 2/3s of it wasn’t the development of characters I care too much about, while the remaining 1/3 was a retread of the Kaguya/Miyuki rivalry.

      The first story was largely about Kaguya’s attempts to ingratiate herself with Kei, whom we anime-only watchers had never seen. I liked the twist of Kei wanting the same thing as Kaguya (to get closer) but unable to do so due to various circumstances and a hesistation to communicate properly. But Kaguya and Miyuki already have profound issues being honest about their feelings for one another; introducing a conduit between them in Kei, who is far more invested in being close to Kaguya than helping Kaguya win Miyuki, doesn’t seem that necessary, at least right now. Perhaps the more Kei I see, the more I’ll like.

      The second story is all about how Kaguya and Miyuki always get the top two spots in the rankings, which is a combination of intense studying and sabotaging potential challengers to their ranking. Which is fine, but again, I can’t say I really needed it to be explained why they’re the top two students, especially when no one else in the cast is anywhere near a position where they’d actually challenge one of the two top spots the lovebirds occupy. It’s just yet another instance where everyone spews lies to one another while the narrator sorts them out.

      Finally, the third story is another instance of Yuu being a terrible student and being scared to death of Kaguya. This was my least favorite of the three since Yuu himself is my least favorite StuCo member by a large margin. I understand why someone with his personality traits is required to serve as a foil to the others two (just as Chika is crucial and IMO far more effective at serving as a wild card). But despite Yuu being in the spotlight for this segment Kaguya largely saves the day by doing everything she can to keep Yuu from repeating, not for Yuu’s sake, but for Miyuki’s. Even if she’s not honest to Miyuki, she’s honest with herself, which hearkened back to sweet moments like her bike ride and umbrella walk with him. But Yuu I can totally take or leave.

      I’d agree that the repetition and texturing of themes and further incremental development of the leads will serve this show in the long run (especially if it gets a second season—and I hope it does!) But for me, that’s why it’s an 8: it potentially sets things up for further plot developments to have more resonance, but as a standalone episode (and with no knowledge of future events) it didn’t stand out enough for a 9.

      As for the promise of more hard drama, I find that fascinating, as the show has managed to dispense with comedy for the sake of those pleasant romantic moments, but has yet to delve into serious drama. I count myself as a fan of SKET Dance’s most drama-oriented episodes, so I’m eagerly looking forward to seeing what Kaguya-sama does in that realm.

      1. Well, we’ll see, most likely in episodes 11 or 12. Trust me, the show can do serious every bit as well as it can do comedy. I’ll just say one thing: This show manages to reliably make me tear up on reading some chapters on the 10th reread. No other show can make this claim. And since the adaptation has been incredibly skillfull, I’m sure they’ll pull things off well in the anime version, too.

        In any case, please keep up the good work reviewing things. It’s very interesting to see how people perceive things without having knowledge of the entire show behind them.

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