Kaguya-sama: Love is War 2 – 10 – How A Net Feels

Just as it excels when it focuses on just one or two segments, Love is War is arguably even better at juggling a grab bag of stories in one episode. We get the latter this week and it’s all amazing, starting with Miyuki’s mistaken belief that Kaguya is avoiding him because she doesn’t like him. Kei wants to ask about his romance problems, but because she’s in her teenage rebellious phase, talking to him would mean losing face.

When their father comes home and asks Miyuki what’s up, Kei thinks she’s in the clear, but her father only makes Miyuki more tight-lipped and mad, so Kei has no choice but to offer a piece of advice: a girl can still like you even if it seems like they’re avoiding you. Sure enough, when Miyuki and Kaguya cross paths, she uses her calming ritual and the two walk side-by-side to the office. Miyuki had no reason to despair.

The next segment is the latest installment of the “Chika Teaches Miyuki Things He Sucks At” series, and, clocking in at around six miuntes, one of the quickest and most efficient. This time she’s trying to teach him the Soran dance his class will perform, but his idea of dancing looks more like an exorcism. When she finally loses her patience and storms out, Miyuki ends up relying on an Kaguya for pointers (Kaguya is more than happy for an opportunity to touch his body, the lecher!)

As Chika observes Kaguya’s strategy of simply getting Miyuki to replicate the moves irrespective of heart or passion, her honor as an artist must stand and protest, leading to a literal tug-of-war between the two girls. This mimics how historical Edo magistrate Ooka Echizen ordered two women resolve a custody battle for a child, with the winner being the first one to release the child when he was in pain.

In this case, no one’s letting go, but being pulled back and forth is exactly what Miyuki needed to learn what it was like to be the fishermens’ net, and performs a Soran dance that impresses both Kaguya and Chika.

Following two straight victories by Miyuki, we get a segment from the POV of Kobachi as she and Miko go on their DC rounds. Chika and the board game club doing something akin to LARPing, while they find Yuu playing video games at school. When he points out he’s in territory technically outside their jurisdiction, Miko ropes him and pulls him into it.

Kobachi can tell that while Miko and Yuu don’t get along, they’re a lot more alike than they realize. She knows about the rumors of how Yuu stalked a girl in their class in middle school, fought another boy over her, and got suspended, but notes that Yuu never told his side of the story. And because she knows he has a strong sense of justice and distaste for “irrational things” like Miko, his story is likely more complicated.

I’m sure Kobachi is as eager as me to hear that story someday, but for now, she’s impressed with the strides he’s made, including his participation in the Cheer squad, who unlike the majority of first-years were willing to bring him into the fold and give him a chance, as long as he was applying himself seriously, which he is.

The balance of the episode takes place during the vaunted sports festival. Miyuki and his class perform the Soran dance perfectly, but he’s discouraged to find his dad there rather than at work somewhere, snapping pics of Chika (though that was a request from Chika’s hot-shot dad).

What Miyuki wants to avoid at all costs is his dad getting anywhere near Kaguya, sure that nothing good could come with it. And yet his dad’s advice in the first segment for Miyuki to be the fastest runner, which he dismissed as grade school stuff, actually works like a charm on Kaguya, who despite being on the White team is passionately rooting for the President all the way!

That’s when Miyuki’s dad sidles up to Kaguya without introducing himself and belittles Miyki’s efforts. Kaguya, never one to let people cast aspersions on her beloved Miyuki, offers up all the ways Miyuki is actually a terrific person. When his dad shoots those down one by one, she gets increasingly flustered and annoyed, which leads him to ask not who Miyuki is, but who he is to her.

Kaguya responds with a beautiful monologue from the heart about how Miyuki showed her that not only to kind and wonderful people like him truly exist, but that there are others among her with those qualities (Chika and Yuu, for instance). Miyuki’s dad asks if she’s “romantically interested” just as Miyuki arrives, to which Kaguya compliments Miyuki on having such a “delightfully mischievous” father.

The Cheer squad leader ends up picking Yuu to be his partner in the final relay, and when they win, we cut to the brown-haired girl in the dark flashbacks in which Yuu was accused of stalking and assault.

This certainly lends credence to the theory that not only was Yuu not really stalking her, but that there might even have been mutual affection between them. Will we ever meet this mystery person, and if so, how will this “New Yuu” react? I can’t say, but I’d love to see it.

As it stands, Love is War has deftly and painstakingly painted fully-realized portraits of all four of its main characters plus Miko. It just happens to be both one of the most hilarious comedies in years and a riveting, heartfelt character drama. Shows this unassailably superb don’t come around often. It’s hard to not sound like I’m mindlessly gushing about it, but the excellence is there for all to see.

Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete – 03

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The show’s called “In Search of Lost Future”, so I expected a bit of time-shifting hijinx. This episode continues that theme by continually mixing the present as we know it with tinges of the past. To that end, we start with Airi dreaming about the first time she met Sou, which comes up later in the episode in a tender moment between the two (even though Airi doesn’t have, nor will she ever have, any shot at Sou; that’s just how these shows work).

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Airi also remembers how she came to befriend her future rival Kaori, in a relay race in which Kaori fell far behind and Airi had to give it her all to win. She suspects new girl Furukawa Yui to be just as athletically inept…

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Then spots Yui blasting through hurdles like a bat outta hell, disproving that theory in its infancy. Still, the primary matter at hand in the present is the investigation of the ghost sightings…that is, until another brush fire springs up that the Student Council asks Astronomy to put out: that between the Judo and Karate clubs…again?

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Yui, apparently possessing some memories (something only Nagisa knows), tries her darndest to keep Kaori out of the fray, lest she get injured and…well, we don’t quite know what Yui is worried about. Yui also laments that trying to act only makes events grow more “unpredictable”, suggesting maybe doing nothing would be better.

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The source of the “ghost” everyone at school’s been on about turns out to be a “horror workshop” stunt by the film club, who are chastened and rebuked…but just because their ghost was a ruse doesn’t mean there isn’t another ghost lurking up there on the school roof….which of course there is. Yui sees it clearly at the end, glowing blue and ominous.

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So, you may ask: Just what the heck is going on? Well…I’ll have to get back to you on that once I’ve watched more, because even I’m not totally sure. Time is whimsical in this show, resulting in some inevitable confusion. Confusion aside, I still find myself invested enough in the members of the Astronomy club — particularly Sou, Airi and Kaori — to stay the course. Something very interesting is afoot, and so far we’ve only seen the seeds.

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Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete – 02

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The timeline in which Kaori ended up killed by a runaway bus right after confessing to Sou falls by the wayside, as the arrival of the naked, silver-haired amnesiac Furukawa Yui seems like the herald of a new and different timeline. The Astronomy Club takes care of her, and it isn’t long before she enrolls at school as a transfer student,

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While she knows her own name and seems to know Kou’s, the rest of Furukawa remains a stubborn mystery, aside from the fact she’s a bit clumsy. Meanwhile, the school brass wants the club to continue its role as mediator and defuser of conflicts, and also to investigate ghost sightings, though I’m pretty sure Furukawa is the ghost in question.

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All that, while organizing their planetarium exhibition, complete with maid costumes. Throughout both the investigation and the preparation, the club is its usual rowdy, ebullient self, which Furukawa seems to enjoy in her own sedate way. The romantic complexities of said group are largely put on hold this week, but once Furukawa accidentally touche’s Nagisa’s mysterious magical box, she suddenly remembers why she’s there.

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…She just didn’t deign to share that with us this week, so we’ll have to wait for the next. I must admit, this episode was not nearly as strong as the first, and was a largely workaday affair, introducing a new element without shaking anything else up too much. That element, Furukawa, is presently straddling the line between mysterious and…dull.

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Hataraku Maou-sama! – 07

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Maou’s new neighbor introduces herself as Kamazuki Suzuno and offers to cook him a meal. Emeralda sends Emi a package full of elixir disguised as vitamin drinks that will help restore her powers. While stalking Maou, Emi notices Suzuno in his apartment and investigates, and is eventually invited in. She warns Suzuno not to get too close to Maou. Maou has his first shift as supervisor, but Chiho is distraught when she sees the homemade bento Suzuno made him. Emi is attacked at a convenience store by an unknown assailant with the ability to nullify her sacred sword, but is saved by the clerk.

And then there were six. What started with just Maou and Ashiya transported to earth has now grown threefold with the addition of Urushihara and most recently Suzuno. While Urushihara started out as the bad guy and then became a web-surfing bum, Suzuno’s true motives remain elusive. She came from Ente Isla, but even Emi isn’t sure whether she’s a human or a demon, or what exactly she wants. All she knows is, she’s quickly inserted herself into Maou. Things take another turn for the suspicious when Emi is attacked not long after metting Suzuno, though her attacker was a guy.

While sweltering in the summer heat, Emi wonders if she’s looking at the Maou and Ashiya situation all wrong: maybe they really don’t mean any harm and simply want to live out their lives as law-abiding humans. Part of her wants that to be true, but she still can’t be sure. And even if she was, parties beyond her and Maou are inserting themselves into their lives, and aren’t going to let anyone have normal lives. They’ll attack without warning in conspicuous places, and they may come with kind greetings and homemade elaborate lunches. But the fact is, they’re all threats to the status quo that both Emi and Maou would rather simply enjoy indefinitely.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Suzuno is voiced by Itou Kanae, AKA Saten Ruiko, SAO’s Yui, Ohana, and others. Her approach with Suzuno is feminine yet mature, balancing her small stature with immense underlying strength.
  • Asakura Azumi voices Emeralda, a bit too airy and feathery for our tastes.
  • Chiho considers the homemade two-level bento (with heart rice inside) a challenge to her position as Maou’s betrothed.
  • We don’t know who voiced the convenience store clerk, but he had a cool accent.